The recent death of Richard Harris was the occasion for much looking back . . . and for Harry Potter fans to look forward.
After all, the Irish actor's last performance was as Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft. In that role Harris offered a satisfying blend of benevolence, eccentricity and guarded power. And as any kid will tell you, he looked just right in those robes.
Harris' final appearance in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is now in movie theaters, making this a prime time to consider his replacement.
Consider these possibilities, in alphabetical order:
JAMES COBURN, 74:
Pros: Looks good in a beard; great voice (he's the TV voice-over king).
Cons: His specialty is smirking cynicism with a dash of sadism. Can he do a kindly mentor?
SEAN CONNERY, 72:
Pros: As charismatic as ever; could bring sly humor to the role.
Cons: Too much physical presence. After all, a sexy Dumbledore? Besides, Connery will eternally be associated with 007.
CLINT EASTWOOD, 72:
Pros: Harry Callahan does Harry Potter. Craggy features. A health nut _ should be around for the next several "Harrys."
Cons: Not a character actor. And he'd probably want to direct, too ...
JUDI DENCH, 67:
Pros: If a woman can play Hamlet ...
Cons: Small fry "Harry" audience may be too literal-minded to accept her.
IAN HOLM, 71:
Pros: A real actor, extremely versatile. Nice mischievous quality (he's Bilbo in Lord of the Rings).
JAMES EARL JONES, 71:
Pros: The voice of CNN (and Darth Vader). And Hogwarts could use some diversity.
Cons: Jones tends to overwhelm anyone else on screen.
IAN McKELLEN, 63:
Pros: A fine Shakespearean actor who can play anything. Comfy in beard and pointy hat.
Cons: May be weary of wizardry after Lord of the Rings.
CHRISTOPHER LEE, 80:
Pros: Iconic actor, already associated with the supernatural thanks to Dracula movies, would be perfectly at home.
Cons: At his age he's a poor bet to stick with the series.
PAUL NEWMAN, 77:
Pros: Former heartthrob now shines in quirky roles (Hudsucker Proxy).
Cons: Who can look into those blue eyes and forget that it's Paul Newman?
WILLIE NELSON, 71:
Pros: Looks the part. Already knows his way around a good potion.
Cons: You can take the boy out of Texas but ...