The next installment of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World franchise, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, hasn’t even hit theaters yet and news about its sequel has already started emerging. Fans of the Harry Potter prequel barely had time to process the news that Johnny Depp would be joining the cast of the next film when it was announced that he’d be playing legendary dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald. He won’t be alone, either, as Fantastic Beasts director David Yates told Screen Rant just this week that Grindelwald's oldest frenemy, Albus Dumbledore, would be appearing in the sequel as well.
A few short weeks ago, we theorized that both wizards might well show up in a cameo scene when the first film debuted later this month. With Depp’s casting, a Grindelwald appearance might be in the cards, but Yates seemed to indicate that a young Dumbledore had yet to be cast. Knowing that we likely won’t see the future Hogwarts Headmaster until the next installment of the franchise, here are 15 Actors Who Could Play Dumbledore In Fantastic Beasts 2.
15 Hugh Laurie
During the 8 movies of the original Harry Potter franchise, the producers and directors of the various films seem to have made it their mission to employ every notable British actor they could. Given that, we thought it prudent to pull almost exclusively from performers across the pond for our dream casting.
Thanks to the extensive cast of the previous films, there are a scarce number of British actors left who could play the 45-year-old wizard. One talent that hasn’t yet been tapped is comedian and actor Hugh Laurie. Most well-known for his roles in A Bit of Fry & Laurie and House, M.D., Laurie has the ability to play Dumbledore’s stern and loving sides. While he’s spent much of his career doing comedy, he’s no stranger to drama. Given Dumbledore’s complex nature and whimsical demeanor, Laurie seems like a leading candidate to play iconic character during his younger years. His turn in Tomorrowland also shows he's not averse to big-budget fantasy films.
14 Stephen Fry
It’d be impossible to nominate Hugh Laurie for the role of Dumbledore without also including his long-time comedy partner, Stephen Fry. Equally adept at comedy and known for his dry wit and strong political and social convictions, Fry has the humor, heart, and gravitas needed to embody one of the most powerful and fantastical wizards of all time. He also happens to be gay.
Aside from Britishness, it’s hard to consider actors to play Dumbledore without taking his sexuality into account. While never explicitly stated in the books, Rowling has gone on record saying Dumbledore is gay, a fact she’s hinted will play a role in his portrayal in Fantastic Beasts 2. Given that, someone who actually knows what it’s like to be a gay man of British nationality seems like a strong candidate to play Albus in the upcoming film. With his role as Mycroft in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, he seems comfortable enough joining a potential tentpole franchise, and there’s no doubt that he’d bring something special to the role.
13 John Barrowman
For a Briton who surely won’t shy away taking on a multi-contract deal, we turn to geek-god John Barrowman. As an actor mostly known for television and theater work, Barrowman has yet to crossover to film in a big way. The role of Albus Dumbledore, however, seems the perfect opportunity. Like Fry, Barrowman is a gay actor with plenty of comedy chops, but he’s turned in many dramatic performances as well. What’s more, he often finds a way to blend comedy, camp, and drama into a characterization that's uniquely his own.
On top of all that, he’s got the genre bonafides that beg for his inclusion into the franchise. Long-known for his fan-favorite role as Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who and its spinoff Torchwood, Barrowman has become equally famous for his turn as the villainous Malcolm Merlyn on The CW’s Arrow. For bonus points, he’s even from Scotland, the country long-rumored to be the location of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
12 Christopher Eccleston
Another Doctor Who alum and genre stalwart, Christopher Eccleston has the dramatic chops to play Albus Dumbledore during what’s sure to be a transformative period of his life. Facing off against his former friend Grindelwald, Dumbledore will have to work hard to preserve his humor and humanity during this most trying of times. With a host of intense performances under his belt, Eccleston is more than ready to channel Dumbledore’s pain and rage. His time playing the Ninth Doctor, however, also proves that he’s got the ability to keep things light, even while he’s fighting to save the world.
The Doctor and Dumbledore have a lot in common, as they both have extraordinary power and seem to carry the weight of the world, but go through most of life exuding a warmth, whimsy, and sense of lightness. Eccleston’s last big film role was as the Dark Elf Malekith in Thor: The Dark World, and the writing of the character didn’t do the actor any favors. At 52, Eccleston’s the perfect age to not only play Dumbledore, but to take another shot at portraying a potentially recurring genre mainstay.
11 Hugo Weaving
If you’re looking for an actor who’s proven time and again that they can play large genre roles, then Australian actor Hugo Weaving may just be near the top of that list. He’s faced off against Neo in The Matrix trilogy as Agent Smith, gone toe-to-toe with Optimus Prime in the Transformers series as the voice of Megatron, and played Cap’s oldest foe, the Red Skull, in Captain America: The First Avenger. If you’re looking for drama and intensity from an actor who knows their way around fantasy and sci-fi films, Weaving’s got that in spades.
