How Dumbledore Became Michael Gambon’s Most Recognizable Role | ET REALITY


In the latter part of Michael Gambon’s long and storied acting career, some of the liveliest analyzes of his performances could be found not in theater or film reviews, but in forums for the “Harry Potter” fandom, where dedicated Hogwarts obsessives dissected his every expression on screen as the wizard Albus Dumbledore.

It wasn’t originally his role. Richard Harris, the eminent actor who was originally cast, died after filming the second “Harry Potter” film. Gambon took over in 2003, joining the ranks of great British actors with popular late-career roles as magicians, a lineage that includes Alec Guinness (as Jedi wizard Obi-Wan Kenobi in “Star Wars”) and Ian McKellen. (like Gandalf in the “Lord of the Rings” movies).

Other well-known actors were initially considered to succeed Harris in the role, including McKellen, who objected, and Peter O’Toole, who turned it down due to his long and close friendship with Harris.

In the end the choice was Gambon, who died on Wednesday. He made the role his own, donning the long silver beard and half-moon glasses and speaking in his unmistakable, rich baritone voice, a stark contrast to Harris’s more husky, wizened performances as headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Millions of people watched it, and after a career playing Brecht and Pinter characters, it was Dumbledore that became his most recognizable (and probably most debated) role.

Once Gambon debuted in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” imbuing the character with a darker, sometimes mischievous tone, the question was born: Who was the “best Dumbledore”? Harris, with the soft-spoken, kind-hearted air of his? Or Gambon, with the more sinister twist to his character?

Gambon was self-deprecating about the role.

“I just put on the beard and play with myself, so it’s no big feat,” Gambon told a Brit. film blog in 2007. “Every role I play is just a variant of my own personality.”

Gambon, who entered the film series in his early 60s, also chose to avoid reading JK Rowling’s source material, an approach that once said it was similar that of Alan Rickman, who played Severus Snape, and Ralph Fiennes, who played Voldemort. He bluntly stated that he tended to take movie roles for money, telling the blog: “I just say what the script tells me to say.”

Over the course of six films, including limited roles in the two-part finale, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” he became beloved by fans and known as something of a prankster on the set, once putting on a “fart machine””Inside Daniel Radcliffe’s sleeping bag.

In a statement sent through his publicist on Thursday, Radcliffe, whose work with Gambon spanned his teenage years, said the actor’s loss made the world “considerably less fun,” writing:

Michael Gambon was one of the most brilliant and down-to-earth actors I’ve ever had the privilege of working with, but despite his immense talent, what I’ll remember most about him is how much fun he had doing his job. He was silly, irreverent and hilarious. She loved his work, but never seemed to define herself by it. He was an incredible teller of stories and jokes and his habit of blurring the lines between fact and fiction when speaking to journalists meant that he was also one of the most entertaining people one could wish to do a press conference with. The sixth film was where I spent the most time working with Michael and he made the hours we spent together in front of a green screen more memorable and joyful than they had any right to be. I am very sad to hear that he passed away, but I am very grateful that I was one of the lucky people who was able to work with him.

Rupert Grint, the actor who played Ron Weasley in the series, said in a instagram post Thursday that Gambon brought “so much warmth and mischief to every day on set.”

On screen, the darker edge Gambon brought to the role fit with the trajectory of Rowling’s story, as well as the approach of filmmaker David Yates, who directed the second half of the film series.

“It’s got to be a little scary,” Gambon said. told the Los Angeles Times in 2009 from his Dumbledore. “All directors should be a little scary, right? A top mage like him would be intimidating. And ultimately, he’s protecting Harry. Basically, I play myself. A little Irish, a little scary. “That’s who I am in real life.”

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