‘Harry Potter’ countdown: Michael Gambon sees ‘no point’ in reading Rowling’s books

July 13, 2009 | 11:14 p.m.

The end is near. Muggles everywhere have waited for months (and months … and months …) for “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” and now it’s so close they can feel it. Our own countdown to the film is finishing strong with Wednesday’s interview with Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) and today’s strong feature on the headmaster himself, Michael Gambon, written by our “Potter” specialist Denise Martin:

Dumbledore and Harry

Michael Gambon has played Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore for five years but he hasn’t been setting a good example for his students when it comes to finishing their homework: The beloved old wizard hasn’t cracked a single one of J.K. Rowling’sHarry Potter” novels.

The choice not to read Rowling’s book series, he explains, is deliberate and he points out that costars Ralph Fiennes and Alan Rickman haven’t taken up the books either.

“You’d get upset about all the scenes it’s missing from the book, wouldn‘t you?” Gambon said via phone from New York, where he was promoting the opening this Wednesday of the sixth “Potter” film. “No point in reading the books because you’re playing with [screenwriter] Steve Kloves’ words.”

And Kloves, along with director David Yates, have demanded an intense Dumbledore, who in the fourth film physically shook Harry when the boy wizard’s name wound up in the “Goblet of Fire.” It’s a characterization that isn’t as pronounced in the book — Dumbledore doesn’t yank and jostle his star student, for starters — and it upset many “Potter” fans.

In fact, many riled-up muggles also took to the Internet after the third film to complain that Gambon didn’t have the same kindly grandfather aura that they came to expect in the books and in the first two films when the role was portrayed by the late Richard Harris.

 Since joining the Potter cast in the third movie, “Harry Potter  and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” Gambon has fashioned Dumbledore into a tougher patriarch, an urgent and mysterious force in the midst of impending  war. Less cuddly, this Dumbledore is clearly presented as a formidable opponent to Potter’s snake-faced nemesis, Voldemort.

Dumbledore and Harry in the office

And though Harris (who died in London at age 72 in 2002) had a twinkling gentleness, Gambon’s Dumbledore is a wry observer with crackling wit when it comes to the misadventures of his pupils.

In “Half-Blood Prince,” for instance, Ron Weasley’s girlfriend Lavender Brown goes wailing past the headmaster after she loses her red-headed beau to Hermione Granger. The old wizard, with a smirking tone, muses, “Oh, to be young and to feel love’s keen sting.”

The 68-year-old Irish actor, with an illustrious 40-year stage career, is deeply respected by the young cast members. The franchise’s title star, Daniel Radcliffe, for instance, said he was bringing his full powers to an especially emotional moment in the film. (WARNING: If you haven’t read the books, you’ll be wanting to skip this next paragraph due to a key revelation.)

“Dumbledore dies and I had to do a scene lamenting over his body,” Radcliffe explained to U.K. tabloid The Daily Mirror. “Michael is the most respected actor I have ever worked with so I had to really pull out the stops to convey the emotion.But after the fourth take, I looked down and saw that he had dozed off. I had to prod him to wake up. So much for impressing someone with your skills!”

The teacher may doze, but the students dare not drift off. That’s the message both on-camera and off-camera, according to Gambon, who has made more than five dozen films, among them “The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover,” “Gosford Park” and “Sleepy Hollow.”

“He’s got to be a bit scary,” Gambon said of his Dumbledore. “All headmasters should be a bit scary, shouldn’t they? A top wizard like him would be intimidating. And ultimately, he’s protecting Harry. Essentially, I play myself. A little Irish, a little scary. That’s what I’m like in real life.”

(WARNING: Here comes that same spoiler again, if you haven’t read the books, skip the next three paragraphs.) 

Gambon said he wasn’t terribly emotional upon learning of Dumbledore’s death, and he viewed it a bit as an Obi-Wan Kenobi sorta-kinda death. “Wizards can’t die, can they? They’re always a bit there.”

