Rickman Professes Interest in Potter; After-Hannibal Desserts

August 10, 2000 -- Harry Potter, the movie, is courting new British talent.

No, we're not talking about the as-yet-uncast child lead — who, at last check, was rumored to be the British-in-name-only American actor Liam Aiken (he's got a British mum, at least) — but more established talent from the United Kingdom.

Irish acting legend Richard Harris, who was introduced to a whole new generation this year with his role as the noble emperor in Gladiator, is in talks to star as the wise Professor Dumbledore.

Alan Rickman — the first villain to die hard at the hands of Bruce Willis — is also in talks to assume the mantle of wily potions master Professor Snape. Since Snape's middle name is surely "Snide," Rickman's got it in the bag. (See also his turn as a bitter, washed-up actor in Galaxy Quest.)

Tim Roth had been in line for the role but opted to go ape instead of Snape — he's joining the Planet of the Apes update The Visitor.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone begins shooting in England in October.

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How do you follow up a twisty, bloodthirsty film like Hannibal? Julianne Moore is opting to return to familiar territory: an indie film with director Bart Freundlich, who's also her companion off-screen.

Moore and Almost Famous star Billy Crudup will star in World Traveler, a $2 million independent drama written and directed by Freundlich, who also wrote and directed The Myth of Fingerprints.

The project, about a New York City resident who walks out on his wife and child in search of a different kind of life, is backed by the Independent Film Channel.

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Gary Oldman's also lining up his post-Hannibal film slate. The actor, who plays Hannibal Lecter nemesis Mason Verger in the Silence of the Lambs follow-up, will segue from modern-day Italy to pre-Revolutionary France with D'Artagnan, for director Peter Hyams.

No, it won't be Oldman doing the bulk of the swashbuckling in the tale of the fourth musketeer, but newcomer Justin Chambers, whose credits include Liberty Heights and the upcoming The Wedding Planner.

American Beauty's Mena Suvari and Nick Moran, of Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, are already on board, and French film icon Catherine Deneuve is in final negotiations to play — what else? — the queen of France.

Shooting on the project, which is budgeted at $50 million, is slated to begin this month in Belgium, Luxembourg, and France.

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