Jude Law will play a younger version of Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore in the second installment of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter spin-off franchise, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Variety reports.
Warner Bros. announced Wednesday that the twice-Oscar-nominated British actor, fresh off his acclaimed performance in HBO's The Young Pope, will play the beloved Dumbledore decades before becoming Hogwarts' headmaster – and Potter's crucial mentor. In Fantastic Beasts 2, Dumbledore serves as the wizarding school's Transfiguration professor.
Richard Harris played Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter films, and Michael Gambon took over the role after Harris' death in 2002.
The studio reportedly considered a range of prominent British actors, including Christine Bale and Benedict Cumberbatch, before coming to terms with Law. In a statement about the casting, director David Yates praised the actor's work, adding, "I know he will brilliantly capture all the unexpected facets of Albus Dumbledore as J.K. Rowling reveals this very different time in his life."
Fantastic Beasts 2, written by Rowling, co-stars Eddie Redmayne (as Newt Scamander) and Johnny Depp (villain Grindelwald). Even before Law's casting, many of the headlines surrounding the project focused on Dumbledore: Rowling revealed in 2007 that she envisioned the character as gay, and at a press conference promoting the first film last year, Rowling hinted that the professor could be open with his sexuality at some point in the five-part franchise.
"You will see Dumbledore as a younger man and quite a troubled man," she said. "We'll see him at that formative period of his life. As far as his sexuality is concerned, watch this space."
The sequel, which commences production this summer and is expected to hit theaters November 16th, 2018.