Still, he said his demise is the film’s most powerful scene. Atop Hogwarts’ Astronomy Tower, Dumbledore is confronted by a determined Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), the Voldemort disciple who has been tasked with killing the headmaster. The youngster’s confidence is shaken when it’s time to do the dark deed. “He goads Draco,” Gambon said of his character. “He knows he isn‘t going to do it.”

The faithfully rendered moment will be more potent to fans of the books who know that Dumbledore is, in fact, aware of the plot. Disarmed but calm, his beseeching eyes plead with his torn collaborator Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) not to save his life but to end it, unbeknown to Harry. Says Gambon: “He knows what’s what. He invites it. It’s quite good how he dies. I’ve died in quite a few plays and films, I’m always dying, and this one is good.” (In the film, there is one MAJOR departure from the book concerning the orchestration of this climactic scene, but we’ll leave that surprise alone.)

Dumbledore and Umbridge

The actor says the enormity of the “Potter” phenomenon hit him again recently at the London premiere of “Half-Blood Prince,” where more than 4,000 kids turned up to get a glimpse of the magical cast. Gambon called it both heartwarming and bittersweet.

“I was really moved by the number of children there. It was raining and everyone was drenched, some of them had been there for hours. You feel responsible for them in a way. All their books and pieces of paper for autographs were all wet, the pens wouldn’t work. It was so sad. It makes you realize how big this thing is.”

The filming of the final Harry Potter movies, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” is underway but Gambon’s contributions aren’t scheduled until February. He says that makes it feel as if the end is still far away for him, but he has already begun to reflect on the experience.

“It’s been,” he said, “a real privilege.” 

Watching stars Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint grow up has been especially fun. “They’ve become worldly, wise and strong actors. That’s been nice to see. You can say things to them now that you couldn’t say to them then.”

Like what? “Oh I don’t know. I dare not say,” he said, chuckling. Should we assume the worst? “Yes,” he answered with a cryptic bit of sass. How very Dumbledore.

– Denise Martin

RECENT AND RELATED                              

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Dan Radcliffe on the art of acting

Emma Watson talks about her e-mail pal, J.K. Rowling

Meet Neville! Matthew Lewis on being Mr. Longbottom

Getting to know the real-life Weasley boys

Arthur Weasley speaks! “Rowling has a musical brain”  

David Yates reveals where he will split “Deathly Hallows”

On the “Half Blood” set: A chat with Jim Broadbent 

Photos: Warner Brothers

Comments


64 Responses to ‘Harry Potter’ countdown: Michael Gambon sees ‘no point’ in reading Rowling’s books

  1. Celia says:

    I love Michael Gambon's portrayal of Dumbledore. I think he's awesome. It's kind of disappointing that he, Alan Rickman, and alot of the adult actors haven't read the books. But it's understandable. I mean he's really busy and I'm sure he only wants to focus on what's in the script. I can't wait to see HBP!! Only 1 Day left!!

    • Kali says:

      Alan Rickman did read the books… He just read them as they filmed, so he wouldn't be disappointed with scene cuts as they edited. :3

      I was actually bothered by Gambon. Though he had a (very) small handful of scenes where I thought, "THAT'S Dumbledore!", for the most part he was either not enough or way over the top… It wouldn't have taken him very long to have read the books, and reading them would have made his performance SO MUCH BETTER! There are so very many aspects to Dumbledore in the book that are not written into the script… This was a simple case of laziness, and for such a huge character, was unacceptable.

  2. A Fan in the US says:

    Good article, but you need a proofreader!

  3. Bret says:

    "Gambon said he wasn’t terribly emotional upon learning of Dumbledore’s death"
    WHAT THE EFF?!?!?!
    You guys published the biggest spoiler of ALL TIME with NO WARNING! Not everyone has read the books. LAME.
    Thanks for ruining the end of the movie I am seeing tomorrow.
    Great job.

    • ashim.asma says:

      i appreciate with u. it is a real shocking news.

