Michael Gambon On Acting, Films, and the Harry Potter Series

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Oct 29, 2007

Posted by SueTLC
Uncategorized

The Times Online has a new interview with Michael Gambon who gives a series of answers about his lengthy acting career, as well as some thoughts on the Harry Potter films. The award winning actor who portrays Hogwarts Headmaster Professor Albus Dumbledore says he does not watch too many of the films he is in. Quotage:

MG I just hate the idea of being well known. I know that is almost impossible if you’re an actor who has done okay, but I’ve always fought against it.

DW So when you come on stage, people don’t say, “Oh, there he is.”

MG Yes, so I’m just an actor playing a part
.

DW So, why then accept a job on a Harry Potter film?

MG Because you’re wearing an enormous disguising outfit.

DW You don’t get recognised by kids?

MG A child did approach me in a restaurant in Cornwall, but he thought I was Gandalf.

DW Had you seen the films?

MG No.

DW Have you seen any now?

MG No.

DW Not even the ones you’re in?

MG Oh, hang on, I saw one.

DW Is that because you don’t like to see yourself in anything?

MG No, I find it really alarming. And the older I get, the worse it becomes. I nip in to have a quick look, then I walk out and have a cup of tea, then nip in again. You can hear it in the other room, where it feels better.

As seen by the photos and reports posted over the weekend from location filming, actor Michael Gambon is returning in his role as Professor Dumbledore for the upcoming Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which is due in theaters next year. Thanks Ryan!





63 Responses to Michael Gambon On Acting, Films, and the Harry Potter Series

Avatar Image says:

I thought it was a good interview… not the most inportant but still just gave me something interesting to read before school. Anyway I found it surprising that he never actually watched the movies… I think it is something Dumbledore would do. =D

-HPfreak

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GOD I hate MG as Dumbledore. But MG as a person is so funny:

DW You don’t get recognised by kids? MG A child did approach me in a restaurant in Cornwall, but he thought I was Gandalf.

LMAO!!

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He was good in PoA but GoF was a travesty. OoTP was better. Let’s hope that he gets better for HBP.

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If I were Michael Gambon I would be pretty alarmed if were to watch the movies (I’m referring specifically to the HP movies he’s in – I know he’s good in other things). Maybe if he did watch them he would realize he played a larger role in killing Dumbledore than either Draco or Snape. I think the most accurate description I’ve ever heard of Gambon’s version of Dumbledore is “drunk pirate.”

(if you couldn’t tell from my subtle remarks, I REALLY don’t like his version of AD)

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Michael Gambon is incredible and very funny.And that child of Cornwall-hahaha!!!

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i agree with delia, he should watch the movies… with someone who has read the books so they can help guide him in a better direction for the next two movies!

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aww, he doesn’t like to watch the films he’s in.

I find that funny for some reason. :)

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“awww, he dowsn’t like to watch the films he’s in. I find that funny for some reason. :)”

It’s not really unusual for an actor not to want to see himself or herself on screen.Big or small. I know quite a few (Including Patrick Stewart) who are uncomfortable when seeing themselves. On another note: I don’t understand why so many people take exception to Mr Gambon as ‘Dumbledore’. I find him quite adequate. Like many others, I miss Mr Harris, but remember that they are two diffrent people, with two diffrent styles of interpretation. As for having “read the books or seen the movies”, I don’t think it’s necessary for a performance. Sometimes, it’s a hinderance. JMHO.

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Awww… mistaken for Gandalf… I suppose there are worse people he could be mistaken for though and LOL for his reason for taking the role xD

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He is a really nice guy. I too preferred Harris but Gambon does have a more slightly sinister quirkiness that suits the Dumbeldore of later books when we get to know his motives more and more. However, I think generally, it is healthier for an actor to watch himself on film as they can criticise themselves and try better their performances in future. This doesn’t apply to all actors though as some improve regardless but generally I think its not a good idea to not watch yourself on screen. I talk from experience. Oh yes. I appear on my Uncle’s dreaded home made videos and God, I look awaful!! So I make an effort to avoid any camera. So you see, it helped me to watch myself as now I know what to do…avoid the camera :)

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He seems nice enough but I cannot STAND him as Dumbledore!!! God, we need Ian McKellen now more than ever. Is it too late to re-cast? :S

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I wonder why Ian McKellen did not take the part of DD, maybe too straight to his taste.

