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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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37 Points

I don’t remember when I read this, but a while back I recall reading an interview with Jo talking about the movies, and I’m pretty sure she said she had a sit down with Alan Rickman to give him insight into Snape’s character with information that hadn’t been published yet so that he could fully portray Snape in the movies. I even remember reading an interview with Alan Rickman shortly before the release of DH and he mentioned wanting the book to be released so he wouldn’t have people bothering him for the information he was bestowed by Jo.

I thought I read that he had read the books to get the character, but even if he didn’t, I think the sit down with Jo to understand the character more than makes up for it.

Posted by lalashamo on July 13, 2009, 09:32 PM report to moderator
145 Points

It is not uncommon for actors to avoid reading the original source material. The standard reason I’ve seen is they don’t want any preconceptions on the character, feeling it is best to draw the performance from the script and the interaction between them and the director and other actors. I admit I can’t remember concrete examples at this point.

Posted by zoltan42 on July 13, 2009, 09:37 PM report to moderator
1990 Points

This guy is gonna get a lot of crap thrown at him, especially from the real die hard fans. He’s got no right in saying this, the books have been here before the movies, and the books are probably much more popular.

Posted by Bailee Shea on July 13, 2009, 09:40 PM report to moderator
337 Points

He is growing on me

Posted by Mugglejeff on July 13, 2009, 09:46 PM report to moderator

Gambon is great in HBP, no worries there, he totally dominates the final part of the film. He’s also known for mischief-making. Fiennes said in an interview he’d read GoF, or at least the scenes he was in. Rickman probably did the same for PS too, and as has been posted was told about Snape’s motivation by Jo herself. Most actors are lazy, I know far too many of them, but they also like to play and be creative, and they definitely do NOT like having to slavishly copy the character as s/he appears in a book!!
There are plenty of instances in the series (GoF & OotP), where Dumbledore appears scary to Harry but his rage is aimed at Crouch jnr and Umbridge, for instance, so Harry’s not affected, despite noting it.

Posted by rotfang07 on July 13, 2009, 09:50 PM report to moderator
29 Points

i hate him as dumbledore….hhes way to harsh in his portrayal….

Posted by Wolfsbane07 on July 13, 2009, 10:02 PM report to moderator
3463 Points

I’m probably one of the biggest critics on Michael Gambon, and this didn’t help my opinion. I think Dumbledore is a pretty complex character, not to mention he is my second favorite character (Harry is first) so I would like the wise, brilliant, kind Dumbledore instead of the harsh one. Dumbledore is a headmaster, but he is not supposed to be scary- that’s one of his qualities. I wish Gambon would have read the books, but at least he is honest.
“The truth is a beautiful and terrible thing and should therefore be treated with great caution.” -Dumbledore, Book 1
^^ and in this case, the truth is terrible! :P

Posted by BeAchL0veEr05 ☼ on July 13, 2009, 10:04 PM report to moderator
44 Points

If Gambon wants to be at a disadvantage, if he wants most of the audience to know more about his character than he does…I guess that’s his right. Frankly, I wince whenever he’s doing that whole terse and scary Dumbledore thing. He doesn’t have the kind of wistful humor that I cherished most about Dumbledore. Gambon just doesn’t strike me as someone who sees the good in people and enjoys a nice lemon drop. It’s such a shame.

Posted by UpToNoGood7 on July 13, 2009, 10:04 PM report to moderator

I saw HBP last night and Gambon was brilliant.

Posted by Kezzabear on July 13, 2009, 10:06 PM report to moderator
13596 Points

He is a jack-a** and he’s not playing the Dumbledore that Jo wrote. Grrrr.

Posted by Garden State Geek on July 13, 2009, 10:07 PM report to moderator
420 Points

I guess if criticism was flying left, right, and centre I wouldn’t exactly want to suddenly give in to it.
That’s just how I feel. I’m sort of used to him now, though. If he does alright tomorrow in HBP, I’ll probably be over it.

Posted by Sorcha on July 13, 2009, 10:08 PM report to moderator

@Garden State Geek – No he’s been playing the Dumbledore Kloves wrote. He does play Rowling’s Dumbledore in Half Blood Prince.

Posted by Kezzabear on July 13, 2009, 10:10 PM report to moderator
457 Points

I was listening to an Interview with Alan Rickman from a long time ago (2003?) and he said he read them as he went along with the movies.

Posted by snapsforsnape [FTC!] on July 13, 2009, 10:18 PM report to moderator
738 Points

The blame for the out-of-character Dumbledore of recent movies — esp. GOF and OotP, in my opinion — must be shared between screenwriters, directors, and actors. In OotP, Dumbledore stalks out of the Hogwarts courtyard, yelling back at the students, “don’t you all have STUDYING to do?!” Ridiculous. I considered that right up there with the shaking of Harry in GOF; they are not the behavior of the whimsical, brilliant, loving Dumbledore. I don’t expect Gambon to read the books; we’re stuck with his lazy approach at this point. I will only say that from the clips of HBP, so far, it looks like Yates has dragged the right approach out of him this time. We’ll see. In two more days!!

Posted by bettb [ITC!] on July 13, 2009, 10:27 PM report to moderator
27 Points

snapsforsnape, I think I just saw the same interview a few days ago. Was it this?

Posted by Veeoler on July 13, 2009, 10:33 PM report to moderator
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