      • Lizzie Smith says:

        First of all, I would like to recommend that you read the books, they are fantastic and really worth the read. However, not reading the books is a personal choice and I respect that.
        But seriously, you have no right to complain about this spoiler. The author said “(WARNING: Here comes that same spoiler again, if you haven’t read the books, skip the next three paragraphs.)”. You were warned. You could have skipped the next three paragraphs but you chose not to. You brought the spoiler upon yourself.

  4. John Davis says:

    OMG I just cant wait till Wednesday!
    RT <a href="http://www.privacy.cz.tc” target=”_blank”>www.privacy.cz.tc

  5. Bryan B. says:

    David Heyman's comments about Michael Gambon at the Apple Store tonight confirmed what a character this actor is. Hilarious.
    But I don't necessarily believe reading the books would enhance their performances. They have to pretty much stick to Kloves' script anyway. Rickman (as Severus Snape) has impressed me very much and is, perhaps, my favorite character in the series—without having read the Jo's books. But, hey, I'm not an actor.

  6. prongsgal says:

    michael has been dumbledore for 4 yrs not 5-poa, gof, ootp,and now half blood prince.
    neway he is quite funny.cant wait,in india its releasing on 16h not 15th :-(

  7. matthew Love says:

    honestly im extremely disappointed to hear this. the whole point of the movies is to capture the essence of the books and put it on screen. ive never been impressed with his dumbledore, i think he doesnt have the soft and fun side that the dumbledore in the books does, and thats the part that everyone likes. hes still wise and powerful, but that makes you respect him. voldemort is wise and powerful and you must respect him, but he isnt the likeable character in the books that dumbledore is, not by a long shot. i think in the movies the only reason dumbledore is liked so much is because he is on the good side with harry and the gang. gambon's dumbledore just doesn't have the gentlenees or the it factor that makes you like him so much, and in my opinion is one of the weaker book to movie portrayals. i liked the first dumbledore way better.

  8. Kate says:

    Bret,
    well what the hell are you doing reading interviews right before the movie comes out. You know the people who are involved in its making have all read the books and are not shy to discuss it; It isn't their fault. Why don't you, instead of complaining about it all actually go and read the books. like the rest of the world already has.

  9. JK Rowling says:

    Gambon's potrayal is bollocks. His Dumbledore is cold and confused. Dumbledore is supposed to be to be warm and confident.
    I guess its no surprise he would get the personality wrong, having never read the books. Sad because the nature of the characters is probably the best part of Rowling's outstanding work.

  10. Lindsey says:

    Now everything is explained. I never liked Michael Gambon as Dumbledore, never saw Dumbledore in him. He was too vicious, too dark, to almost mean to be Dumbledore. And the headmaster almost never gets like that in the series, except for the 6th book. That's when he gets more serious and less like a grandfather heartwarming fun figure. Richard Harris was so much better, and it's an awful shame he died because I feel not only he would've done the movie series justice, but he may have done it so well he would have gotten an Oscar nom eventually. Gambon yells too much, he's too vicious, and I know no matter what I won't like him in this film. Obviously the director, writers, etc are stupid to discourage reading the books, and they're excuses are a load of bull. That's why only one of the films has been decent since the first two.

  11. Jeremy says:

    I don't really care, but he was badass on Top Gear.

  12. Kenny says:

    Nice work reading the whole article, people. Spoiler alerts…and, do the math-Michael Gambon has played Dumbledore for five years…four MOVIES, five years. You proofreaders need proofreaders!
    Well written article. Looking forward to seeing this at 12:01!

  13. Snape Fan says:

    Actually Michael Gambon is messing with you. If you do a little bit of research you will find that Alan Rickman has actually read the books. He has been asked in interviews and answered that he has read them, a more recent interview stated he did read them just before they were due to film each one, but he was taken over by the hype and actually started reading them as they came out. Michael Gambon is well known for teasing journalists, it just amuses me that you and the other fans of the series have fallen for his joke and taken it as gospel. People who claim to be fans of Snape and Alan Rickman try looking up his interviews on Google and you will find the truth. Read before you believe this one interview and make lame comments about how disappointed you are.

    • Autumn says:

      Regardless of whether he read the books or not, I'm still disappointed. His portrayal was Dumbledore was almost offensive in how off-key it was.