But in the comparison Gambon Harris I think that in the end Gambon is closer to de canon!DD as he develops then Harris would have been. The grandfather type DD is gone in the last part, the machiavallian DD is perfect for Gambon.

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“God, we need Ian McKellen now more than ever” Sorry Amy S, but Mr Gambon has been cast for the last two movies. BTW: Ian McKellen is one of the many actors who does NOT watch himself on film.

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That’s so weird. I never heard of actors who dont watch themselves on screen and here I am finding out a lot of British actors do it!

I like him though. In all the interviews he’s always so aloof and sarcastic and to the point and I find it so funny! And refreshing from the typical actor who just wants to talk and talk and talk.

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Confederate Lady – It has nothing to do with Gambon not watching himself on film, I just don’t like him as Dumbledore and I never have.

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It is just a shame LOTR beat HP to getting Sir Ian McKellen, especially with what we know now about Dumbledore.

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Dumbledore is gay?

I found JK Rowlings disingenuous outburst and disdain for the families who fell in love with her books insulting.

It also smacks of a certain cowardice.

I mean…why did she not just come out from the beginning identifying Dumbledore is gay? Why wait till now after the series is over an she already sold a gazillion of the books? I think this kind of Switch and bait repulsive.

While the Potter fuhrer is over tho’...I will quietly dispose of the books. I only allowed the books because I gave her the benefit of the doubt. You would be surprised that a certain practiced indifference to the books also causes children to loose interest…and find other books, movies more interesting.

I personally will no longer look to see the new Potter movies and I hope that people of conscience all over will also stay away from any future Potter works.

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I hate him as Dumbledore. The problem is not that he doesn’t watch his own performances; it is that he has no idea who Dumbledore is. He’s making up the character as he goes along, rather than using his skills to bring an already created, well-known and well-loved character to life on screen. It’s a crying shame that he refuses to read the books. Since Gambon refuses to interpret Dumbledore as written, I wonder why the director doesn’t do a better job of guiding his performance. I will be very happy to see Gambon/Dumbledore put out of his misery.

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I believe why he (Michael Gambon) did well in PoA and OotP is the directors were sure to at least guide him more towards Dumbledore’s personality. Mike Newell should of reshot the scene in GoF when he yelled at Harry and pushed him against the wall. Not sure what Newell was thinking, but I put the blame on him for not correcting this. But I think Michael Gambon over all has done a good job. I really couldn’t of seen Richard Harris doing well in Ministry of Magic scene in OotP. Dumbledore at times has been described as having a burst of young energy when in need, Harris was just too old in my opinion.

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@dina little: How does it feel being a bigot? Your post was most disturbing, you would give up such great books because of the sexual preference of one of the characters? When would she of needed to mention Dumbledore’s sexuality, when would she of needed to have him (Dumbledore) openly say this. And how is this article about an interview with the actor have anything to do with Dumbledore’s (the character) sexuality.

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@DeliaDee: I’m so with you.

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@ Dina

If havent noticed Dina all of us REAL Potter fans are over the fact that DD is gay. If you dont like it then move on then. Stop posting on our comment boards and start your own IhateDD website or something. Either way get a life and leave us to our crazed, obsessive, discussions. Good Bye and have a nice day! :)

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I think the most disturbing part about Gambon is that he is a good actor, and I’ve liked him in other roles. I think it would be hard to watch yourself in a movie—weird, really. But if he would just read the books, or even just the parts with Dumbledore, he’d have a much better idea of who Dumbledore is. Drunken pirate? Please! Although that does explain what he’s doing with the role. Funny, when I read the books that a description that never entered my mind. Quirky, wise, powerful, kind, caring, determined. . .

Oh, well. Dumbledore will be out of the misery that Gambon has put him in soon enough.

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Oh please, as if Ian McKellen would even consider playing yet another wizard after playing Gandalf? Get real! As far as I’m concerned, I think Michael Gambon did a great job in PoA and OotP, I thought some of his delivery in both movies was very funny, like the “Did what?” after Hermione’s and Harry’s timeturning adventure, or “Brian” in OotP. I also enjoyed that lovely speech he gave about dreams in PoA… Anyway, Mike Newel’s direction wasn’t Mr Gambon’s fault, he did what the director required of him. I admire Mr. Gambon for not playing a carbon copy of Mr Harris, but giving Dumbledore a more dangerous and conflicting side which is exactly what the movies require as their atmosphere gets more and more sinister.

