Oldman Likely to Join Hogwarts Staff

01/09/2003 at 12:48 PM EST

With everyone but Queen Latifah being rumored to replace the late Richard Harris as Professor Dumbledore in the Harry Potter movie franchise, now comes word that producers are in talks with Gary Oldman to appear in the third Harry Potter film, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban."

No, not as Dumbledore. Oldman, 44, is being eyed to play Sirius Black, the wizard who escaped from Azkaban and mysteriously turns up at the Hogwarts School of Magic and Wizardry, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

A Warner Bros. spokesman confirms to the trade paper that negotiations with Oldman are taking place. (Warners, like PEOPLE, is part of AOL Time Warner.)

Meanwhile, the Reporter also inquired about published stories that cast Ian McKellen and/or Michael Gambon to succeed Harris. Those reports were premature, said the spokesman.

On his Web site, McKellen, 63, stated that he "has NOT agreed to succeed the late Richard Harris in the role of Dumbledore in the Harry Potter movies." Yet he does concede that he has "expressed interest in perhaps playing a different role some time in the future of the series."

The third installment of J.K. Rowling's series will be directed by Alfonso Cuaron ("Y Tu Mama Tambien," "A Little Princess") and is set to begin shooting next month.

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