  14. margie says:

    I can no longer watch the films since Michael Gambon joined the cast. I would think an actor of his reputation would be able to cope with the differences between the book and the film, and would recognize the need to research Dumbledore's character. I don't think these movies were a place for Mr. Gambon to impart his understanding of a head master, but rather that of the author J.K. Rowling.

  15. CBA says:

    a great article though i'm worried about the 'departure from the plot'
    It's kind of shocking they portray the characters so well wthout havng read the books buti guess that's just a testament to their acting, though i'd hate to not know what was going to happen to my character until I'd read the script…
    To Brett- there was a warning about the spoiler…
    Byeee!
    (4hrs 16mins to go!!!)

  16. Alex says:

    Grumpledore is the worst thing to happen to the "Potter" movie franchise. I couldn't be more irritated by his performances. Maybe reading the books he would realize that it is possible to create an intense and also caring and kind character. Dumbledore is one of the largest reasons that HP is so popular, and to do what Gambon has done is such a dark mark on the tale. RTFB Gambon.

  17. Expelliarmus says:

    I just finished reading HBP for the first time at 5 am this morning and have been crying my eyes out all night and a big part of the day. Even though I pretty much knew before I read the book what's gonna happen to Dumbledore, the shock and the sadness I've felt have been pretty overwhelming. I guess you could say I feel almost like Harry does, during and after The Cave and The Lightning-Stuck Tower chapters.
    Judging by the trailer, Gambon may just be nailing his portrayal of Dumbledore in HBP. Regardless of whether he's read the books or not. I don't think it is absolutely necessary for the him to have read the books to really get Dumbledore, but on the other hand, I'm sure it wouldn't do him any harm either.

  18. Me, Myself, & I says:

    There's more to the books than just people talking: You get more insight into all the characters, not just Harry. No wonder why he does such a poor portrayal of Dumbledore.

  19. colleen says:

    i'm not a fan of michael gambdon as Dumbledore…
    too harsh, too mean, and too loud.
    Dumbledore always had this quiet, silent strength that Gambdon doesn't portray appropriately. It's unfortunate, but it doesn't keep me away from the movies… it just changes things a bit.

  20. Liam Geoghegan says:

    yh, you can't let michael Gambon playing Dumbledore stop u from watching the films. all the other actors are originals, thats the main thing..Dumbledores like a coin. like every other person. he has a soft, kind and gentle side about him but can also be a firm, all powerful, loud, ruff kind of character. I liked Richard Harris but Gambon also has good astributes. he has a great sense of humor and he does talk low wand calm throughout parts of the half blood prince which is dumbledore…and yeh! there was spoiler alerts. who ever read and didnt notice should have read it thotoughly or just read the books. i love the films but I got alot more from the books. wht u see throughout yours eyes change when you read it. you feel your in another world. thats alll I have to say..cheers

  21. David Flores says:

    Hopefully gonna go watch the midnight screening…..l GONNA BE OFF THE HOOK

  22. laurie says:

    Hey, where is the Rickman interview? Snape is brilliant.

  23. Ken says:

    I thought the half blood prince was nasty, go vote!! tinyurl.com/pottervote

  24. May says:

    From this article, it sounds like David Yates is more responsible for Michael Gambon's harsher Dumbledore than Gambon himself. As far as not having read the book, it doesn't matter. The performances are only going to be as good as the writing, directing an editing allow. Having said that, I'm not a huge fan of Gambon's Dumbledore either, but put the blame where blame is due.

  25. Garry says:

    Just a quick comment to make people weary of Gambon's portrayal feel better – his performance, and the script involving Dumbledore, are much, much better in HBP than the previous outings with Gambon as Dumbledore, so don't fret.
    That gentler side is there now, and he does a really great job of balancing the firm yet kind persona of the character; honestly, in HBP he really feels like Dumbledore. When I look back on his previous portrayals I really do think it was more down to the script/screenplay than Gambon; he simply didn't get enough time on screen in most of the films, and in the majority of those appearences there was little genuine interaction with Harry that wasn't purely plot related ie. he'd talk to Harry about missions, goals, tasks etc. but there's be little to no chit-chat.
    This is something that has changed in HBP and the actual development of Dumbledore and Harry's relationship helps carve out a portrayal closer to the original character.

