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Ian McKellen on why he turned down Dumbledore after Richard Harris passed

04.04.2017

One of modern literature’s most iconic figures is Albus Dumbledore, a man who exudes wisdom and whose quotes are currently tattooed on thousands of nerdy girls’ backs. He was played by two iconic actors, Richard Harris (movies one and two) and after Harris’s passing by Michael Gambon. But these casting decisions are never as simple as they seem, and movie history would have been much different had one actor sought for the role, Ian McKellen, decided to take the part.

While speaking with BBC’s HARDtalk, radio host Stephen Sackur brought up a quote from Harris, in which he called McKellen (as well as other actors like Derek Jacobi and Kenneth Branagh, the latter sharing the screen with Harris in CHAMBER OF SECRETS) “technically brilliant but passionless.” McKellen responded with, “Yeah. Nonsense.” However, such criticism of his work is the reason he turned down the role after Harris’s passing, saying:

When they called me up and said would I be interested in being in the Harry Potter films, they didn’t say in what part. I worked out what they were thinking, and I couldn’t… I couldn’t take over the part from an actor who I’d known didn’t approve of me.

Of course McKellen is most famous for playing the wizard Gandalf in the LORD OF THE RINGS series, and joked on the issue saying, “I’m the real wizard.” But he loves what Gambon did with the role, except he can’t help but picture himself in the robes when he sees him:

Well, sometimes, when I see the posters of Mike Gambon, the actor who gloriously plays Dumbledore, I think sometimes it is me [laughing].

Though I think he could’ve made a stupendous Dumbledore, I think Gambon possesses a greater spry spirit than McKellen could’ve brought, so ultimately I’m happy with how it turned out. On that note McKellen proves his gentlemanliness by honoring the legend Harris, even if he doesn’t agree with the review of his work. Class act, that McKellen. Ya'll bums better take notice.

Source: HARDtalk

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