Johnny Depp stepped down from the franchise on Friday, days after losing his libel case in the U.K.

By Alexia Fernández
November 10, 2020 08:09 PM
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Mads Mikkelsen
| Credit: Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

Mads Mikkelsen is in talks to replace Johnny Depp as the wizard Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts 3, according to multiple reports.

The Hannibal star, 54, would be the third actor to portray the infamous wizard in the film franchise after Colin Farrell and Depp, 57. Farrell played the character in the first film, while Grindelwald was using a disguise.

Warner Brothers did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment. Deadline first reported the news.

Mikkelsen is no stranger to box office blockbusters having starred in Casino Royale, Doctor Strange and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

On Friday, Depp revealed on Instagram he had agreed to step down from the role just days after losing his libel case in the U.K.

A spinoff of the Harry Potter series, the Fantastic Beasts films follow Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a younger Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) and villain Gellert Grindelwald (Depp) more than 60 years before the events of the original book/film series.

Johnny Depp as Grindelwald
| Credit: Warner Bros/Kobal/Shutterstock

Depp first played Grindelwald in 2016's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, based on the companion book of the same name. He reprised his role in the 2018 sequel Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and was set to play the villain again in the third follow-up

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Depp will be compensated his full eight-figure salary for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 3. THR reported Depp had only shot one scene since the start of production in London on Sept. 20, but due to his "pay-or-play contract" with no "morality clause," he was able to receive his full salary regardless of whether the film was made or recast.

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According to Variety, Warner Bros. confirmed it will recast Depp's role before the third installment debuts in theaters in 2022. The franchise is intended to comprise five films.

Depp lost his libel case against The Sun newspaper over their 2018 story describing him as a "wife-beater" during his marriage to actress Amber Heard.

The actor said in a Friday Instagram post that the film's studio, Warner Bros., asked him to resign from the part and that he agreed to do so.

"In light of recent events, I would like to make the following short statement," Depp began. "Firstly, I'd like to thank everybody who has gifted me with their support and loyalty. I have been humbled and moved by your many messages of love and concern, particularly over the last few days."

"I wish to let you know that I have been asked to resign by Warner Bros. from my role as Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts and I have respected and agreed to that request," he continued.

"Finally, I wish to say this. The surreal judgement of the court in the U.K. will not change my fight to tell the truth and I confirm that I plan to appeal," Depp concluded. "My resolve remains strong and I intend to prove that the allegations against me are false. My life and career will not be defined by this moment in time."

On Monday, presiding judge Mr. Justice Nicol ruled that The Sun's article was "substantially true" in a written statement delivered through the U.K. Ministry of Justice.

Heard's U.S. counsel Elaine Charlson Bredehoft said that the court's ruling will now strengthen their determination to fight Depp's $50 million defamation lawsuit against Heard, 34, in the U.S., which was recently delayed to May 3, 2021, by Circuit Chief Judge Bruce White in Fairfax County, Virginia.

"For those of us present for the London High Court trial, this decision and Judgment are not a surprise," said Bredehoft in a written statement.

"Very soon, we will be presenting even more voluminous evidence in the U.S. We are committed to obtaining Justice for Amber Heard in the U.S. Court and defending Ms. Heard's Right to Free Speech."