  26. chris says:

    wow, i'm surprised at all the negativity here. i am a big fan of the books, and dumbledore is one of my favorite characters, and i think michael gambon is doing a GREAT job with it. i always pictured dumbledore as a very complex, witty, intense character, and books 6 and 7 definitely show how flawed and human he is, as do the movies. i think that only makes him more endearing.

  27. M.K.A. says:

    I really feel that Michael Gambon has done great injustice to the character of Albus Dumbledore, and I agree totally with the comment that he shouldn't be projecting his own opinion of how a headmaster should be like onto the character but instead he should work on understanding and interpreting the character that Rowling created. I too think it was a great tragedy that Richard Harris didn't live long enough to do all the movies – he certainly captured the Dumbledore of the books a million times better than Gambon.
    I just watched HBP and I am at least a little happier with Dumbledore in this movie than in HP3-5. To me, the very worst portrayel was in GOF – no way ever that Dumbledore would have been rough and shaken Harry like that. It REALLY put me off Gambon completely.
    If he is going to appear in the final movie in that classic last section of the last book, I really really hope he will try to redeem himself by at least reading the books before then and attempting to more accurately portray the headmaster all Potter fans love. To me it just sounds like laziness to refuse to read the books and fully research the character one is playing.

  28. Damanpreet says:

    This interview and preview to the Half-Blood Prince is very well-written! I just CAN'T believe Gambon didn't think he should have read Rowling's books! I think it is quite preposterous that an actor, whose job it is to play a certain role ACCURATELY, will not have conducted the proper research with which they can perform. I mean, is a psychiatrist not aware of varying phobias before he/she does a session?
    Absolutely ridiculous. And then, as if he was a child, bringing down Alan Rickman and Ralph Fiennes with him as an excuse. A very pathetic move!
    His viewpoint of Albus Dumbledore is drastically different from that of at least twenty fans that I have contacted alone…Perhaps, if he had read the books, he would know that Dumbledore is not a harsh headmaster…he is supposed to be the comforting grandfather who gives you the encouraging smile before a performance and the tough, mighty-wizard that the world has depended on as well. Kloves and Yates have only shown a one-sided view of Dumbledore and I must say that they do no justice to J.K. Rowling.

  29. Nicholas says:

    Bret:
    1. You didn't read the books? Small attention span? i thought so.
    2. What are you doing reading interviews about the movies your about to see? And you really can't complain if you read right past the italicized spoiler warnings.
    With all due respect (which isn't much,) Nicholas.

  30. melanie says:

    Jk Rowling isn't the most original writer… (note my understatement). She basically took a bunch of tried and true characters and put them together into the same story- in a kind of situation that has been used a million times. The old, grandfatherly patriarch is a touch cliche, i think. I like him with a dark edge. It only makes sense. He's supposedly lived over a hundred years, fought off evil wizards and like, has this great insight and anticipates bad things. He would probably not be warm and fuzzy all over. The character is just a lot more interesting this way- with an undercurrent.

    • Kate says:

      melanie,
      You haven't read the books, have you? If you had, you would see that the they are much more deep than just some stereotypical characters thrown into a stereotypical setting. Rowling has created a very detailed world behind the plot, that is not evident in the movies' rough interpretation. Rowling's Dumbledore is not cliche at all, but I can see how you would think that from just watching the movies. If you are going to insult an author, read the actual books first.

  31. Casey says:

    I'm not remotely surprised to learn this–it is painfully obvious from Gambon's portrayal of Dumbledore that he has never touched the books. He is nothing like Dumbledore and doesn't seem to have a clue as to the character of the man whom JK Rowling penned. He brings no "twinkling gentleness" to his portrayal, which Dumbledore has in stores, and the relationship between he and Harry–perhaps the most important relationship in the series–greatly lacks the depth and intimacy found in the books due to Gambon's tough-guy-only persona. My husband and I both find him nearly impossible to watch. It's a shame he's been allowed to stoke his own ego by doing it "his way" at the expense of these movies, which were made to bring visual conception to the biggest literary phenomenon in the last quarter-century.

