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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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13519 Points

I didn’t know that Alan Rickman hasn’t read the books, either. With the way he portrays Severus Snape so well, I always assumed he had read them.

Posted by jenge {Meredith Mooncloud} ~ [ITC!] on July 14, 2009, 06:47 AM report to moderator
4024 Points

No point?! No point?!
Sorry, but some of my respect for Michael Gambon has just gone out the window. Firstly, he should have more respect for JK Rowling. He wouldn’t have that part if it wasn’t down to her in the first place anyway. And he should at least read his bit to make sure he is getting the emotions, feelings and overall air that Jo is trying to portray in the books to make sure that, that happens on screen!
Grrrrrr – no point!

1642 Points

well I understand him/them completely. we can’t be so selfish and try not to understand them. they are professional actors for many years now,and thats their job. I probably wouldn’t read the books either. they had conversations with Jo,directors and everything and I really believe in them as characters. come on- Dumbledore,Snape and Voldemort? We would never guessed that they haven’t read the books. I am super happy with them!

Posted by Matea on July 14, 2009, 07:08 AM report to moderator

It amounts to nothing but laziness and arrogance if you portray a character that is based on a book, and you are not even prepared to do some research on that character by actually reading the book. It has nothing to do with the “kind of person” he is, that is why he is an actor, because he is able to be someone else. He has destroyed Rowling’s image of Dumbledore to such an extent that the whole death of his character did not have nearly as big an impact on the storyline as it should have had. To me, that amounts to bad acting. And I refuse to believe that Alan Rickman did not read the books, because he portrayed the role perfectly from the very start. But I also blame the director for allowing an actor to portray a character as something he is clearly not meant to be. Gambon ruined the Dumbledore of the movies by his laziness.

Posted by mmatthysen on July 14, 2009, 07:28 AM report to moderator

You’ve seen the impact his death has on the storyline then? You’ve seen the very powerful scene where Harry mourns? And the last scene of HBP and both DH movies?

What a load of tosh. Honestly. HBP’s Dumbledore has the whimsical nature of PoA, the manipulative nature that it requires to set up DH and the regard for Harry that we’ve never seen before from Gambon.

I’m not defending his GoF performance as that was … truly odd. But his HBP one is something to see.

Posted by Kezzabear on July 14, 2009, 07:52 AM report to moderator
1104 Points

If I were in the movies, I would read the books. Of course, I read them anyway.

HOWEVER, I don’t care if he reads the books or not. I just wish he was a better Dumbledore. His comments about what Dumbledore should be are TOTALLY wrong, and it really shows in the movies.

Posted by LulaL on July 14, 2009, 07:57 AM report to moderator
1884 Points

Personally, I find this totally unacceptable. For me, reading the books should be considered basic research into your character. It’s no different than an actor spending a couple of weeks at boot camp before they film a war film, or visiting a rehab centre before appearing as a drug addict.

And as for what he said about Dumbledore being scary, I agree with Lauren, that’s just so wrong. People are intimidated by Dumbledore’s very presence, because he projects an air of quiet, unassuming, self-assured power. He doesn’t need to throw his weight about.

Posted by Neil in Scotland * ROAR! * on July 14, 2009, 08:04 AM report to moderator
93 Points

Hmm… I see what he means, but… I think if he read the books he might be a better Dumbledore. I really liked Richard Harris’s version of Dumbledore. He played him exactly how I imagined him.

Posted by Aliyah95 on July 14, 2009, 08:14 AM report to moderator
209 Points

That sad, to know but hey JK have us we love the series…

Posted by Picazo on July 14, 2009, 08:35 AM report to moderator
42 Points

Amen, Laurenmyrtle, you summed up my feelings exactly.

Posted by cunningham7 on July 14, 2009, 08:42 AM report to moderator

Actually, Fiennes in interviews does appear to have closely read the books, at least once, in order to get into character. His comments about what drove and shaped Voldy as a character would only make sense, would only be possible if he had read them.
On the other hand, I don’t recall seeing many interviews with Rickman at all…which is interesting in itself. Even in the midst of the HBP release, he appears to be missing from interviews and from events. We can only assume its a personal choice (and there are no clauses in his contract requiring he do publicity)? Yet (unlike Gambon) his performance has always been spot on and in character, even the most fleeting of smirks and grimaces.

Posted by budb on July 14, 2009, 08:43 AM report to moderator
123 Points

ok, I am kind of mad that he would go out and tell everyone this. I mean I wish he should of given props till J.K. Rowling!! ): ): ): ): But then again I guess he might not have time because of him being a big moviestar. I have mixed fellings.

Posted by harrypotterlover10 on July 14, 2009, 09:29 AM report to moderator

Wait, I’m pretty sure that Rickman HAS read the books. Didn’t he make reference to that in one of his interviews years ago?

While I can understand his point of view, I still think there is more to be gained by actually reading the books and therefore getting to know your character more. You can listen to the screenwriter and director all you want, but part of your understanding of the character you’re playing should come from your view of them through what you’ve read, and you need more than the screenplay for that!

Oh, well. What can you do, really? That’s why the big fans know that the books are always better. If it weren’t for JKR and the books, they wouldn’t even have anything for movies!

Posted by sindie11 on July 14, 2009, 09:29 AM report to moderator
39 Points

nobody complains about alan rickman not reading the books because his portrayal of his character is accurate. gambon just appears to need a little more help…. as do the directors if in fact he is acting on their direction to be “more intense”

Posted by Muggleborn1184 on July 14, 2009, 09:34 AM report to moderator
478 Points

I guess he is right in one way. Having read the stories might influence his portraial of Dumberdore. This way he is doing what he is paid to do…act according to the script. Not saying I like it, but hey, my opinon doesn’t count. I feel he could learn more about his character if he read the books.

Posted by beewell on July 14, 2009, 09:40 AM report to moderator
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