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LA Times: Michael Gambon "Sees No Point in Reading" Harry Potter Books by JK Rowling

Posted by: sue
July 13, 2009, 08:18 PM

Over the years, one topic of debate hotly discussed in our fandom has been actor Michael Gambon and his portrayal of Professor Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter film series. Adding fuel to the fire has been his previous comments over the years regarding his deliberate choice to not read the source material found in the works of author J.K. Rowling. Michael Gambon repeats those same sentiments tonight in a candid interview with the LA Times Hero Complex blog, and also claims that apparently Ralph Fiennes (Lord Voldemort) and Alan Rickman (Severus Snape) have not read the books as well. There are many quotes of interest (SPOILER CAUTION) from the article as follows:

The choice not to read Rowling’s book series, he explains, is deliberate and he points out that costars Ralph Fiennes and Alan Rickman haven’t taken up the books either.

“You’d get upset about all the scenes it's missing from the book, wouldn‘t you?” Gambon said via phone from New York, where he was promoting the opening this Wednesday of the sixth "Potter" film. “No point in reading the books because you’re playing with [screenwriter] Steve Kloves' words.”

And Kloves, along with director David Yates, have demanded an intense Dumbledore, who in the fourth film physically shook Harry when the boy wizard's name wound up in the Goblet of Fire. It’s a characterization that isn’t as pronounced in the book -- Dumbledore doesn’t yank and jostle his star student, for starters -- and it upset many "Potter" fans.


“He’s got to be a bit scary," Gambon said of his Dumbledore. "All headmasters should be a bit scary, shouldn’t they? A top wizard like him would be intimidating. And ultimately, he’s protecting Harry. Essentially, I play myself. A little Irish, a little scary. That’s what I’m like in real life.”

The actor says the enormity of the "Potter" phenomenon hit him again recently at the London premiere of “Half-Blood Prince,” where more than 4,000 kids turned up to get a glimpse of the magical cast. Gambon called it both heartwarming and bittersweet.

“I was really moved by the number of children there. It was raining and everyone was drenched, some of them had been there for hours. You feel responsible for them in a way. All their books and pieces of paper for autographs were all wet, the pens wouldn’t work. It was so sad. It makes you realize how big this thing is.”

The filming of the final Harry Potter movies, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” is underway but Gamon's contributions aren't schedule until February. He says that makes it feel as if the end is still far away for him, but he has already begun to reflect on the experience.

“It’s been," he said, "a real privilege.

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2573 Points

Wow…mixed emotions here. I sure would have thought he would have given more props and respect to JKR but I do understand that he’s acting for the movie. Buy hey, with no story, there’s no movies :)

Posted by ErinM {Roar} on July 13, 2009, 08:24 PM report to moderator
1661 Points

I love Michael Gambon’s portrayal of Dumbledore. I think he’s awesome. It’s kind of disappointing that he, Alan Rickman, and alot of the adult actors haven’t read the books. But it’s understandable. I mean he’s really busy and I’m sure he only wants to focus on what’s in the script. I can’t wait to see HBP!! Only 1 Day left!!

Posted by cghambright on July 13, 2009, 08:24 PM report to moderator
376 Points

iiii didnt know alan rickman didnt read them.

Posted by john-robert. on July 13, 2009, 08:30 PM report to moderator
312 Points

i could kinda understand his point of view. I started out watching the movies before getting into the books, Now whenever i watch a movie, i am commenting how this and that wasn’t on it. So i could see why he feels that way.

Posted by got2lovme on July 13, 2009, 08:33 PM report to moderator
726 Points

I’m personally more disappointed that Alan Rickman hasn’t read them. He’s one of the best adult actor in the movies, in my opinion. Him and Maggie Smith. I still think they all need to read them, though.

Posted by MagicDucks [ROAR!] on July 13, 2009, 08:34 PM report to moderator
123 Points

Very odd. I think the book would have been given these actors a much better look into their characters, but… I am not an actor so what in the world do I know of such things. :)

Posted by Ekhetrima on July 13, 2009, 08:41 PM report to moderator
209 Points

I’m disappointed in any actor who won’t read everything he/she can get their hands on that might help their character portrayal. They don’t have to act just like a book character but the more an actor knows, the more he can draw from in a performance. At least then he/she’d have many choices about how to say a line, etc. It feels disrespectful and lazy to me. But, then, I don’t like to see characters go too far out of character in fics either.

Posted by KateKintail on July 13, 2009, 08:43 PM report to moderator
36 Points

I personally think he portrays Dumbledore better than the Dumbledore they had for the first and second film. I feel sorry for him, but am still glad we found Michael Gambon.

Posted by Shostak on July 13, 2009, 08:43 PM report to moderator
3703 Points

I guess it’s his choice… I have nothing else to say. He seems good in HBP though. Seems like he doesn’t yell as much.

Posted by Christine on July 13, 2009, 08:46 PM report to moderator
1042 Points

Sigh. I disagree with Gambon’s portrayal and his attitude about the whole matter, along with the way the screenwriter and director seem to be pushing it. It’s really quite sad, what they’ve done to a loving and whimsical character who was brilliant and powerful without ratting students around. Book Dumbledore commands attention and respect with his presence and skill with magic, not with his fists.

The difference is, Alan Rickman is a perfect Snape, at least in my opinion. If he can breathe life into such a complex character without reading the books, that’s fine with me. As long as the character we loved so much in the book is done justice on the screen, it doesn’t matter to me how they get to that point. Point fingers all you want, Gambon, but Rickman is doing a whole lot better than you are.

They’re both missing out though.

Posted by Laurenmyrtle on July 13, 2009, 08:51 PM report to moderator
74 Points

Bittersweet interview. I can see his point about being sad about what is in the books and what ISN’T in the movies. Steve Kloves words. Exactly. Not a fan of Steve Kloves here and NOT happy he is doing Deathly Hallows. HOWEVER, I should see HBP before I judge. I’ll give him one more chance.

I’ll ALWAYS favor Richard Harris over Gambon. But Harris wouldn’t have been able to continue on this long. Should have started with Gambon to begin with.

Posted by eaglephot on July 13, 2009, 08:52 PM report to moderator
179 Points

He doesn’t have to act scary, shake harry, or yell at the students to be intimidating.

Posted by NightSky on July 13, 2009, 08:52 PM report to moderator
2976 Points

I don’t believe he needs to be “scary” at all. But I don’t suppose my opinion matters in the slightest ;)

Posted by Jade Danielle (WBM) on July 13, 2009, 08:54 PM report to moderator
2404 Points

At least he is honest. I wonder if he will read them when he’s finally done filming?

Posted by bookishgal,OoM3,GS on July 13, 2009, 08:54 PM report to moderator
12005 Points

Maybe it would confuse them to have two stories when only one is being filmed. They should eventually read them though.

Posted by budgie on July 13, 2009, 08:55 PM report to moderator
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