The search is on for a new headmaster of Hogwarts.
Following the death Friday of Richard Harris, who played the beloved Albus Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter movies, Warner Bros. is now left with the task of finding a replacement to don the wizard's cap.
Catching a snitch would seem easier.
"It's impossible to even think about [any other actor in the role]. For me, there is only one Dumbledore," Chris Columbus, director of the first two Potter films, told USA Today just hours before Harris' death.
According to the studio, the 72-year-old Harris had signed on to play Dumbledore for the entire planned seven installments of J.K. Rowling's wildly popular fantasy franchise. He was due to begin shooting the third film, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, in either February or March.
Harris fell ill during the making of the upcoming Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. As Harris was in a London hospital battling Hodgkin's disease, filmmakers used a stand-in to double for the actor in his unfinished scenes.
Although Harris' agent was optimistic that his chemotherapy would thwart the cancer and allow the actor to complete Prisoner of Azkaban, Potter producers were already reportedly looking for emergency replacements before Harris died.
Neither Warners nor Prisoner of Azkaban director Alfonso Cuaron would comment on the search to find a suitable Harris sub. But London's Daily Mirror tabloid says the filmmakers have zeroed in on a likely candidate: Harris' Chamber of Secrets stand-in.
The paper quotes an unnamed insider close to the production as saying that 72-year-old Harry Robinson not only looks like the esteemed Irish actor, but also has his mannerisms and voice down pat, so much so that "producers have told Harry there's a very strong chance of him getting the part."
Robinson told the Mirror he'd be more than willing. "It would be my tribute to someone I was very fond of."
In any case, Cuaron--the Y Tu Mama Tambien director tapped to succeed Columbus in guiding Harry and friends through those awkward teen years--needs to find his new Dumbledore soon. Warners is banking on the film being done by summer 2004, meaning Cuaron needs to stick to the early 2003 start date.
Ironically, Harris wasn't exactly thrilled about playing Dumbledore in seven films shot back to back. (He often said he only took the role at the insistence of his young granddaughter, who threatened never to speak to him again if he refused.)
"It wasn't because I didn't like the material or the people involved," Harris told the Associated Press. "I just didn't like the idea that if you said 'yes' and you did it, then you were committed if they did seven, and I would have to do seven."
He even asked his agent if it were possible to leave the franchise after only a few films.
"He called me back and said, 'You can get out of it,'" Harris recalled. "I said, 'Tell me, how!' And he said..., 'Die.' "
Harris' final turn as Dumbledore in Chamber of Secrets hits theaters November 15.