A fresh set of actors are about to be enrolled in what the film series cast cheekily nicknamed ‘the Harry Potter Pension plan’. US streamer Max’s plan to re-adapt the Potter books into a TV show running for 10 consecutive years and starting in 2025/6 should keep the lucky new cast in greasepaint and copies of The Stage indefinitely.
But who will they be? Lead characters Harry, Ron and Hermione will almost certainly be played by unknowns, but the Hogwarts ensemble – Dumbledore, Snape, McGonagall, Hagrid and co. – will be picked from the current crop of British acting talent, just like their counterparts were over two decades ago. Who working today could follow in the footsteps of Sir Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Dame Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane and the rest?
While it’s too early for any solid cast news, there’s no harm in a bit of dream-casting at this point, so… what about this lot?
Albus Dumbledore: Mark Rylance
Can’t you see it? Mark Rylance could bring all the intelligence, kindness, mischief and edge of danger to Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore that Richard Harris and Sir Michael Gambon did in the original film series. Not to mention his many and acclaimed stage roles: we’ve seen him playful and avuncular in The BFG, unknowable and tricky in Bridge of Spies, and a scheming, robed mastermind in Wolf Hall… You’d buy Rylance chatting about socks and ear wax-flavoured Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans just as much as you would him duelling with Voldemort in the Ministry of Magic Atrium.
Alternatively: Ralph Fiennes (but with his nose this time) or Liam Neeson.
Minerva McGonagall: Adjoa Andoh
Apart from there being something slinkily feline about Adjoa Andoh to fit Professor McGonagall transmogrification animal of choice, she has the same poise and presence of her predecessor in the role: Dame Maggie Smith. It’s easy to imagine the woman behind Richard II at The Globe and Bridgerton’s Lady Agatha Danbury handing out house points and sharp words to Gryffindor’s pupils, while she’d also have the mettle to defend the school with the piertotum locomotor spell come the final battle of Hogwarts.
Alternatively: Kristin Scott-Thomas or Gillian Anderson – but they might be a bit more Slytherin. Olivia Colman?
Rubeus Hagrid: Andy Serkis
They’d have to do some Gandalf-and-Frodo-style VFX trickery of course, but who better to act underneath prosthetics or digital ‘magic’ than The Lord of the Rings and Planet of the Apes’ Andy Serkis? He’s avuncular, funny, and could pull off Hagrid’s comedic naivete and fierce loyalty to Harry and Hogwarts with ease. In fact, get Serkis back in a mo-cap suit and have him play Hagrid, Fang, Fluffy, Buckbeak and Aragog to boot – five for the price of one!
Or: Danny Mays (The Long Shadow, Line of Duty) would also make a great Hagrid.
Severus Snape: Matt Smith
Forget Adam Driver. You can’t have a Californian Severus Snape, but you absolutely could have one from Northampton – specifically Matt Smith, who’s closer in age to the book character than Alan Rickman was when the film series began. Fans of Matt Smith in Doctor Who know that he has screen presence by the bucketful, while fans of him in House of the Dragon know that he can also do charismatic villainy, and fans of him in The Crown have seen him do buttoned-up Britishness and barely contained rage in style. Unknowable, a bit scary, a convincing baddy with a believable beating heart beneath the cloak – Smith would be perfect.
Remus Lupin: Ewan McGregor
Despite the Werewolf-ness of it all, Remus was always a wonderful mentor for Harry as well as a mysterious and dashing love interest for Nymphadora Tonks. Ruggedly handsome McGregor, now in his early 50s, seems like a great fit, bringing the dark past of Renton from Trainspotting, with the wisdom of Obi Wan and the romantic appeal of Moulin Rouge’s Christian. Plus we’d love to see him on a broom.
Alternatively: Michael Smiley, if you want a slightly more haunted Lupin, or how about Christopher Eccleston?
Sybill Trelawney: Sally Hawkins
In the books Sybill Trelawney is described as slight and insect-like with humongous glasses, and we reckon Sally Hawkins could rock that look. Trelawney is the Divination mistress and Harry, Ron and Hermione think she’s a charlatan. Turns out she’s (mostly) not. Sally Hawkins is surely the queen of playing characters who are underestimated. Check her out in The Shape of Water, Blue Jasmine and even the Paddington movies for proof. Trelawney does her best work when she’s in a trance-like state which Hawkins would no doubt have fun with, plus the plot line in Order of the Phoenix where Sybill is harassed and fired by Dolores Umbridge would be heartbreaking with the lovely Hawkins (to be fair, it was pretty devastating with the equally lovely Emma Thompson anyway). Make it so.
