Ian McKellen Reveals Why He Didn’t Play Dumbledore in ‘Harry Potter’

Ian McKellen
Kristina Bumphrey/Starpix/REX/Shutterstock

Ian McKellen — aka Gandalf in “The Lord of the Rings” — almost played another famed, fictional wizard as well.

McKellen was evidently approached to take over as Albus Dumbledore in “Harry Potter” when original star Richard Harris died in 2002. Harris portrayed the Headmaster of Hogwarts in the first two “Potter” pics — “Sorcerer’s Stone” and “Chamber of Secrets.”


Ian McKellen to Be Subject of Upcoming Documentary (EXCLUSIVE)

During a recent appearance on BBC’s “HARDtalk,” interviewer Stephen Sackur brought up McKellen’s critics, recalling a remark Harris made about McKellen and fellow actors Derek Jacobi and Kenneth Branagh. Harris had said, “these guys [are] technically brilliant, but passionless.”

“Yeah,” responded McKellen. “Nonsense.”

McKellen then revealed that he received a phone call years ago about a “Harry Potter” role.


Ian McKellen

‘Beauty and the Beast’: Ian McKellen Jokes Disney Film Is a ‘Gay Extravaganza’

“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,” McKellen said. “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.”

“You mean you could’ve been Dumbledore?” Sackur asked.

“Well, sometimes, when I see the posters of Mike Gambon, the actor who gloriously plays Dumbledore, I think sometimes it is me,” McKellen replied with a laugh.

Gambon ultimately portrayed Dumbledore in the next six “Harry Potter” movies.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 6

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. The first Harry Potter movie is “The Sorcerers Stone” not “The Philosophers Stone”.

  2. charu says:

    no offence to Michael gambon but ian mckellen is dumbledore. at least for me. he would have suited the role to a t. scary and intimidating when needed while being a jovial, witty caring professor when he is with the children, manipulative at times, caring at other. i am a fanficton writer and i see him more as prof dumbledore than i can see michael gambon in the role. actually i can’t see michael gambon in the role. he is a good actor, but he is no dumbledore. sir ian even has the twinkling blue eyes that was dumbledore’s most written about attribute.

  3. Oberan says:

    Well he is great and he can do whatever he wants!

  4. Coops says:

    Too busy tearing pages out of Bibles, the freak.

More Film News from Variety