Albus Dumbledore was a major character in the Harry Potter series, but the role underwent a recast early in the franchise, and here’s why.
Albus Dumbledore played one of the most pivotal roles in the… Harry Potter franchise – but the character was recast after the second movie, Harry Potter and the secret room. Dumbledore was initially played by Irish actor Richard Harris in the first two Harry Potter films. After the second episode, Dumbledore was recast, and here’s why.
When the Hogwarts Headmaster role was initially cast before that of 2001 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, actors Patrick McGoohan and Sean Connery were targeted for the role. The lead eventually went to Harris, and the actor expected to play the part throughout the film franchise. He was initially hesitant to take on the role due to his health, but Harris was encouraged by his young granddaughter. Harris perfectly embodied the exceptional wizard and Harry’s mentor in the first two installments of the franchise.
Prior to the release of Secret room in November 2002, Harris’ health deteriorated. After being hospitalized with an illness, Harris was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. He remained optimistic and told Alfonso Cuarón, the director of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkabannot to rearrange his role.
Why Harry Potter Dumbledore Rearranges
Despite his hopes of returning as Dumbledore, the actor sadly died of Hodgkin lymphoma a few months later at the age of 72. Harry Potter film series was then tasked with recasting the role of Dumbledore in hopes that the next actor could stay on for the rest of the franchise. Harris’ tenure as Dumbledore was iconic and tragically short, and recasting the role was a delicate process that required a great deal of care and attention to ensure the cinematic change went as smoothly as possible.
The Process of Rearranging Dumbledore for the Harry Potter Franchise
Cuarón and the rest of the Harry Potter crew spent months trying to re-fill Dumbledore’s role for The Prisoner of Azkaban – and further. A number of popular and established actors nearly played Albus Dumbledore, including Christopher Lee, who was a top pick but couldn’t commit due to scheduling conflicts. colleague Lord of the Rings star Ian McKellen was also considered, but was uncomfortable taking the role due to his rocky relationship with Harris. After Peter O’Toole’s age and health status became worrisome, the producers went with Michael Gambon as the official replacement for Harris as Dumbledore.
Gambon, another Irish-born actor, played Dumbledore for the remaining six films in the Harry Potter series. His portrayal became one of the actor’s most famous roles, but his version of the character was drastically different from that of his predecessor. This initially threw off many viewers, but his fame and longevity in the franchise won over fans. The actor decided early on that he would not try to copy Harris’s performance and instead make Dumbledore his own. Circumstances were unfortunate, but Gambon stepped up in a time of need and gave the beloved book character a special on-screen counterpart right up to Dumbledore’s iconic death in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Why Michael Gambon wasn’t at the Harry Potter reunion?
Despite taking on the iconic role of Dumbledore, Michael Gambon starred in the reunion special during his absence Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts. Sadly, Gambon’s absence is also believed to have been due to his ill health as the actor reported in 2015 that he was starting to have problems with amnesia, and it affected his ability to act. This has not been officially confirmed and no official reason has been given for Gambon’s absence in Return to Hogwarts, but the absence of Dumbledore in the Harry Potter Reunion was something that disappointed many fans.
Next: Harry Potter: Dumbledore’s Horcrux Theory (And Why Rowling Hates It)
- Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (2022)Release date: April 15, 2022
No Way Home has every element to win best movie, says costume designer
About the author