By James Hibberd
Updated November 25, 2020 at 02:03 PM EST
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Fantastic Beasts 3

It's official: Mads Mikkelsen is the new Gellert Grindelwald.

The Hannibal and Rogue One star is confirmed to replace Johnny Depp as the notorious dark wizard in the Fantastic Beasts franchise.

The news after Depp was forced out of the Harry Potter prequel franchise (and after EW suggested Mikkelsen — among a few others — as a replacement for Depp).

Warner Bros. had to move quickly given that the third film in the series is already in production in the U.K.

Some fans pushed for the studio to hire Colin Farrell, who already played Grindelwald — albeit in disguise — in the franchise's first film, 2016's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. But Farrell is currently filming another Warner Bros. title, playing The Penguin in Matt Reeve's The Batman, and is unavailable even if the studio would have wanted to go that route.

The studio asked Depp to resign from the film after the actor lost his libel lawsuit against a U.K. publication that alleged he was abusive towards his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Depp reportedly only shot a single scene for the film so far, yet the studio still had to pay his eight-figure salary as part of their "pay or play" deal with the actor.

Depp's own suggestions helped physically design his version of Grindelwald: a deathly pale specter with spiky, platinum blond hair, a modest mustache, and one odd "scary eye." It's unclear how much of that, if any, will carry over to the new iteration of the character.

The film's release date was previously set for next year, but with the recent recasting news, the film has been pushed back to July 15, 2022.

The third film is once again directed by longtime Harry Potter franchise veteran David Yates and is based on a screenplay by author J.K. Rowling along with Steve Kloves. Stars Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, and others are set to return. Filming was supposed to begin in March, then was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and production recently commenced.

Story details about the third film are scarce, but we know that it takes place largely in Rio de Janeiro and leads up to the Wizarding World's involvement with World War II.

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Fantastic Beasts 3

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