Remembering Harry Potter star Michael Gambon

Hogwarts is a much lonelier place today with the passing of renowned Dumbledore actor Michael Gambon. The Irish-born star of stage, screen and TV has passed away at the age of 82, leaving behind a formidable legacy of roles encompassing heroes, villains and those grey areas in between.

Born in Dublin in 1940, Gambon made his professional stage debut in the Gate Theatre's 1962 production of Othello, playing "Second Gentleman", followed by a European tour. He was later mentored as a young actor by Laurence Olivier.

The latter was recruiting young actors for his nascent Royal National Theatre and Gambon was one of the hallowed few who was selected (others included Derek Jacobi). Gambon remained with the NT for years, performing in plays such as Shakespeare's Hamlet.

Later schooled at the Old Vic, Gambon amassed a litany of credits in productions from some of the world's greatest playwrights including Samuel Beckett, Bertolt Brecht and Alan Ayckbourn. He broke through into mainstream consciousness with his role as the eczema-ridden anti-hero in Dennis Potter's cult quasi-musical classic The Singing Detective in 1986.

This paved the way for eclectic film roles. He was terrifying as the rampaging gangster Albert Spica in Peter Greenaway's transgressive The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989), secretive in Tim Burton's Gothic horror Sleepy Hollow (1999) and characteristically wry as a member of the landed gentry turned murder victim in Robert Altman's Gosford Park (2001).

However, it's his role as Harry Potter's mentor Dumbledore that garnered him the biggest fanbase. He took over from the role's original incumbent Richard Harris after Harris passed away in 2002. Gambon then saw the role through to the end of the blockbusting franchise, making the part his own even though he hadn't originated it.

Stories of Gambon's acting prowess abound, as do stories of his infamous sharp wit and penchant for practical jokes. Here's one of his finest from the set of 2004's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

From a rejected Cubby Broccoli audition for the role of James Bond ("I'm too fat, I have breasts and a bald head") to his ability to intimidate Daniel Craig as a menacing crime boss in 2004's Layer Cake, Gambon's life and career was a versatile as the characters he played.


What are your favourite Michael Gambon performances? Let us know @Cineworld.