  32. Aurora says:

    Gambon's Dumbly doesen't seem wise and powerful at all, only daft. But I think he did a slightly better performance in HBP than in the previous… three, because he was more calm, less stressed, confused and violent. He's still unarticulate and daft. He should appear kind, trustworthy and in control, and he's failing so badly. Don't think reading the books would have helped him much, he's just the wrong man for the job. Sir Ian McKellen would've been perfect IMO, but I think he and Richard had a quarrel or something that complicated stuff? Is that right?
    Didn't get what the major departure was when I saw the film, though. Help me, anyone?

    • potting harry says:

      homophobic bollocks

    • Kel says:

      I assumed they meant that Harry was not "frozen" in the movie as he was in the novel. Which did upset me a bit, as we all know that Harry does not listen and would have intervened if he physically could have. Made so much more sense in the novel and the movies change waaaay too many things.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Everyone seems to blame Gambon, but you have to remember that the director and the screenwriter play a HUGE part in the outcome of the characters. Chris Columbus (director of the first two films) is a family director (Home Alone, anyone?), and Dumbledore was very much a family figure in those movies. Even Gambon in the third film, under Cuaron, he is still full of smiles, (if you don't believe it go watch it, I did yesterday). He changes in the fourth and fifth films, whether due to direction or writing, we'll never know. Don't forgot that Alan Rickman and Ralph Fiennes haven't read the books either. Two, in my opinion, more important characters than Dumbledore. It is stupid to give one actor so much grief because YOU don't necessarily like him as much as the previous actor. I think Gambon did a great job as Dumbledore, and if you want to blame someone blame the directors, otherwise shut your mouth and try to win a TONY, 13 OLIVIERs, and 4 BAFTAs yourself.

  34. shaniceLC says:

    yes the first dumbledore was more like the book dumbledore,kinder,softer,gentle but i like this dumbledore too,he's witty and fun and yes a bit harsher but i still like him,i like when in the prisoner of azkaban when harry and hermione retuns and she says:we did it' and dumbledore says:did what?(smiles)goodnight."lol i love that part.and ALAn never read the book go on utube and you will see an interview with him at the prisoner of azkaban premeire,the woman asked if he ever read thema nd he said with that voice:i read them..as we do them.(meaning the script and they laughed then he said:"big confession"

  35. N says:

    Gambon's Dumbledore is wrong. Period. To take up one of the most crucial roles in the series and make decisions to be aggressive and to "play himself" is arrogant and incorrect. I think the reason it's so upsetting that Gambon hasn't touched the books is because of his flagrant disrespect to Rowling's character.
    Richard Harris was incredible.
    Rickman's portrayal of Snape is perfect. As far as I'm concerned, if you can nail the character without cracking the book, more power to you. But act like you know the character top to bottom and how he "should" be without referring to the only thing that tells you how he should be? Arrogant and hugely disappointing.

    • potting harry says:

      of course dumbledore is going to a little miffed, pissed and arogant he's a luvie sweetie darling and as a charcter he's been hanging around like forever with silly facial hair a bad hat and no clubs to go to after lights out,
      now, if thats not bad enough,
      he's told as the final book is out only with enough time to ghost write a screen play and script, that he's a screeming queen and no one loves a fairy when she's (i'm bieng kind) 40 or 400.
      so cut miss double d some slack she's in trauma

  36. Raya says:

    I dislike Gambon's portrayal of Dumbledore, but unlike other fans I didn't really like Harris's either. Neither did him justice for me, really. I understand why they haven't read the books, but I hope they crack them open the moment the entire thing ends. And I hope, despite that, they know their backstories. (I won't spoil, but I feel like Ralph knowing Voldemort's back story is so important to his motives that it really is needed.) I love Rickman as Snape, though I don't really see him as Rowling's Snape either… he's just too old. (Snape is 38 on May 2, 1998, and if you know what that means I ruined nothing.)

