LA Times: Michael Gambon "Sees No Point in Reading" Harry Potter Books by JK Rowling
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.
First of all, Ralph Fiennes has very specifically said that he’s read the books that he is in – meaning the 4th through the 7th books – but that he skated through most of each of the books and focused on the Voldemort portions. Completely understandable, really. I have no idea if Alan Rickman reads them or not but we do know that he has gone to lengths to understand Snape. Jo even said that Alan was the only actor she spoke to with regard to what would happen because he needed to know in order to understand. The thing is that Gambon doesn’t want to understand his character. He even said it outright: he’s just playing himself. I’m sorry but Gambon is no Albus Dumbledore. And Dumbledore is not just some headmaster anymore than Harry is just a student to him. That’s why Gambon does such a crap job. He has no comprehension of who Dumbledore is and refuses to find out. This article has done nothing to make me feel better about his decisions. In fact, he’s ticked me off even more.
His view of Dumbledore is completely different from how Dumbledore IS in the books. Dumbledore is not scary, he’s a sad, wise, full of regrets man, who always fought for the greater good, and died for that. So, NO, I don’t like how Gambon does Dumbledore.
Oh, he just makes me so mad!!! I suppose he doesn’t really care about reading the books because for him it’s just another acting job, whereas for us the films are precious (not as precious as the books of course). I assume he was told about Snape and the plan before filming HBP, otherwise how could he get the right emotion at the end?
Last night when I was finishing HBP and crying my eyes out, I did wonder, amidst all the tears and going through several tissues, what that pleading tone in Dumbledore’s voice meant when he was saying “Severus…” up at the top of the Astronomy Tower… The pleading tone that was more frightening to Harry than anything they had experienced that night.
I mean, I was wondering whether Dumbledore was pleading for Snape to save his life, as I think was his plan when he and Harry set off from Hogsmeade, or whether he already knew he was beyond saving and was pleading for Snape to end his life. And after reading this interview, even though I still have the whole of DH to read and I don’t want to know anything more about it, I’m feeling a teeny weeny bit less devastated over the loss of Dumbledore.
I’m quite surprised that they haven’t at least skimmed over the books. I do understand Gambon’s point on how if he had read all the books, his performance might not have been as convincing since in the end, Dumbledore’s death wasn’t murder but rather a plan. I do think that even after they stop filming all the movies, they should read them just to see what is else if missing from the films… since the books are always better. :)
Gambon, as speaking from an actor’s point of view, does make an interesting point about not reading the books. However, the books are great for promoting literacy, so while Gambon does not wish to read them, it doesn’t mean that the general population shouldn’t read them.
“Essentially, I play myself. A little Irish, a little scary. That’s what I’m like in real life.”
I’m glad Gambon finally admitted what I’ve been saying all along: he isn’t playing the character of Dumbledore, he is simply playing himself as a wizard. What a pathetic actor.
It’s sad that he won’t read anything the books; the books would help him so much with portraying Dumbledore. I really don’t like how he does Dumbledore, especially in GoF, but he seemed better in HBP. He’s still not the quirky Dumbledore I love, though.