Mads Mikkelsen and three other actors who could replace Johnny Depp in the 'Fantastic Beasts' franchise

Depp has resigned from his role as Gellert Grindelwald following his high-profile libel case in the UK

Mads Mikkelsen, star of Hannibal and Doctor Strange, is in early talks to replace Johnny Depp in the role of the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts 3.

Industry magazine Variety reports that Mikkelson, who has a history of playing complex villains, is in the running to take over from Depp, who announced last week that he would resign from the franchise after losing a libel case against British tabloid The Sun, which labelled him a "wife beater". The newspaper ran an article in 2018 that stated he had been violent towards his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard, 34.

Following the news, it was revealed that Fantastic Beasts 3, which was scheduled for a November 2021 release, would instead be pushed back to July 2022.

The film is currently in production in the UK, but according to reports, Depp had only shot one scene as Grindelwald before being asked by Warner Bros to remove himself from the franchise. This means that should Mikkelson – or any other actor – take on the role, they will not have too much footage to reproduce.

But who else could be in the running?

Colin Farrell

Colin Farrell portrayed the wizard in the first film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, although he played a disguised version of the character.

Fans have requested that he be reinstated in the role on social media, although the Irish actor is currently filming The Batman, meaning his schedule might not align with Fantastic Beasts' production plans.

Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch poses for photographers during a photo call for 'The Current War' at the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, Ontario, September 10, 2017. (Photo by Geoff Robins / AFP)

Back in 2017, rumours swirled on social media that Doctor Strange himself, Benedict Cumberbatch, would replace Johnny Depp as Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, and while that rumour turned out to be false, it has paved the way for fans to once again put him forward. Despite the cast of the Harry Potter franchise reading like a who's who of UK acting talent, Cumberbatch managed to escape any cameos, which could put him in prime position to appear in future projects.

Ewan McGregor

This is another UK star who did not appear in any of the seven Harry Potter films or any subsequent spin-offs. McGregor's name has been put forward by fans on social media as a possible replacement for Depp – and it wouldn't be the first time. In 2010, Depp was cast to appear as Toby in Terry Gilliam's The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, however, the role was then recast to McGregor, who didn't end up playing it either, due to severe delays in production. When it was eventually released in 2018, Adam Driver played the part.