Sir Ian McKellen – who is famous for bringing Gandalf in “The Lord of the Rings” to life on the big screen – almost played another fictional wizard.
In speaking with BBC HARDtalk during a recent interview, the 77-year-old actor revealed that he was contacted about taking on the role of Dumbledore in the “Harry Potter” franchise. This happened after Richard Harris, who played the Headmaster of Hogwarts in “Philosopher’s Stone” and “Chamber of Secrets”, died in 2002.
However, McKellen felt it would be inappropriate:
“When he died — he played Dumbledore of course, the wizard… But when they called me up and they said would I be interested in being in the Harry Potter films, they didn’t say what part. I worked out what they were thinking and I couldn’t. I couldn’t take over the part from an actor who I’d known didn’t approve of me.”
“You mean you could’ve been Dumbledore?” asked interviewer Stephen Sackur. “Well, sometimes, when I see the posters of Mike Gambon, the actor who gloriously plays Dumbledore, I think sometimes it is me,” McKellen replied.
It all worked out fine in the end. Gambon won our hearts as the replacement Dumbledore in the next 6 “Harry Potter” films.
In case you didn’t know, “Fantastic Beasts 2” is set to feature a young version of Albus Dumbledore. Director David Yates even teased that the wizard will share some scenes with Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander.