LOS ANGELES - Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen has been chosen to replace Johnny Depp in the upcoming third film in the "Fantastic Beasts" franchise, Warner Bros. said on Wednesday.
Mikkelsen, 55, who is known for his role as serial killer Hannibal Lecter in the U.S. television series "Hannibal," will play the evil wizard Gellert Grindelwald in the spinoff movie from "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling.
Depp was forced to exit the role earlier this month after losing a libel case in Britain against a tabloid newspaper that branded him a "wife beater." The three-week trial in July heard evidence from Depp and his former wife Amber Heard about a tempestuous marriage marked by violence on both sides and of heavy drinking by Depp.
Depp, who had earlier begun production on the third "Fantastic Beasts" movie in London, said he was asked to leave by Warner Bros.
Mikkelsen also played roles in action movies "Doctor Strange" and "Casino Royale" as well as taking roles in Danish dramas such as "The Hunt" and "A Royal Affair."
The "Fantastic Beasts" movies, based on the magical adventures of Newt Scamander, are set some 60 years before the "Harry Potter" films but feature several of the same key characters when they were younger.
The third as yet untitled movie in the series is set for release in July 2022.
The first two of the five planned "Fantastic Beasts" films earned $1.5 billion at the global box office, according to Box Office Mojo. (Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
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