Thursday, November 29, 2007

Gandalf disses Dumbledore

Okay, not exactly. But for those who enjoy a little gossip, I came across a tasty tidbit this morning. Apparently, when Richard Harris passed away, Ian McKellen was approached about the part of Dumbledore — dueling sirs. :) But McKellen has this to say about the question:
People say to me, ‘Don’t you wish you’d played Dumbledore?’ I say no! I played Gandalf! The original. There was a question as to whether I might take over from Richard Harris but seeing as one of the last things he did publicly was say what a dreadful actor he thought I was, it would not have been appropriate for me to take over his part. It would have been unfair.
That sounds like a reasonable response to me. Though with the recent revelations about Dumbledore’s sexual preferences, perhaps Sir Ian would have been the best choice after all. (Sorry, couldn’t resist teasing.)

The rest of the article is also well worth reading, ranging, inter alia, from Tolkien to Rowling to Pullman (McKellen is the voice of Iorek Byrnison in the film adaptation of The Golden Compass, debuting next week). How I wish I could see his King Lear! He was brilliant in the 1995 film adapation of Richard III.


  1. Thanks for the reference. I enjoyed that article a lot

  2. My pleasure! Glad you liked it.

  3. It would have been interesting to see Ian M. accomplish the rare trifecta of Gandalf, Dumbledore, and Magneto (hae), but I think it's better that he didn't appear in the Harry Potter films. It would only have contributed to the perception that Rowling's books were derivative of "real" fantasy.

    I must say, though I have enjoyed the more recent Harry Potter books far more than the first couple, one negative in my mind is the casting of Michael Gambon as Dumbledore. He just doesn't radiate the same ... gravitas ... that Richard Harris did. And that floppy beret reminds me of something I saw hippies wearing around Berkeley all throughout grad school. ;}

  4. It would have been interesting to see Ian M. accomplish the rare trifecta of Gandalf, Dumbledore, and Magneto (hae)

    Or even a quadrifecta: Gandalf, Dumbledore, Magneto, and Iorek Byrnison. Too bad The Golden Compass seems to be tanking at the box office (at least, according to Hollywood’s typically insatiable standards).

    Speaking of Michael Gambon, I couldn’t agree more. I miss Richard Harris, whom I felt was perfect for the part. Not only does Gambon lack gravitas, as you mentioned, but he also (to my way of thinking) has never quite “got” Dumbledore. He seems to be more “bumble” than “dumble” ...

    His characterization of the Headmaster just isn’t quite right. One example: watch his “interrogation” of Harry right after the Goblet of Fire spits out his name. It’s just not the way Dumbledore would ever act.

    But to be fair, I’ll give one example that I really did like: Gambon’s reaction near the end of The Prisoner of Azkaban when Hermione and Harry have returned. “We did it,” they say. “Did what? G’night.” says a delightfully spacey Gambon. Again, not really how I think Dumbledore would act, but entertaining nonetheless.