Alternatively: We’d love to see Daisy May Cooper give it a shot. Or Ghosts’ Katy Wix?
Gilderoy Lockhart: Michael Sheen
Look, it’s true we might be saying this because Sheen’s Aziraphale from Good Omens looks a bit like Lockhart if he had chosen the path of good, but Sheen is the most chameleon-like actor we have and can turn his hand to anything. And changeability is a big part of the personality of the Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher at the center of The Chamber of Secrets. Lockhart is pompous, arrogant, self absorbed, a committed showman and a massive fibber. Kenneth Branagh’s embodiment was also delightfully foppish, while also being utterly corrupt. Sheen would be funny and irresistible making it all the more shocking when he betrays Harry and Ron in The Chamber of Secrets, nicks Ron’s wand and attempts to wipe the boys’ memories. Sheen would have a riot.
Alternatively: Wonka and Boat Story’s Paterson Joseph could also do this one in his sleep, as could House’s Hugh Laurie.
Argus Filch: Reece Shearsmith
Warning: video below contains strong language and is not suitable for children.
Movie Filch David Bradley is a national treasure and is obviously quite a lot older than Reece Shearsmith, but the Inside No. 9 co-creator and star can really pull off a grumpy-pants. Hogwarts caretaker Filch is a misanthropist who appears to dislike the staff as much as the children, taking pleasure in catching them breaking the rules and doling out punishments. Shearsmith is incredibly versatile (check out Psychoville and The League of Gentlemen to get a true idea of the man’s range), but his mardy bastards are particularly enjoyable.
Alternatively: The Full Monty and Once Upon a Time’s Robert Carlyle.
Quirinus Quirrell: Steve Pemberton
The Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher from Harry’s first year at Hogwarts is a dark horse. On the face of it he’s dithery and ineffectual but on the back-of-the-head of it he’s secretly the host of parasite Voldermort. We’d like Steve Pemberton partly because reuniting him and Inside No.9 co-creator Reece Shearsmith would be fun, but partly for his similar versatility. Pemberton can be mercurial, and we reckon he’d look good in a turban too.
Alternatively: Mark Gatiss obviously.
Madam Hooch: Zawe Ashton
The highly accomplished, strict but fair flying tutor and quidditch referee requires a certain amount of gravitas that we feel Zawe Ashton could muster. Remember, this is a witch who has already survived the great war and flown through hoops to get a staff job at Hogwarts. Ashton won acclaim for her role in Dreams of a Life but is probably better known for sitcoms Fresh Meat and Not Safe For Work. She can do comedy but you wouldn’t wanna mess with her, which is just right for Hooch.
Alternatively: Nina Sosanya also has that friendly but icy quality.
Dolores Umbridge: Monica Dolan
Frequently the stand-out in any cast, no matter how big a role she plays, Monica Dolan is the perfect choice for The Ministry of Magic’s Umbridge since… well, Imelda Staunton. She was brilliant in Mr Bates Vs. The Post Office, in Typist Artist Pirate King, in Black Mirror’s “Loch Henry”, in W1A, in everything. Beneath the kitty cat obsession and pink, fluffy knitwear, Dolan could make Umbridge odious and scary as Staunton did, with an extra teaspoon of unhinged. Get the woman to clear her diary for season five onwards.
Alternatively: Meera Syal could definitely do it too, but is she too Gryffindor?
Pomona Sprout: Susan Wokoma
The Head of Hufflepuff needs to have personality and presence, and the ability to be both funny and look believably menacing when chucking armfuls of Devil’s Snare off the Hogwarts battlement at marauding Death Eaters. Enola Holmes and Year of the Rabbit’s Susan Wokoma would kill it. As the patchwork-hatted witch with the talent for propagating screaming mandrakes, Wokoma would fit right in on that top table in the Great Hall – even if she is considerably younger than her predecessor in the role Miriam Margoyles. Anyway, as we learned during her stint on Taskmaster, Wokoma’s RADA training prepared her for anything.
Alternatively: King Gary’s Laura Checkley, or what about Doctor Who’s Catherine Tate.
Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody: David Morrissey
You’d buy The Long Shadow and Sherwood’s David Morrissey as the world’s most powerful Auror, wouldn’t you? He has both the physical heft and the screen presence to convince as the battle-scarred, haunted warrior wizard, as well as the layers to play all of Moody’s secrets in The Goblet of Fire TV adaptation. And think about it, after playing ‘The Governor’ in The Walking Dead, he’s already used to the eye-patch.
Alternatively: Ray Winstone was reportedly the original choice for Moody in the films. Has the expiration date on that now passed? If so, what about Game of Thrones’ Jerome Flynn?