While all those roles were villainous, he’s also fought for the side of good as Elf leader Elrond in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies and as the titular V in V for Vendetta. Though those roles were equally dramatic, the previous film incarnations of Dumbledore have leaned towards the intense. With an actor of Weaving's caliber, it may just be time to see if he can pull of the warmth and humor needed to play Albus.
10 Lee Pace
Like Hugo Weaving, American actor Lee Pace has played an elven king in The Hobbit trilogy and an MCU Big Bad thanks to his turn as Ronan the Accuser in Guardians of the Galaxy. Though he’s from Oklahoma, he’s proven that he can at least pass for British on screen. With his list of exhilarating performances, genre cred, and Juilliard education, we’d be remiss if we didn’t include him.
Thanks to his scenery chewing performance as Ronan in Guardians, we know that Pace has the ability to keep us on the edge of our seat during a heaping helping of both monologues and fight scenes. These skills are likely to play a part in the role of Dumbledore in Fantastic Beasts 2 as he faces off against Grindelwald. Even though he’s best known for the more dramatic characters he’s played, his recent roles in The Mindy Project and Robot Chicken prove that he’s not afraid to take things a bit lighter.
9 Alan Cumming
Throughout roles across stage and both the big and small screen, Alan Cumming has proven to be a strong comedic and dramatic performer. Like John Barrowman, he’s both Scottish and gay, and at 51, all he needs is some training in magic to make him the real-life Dumbledore. He’s received an Olivier Award for his work on stage, and nominations for Emmy, SAG, and Golden Globe awards thanks to his performance on The Good Wife. Despite his accolades and numerous film and television roles, he’s still not a household name. For genre fans, however, he’s quite well-known.
First making a splash in 1995’s GoldenEye as villainous hacker Boris Grishenko, Cumming is likely most loved for his scene-stealing portrayal of Nightcrawler in the second X-Men film, X-2: X-Men United. Thanks to that role, he’s more than familiar with the ins and outs of a character who has the ability to teleport, meaning he’ll be able to skip the Apparition Lessons at Hogwarts. As Newt Scamander is likely to remain the protagonist in Fantastic Beast 2, Cumming has proven that he has what it takes to play a stand-out secondary character in a big budget genre film.
8 Rupert Everett
Rupert Everett might not be as well-known as some of the other actors on this list, but his long list of film of television roles, and his experiences as a gay Briton, make him the perfect fit for playing a younger Albus Dumbledore. Even if you just casually skim Everett’s filmography you’ll quickly see that he's been dancing around a role in the Harry Potter franchise for almost two decades.
With performances in A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Stardust, The Musketeers, and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Everett is just begging to be added to the cast of Fantastic Beasts 2. Throughout his career, he’s proven that he can handle comedy, drama, tragedy, and fantasy; all prerequisites for playing Albus Dumbledore. Plus, he and co-star Johnny Depp can spend their time between filming discussing what it’s like to work with Tim Burton, and debate whether or not he’s still got it.
7 Christian Bale
Christian Bale, like Hugo Weaving, has spent a lot of time playing in all manner of grim genre films. While the Welsh actor may not be known for a humorous streak, he’s one of the most respected actors in Hollywood and would be quite the get for the Fantastic Beasts 2 franchise. It’s hard to imagine him eating some Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, but watching him throw down against Grindelwald would certainly evoke his time fighting the Joker as the Dark Knight.
This wouldn’t even be the first time he’s been in films about magic and fantasy either. He’s already faced off against dragons in Reign of Fire, proving he could help Newt wrangle some fantastic beasts. He's also had a turn as a magician in The Prestige, showing he knows how to turn the make-believe into a visceral experience for the audience. He may be a long shot, but it’s hard to deny how exciting it’d be to witness his take on Dumbledore.
6 Ben Whishaw
As with many of our casting considerations, Ben Whishaw is both British and gay; he’s also best known for prestige dramas. What sets him apart on our list, however, is his age. At just 36, Whishaw is now 9 years younger than Dumbledore during Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. While the sequel will give him a few years to age, the setting of the film will likely be in the future too. He’ll also have a noticeable age difference when compared to Johnny Depp. Nevertheless, he’s filmography proves he’s a strong choice. Still, we don't quite know how the specifics of wizard aging works, as the Dumbledore we know from the original films is well over 100.
With that in mind, a slightly younger take on Dumbledore just might work. While his multiple roles in Cloud Atlas have surely prepared him for a big budget, CGI-heavy film, it’s his two most famous parts that show he’s got what it takes to play Dumbledore. He’s already familiar with playing the younger version of a franchise mainstay thanks to the Dumbledore-esque Q in Skyfall and Spectre. Even better, his work in I’m Not There means he knows what it’s like to portray the closest real-world example there is to Dumbledore: the enigmatic Bob Dylan.
