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.
I think it’s interesting that even after reading the 7th book, we still see Dumbledore as this kind, grandpa-figure, when in reality he was actually quite manipulative. He was quirky and whimsical, but he also had no problems whatsoever using people for his own means. Yes, his means were to ultimately destroy evil, but he still used people without tell them his ultimate plan. It’s why Harry comes out the better man in this series.
This is why Gambon’s previous performances don’t bother me anymore. Dumbledore has much more than just whimsy bubbling under the surface. The man likes to be in control, so I don’t think it’s completely out of character if Dumbledore over reacts when he feels out of control. In fact, psychologically, it makes more sense than him being calm, collected Dumbledore.
As for Gambon not reading the book, he’s been acting for a long time, and he’s extremely successful. Perhaps this is how he prepares for all his roles. As much as we love these characters and the books, I don’t think we should take it personally that he prepares for roles differently than we think he should.
I dunno about this….
Ugh. Michael Gambon.
He has his moments, but seriously, SHAKING harry PHYSICALLY?
THe opposite of what the real dumbledore would do. And refusing to read the books? So silly.
“Despite having deliberately mislead an interviewer (something Gambon enjoys doing often, to mix things up a bit), he has read the books, as evidenced in the Prisoner of Azkaban interviews.”
http://en. wikipedia.org/wiki/ Michael_Gambon
ummmm… now I’m really confused!! If Gambon is trying to mislead us, he’s doing a pretty good job!
maybe if he’d actually read the books he’d realize that dumbledore isn’t supposed to be threatening…he’s supposed to be whimsical…yes he has his serious moments, but its always more of a silent intimidation rather than physically manhandling his students…super disappointing
Guys, Gambon has said for years that he’s never read the books. This isn’t a new revelation. I think after 4 years or so we can let it go.
I personally like Gambon’s portrayal as Dumbledore MUCH more than the “perfect, calm, collected, wise” Dumbledore of Harris, imo. We all know that the Dumbledore from the books was, well… mad and brilliant simultaneously, and most importantly flawed! (Plus, I always had to turn up the volume whenever Richard Harris came on screen)
I understand that they would get very annoyed about the differences and omitted bits- possibly even more than I- but I do wish they would read them, all the same.
His treatment of Harry is awesome in HBP. I honestly hope you all are as impressed with his portrayal as I was. He’s at times whimisical, manipulative and despondant. His reactions to a treatment of Harry are great in this movie, they really are.
Gambon’s arrogance explains why he sucks as Dumbledore. Every time I see Richard Harris in the first two, I mourn him – as does everyone I know. Gambon should feel lucky to be a part of the saga – so many other actors were suggested for the part. I wish it had gone to Harris understudy, as so many suggested, or Ian McKellan. His performance is the only sore spot in the third through fifth films (especially in GoF, for the reasons mentioned above). As for the others not reading the stories, whether or not that’s true – and we only have Gambon’s word – it is known that Alan Rickman has had several explicity conversations with JK Rowling about how to play the part. It’s pretty obvious from his comments that Gambon has no appreciation for the source material.
I really enjoy Micheal Gambon as Dumbledore…I mean, be serious, do you really think that the first Dumbledore could have pulled off the fighting scenes? It looked as if he has hard enough time walking! However, I think before anyone is hired as an actor/actress for a movie franchise based on a series, they should HAVE to read the books…it seems quite fair really…its all a matter of getting into character.
Erg… I found reading this to be very… distasteful. Gambon has no way to reference the “real” Dumbledore from the books; he can only trust the word of Kloves and Yates. If he actually knew Dumbledore’s personality from the books, he might be able to combine the book representation with the character that Kloves has been aiming for.
I really think it’s a shame that Gambon feels that way. Even if he doesn’t portray Dumbledore faithfully to the books, he could do a bit better. And if he’s worried about bits being left out, he should learn to suck it up like the rest of us. I’m surprised Alan Rickman hasn’t read them – I was sure he had. If Gambon could portray Dumbledore as well as Rickman does Snape, I wouldn’t care. Though I do supose the fact that Rickman mostly just has to act like a big greasy git helps…
I’m a bit miffed that Gambon says he plays Dumbledore like he would be himself. As if he could live up to the awesomeness of Dumbledore! ;)
I think if he played Dumbledore as well as Rickman played Snape, things would be fine…also it seems like he genuinely doesn’t care about the ‘true’ Dumbledore of the books. And Dumbledore’s supposed to be intimidating because of his power and eccentricity and stuff, not for manhandling people.
“Essentially, I play myself”… isn’t that what rookie actors are supposed to do??
It’s been said, but I recall hearing Alan Rickman in an interview discuss how he read the book along with whichever movie they were filming.
Also he’s awesome as Snape. Again, it’s been said, but it can’t be said enough.