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O'DUMBLEDORE; Give O'Toole the role of Potter prof.

Byline: JUSTINE SMITH and ELLIE BROWN

RICHARD Harris' family have urged the makers of Harry Potter to pass the part of Professor Dumbledore to his drinking buddy Peter O'Toole.

Hellraiser Harris' brother Noel, who was at his hospital bedside in October when he died of cancer at 72, said: "I think Peter is the only man who could follow my brother in the role.

"Dicky made that role his own. He will be a hard act to follow. Peter was a great, great friend of Dicky's for most of his life. And he has similar qualities on screen.

"Our family would be delighted if he was offered the part."

Speaking from his Dublin home, Noel, 70, said his brother had not named his preferred successor in the role of the wise, benevolent headmaster of Hogwart's School for Witchcraft and Wizardry in the screen version of J K Rowling's books.

But he said: "Of course he would have been happy to see it go to Peter. I just hope he is offered it and then it will be a decision for him to make." Harris had lost three stone through chemotherapy when filming started on the second instalment, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and a double had to be used for some scenes when he was ill.

But just weeks before his death, he told director Christopher Columbus: "If you f****** think about recasting me, I'll f****** kill you!"

Noel said: "He loved the role and he was especially looking forward to getting his teeth into the third instalment, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, because Dumbledore gets a much meatier role. He wasn't interested in the series at all until his granddaughter Ella told him he must do it.

"When he read all the books, of course he loved it and signed up to do all of them.

"But the third was his favourite. He talked about how great it was going to be. It's a great tragedy he died before he could do that one."

Azkaban is due to start filming in March, leaving Warner Brothers studio with a casting headache. Director Columbus said: "It's impossible to even think about. For me, there is only one Dumbledore."

CAPTION(S):

PAL: How O'Toole would look in the role; STAR: Cancer victim Harris; GRAPHIC OMITTED
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 8, 2003
Words:387
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