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They used a photo of Gambon on the latest cover of Time, for an article about the recent news on Dumbledizzle, of course.

He’s darn funny and I’m sure he’s a fine actor, just not a fine Dumbledore. Then again, I don’t know how much of it is direction and script, so…eh.

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I like this guy. I think knowing what we know about DD he is actually much better as DD than Harris. Can you imagine Harris as gay…. No. But you can imahine Gambon with an old flame…

He ahs life and energy that DD needs. I like the guy. But I agree with most people the GOF was a mess. BUt Mike Newell I think did not manage any of the characters well. Even the kids acted kind of bad. The only one who was thier regular self Alan as Snape and that’s because Alan tells the director what he would and would not do because he feels it is out of character. Remember at this point Rickman knew Snape’s loyalties and his motives… so if they wanted him to do something that he thought went against it he simply said no. But Poor Gambon doesn’t know a thing and is relying on the director to guide him as Dumbeldore. Sadly, the director doesn’t know a thing either.

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@dina little and Jason: We are SO over all of that. Can we PLEEEZZZE move on! I’m with you, Monique! It’s not so much that Mr Gambon has not read any of the books….he’s relying, somewhat, on his director. Too bad his director was clueless!

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Whenever anything is posted about Gambon, be it a birthday announcement or an interview about another one of his projects it seems Potter fans can’t resist taking the mere mention of his name as a cue to start berating the man’s performance as Dumbledore. Furthermore, the posts criticizing Gambon only ever go so far as to say “I hate him as Dumbledore” or “I wish he was recast” usually pointing to just one scene in GOF fire that they didn’t like. Please provide us with at least 3 other occasions in the films when Gambon’s performance was defective, keeping in mind the influence a director and a writer can have on the portrayal of a character. Also, please explain how reading the books would add something to his performance. For instance, describe how the performance of the scene in OotP when Dumbledore is appearing before the Wizengamot would differ in a noticeble way if he had read the books. I’m sorry, I just don’t think there is a lot of subtext to Dumbledore’s character, at least not until the last two books. He is supposed to be an enigmatic figure. Sorry for the rant. I’m just annoyed by the way some fans use unsophisticated arguments, are quick to judge, and are willing to attack at the drop of a hat. Let’s all be civil to each other and to the people who work on bringing Harry Potter to life.

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I like Mr Gambon and he has said he does not research his parts but he will do whatever is needed to deliver the director’s vision. So the problem alas in GoF was Newell’s vision.

Mr. Newell wanted the Headmaster to show that he had lost control of events and Mr. Newell also wanted to ramp up the tension. If Dumbledore had seemed to be not at all bothered by Harry’s name being picked then the audience would think there was nothing to worry about. The way Mr. Newell chose to show Dumbledore’s concern was not at all in keeping with the Headmaster’s character.

I think it is fair to say that if Mr. Gambon had done some research he could maybe have pursuaded Mr Newell to change his approach.

Thankfully David Yates understands Dumbledore better.

Avatar Image says:

LOL Having recently read that Dan occasionally gets mistaken for Eliah Wood, I found the Gandalf comment doubly funny. Guess some folks just have trouble remembering which wizard is which. :)

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Yet another reason that this guy should not be playing Dumbledore. The part to him is just another role to him, but to millions of fans Dumbledore is someone close to their hearts and represents many things. It’s horrible how any casting agent can sit around and allow him to do this.

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I’ve liked Gambon in other films, but his Dumbledore just doesn’t do it for me. Something’s missing, but I’ll be darned if I can tell you what it is.

I didn’t like him in GOF, but then I didn’t like anyone in GOF except Miranda Richardson and Brendan Gleeson.

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If the filmmakers waited to cast someone who was not only a talented actor, but someone who viewed the role of Dumbledore as the highlight of their career, the movies would never be made. Also, Gambon is a highly respected actor who is cast in roles by directors and producers not a casting agent.

