The long-awaited premiere of the special HBO Max “Harry Potter: Return to Hogwarts ”brought the protagonists of the saga to tell anecdotes, as well as reveal secrets and experiences of the ten years of filming of the tapes. But, there was an absence that the public missed.
An exceptional career
Actor Michael Gambon played Albus Dumbledore, the beloved headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He landed this role after the sudden death of the first Dumbledore, Richard Harris, at age 72 from lymphatic cancer in 2002.
His unexpected departure – after participating in the first two installments of the saga “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (2001) and “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” (2002) – meant a great challenge for the production to find another actor to continue with the role for the rest of the saga.
In Michael Gambon they found the ‘perfect’ replacement. The Irish-British actor had studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London and his career had developed in film, theater and television. He got his start in acting with “Othello” in 1962; but his fame increased after participating in the play “The Norman Conquest” by Alan Ayckbourn in 1974. While, in the cinema, he was recognized for the film “Othello” (1965), adaptation of the work where he had also participated.
With a long history, Gambon was summoned by Alfonso Cuarón, the director of the third “Harry Potter” movie, to play Dumbledore. However, unlike Richard, Michael chose not to read the books written by JK Rowling.
“I didn’t want to be like those actors who complain because their scenes are much shorter than in the original story”he said in an interview.
Michael Gambon continued in the eight remaining films of the saga: “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (2004), “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” (2005), “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” (2007) , “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” (2009), as well as for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” part 1 (2010) and 2 (2011).
What happened to him?
The end of the magic saga gave Gambon the opportunity to continue his passion in other productions. This is how he participated in the film “Quartet” (2012), in the series “Restless”, “Lucan” and “Quirke”; as well as in the plays “All That Fall” (2012) and “Eh Joe” (2013-2014).
But in February 2015, the British actor announced to The Sunday Times that he was retiring from the stage due to a memory loss problem; It made it difficult for him to remember his scripts. “There was a girl behind the curtain and I had a hearing aid in my ear so that she could read the lines to me. And after an hour I thought this can’t work. You can’t be in the theater, free on stage screaming and running, with someone reading the lines to you“, He said.
However, he later had small roles in theater (“Ointer One”) and video games (“The Elder Scrolls Online”); but none in which he showed his face. The problem of 2015 can be traced even to years before, to 2009, when he collapsed twice and was evacuated to the hospital. At the time, he said both incidents were due to memory loss and stress.
After the announcement of the special, it was expected that Michael Gambon – 81 years old – will also be present to reveal some secrets of his experience playing Albus Dumbledore; but in the end this did not happen. Instead, the episode focused on the loss of Richard Harris, the ‘original’ Dumbledor.
You can watch the “Back to Hogwarts” special on HBO Max.