April 12 (UPI) -- British actor Jude Law is to play young wizard Albus Dumbledore in the next Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie.
The role was originated by Richard Harris in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Harris also played the part in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Michael Gambon took over the character after Harris died in 2002. Gambon went on to play Dumbledore in the franchise's remaining six movies.
2016's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a prequel to the Potter franchise. Dumbledore is mentioned, but not seen in the fantasy flick.
The upcoming Beasts sequel will show Dumbledore "decades before he became headmaster at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry," the Pottermore website said Wednesday in announcing Law's casting.
"At this point in the story he is the wizarding school's Transfiguration professor and a contemporary of Gellert Grindelwald -- the Dark wizard we met in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, played by Johnny Depp."
"Jude Law is a phenomenally talented actor whose work I've long admired and I'm looking forward to finally having the opportunity to work with him," director David Yates said in a statement. "I know he will brilliantly capture all the unexpected facets of Albus Dumbledore as [Potter creator] J.K. Rowling reveals this very different time in his life."
Asked at a press conference in New York last November if Dumbledore will be portrayed as openly gay and if the new movies will explore a romantic relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald, Rowling replied: "Well, I'm very comfortable with the question.
"I can't tell you everything I would like to say because this is, obviously, it's a five-part story, so there's lots to unpack in that relationship. I will say that you will see Dumbledore as a younger man and quite a troubled man because he wasn't always the sage. He was always very clever... but we'll see him at what I think was the formative period of his life. As far as his sexuality is concerned, watch this space."
Dumbledore's sexuality is not directly addressed in the Potter books or movies, but Rowling previously confirmed in interviews that he is gay.
Law, Depp and Fantastic Beasts actor Colin Farrell all appeared in the 2009 movie The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.
Welcome to the Wizarding World family, Jude Law! https://t.co/axrt5P9fXP— Fantastic Beasts (@FantasticBeasts) April 12, 2017