As Newt Scamander’s briefcase of beasts wreak havoc across multiplexes in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (read our ★★★★ review here) this weekend, and with the knowledge that a further four instalments are in the mix, it seems apt to start looking towards the future. Previous reports have informed that a young Albus Dumbledore (or Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore if you want to get extremely technical…) will play a critical role in the forthcoming films – all believed to be directed by David Yates – yet no news of official casting has been made.
The iconic figure and headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is one of author J.K. Rowling’s principal players in her sprawling Wizarding World, and is famed for serving as a mentor and role model to Harry Potter; “The Boy Who Lived”. However Dumbledore himself has lead a truly fascinating and complex existence which spans far deeper than his interactions with Harry. Potterheads across the globe will know much of this great sorcerer’s history, and his most notable accomplishment of defeating Gellert Grindelwald in 1945. This particular dark wizard will serve as a core antagonist in Fantastic Beasts 2 (the sequel is currently untitled) and has already been cast in Johnny Depp. In fact, he makes a cameo appearance in the Eddie Redmayne-led movie.
Given the particular timeframe Fantastic Beasts is set within (the first story unfolding in 1926, and the defeat of Grindelwald some 20 years later), and the fact that Dumbledore was born in 1881, living until his early 100s (somewhere between 110 – 120), it would make sense that a young rendition of the character for this new franchise would be aged around 40-50 years old. We are presuming that the sequel will take place a couple of years after the first, but this of course could be completely incorrect. With this information in mind, we have selected five actors who we think would make a fantastic (pun entirely intended) young Dumbledore and really give that schemer Grindelwald a run for his magical money…
This one just makes sense. After all, his late father Richard Harris was the original Dumbledore casting in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001), and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), before being replaced by Michael Gambon. Jared Harris is an extremely talented performer, impressing in television period dramas such as Mad Men and Netflix’s The Crown, but he is starting to become more prominent in feature films, too. He offered excellent work in Kelly Reichardt’s ethereal Certain Women, and will appear in Robert Zemeckis’ Allied alongside Brad Pitt and Marion Cottilard. It would be a most comfortable fit, and producer David Heyman could see it as a keen opportunity to pay homage to the legendary headmaster.
One of the most versatile and commanding performers of his generation, the English-born Australian character actor Guy Pearce would underpin the many complex layers of Dumbeldore with dexterous skill. Whilst some would argue that only a “British” actor should land the role, Pearce can deliver accents better than pretty much anyone, and with such an illustrious filmography to boot, would be a tremendous asset to the Fantastic Beasts franchise. His schedule is largely free in 2017 (only Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant and TV miniseries When We Rise occupying space as of writing), so would almost certainly be able to commit to Yates’ spin-offs. Whilst this is something of a wide bet, it is also a good one, and we’d love to see it happen.
Able to straddle both big-budget franchises and intimate independents, Ewan McGregor is an ideal candidate for a young Dumbledore. He offers a sensitivity and kindness, and is able to maintain weight in scenes; ensuring he commands even alongside some of the industry’s brightest and best. Whilst prone to inconsistencies, McGregor is in fine form right now with his fabulously audacious directorial debut American Pastoral in theatres, as well as returning to play cult antihero Renton in Danny Boyle’s T2: Trainspotting early in 2017. He provides enough experience and range to thrive in this role, and would serve as a excellent poster face for the sequels’ promotional campaign, too.
The youngest entry on our list, despite a sprawling array of excellent roles in past projects. Some still see Jude Law as just an attractive face, but he actually offers much scale and ability as a performer, and can convey a simmering menace with exceptional skill. Recent roles in Black Sea, Don Hemingway and HBO’s The Young Pope have all exercised Law’s captivating performance palette, and he’d bring a searing intensity to a conflicted Dumbledore; a wizard capable of greatness, yet is forever fending off sordid inner demons. Law could brilliantly showcase his less desirable qualities and moral complexity, and would make a fitting and flashy counterpart to Depp’s Grindelwald.
The ultimate screen chameleon. Hugh Laurie doesn’t just play characters, he envelopes himself in them; exhausting every inch of his frame to evoke more texture and body to each of his roles. Subtly shifting from drama to comedy – as if he merely flicks a switch – Laurie would be able to render Dumbledore in a truly fascinating light. We’d see the tenderness and delicacy, yet brimming underneath those layers lies something far darker and dangerous. With his impeccable work upon the small screen in the United States with shows such as House and HBO’s Veep, a casting in Fantastic Beasts would give him a major big-screen franchise for the first time in his elongated career, and what an introduction it would be. He’d carry the burden of responsibility and pain, but counter it with that trademark wit.
Who do you think would make the perfect young Albus Dumbledore? Leave a comment below with your picks! Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is out now in IMAX across UK cinemas.