Fan Cast: Who Should Play Albus Dumbledore in “Fantastic Beasts”?
With the news that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be five films, and that the films will all lead to the infamous battle between Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald, we’re wondering exactly who could fill the younger shoes of Richard Harris and Michael Gambon.
When thinking about what one would look for in a younger version of this beloved character, we know that whomever is chosen to play this role must fit certain criteria. Dumbledore was born in 1881, which in 1928, the time frame for the second film in the series, would put him at age 49. We also know that the battle between the two powerful wizards takes place in 1945, thus aging Dumbledore to 64 for the final film in the series.
Dumbledore is described as having “brilliant, soul-piercing blue eyes,” “long and skillful fingers,” and a “crooked nose.” In his youth, he had auburn hair, and he was also described as still looking quite young and was very agile and strong, even into his old age.
Since we know that the Albus of the Fantastic Beasts series will have already buried his sister Ariana and been presumably punched in the nose at her funeral by his brother Aberforth, the crooked nose could definitely come into play. We also know that there are lots of things the hair and make-up departments can do, so hair color, facial hair, eye color, and other physical attributes can be changed if someone doesn’t quite fit the bill in appearance but has the talent to tackle the role. Taking all of this into account, let’s get to our fan casting, in no particular order!
An Irish actor already well known for his lead role as 1920s gang leader Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders, we can completely see him as a younger Albus! He’s got the piercing blue eyes and lean frame, and he already has a Potter connection – starring with Helen McCrory (Narcissa Malfoy) in Peaky Blinders. Born in 1976, Murphy could play a younger Albus, even though the actor is only 40.
Canadian J.R. Bourne may not be a Brit, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t play one. Granted, most will recognize him from playing roles a bit darker (Teen Wolf, Revenge, Fringe) than our young and spirited Albus, but we think he just might have the acting chops to pull it off. Something about those kind eyes has us convinced he’s a contender. He’s also exactly in the right age range at 46 and could grow with the role, depending on how many time jumps occur between films.
Having already been mentioned by David Heyman as an option, many of the MuggleNet staff members have warmed to the idea of Jared Harris. I think this could be solely because he is the son of the late Richard Harris, who previously played Albus Dumbledore in the first two Potter films. Pushing the emotional connection aside, he’s included in this list not because of the relationship to an actor within the Potter family whom we have fond feelings for, but because he has the acting stones to do the role justice. While Harris is toward the later range at 55 years old, he’s quite the character actor and a huge talent. His eyes convey emotions that captivate you and keep you locked on his performance. If you haven’t done so yet, you should check him out in the new Netflix series, The Crown.
If you’re a fan of Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, or The Originals, this face is familiar to you. If not, let us introduce you! Sebastian Roché is a television star, having participated in a wide range of roles for the small screen. Yes, he’s French, but we think he could fill a Brit’s shoes – his accent is certainly spot on, in my opinion. Roché, 55, has played good, evil, and all the gray areas in between. Since Dumbledore tends to balance his morality unsteadily on a razor edge in his youth with Grindelwald in particular, Roché could play the struggle of this character very convincingly.
He’s English, he’s a ginger, and for the love of all that is good, he’s got the smoulder! Damian Lewis, 45, is best known for his role in Showtime’s Homeland, and he also has a Potter connection – he’s married to Helen McCrory, who played Narcissa Malfoy! When his name first came up in our fan cast discussion, I didn’t see it. But then I saw a couple of photos and thought, “Oh yeah, this guy could so play Dumbledore!” He’s the right age. He has the right height and build. He could definitely bring that as-yet-unexplored romantic relationship between Grindelwald and Dumbledore to the screen in a believable way.
At 45, Richard Armitage is just the right age for our potential young Albus, and his facial symmetry is close to the book description for the young Hogwarts professor. Those blue eyes, they do fit the bill! He also has the smoulder factor, which I still consider a complete bonus, even though the films may not fully explore the romantic relationship between Gellert and Albus. Armitage has the ability to be soft-spoken (as demonstrated in the drama series North and South) as well as the ability to bring the hammer down (as seen in the Hobbit trilogy, where he played Thorin Oakenshield). I’d like to see what he could do with Dumbledore!
So what if he’s busy trying to help his Khaleesi take over the Iron Throne in HBO’s Game of Thrones? Iain Glen appears to be in the running for Dumbledore, given his incredible talent, stature, and those eyes! He can play a kind soul or a villainous snake, but those eyes will get you every time. He’s Scottish, which could help him since Michael Gambon gave a bit of Scotland in his performance as Dumbledore as an homage to the late Richard Harris. At 55, he’s on the end of the age range we might want to see since we still have until 2024 (say whaaaaaaat???) before we see the final film in the series. Here’s hoping Iain continues to age well!
Tall, dark, and handsome. It might seem like I’m focused a lot on looks, and sure, I’m noticing how physically appealing most on the list are, but we are talking about casting based on the book descriptions. Matthew Goode, at 38, could potentially fulfill most of our requirements in this department. He has the tall and lean figure, the accent is built in, and while you can’t really see it in the picture above, he happens to own a pair of dazzling blue eyes. Yes, he’s played a lot of romantic leads (Leap Year and Downton Abbey), but he’s also handled some pretty serious roles. Hugh Alexander in The Imitation Game and the evil Ozymandias in The Watchman, just to name a few.
Let’s just ignore the fact that Toby Stephens is basically acting royalty as the son of Dame Maggie Smith (Professor Minerva McGonagall) and Sir Robert Stephens. We know he has the gravitas to handle any battle scenes (have you seen Black Sails?) as well as those that call for more tender emotions (hello, Mr. Edward Fairfax Rochester!). He’s the right age at 47, and he’s got the stunning blue eyes and the ginger hair. Would he even be interested in something like this? I’m not sure if he would, but I’d be happy with him as our young professor!
Last on our list is Tom Mison, the youngest to make the cut at 34 years old. Age is but a number, or so they say, and I have to agree when it comes to this young star. He’s handled the lead in the television series Sleepy Hollow for the last three years on FOX, playing Ichabod Crane, a man out of time who has been thrust into the modern world. He’s done a round on the Jane Austen circuit as Mr. Charles Bingley in Lost in Austen. Perhaps most intriguing to me as we think about our potential list is that not only does he physically match the description of Albus (except for the auburn hair), but he also holds himself in much the same way the young wizard would. He speaks softly but can make the beams tremble if needed, his eyes always seem to be alight with humor, and he seems wise beyond his years.
By no means is this a comprehensive list – there are still many more talented actors we could discuss. We’d like to hear your thoughts on who could possibly fulfill this role. Leave your suggestions in our comments section below!