    • potting harry says:

      i think everyone should pull yjose wands out of thier bums, do something outdoors like get a life, job or maybe a partner that breaths.
      these people are all actors with awards, experience and considerable reputations behind them unless you were in on the casting stop it know they were all chosen to play JK's vision for the roles, not yours so stop it now, enough is enough, anyway mis dumbledore may now have been outed as a faity rather than a wizard recently he does die at the end of deathly hallows at the maybe, maybe not hands of Snape…
      but you cant keep a good gay down for long, it may or may be all done on purpose to leave it open for more films and a costume change…
      ooh toto i dont think we're in kansas anymore…. follow follow follow follow the acedemy awards road, it is paved with gold, fame and riches. lol

  37. Lewis says:

    I won't lay the entire blame for Gambon's abyssmal performance as Dumbledore at his feet alone; the various directors and/or the producer could have done something to point him in the right direction. But I will say I think he makes a horrible Dumbledore. Richard Harris completely nailed the characterization JKR intended when she wrote these stories and if Gambon couldn't invest the time to read the books that gave him that particular acting job, he could have at least watched the first 2 films and drawn from what he saw on the screen. Forget for a moment who the better Dumbledoor was … the important point is that Harris played the part first, making his way how it needed to remain throughout the series for the sake of continuity. The change of face in the part was unavoidable since Richard Harris passed away, but it wasn't necessary to completely change the personality as well.

  38. A.H. says:

    Well it's obvious gambon hadn't read the books. Can he actually read? He is totally mis-cast and as far as I am concerned, hopeless in the role. Sir Ian McKellern would have been perfect as would Peter O'Toole. Gambon has no gravitas.

  39. Fran says:

    The problem is not just that the author's conception of Dumbledore is that he is 'kindly' or 'grandfatherly.' He is also extremely eccentric, even zany; part of his genius is his ability to make leaps of logic that occur to no other wizard; several of the Weasleys actually describe him (with admiration) as 'mad.' That quality is utterly lost in Gambon's wretched, plodding, grouchy characterization. Can you imagine him uttering the line 'And now I would like to say a few words: nitwit, blubber, oddment, tweak,' which Richard Harris did with perfect aplomb in the first film?

  40. Fran says:

    I find it extremely arrogant of both Gambon and his directors to assume that they know better than Rowling herself what this character is like, and I hope they know (now that it is too late) that the vast majority of the books' fandom is deeply unhappy with their interpretation. Gambon may be a great actor elsewhere, but Dumbledore is NOT King Lear. Now, Peter O'Toole, who has played mad guys brilliantly in vehicles like 'The Ruling Class' and 'The Stunt Man,' and who even LOOKS physically like Rowling's description of Dumbledore, would have been the perfect choice. What a shame that he turned the role down in deference to his friendship with Richard Harris.

  41. Jay says:

    It is exactly BECAUSE he hasn't been bothered to read the books that his performance of Dumbledore is so phoned-in and weak. He captures entirely none of the character's calm collected serenity, innate wisdom, and the subtle aurora of power that IT generates, instead replacing these brilliantly written traits with poor imitations of what he imagines a headmaster should be. And his imaginings are significantly less impressive than those of JKR. Personally I think he should be damned ashamed of himself for picking up such a massive pay-cheque and then not even being bothered to do the basic research. Unprofessional, disappointing, and a very very poor performance all round. Before he ruined Dumbledore, I had quite lot of respect for his acting ability. It has taken just 2 of the 5 years he has played this part for that to 'disapparate' entirely.

  42. Connor says:

    Well to all those who think that gambon is crap at being dumbledore.

    Can you actually see griffiths if he was alive duelling voldemort I’m the order of the pheonix. I think not he would be just too calm and can you really see griffiths in the cave drinking the potion and also can you see him flying from the astronomy tower. I don’t think so. All you people need to get your heads from up your arse and see that gambon plays dumbledore very well even though he plays a more angrier dumbledore than griffiths and from the first interveiw gambon did about his role of dumbledore he sed that he would do things differently to what griffiths had done and that he would bring in his Irish accent to some words or phrases.

