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

04.04.2017
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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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3:05PM on 04/06/2017

You shall not pass....

I've never really understood why movie producers want to take on someone so iconic in one role and try to force them to be iconic in another. It rarely works.

Having said all that, after the late Richard Harris passed away I'd have loved to have seen Sean Connery take on the role of Albus Dumbledore. James Bond in his youth, father to Indiana jones and played many a king in his time.
I've never really understood why movie producers want to take on someone so iconic in one role and try to force them to be iconic in another. It rarely works.

Having said all that, after the late Richard Harris passed away I'd have loved to have seen Sean Connery take on the role of Albus Dumbledore. James Bond in his youth, father to Indiana jones and played many a king in his time.
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11:13AM on 04/05/2017
Gambon was a terrible Dumbledore.
Gambon was a terrible Dumbledore.
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8:29PM on 04/04/2017
I wouldn't be too keen on McKellen getting typecast as white bearded wizards, but I imagine his delivery of "HARRY DID YA PUT YER NAME IN THE GOBLET OF FAIYAH?!!!" would have been better.
I wouldn't be too keen on McKellen getting typecast as white bearded wizards, but I imagine his delivery of "HARRY DID YA PUT YER NAME IN THE GOBLET OF FAIYAH?!!!" would have been better.
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1:40PM on 04/04/2017
I agree with HoyleHaw, playing both Gandalf and Dunbledore would have been a little too much and confusing I think. As for Michael Gambon, I still can't picture him as Dumbledore. His portrayal of the character is totally off IMHO.
I agree with HoyleHaw, playing both Gandalf and Dunbledore would have been a little too much and confusing I think. As for Michael Gambon, I still can't picture him as Dumbledore. His portrayal of the character is totally off IMHO.
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1:19PM on 04/04/2017
While I wouldn't have minded seeing McKellen in the Potter series, I think it would've been too much to have the same actor playing both Gandalf and Dumbledore at the same time. As for Harris, he never was a man to mince words when talking about himself or anyone else.
While I wouldn't have minded seeing McKellen in the Potter series, I think it would've been too much to have the same actor playing both Gandalf and Dumbledore at the same time. As for Harris, he never was a man to mince words when talking about himself or anyone else.
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