Gambon, like the late Richard Harris and nearly 99.9% of actors of their generation, view their parts as “just another role.” Besides, after reading the entire interview, how does Gambon give the impression that he does not appreciate playing Dumbledore?

Avatar Image says:

LOL Having recently read that Dan occasionally gets mistaken for Eliah Wood,

It is almost disturbing how much the two look alike. If Daniel Radcliffe by some freak accident would not be able to take HP in the next movie, Eliah Wood would be an acceptable replacement.

and he isn’t much taller than Dan, so who would notice the difference.

(ps Dian Little, oh please shut up, you are beating a dead horse.)

Avatar Image says:

I think Michael is a wonderful actor and a good Dumbledore especially for the later part of the series but I have to admit that I did not fancy him in GOF. All I can think of was the scene where he grabs Harry and very gruffly asks him if he put his name in the goblet.

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Dina – fail.

As for the actual topic at hand: movie Dumbledore will never be done properly as far as I’m concerned. You just kind of have to learn to deal with what you’ve got. Michael seems like a nice guy though, and very funny.

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Dina—I’m just curious as to why you are still on a harry potter fansite if you are no longer a fan….it seems to me that you can’t really make up your mind or something. Like someone said before, if you don’t like it, then get outta here! There’s no use arguing about it anymore. It’s done. it’s over. Anyways, I think that if Michael Gambon would have played Dumbledore in the first 2 movies, people would be more accepting of him. People compare him to Richard Harris, and Richard Harris was the perfect Dumbledore. I would much rather have Harris playing Dumbledore, but there is nothing that can be done about that. I’ve just forced myself to accept Michael Gambon as Dumbledore.

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“Dumbledore is gay? I found JK Rowlings disingenuous outburst and disdain for the families who fell in love with her books insulting. It also smacks of a certain cowardice. I mean…why did she not just come out from the beginning identifying Dumbledore is gay? Why wait till now after the series is over an she already sold a gazillion of the books? I think this kind of Switch and bait repulsive.”

Just when we thought it was safe to talk about JKR and her wonderful books again…UGH!!!!! Yes, JKR has sold a “gazillion” books and this same old tired argument has been repeated a “gazillion” times!!!!!

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Wow. I never thought Gambon and I would have something in common—I don’t like seeing him in film either, well at least the HP films. He should be playing DD as was written in THAT book, not with the forward knowledge of what he will be like in 1, 2, or even 10 years from that point. I still find Harris to be the better DD. When I just replay the movies in my mind, regardless of the movie or scene, I only picture Harris. I actually replace Gambon with Harris when remembering the movies and recalling DD’s voice.

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TexasFan, how does Gambon play Dumbledore as if he knows the future? If he doesn’t read the books or care about the character, as most people inaccurately claim, how does he know what happens? How does his performance in PoA not reflect the book?

Keep in mind that a lot of an actor’s performance is shaped by the director’s point of view. Cuaron was whimsical so Dumbledore was whimsical. Newell put forth an anarchist perspective in which everyone from Snape to Madame Maxime was overly physical. Yates focused on Harry’s isolation so Dumbledore was basically out of the picture until the end. There simply isn’t enough Dumbledore dialogue written into the script to allow a fuller more canon depiction. This is the fault of Kloves and Goldenberg not Gambon.

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All I really have to say is that I am surprised that MG doesn’t actually watch the movies. He is a very good actor none the less.

Avatar Image says:

all gabon does is shoot his scenes and cash in the paycheck, he dosnt know who dumbledoor is. he hasnt read a word of the books, and probly only reads his parts in the scripts, or even bother watching the films. we need a dumbledoor who’s in it for the fans not for the paycheck!

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Michael Gambon must have read some of our critics, or someone informed him about them. His portrayal of DD, in the last film, was closer to what the character is in the books. Finaly I could watch his character witout wincing. He should be better still in the next films.

What a silly remark about is unapparent (unnoticeable)homosexuality. What does it change? He did not make a pass at Harry, to my knowledge, nor Colin Creevy. He is not a pederast he is\was a homosexual at 17 years of age. People change. He could be a non praticing homosexual. Who cares?

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It’s cause he can’t stand watching himself in the films XD I wonder why! lmao Gandolf!

