Warner Bros has confirmed the casting of Hannibal star Mads Mikkelsen in the role of dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts franchise.

Mads Mikkelsen will be trading one iconic screen villain for another. Warner Bros has confirmed that the former Hannibal star will join the third Fantastic Beasts film, scheduled to be released in 2022, as Gellert Grindelwald, the franchise’s main antagonist.

Mikkelsen replaces Johnny Depp in the role – the Pirates of the Carribbean actor resigned from Fantastic Beasts in November 2020, in the midst of his ongoing legal battle with ex-wife Amber Heard.

Deadline reports that the as-of-yet untitled film is already in production at long-time Wizarding World film location Leavesden Studios, located outside of London. The same report also stated that while the David Yates production was originally scheduled for a November 12, 2021 release, the new set date has been confirmed as July 15, 2022.

All things considered, the acclaimed Danish actor, who has also appeared in Casino Royale and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, is technically the fourth actor to play Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts. Colin Farrell originated the role while in the guise of Auror Percival Graves, followed by Depp and then Jamie Campbell-Bower reprising his Harry Potter role as a younger iteration of the character.

Fantastic Beasts
Mads Mikkelsen – Photograph: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Heading into the third film, Mikkelsen joins a returning ensemble cast that includes Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne (Newt Scamander), Jude Law (Albus Dumbledore), Katherine Waterston (Tina Goldstein), Dan Fogler (Jacob Kowalski), Alison Sudol (Queenie Goldstein), Ezra Miller (Credence Barebone) and Callum Turner (Theseus Scamander).

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