    You lot need to get a grip about it and just be a fan of the films like I have been through the years and the books are amazing.

    Connor x

  43. Summer says:

    I loved the first Dumbledore. He was awesome.
    Really surprised Gambon didn't want to read HP. As for David Yates. He doesn't have a magickal bone in his body. Removing the magickal elements from HP was a mistake.
    It is awesome though to have almost all of the actors and actresses stay for the entire series. they are all high calibre.

  44. Alan Rickman Fan says:

    Alan Rickman did read ALL of the books. He even managed to find Jo and ask her more about his character. Micheal Gambon just likes to get everyone riled up for nothing. There was this one interview back in 2009 where Alan read Deathly Hallows out loud for a child and managed to get the details. If you check out his recent interview -YOUTUBE IT "ALAN RICKMAN LATE LATE SHOW INTERVIEW" he clearly states that Snape and Petunia would make a lovely couple. How else would he know that? *sighs* Micheal tries to make his co-stars sound like they don't care!

  45. ashim.asma says:

    now i got the point why gambon's acting was not so satisfied. harris was good but not so energetic and gambon is not so humble either. it gave me a shock when he shook harry so harshly in the 4th film. i love the dumbledore character so much that i cried when he died in the book. but gambon is failed to make the same impression in the films.

  46. Weasley says:

    Well that's disappointing. Does he not know what he's missing out on?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

  47. wendilynn says:

    ROFL @ micheal falling asleep during takes of his death scene. Now that's just funny.

  48. andy says:

    I have always liked gambons’s dumbledore. You can’t understand Harris’ dialogue and he felt weak to me. When I read HP I don’t feel harris, I feel gambon. This probably is due to the fact that he has mastered the screenplay since he didn’t read the books. like most of you I feel that is a shame, but it doesn’t take away from his great preformance.

    • Very wise words.

      Many here are very one-track minded. Try to understand that Gambon wanted to do his job, and bring the screenplayed characterization of Dumbledore to life. He followed the screenplay and his director, so it WOULD NOT HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE IF HE HAD READ THE BOOKS! The director orders the retakes, not the actors.

      Both were great Dumbledores.

  49. celeste says:

    alan rickman those read the books *read*

    JK: You're not , that’s good, good for you. Had you read the books before you got involved in this whole thing?
    AR: NO, I just read them as we get there ya know so I don’t have a clue (he turns to the 10 year old and asks 'can you tell me what happens in the next one?')

    SO SEE he does read the books ^^
    :) um happy again

  50. […] Gambon sees “no point” in reading Rowling books More in: Books, James PattersonSusan CarpenterWitch & Wizard […]

  51. CDUBS says:

    Any good actor would do his research and read the books that spawned the movies. This just shows he doesn't care about diving into a character and just does this for the money. Ridiculous. Wish I had that problem.

  52. Mimi says:

    I really dislike Micheal Gambon's portrayal of Dumbledore. I feel that he does not capture the essence of the character, and this could at least partially be due to his not reading the books. I'm also a bit dissapointed in Ralph Fiennes' Voldemort. I have to say that I do love Alan Rickman as Snape.

  53. Saint T. says:

    Now guys i think michael gambon is a better dumbledore than richard harris.richard harris was too calm and quiet and did not reflect the aura of power that surrounds dumbledore,but gambon does.the main problem with the films however are the directors,i dont think david yates should have directed any of the films especially DH.i think mike newell would have been a better director for the last two installments as he would more accurately have captured the darker side of deathly hallows

  54. Daniel says:

    I have to say that I have read all 7 books many times, and it definetly shows the Micheal Gambon has never read the books. In the books dumbledore never gets angry like micheal gambon in HPGOF when harry's name comes out of the goblet of fire. It always bothers me when I see Gambon behaving in undumbledore like ways. it must just be me that it bothers though according to all these other comments.

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