With Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them finally in theaters, we can excitedly look ahead to its sequels. Not that we weren’t already doing so since learning there would be a total of five Fantastic Beasts films, but now it’s a little easier to consider what’s next! One of the most exciting things to look forward to is how these films will tell us more about two legendary wizards: Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald.
We already know that the dark wizard Grindelwald, who cameos in this film and will appear in others, is played by Johnny Depp. The news sparked controversy among fans, but it seems like Depp will remain around for now. That leaves us with the question of who would be best for the part of Dumbledore, and there’s a lot to consider when looking at the options. By the 1926 setting of Fantastic Beasts, Dumbledore would be 45. Depending on how much, if at all, the sequel time jumps, he’d be around that age when we finally meet the younger version of the wizard. The films will span 19 years, so the actor will have to evolve with the part and play the wizard at various ages up to his famous duel with Grindelwald. Dumbledore is also at a much different place in this time period than we’d seen him before, as he is dealing with the rise of Grindelwald, the former friend he’d fallen in love with. Of course, even with those troubles I would imagine there’d still be some spark of what makes Dumbledore the man we know he becomes later on, so adding that to the mix gives an actor a lot to play around with.
It’s a big wizard hat to fill, especially with two great actors having already played the part in Richard Harris and Michael Gambon. However, I think there are a number of actors who would be more than up to the task! Here are 9 men I think should be considered to play Dumbledore.
Ewan McGregor might just be the most prepared to take on the role of Dumbledore. He’s a talented actor who has played a variety of roles in film and television over the years. Many of his roles in films like Trainspotting, Moulin Rouge, and others have become quite iconic in pop culture and he has the added experience of being involved in a genre series with a more than one film commitment thanks to Star Wars. McGregor would not only be familiar with what is required to be in such a popular franchise, but he knows what it’s like to take on the role of a character we’ve seen on film before. He masterfully played the younger version of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequels, making the role his own while also connecting it to the Obi-Wan we all knew in the original trilogy played by Alec Guinness. I can see him bringing that same dedication to the role of Dumbledore and portraying the character in a way fitting for the different time period while including some familiar nods to the older version of the character.
With roles in film, TV, and theater, Alan Cumming is a versatile actor who has worked in all-different genres. From Nightcrawler in X2 to Eli Gold on The Good Wife, no matter what he appears in Cumming always seems to offer a performance that’s hard to forget! That’s why with his experience I can see him bringing a lot to Dumbledore and not being intimidated by taking on such a beloved character. I think Cumming would bring an edge to Dumbledore that would be fitting for the place the character is in during this time while also keeping a bit of the mischievousness we would recognize from his later years. That balance is something I can see Cumming doing very well.
Jared Harris is an option that’s been discussed a lot lately as a possibility. He’s come to mind not only because of his talent, but also because of his connection to the Harry Potter universe and Dumbledore specifically. Harris is the son of the late Richard Harris, who was the first actor to bring Dumbledore to life in theaters for the films Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. His resemblance to his father would certainly make it easy to see a connection between this Dumbledore and the one we meet later on. However that’s not all that Harris would bring to the part. He’s also shown himself able to play quite compelling characters in The Crown, Mad Men, Fringe, and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
The first time I saw Richard Armitage act was in the BBC’s Robin Hood where he played Guy of Gisborne and his performance has stuck with me ever since. He’s given a number of other great performances too, appearing in series like Hannibal and even making a brief but memorable appearance in Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger. It’s his role as Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit movies, though, that I think is the best proof he can pull off playing Dumbledore. He showed the different dynamics of Thorin wonderfully in the films. The range we saw with Thorin convinces me he can handle the different aspects of Dumbledore that we’d need to see in the Fantastic Beasts series as he struggles with Grindelwald coming to power and eventually having to face him. Like Ewan McGregor, he would be familiar with signing on to a franchise with a lot of fans and the commitment that entails. Also frankly, it’s pretty clear from his various parts that Armitage can pull off a beard quite well if he has to!
Despite being on the younger side of the spectrum for Dumbledore, I think Ben Whishaw could do a great job as the well-known wizard. Whether it’s on the stage or on screen Whishaw already has some impressive work on his resume, which includes his take on a younger Q in the recent James Bond films. It’s a combination that makes me think Whishaw could more than handle taking on the role of Dumbledore in the series. I’d in fact be very interested in seeing what the young actor would do with the part.
Hugh Laurie is the oldest actor on my list, but I think it’s about time he was part of the Harry Potter universe and playing Dumbledore just might be the best way to do it! Frankly his whole body of work can speak for itself as to why he’d be excellent for the part. Laurie seems able to play basically any role. From comedy to drama, from House to Veep, he’s an excellent actor. I can see Laurie having no problem really letting the different sides of the wizard shine in Fantastic Beasts. He’d be perfect for portraying a conflicted Dumbledore dealing with the growing darkness in the world and the weight that puts on his shoulders while showing some of the more humorous side of the character as well.
Aidan Turner is quite a lot younger than Dumbledore and Grindelwald are supposed to be, but despite being the youngest on this list I think it’s worth considering Turner for the role. At just 33 he’s already played a number of impressive parts that make me believe he could easily play a Dumbledore who ages throughout the series. He was fantastic in BBC’s Being Human and has experience working in a franchise thanks to his role as Kíli in The Hobbit trilogy. Turner is also making waves in his current role on BBC’s Poldark and has even been discussed as a possible replacement for Daniel Craig as James Bond! Before that happens, Fantastic Beasts might want to scoop him up and let him try his hand at the iconic wizard role instead!
Mark Gatiss is known in particular for his work on Sherlock and Doctor Who, but let’s not forget he’s quite an experienced actor beyond these familiar series. Given the roles he’s played in the past, I find it easy to imagine him in the part of the Hogwarts professor. I think he’d bring that sense of charm and intellect we expect to find in Dumbledore with a bit of mystery and secrets yet to be revealed surrounding him as well. Casting Gatiss in my opinion would be a creative and more out of the box choice than the others, giving him the chance to really show his talent in a big film role for the next few years.
Ioan Gruffud isn’t exactly a household name, but that’s no reason he can’t play Dumbledore. I’ve enjoyed his work ever since seeing him years ago in the British Horatio Hornblower series and thought he was a rather good Reed Richards in the Fantastic Four films too. No matter what he’s in I think Gruffudd’s performances stand out. However recently I don’t think he’s been in a movie or series that really took full advantage of his potential. Playing Dumbledore in Fantastic Beasts could really let Gruffudd loose in showing his abilities, and give us a smart, troubled, kind Dumbledore that would be perfect for the era.
Who would you like to see cast as Dumbledore? Tell us in the comments!