The Harry Potter community is mourning the loss of one of its most beloved actors. Michael Gambon, who played Albus Dumbledore in six of the eight Harry Potter films, died at the age of 82 on Thursday (September 28). His wife, Anne Miller, and son, Fergus Gambon, confirmed his death in a statement.
“Beloved husband and father, Michael died peacefully in hospital with his wife Anne and son Fergus at his bedside, following a bout of pneumonia. We ask that you respect our privacy at this painful time and thank you for your messages of support and love,” the statement read – shared by publicist Clair Dobbs – read.
Gambon was born on October 19, 1940 in Dublin, Ireland, but his family moved to London when he was young. He was working as an apprentice toolmaker in Camden before he discovered his passion for theatre and acting. He studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where he started to hone his skills.
Michael Gambon made his professional stage debut in 1962 and his career started to take off from there. He joined the National Theatre Company after being discovered by Laurence Olivier and joined the Birmingham Repertory Company four years later, where he earned title roles in Shakespearean plays.
He continued to make a name for himself on the stage, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that he became a household name as he made the transition to television and film. His big break came in 1986 when he was cast as Philip Marlow in The Singing Detective. At this point, he was a superstar in the making.
Already a household name in Britain, his fame grew to new heights in 2004 when he was cast as Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – the third installment of the Harry Potter franchise. He was replacing the great Richard Harris, who played Dumbledore prior to his death in 2002.
Gambon continued to play Dumbledore in the next five installments of the franchise (six total) and played the character to perfection. “I just stick on a beard and play me, so it’s no great feat. I never ease into a role – every part I play is just a variant of my own personality,” Michael Gambon once said in an interview.
James Phelps Pays Tribute to Michael Gambon
James Phelps, who played Fred Weasley (older brother of Ron Weasley) in the Harry Potter franchise, took to X to pay tribute to Michael Gambon. He shared a story – that continues to resonate with him – about Gambon while they were filming Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (the sixth installment).
“I worked on the AD department for the whole shoot (apart from the days I was acting). And for that reason I spent many hours with Michael during the shoot. He was always very funny and very welcoming to share any knowledge he had,” Phelps said of his former colleague – who he learned a lot from.
He goes on to detail a moment while they were shooting the ‘final clock tower scene’ with Dumbledore – which he described as a ‘very intense scene.’ They were in between set-ups when Gambon asked Phelps if he had any plans that weekend. At the time, he was reading Peter and the Wolf with his brother.
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Gambon asked Phelps if he had the script with him – which Phelps did. “I’ve done that, let’s go through it and if you like I can give you some notes,” Gambon said to him. “So we spent what should have been his downtime going over my weekend gig. It is a memory I’ve always had as one of the highlights of my HP days.”
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