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Gingerlibby, personally speaking, my feelings about Michael Gambon’s Dumbledore isn’t about how he is in this scene or that scene so citing examples in that manner is not conducive to relaying my feelings about it. It is his characterization that I find unworthy. I do believe he behaves like a “drunk pirate” (as I said earlier). I don’t think it’s fair to put all the blame on Mike Newell (although I really didn’t appreciate his choices in GoF but that’s beside the point) since it’s all a partnership – the scriptwriter, the director, the actors. Ultimately, the actor inhabits the character. An actor can work around a director’s desires and still present the character properly. It’s not easy. But if it were, we wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a good performance and a bad performance. I’m sorry but MG as Dumbledore makes me cringe. I do think that reading the books would help him understand Dumbledore better instead of simply making it up as he goes along. There’s a reason why so many actors chose to read the book when they make adaptations.

By the way, it’s quite alright if you don’t feel that my (or anyone else’s) argument is not adequate. The point of comment boards such as this is to give us a place to express opinions – yours included. Nobody should feel that can’t simply express a basic opinion. Expressing a negative opinion isn’t necessarily an act of uncivility. It’s just the expression of an opinion. This is a community, after all.

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Let it be reiterated that MOST actors do not enjoy watching their performances on screen, and this has NOTHING to do with the quality of those performances. Some actors are just self-conscious or bashful (would you like to watch yourself?.) Also, it is rude and presumptious to attack Gambon by saying he only does Potter for the money or that it’s just another role to him when he has never really opened up a great deal about his feelings about playing Dumbledore. Also, how do you know that Gambon doesn’t know who Dumbledore is? In fact, why is it that some fans continue to believe that there is only one interpretation of Dumbledore’s character? Some people like Gambon’s performance as Dumbledore while other’s hate it. Some think Bonnie Wright is the perfect Ginny and others disagree. Even great characters like Hamlet have been open to a million different interpretations, and it’s possible that some prefer one over the other. I short, no one should proclaim that they know exactly who Dumbledore is (Harry has trouble knowing this) and how he should be portrayed; and anyone who does not match that conception exactly is a horrible actor who must be fired and scolded repeatedly by fans.

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Sorry for another post. I understand that everyone here is simply expressing their opinion and I agree wholeheartedly that this is right for all in the Potter/Leaky community. I am only getting passionate (perhaps too much so) about this issue, because sometimes it seems that commentors seem to take every opportunity they can to vent their hatred of Gambon as an actor and sometimes as a human being. I do agree that Gambon’s performance could be enhanced somewhat by reading the books, but it isn’t necessarily the cure all for everyone’s criticism’s of his performance. As you say, one would have to influence the way directors, writers, and producers make the film as well. Take, for example, everyone’s favorite trophy room throttling scene. Gambon could have delivered a take out of the 30 or so they may have done that day for the film, but Newell ultimately decided to go with the angry one. Actors often do vastly different performances in the many takes of a scene they get to do so that a director has discretion as to which one serves their vision best. Nonetheless, it is completely understandable that an actor’s performance simply rubs you and others the wrong way, but I wish some of the harsher critics would admit that it’s just a feeling they have and not lay blame on Gambon’s acting ability. I have a great respect for all of you and your opinions, and I enjoy the fact that the Potter fandom and the books/films themselves allow for so many different interpretations and preferences.

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KBPrez: This is soooo not the right thread for you. That issue has been beaten beyond recognition. Next topic….

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@gingerlibby,

I was responding to an earlier comment (in this thread) from “dina little”.

But your point is well taken and I will tryyyyyyyyyy to remember it.

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SORRY…my last comment should have been to “tinagin”.

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I think MG is getting better with Dumbledore. I watched the movies before I even picked up one of the books and I loved Dumbledore from the movies but when I read the books I had an even bigger look at who Dumbledore is so now I HATE the dumbledore in the movies lol. He needs to be softer. I think it’s really really important for him to grasp that before he does the seventh film because the reason why the things that were said in DH were so shocking was because we always viewed Dumbledore as sooooo cheery and nice and warming. So he needs to give Dumbledore that so it will have a greater effect when we find out the secrets in movie seven.

and wtf! he hasn’t seen the movies?! Now that just bugs the hell outta me and NOT fair at all. Because I’d kill to be an actor like that in a movie just so I can have the thrill of seeing myself on screen. It’s almost like a waste to me… he should just stick to stage then.

