John Cleese Joins 'Harry Potter'

(Variety) — Former Monty Python star John Cleese, who celebrates his 61st birthday today, has signed to portray Nearly Headless Nick in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, which is currently shooting in the United Kingdom.

Also known as Sir Nicholas De Mimsy-Porpington, Nearly Headless Nick is a friend of the boy wizard who resides as the ghost of Gryffindor Tower. NHN gained his nickname when someone didn’t quite succeed at beheading him.

Two of Cleese’s former TV projects were recently voted among the 100 Best TV Shows of All Time by the U.K.’s Evening Standard. Monty Python’s Flying Circus landed in the No. 6 spot, with Fawlty Towers rated No. 1. Cleese is currently shooting the casino comedy Rat Race.

The children’s fantasy film, which is based on a best-selling novel by J.K. Rowling, is slated for a November 2001 debut.