5 Sean Bean
Though people are most familiar with Sean Bean as the former head (some pun intended) of House Stark in HBO’s Game of Thrones, the British actor has a long history of playing roles in fantasy, sci-fi, and action films. From 006 in GoldenEye to Boromir in The Lord of the Rings trilogy to Zeus himself in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Bean has a number of hefty genre performances under his belt. With turns in the Silent Hill franchise, Jupiter Ascending, The Martian, and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Bean is just begging to be added to the cast of the Fantastic Beast franchise.
While he would have been a strong casting choice for the role of Dumbledore’s former friend and rival Gellert Grindelwald, he’d also make a pretty excellent Albus given his track record. He’s more than got what it takes to manage the drama and action of the film, and his role in Pixels, while not the best qualifier, at least proves he’s not adverse to some comedy. Plus, just imagine how the Internet would react if Ned Stark was cast as Albus Dumbledore; that alone is worth it.
4 Eddie Izzard
Knowing that the histrionic Johnny Depp is playing the dark wizard Grindelwald, it seems only fitting that an actor just as capable of camp be chosen to play Dumbledore. Enter Eddie Izzard, the comedian John Cleese once referred to as “The Lost Python.” Known for performances that traffic in both the surreal and the absurd, Izzard has the personality and ability to walk the line between drama and whimsy that’s required for any portrayal of Albus Dumbledore. As someone who has described himself as both as a transvestite and transgender, he also understands the LGBTQ experience that’s likely to prove crucial to this chapter in Dumbledore’s life.
His roles as Reepicheep in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian showed that he was comfortable operating in a fantasy world, but his performance as Mr. Kite in Across the Universe may just be the clincher. If you haven’t seen the film, do yourself a favor and check out his scene from the movie. It’s hard to watch that and not immediately want to see what Izzard would be like as Dumbledore.
3 Benedict Cumberbatch
Thanks to splitting his time between playing Doctor Strange (who's set to appear in Avengers: Infinity War as well) and his turn as the titular detective in BBC’s Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch likely won’t have a lot of free time to join another massive franchise. Still, as one of the most prominent, young British actors, we’d be remiss if we didn’t at least consider his merits. Thanks to his recent work on SNL, we know he’s got comedic chops. The rest of his body of work more than proves his dramatic bonafides. As for genre and fantasy work, he’s got heaps of that as well.
Even if we ignore the fact that he just played a sorcerer in an action/fantasy film with plenty of laughs, he’s got a slew of other roles that show he’s ready to join J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. From his work as Smaug and the Necromancer in The Hobbit trilogy, to his performance as the villainous Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness, Cumberbatch seems destined to join some iteration of the Harry Potter franchise. Since we don’t yet know how large of a role Dumbledore will play in Fantastic Beast 2 and its sequels, it’s possible Cumberbatch could squeeze the part into his schedule. After all, who would miss a chance to play the iconic wizard?
2 Colin Firth
There’s a good reason why Colin Firth is our number two pick; actually, there are a lot of them. The British actor has done plenty of both comedies and dramas, and his work has seen him showered in accolades. He’s won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and three SAG awards, along with numerous others. At 56, he may be a bit older than Dumbledore, but that only makes him a few years the senior of Depp.
His recent work in Kingsman: The Secret Service, and its upcoming sequel, also introduced him to the world of genre and action films, meaning he’s ready to tangle with beasts, dark wizards, and all manner of magic. He’s also one of the few prestigious British actors left who haven’t yet been in the Harry Potter franchise. That means it’s not only inevitable that he’ll eventually join their ranks, but that Dumbledore may be the last role left in the series worthy of Firth’s prowess.
1 Michael Gambon
Who better to play Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore in Fantastic Beasts 2 than one of the two actors who have previously portrayed him. When Warner Bros. and Chris Columbus first brought the Harry Potter series to the big screen in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Irish actor Richard Harris was tasked with playing the eccentric headmaster. He reprised the role in the sequel, but sadly passed away due to Hodgkin's disease shortly thereafter. For the next six films in the franchise, Michael Gambon assumed the role of the world’s greatest wizard, and it’s hard to imagine anyone else taking his place.
At 76, he’s a few decades too old to pull off Albus in his prime, but Hollywood has some magic of its own that can help with that. Brought to prominence in X-Men: the Last Stand, the process of digitally de-aging actors enabled Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart to play much younger versions of their characters. Since then, it’s been used to allow a number of actors to play younger versions of themselves, including Jeff Bridges in Tron: Legacy and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator Salvation. While it’s likely that WB will simply recast the role, it’s hard to argue that seeing Michael Gambon take one more turn as Albus Dumbledore wouldn’t be a magical experience.
Are there any other actors you think would be perfect for the role of a younger Dumbledore in Fantastic Beast 2? Let us know in the comments.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them hits theaters November 18, 2016. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 2 will release on November 16, 2018.