Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Remembering Michael Gambon

The Irish actor, known for his role as Albus Dumbledore in the “Harry Potter” films from 2004 onwards, has died at 82
Image courtesy of IMDb.

The acting world mourns the loss of Sir Michael Gambon, who was arguably best known for his role as Professor Albus Dumbledore in the “Harry Potter” film series. Gambon, who died on Wednesday Sept. 27 from pneumonia, was a few weeks shy of his 83rd birthday.

Richard Harris, who played Dumbledore in the first two “Harry Potter” films, died in 2002. The role needed to be recast; Gambon was selected, and played Dumbledore for the remaining six films, starting with “Prisoner of Azkaban” in 2004. His acting was unique, if somewhat gruff. He brought into focus the headmaster’s authority and charisma, but he could also be vulnerable when needed. Gambon’s Dumbledore was a compelling force who was more than capable of guiding the students and boosting their morale.

He was a mentor to Harry, assisting him in his mission to defeat Voldemort; Harry, in turn, continued to hold fast to Dumbledore’s teachings long after the headmaster died in “Half-Blood Prince.” In the 2009 film adaptation, Gambon gave a solemn yet striking delivery of Dumbledore’s last moments before being killed by Severus Snape; the scene is a testament to the acting skills of both Gambon and the late Alan Rickman. Of course, nobody will forget moments such as Dumbledore “calmly” interrogating Harry in “Goblet of Fire”– by slamming him against the wall and shouting at him.

Gambon’s death has been met with tributes from those who worked with him. “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling posted on X (formerly known as Twitter), “The first time I ever laid eyes on him was in King Lear, in 1982, and if you’d told me then that brilliant actor would appear in anything I’d written, I’d have thought you were insane.”

Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry Potter, said, “Michael Gambon was one of the most brilliant, effortless actors I’ve ever had the privilege of working with, but despite his immense talent, the thing I will remember the most about him is how much fun he had doing his job.” Meanwhile, Rupert Grint, who portrayed Ron Weasley, said that he regarded Gambon as “a personal role model of mine for finding the fun and eccentricities in life.”

Outside of the “Harry Potter” franchise, Gambon had several roles on the small screen and theater stage. His other film appearances included his starring role in the 1986 film “The Singing Detective,” and his 1989 appearance in “The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover”, where he was featured alongside Richard Bohringer and Helen Mirren. He appeared in a number of television shows such as Stephen Poliakoff’s “Perfect Strangers” and “The Casual Vacancy,”, which was based on another of J.K. Rowling’s works. His numerous stage appearances comprised plays such as Shakespeare’s “Othello,” Simon Gray’s “Otherwise Engaged,” and Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge.” He also dabbled in voice acting, lending his voice to animated films including “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and “Paddington.”

In addition to acting, Gambon also gained notoriety for his appearance on the British motoring show “Top Gear.” Gambon, who appeared as a celebrity guest in 2002, was tasked with driving one lap around the studio’s racing track in a Suzuki, as per “Top Gear” traditions. A motoring enthusiast, Gambon drove the car so fast that he nearly rolled it over at the final corner. This led to the specific corner of the track being named “Gambon,” in his honor. He appeared in the show a few years later.

With Gambon’s accomplished life having come to an end, we can now reflect on the highlights of his career. Whether he was guiding his students as Dumbledore, captivating people from the stage or driving aggressively in real time, Michael Gambon never left his viewers short of entertainment.

Kalana Amarasekara can be reached at [email protected].

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