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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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229 Points

That probably the first time I’ve felt like he enjoys playing Dumbledore. He also gets points for acknowledging the fan’s passion for the books/films.

Posted by akcorr on July 13, 2009, 08:56 PM report to moderator
53 Points

I wish we could have seen Richard Harris more in the Potter series as Dumbledore. I think it’s too hard to say who I like better. Did Richard Harris ever read the books that were out before his death? I don’t know. I’m not sure if anyone knew either. Mr. Harris’ Dumbledore was soft spoken and kind, which is perfect I think for those first two films where the kids are very young. Headmaster’s aren’t as hard on younger kids, right? Harry has grown up though which I think gives this excuse for this more harsh and complicated Dumbledore. And Dumbledore does become that way in the books too as we get closer to the truth about him and his family and what not. I think it worked out well that Mr. Gambon’s Dumbledore is the way it is despite him not reading the books. I mean, there’s no lie that I love Alan Rickman’s Snaoe more than his Dumbledore any day but the magic of an actor is what they bring from a few lines on a script with their performance.

Naturally, though, I’d prefer every one of the cast and crew to be fans but it’s unrealistic to demand that the read the book series even if just to have a better understanding of the characters. Even if we think the books are great. Ultimately, it’s his choice and maybe Potter isn’t his cup of tea in literature. But he understands how much we love the books, as he shows, and I think he’s right. It’s hard to read the books and go see the movie or whatever and your favorite scene or line isn’t in it.

Posted by Ouroboros on July 13, 2009, 08:58 PM report to moderator
159 Points

I guess the director could guide if the potrail is totally off.

Posted by PigmyPuffPie on July 13, 2009, 09:02 PM report to moderator
2169 Points

I like Michael, but I don´t like hiom as Dumbledore and it would help him to get the essence of the character if he read the books. Just bc Alan and Ralph don´t read the books it doesn´t mean Michael doesn´t have to read them. In my opinion they are losing a great opportunity to know their characters better and have a great fun.

Posted by Tamyris on July 13, 2009, 09:04 PM report to moderator

This is why he’s such a terrible Dumbledore. Richard Harris did an amazing portrayal of Dumbledore. In the first 2 movies, Harris set the mood for Dumbledore and after his passing, Gambon utterly and completely destroyed the entire character. You can’t just walk in and ignore an already established character and make him however you want. Dumbledore does not need to be forceful to his students (especially Harry) in order to be intimidating. If Gambon had read the books, he would UNDERSTAND THAT. His knowledge of the character he portrays is sadly lacking and it is he and only he that ruins the movies for me.

I can say whatever about Alan Rickman, but the fact is he makes an awesome Snape. He somehow got the essence of the character even without reading the books and Gambon obviously has not.

Posted by Mac31 on July 13, 2009, 09:04 PM report to moderator
5089 Points

I think he is doing a great job though!!!!!!! I hated him on Goblet of Fire but he was amazing in POA and OOTP…….

Posted by laura399 {WBM} on July 13, 2009, 09:04 PM report to moderator
182 Points

I still love Harris better. The dressing of his portrayal and everything is quite sad. There is not a twinkle in his eyes.

Posted by Britski on July 13, 2009, 09:04 PM report to moderator
281 Points

I totally understand why he wouldn’t want to read the books. There are plenty of actors who don’t read the source material when going into a role so that they can do a fresh interpretation.

Posted by pixi jo *ROAR* on July 13, 2009, 09:05 PM report to moderator
16258 Points

I like him as Dumbledore. But I did like Richard Harris a little bit better.

Posted by Gryffindor1991 {ROAR!!!} on July 13, 2009, 09:07 PM report to moderator
34 Points

I don’t know…look at the character of Luna- she’s an avid fan, has read the books multiple times and her character is spot on. Also, the trio has read the books and they all seem to “get” the characters and do a good job in their portrayal. Not so much with Gambon- he says he is acting like himself- the trouble with that is he’s supposed to be acting like Dumbledore- not Gambon.

Posted by mommaweasley on July 13, 2009, 09:12 PM report to moderator
254 Points

I think Michael Gambon is great as Dumbledore. I just can’t picture Richard Harris’ Dumbledore in that battle with Voldemort at the end of OotP. It was almost like Harris was playing Dumbledore as a frail old man. Though Dumbledore may be approaching 150 years old, I never thought of him as a frail old man in the book.

People always bring up the GoF scene when he grabs Harry after he is selected Champion. I thought in the book, Dumbledore was taking it far too well. He should have been a little freaked out and upset. The person who was the key to saving the world was suddenly put in mortal danger. I think that was cause enough to get a little upset.

The other one I hear complaints about are the scene in OotP when Umbridge tries to get rid of Trelawney. In the book, Dumbledore gets to bring in Firenze, and end the scene being very please with himself for sticking it to her. In the movie, he’s frustrated with her and angry he is losing control of his school. He doesn’t get to have the last laugh. If he had walked away all smile, it would have come off as if he didn’t care what was going on.

Just my opinion.

Posted by LMB3 (Lewis M. Brooks, III) on July 13, 2009, 09:16 PM report to moderator
747 Points

Well, well, well; now we know why he does such a poor portrail of our beloved
Albus Dumbledore I agree with lauremyrtle. Our Dumbledore commands respect portrays his power by his stateure. He can be intimidating or whimsical with his body language and his beautiful blue eyes. Doesn’t have to sercume to violance. Don’t even get me started on the clothes. He looks like a bag lady in male form. They could have at least have him dress properly. Well we shouldn’t cry over spilt milk as they say. Alan Rickman does a great job as Snape, but, I think Snape is younger in the books. I hope he does that scene in D.H. with Harry, Voldy, and Nagini justice. Going to the midnight showing. Happy Harry Potter to all. Enjoy!!!! P.S. Sorry for any misspellings.

Posted by Tonks1OoM4,CW[ROAR] on July 13, 2009, 09:17 PM report to moderator
93 Points

I don’t think Dumbledore was ever meant to be ‘scary’, Gambon I think is wrong on that part of trying to make Dumbledore ‘scary’. The students respect him, they don’t fear him. His portrayal of Dumbledore seems very rough to me, and even though I don’t really like his portrayal I’ve sort of gotten used to it. Of course, the writing of the script also has something to do with the change of Dumbledore’s character so its not entirely his fault : / I wish he had read the books, or at least one of them to get a rough just of the character.

I’m surprised Rickman hasn’t read the books, but I think he portrays a wonderful Snape, so I guess he didn’t really need to. It’d still be cool if he did read them though. Sort of late now though, haha.

Posted by Untitled on July 13, 2009, 09:18 PM report to moderator
3238 Points

I love in the junket when he said, “Is the knitting pattern part in the book?” He should read them afterwards!!

Posted by phoenixes are in ravenclaw on July 13, 2009, 09:23 PM report to moderator
2027 Points


stupid. im sorry, but cmon.

Posted by sunlitdays (ROAR) on July 13, 2009, 09:29 PM report to moderator
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