Image via Warner Bros.
When it comes to Harry Potter lore, perhaps no character is more beloved than the wise headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore (and yes, that is his full name).
While the character may have first appeared in print in 1997 in the debut book by J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (or “…and the Sorcerer’s Stone” if you lived in the U.S.), the long-bearded, lemon sherbet-loving wizard didn’t make his on-screen debut until 2001. And while this may have been a more straightforward article to write if it was the same actor playing the role from way back then until now, that is simply not the case, as many different thespians have taken up the mantle.
Richard Harris originated the film version of Dumbledore. He played the headmaster in both 2001’s Philosopher’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets in 2002, but unfortunately, that was also the same year the Irish actor passed away, making it his final film role.
Interestingly, the role almost went to a different actor, with Harris citing declining health as a reason for turning it down. But Harris’ 11-year-old granddaughter threatened to never speak with him again if he didn’t take the part. So after thrice declining the role, he eventually accepted it, according to The Guardian.
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Briefly, the studio considered Harry Robinson for the movie role. He technically counts as having portrayed the character since he doubled for Harris in the first two films and even voiced the part of Dumbledore in the first Harry Potter videogame. However, Michael Gambon would eventually be the one to land the part for the third movie and all of the rest of the mainline installments of the film franchise.
However, there are some Flashback scenes in Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Part 2, so Toby Regbo portrayed the role of Dumbledore in his youth for those scenes.
In the modern prequel franchise, Jude Law now plays a younger Dumbledore, with that version of the character debuting in the second installment, 2018’s Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Law will reprise his role in the forthcoming third installment, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, which will come to theaters on April 15, 2022.
So that more or less covers most bases for the character, but we should also note that the prolific voice actor Hubert Fielden — known for his work in many popular video games like the Prince of Persia series and Assassin’s Creed — played the Quebec French version of the character in the dubbed Harry Potter films, according to to the Assassin’s Creed Fandom Wiki.
However, what’s perhaps more interesting than who has played Dumbeldore is who narrowly missed out on the role. At various times throughout film production, producers considered everyone from Sean Connery to Christopher Lee and Ian McKellen for the part; however, they all had to decline for one reason or another. Even Peter O’ Toole was name-dropped by Harris’ family as a chosen replacement at one point, reports NJ.com.