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Michael Gambon became Dumbledore because another actor was insulted

Michael Gambon was a fixture of an entire generation as Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter cast, but he only joined because another star got insulted.

Michael Gambon as Dumbledore in Harry Potter

Since Michael Gambon passed away, we’ve been reminiscing about his time in the Wizarding World. You probably know that he replaced the late, great Richard Harris as Dumbledore from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban onward. What you mightn’t realize is it all happened because of a jab from Harris.

When Harris passed, leaving the Harry Potter role open, some older actors were touted. Among them was Lord of the Rings cast-member Ian McKellen. He’d already portrayed Gandalf, why not add the Hogwarts headmaster to his performances? One of the best actors ever, McKellen didn’t fancy joining the Harry Potter cast because Harris didn’t approve of him.

“I couldn’t take over the part from an actor who I’d known didn’t approve of me,” McKellen told the BBC’s HardTalk. Harris had once commented that McKellen, Kenneth Branagh, and Derek Jacobi were “technically brilliant, but passionless”. Doesn’t make following in his footsteps very appealing does it? Even if it’s for some of the best fantasy movies ever.

In any case, the call went to Gambon afterward, who happily signed up. One of the highlights of watching the Harry Potter movies in order was created, as Gambon’s performance as Dumbledore perfectly captured the comfort and knowledge of the wizardly professor.

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But playing one of the best Harry Potter characters wasn’t Gambon’s only accomplishment. Far from it, since he was actually in several of the best movies ever, like Hail, Caesar!, Paddington, and Gosford Park. Acting since the ’60s, Gambon performed on screen right up to 2019.

To think, we might have missed out on a career-defining turn, and an all-time interpretation of a legendary character onscreen if Harris kept his opinions to himself. No doubt McKellen would’ve made a great Dumbledore, but since he was already hanging out in Middle-earth, it’s better someone else got the opportunity really.

We have guides on the Harry Potter TV series release date if you ant to know what’s happening with Hogwarts now. For something a big spookier, check out our guide to Wednesday season 2, and our new movies list will keep you informed of what’s coming out.