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tinagin: do you decide now what goes on Leaky’s boards? Don’t think so.

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i can’t help hoping that Michael will show just a little more luv for Harry Potter. but no pressure. =)

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I think that Mr. Harris protrayed Dumbledore perfectly, with the way that he looked over his half-moon glasses etc. I’ve gotten used to Mr. Gambon playing Dumbledore, at first it was shocking but it’s ok now, I think that the Dumbledore that Mr. Gambon protrays is too agressive. Probably his best performance in the HP movies would be in OotP(though the other ones were GREAT too)!!!.

And why did they make this version of Dumbleore have no half-moon glasses(sometimes), I feel like there’s something missing when I see him without them in the movies.

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interesting actor, lol, many fans i met on HTTP://HERPESMATES.COM

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Lol! The kid thought he was Gandalf!!

I don’t reaally mind that he doesn’t watch the movies. It’d be better if he did, because I’d imagine most actors would see themselves and think of how they could improve or something. But I forgive him because I thought he was so much better in OOTP, and properly DD like for once. I just hope he’ll pull off HBP without shaking anyone to death :P.

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“Drunken Pirate.” I’ve never heard that description before, but it is sort of fitting. MG plays DD as being slightly out of control a lot of the time. In the books, DD was NEVER out of control. The scene in GOF where DD chokes Harry is the most striking example of this flaw. That’s why people point to that scene. To anyone who has read the books, the idea of DD hysterically grabbing Harry like that is simply laughable.

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anyone know why his chest is on that man in the picture?

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God, Michael Gambon is such a jerk. He can’t be arsed to read the books, he hasn’t watched the movies, he hasn’t got a clue what he’s doing and he doesn’t even CARE! HE SHOULDN’T EVEN BE ALLOWED TO BE IN THE FILMS!!!! I HATE HIM!!!!!!

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If only Ian Mckellen had agreed to play Dumbledore, he would have been so awesome.

Michael Gambon is such an arsehole. Sorry bout the language there but he is.

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Three scenes I didn’t like Gambon in:

1) GoF. Gambon did not come across as “SCARY” when he confronted Crouch, Jr. He came across as terrified. Dumbledore does not get scared. He just doesn’t. We should have seen the only Wizard Voldemort ever feared when he burst through that door, and what we saw was a terrified old man.

2) GoF. Dumbledore would never have manhandled a student the way it was portrayed when Harry’s name came out of the Goblet. Would not have happened. And it isn’t Canon. Dumbledore does not freak out in the books. Not so that anyone could tell, anyway.

3) OotP. The snapped-off (probably ad-libbed) line “don’t you have something better to do?” when he’s dealing with Trelawney having been sacked. Not from the books, not something Dumbledore would have said.

Three good things:

1) OotP. Dumbledore is YODA! ZOMG, GO Dumbledore! He kicked Voldemort’s BUTT! This is the wizard Voldemort fears.

2) OotP. Brian. ‘Nuff said. ROFL! And true to Canon.

3) ...without the movies handy, I am not able to come up with a third off the top of my head, which is also saying something.

Gambon relies too heavily on his director; he needs to research his role. He was better in OotP than he was in GoF, by far. But my opinion on GoF is that the director should have stuck to “chick flicks” anyway – he didn’t do a very good job in general, and I’m glad he’s out of the picture now.

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I think MGs great. He’s the funniest man I’ve ever seen interviewed. Funnily enough he reminds me of what I would expect DD to be like if he were a muggle. Very funny and eccentric. I especially thought that when I saw him in the car on Top Gear, which was a hilarious interview btw and I urge everyone to watch it if you want a real laugh!

And I’ve never had a problem with his portrayal of DD.

I agree with Chrissy in both comments. Actually, Gambon does appreciate playing DD. I heard that when he found out DD dies in book 6 he went and (jokingly) begged JK to bring him back from the dead because he likes playing him so much. He kind of got his wish.

Avatar ImagecrazyforSeverus says: I think it's interesting he doesn't watch his own films. But how can you improve as an actor if you don't watch yourself? I guees he figures he doesn't have to as he's "made it" but still. I really enjoyed him in Half-blood prince, he was a bit weird in Prisoner of Azkaban.

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