Harry Potter stars lead tributes to Dumbledore actor Michael Gambon after death at 82

Key Points
  • Irish-English actor Michael Gambon has died at age 82.
  • He was mostly known for his role as Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter movies.
  • Co-stars Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint led tributes to the late actor.
Irish-English actor Michael Gambon, known mostly to global audiences for portraying Harry Potter’s wise professor Albus Dumbledore and whose career was launched by his mentor Laurence Olivier, has died at 82 years old.
He died peacefully in hospital on Thursday, PA Media reported, citing a family statement.
Gambon began his acting on the stage in the early 1960s and later moved into television and film.

Notable film roles include a mob leader in Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover in 1989 and the elderly King George V in Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech in 2010.

But his best-known role was as Dumbledore in the Harry Potter film franchise, a role he took over from the third instalment in the eight-movie series after he replaced the late Richard Harris in 2004.

Gambon played down the praise for his performance and said he simply played himself “with a stuck-on beard and a long robe”.

Harry Potter stars lead tribute to Gambon

Gambon’s co-stars in the Harry Potter franchise led tributes to the late actor. In a statement to Variety, Daniel Radcliffe – who portrayed the film franchise’s titular protagonist – called Gambon “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 most about him is how much fun he had doing his job. He was silly, irreverent and hilarious,” Radcliffe added.
“He loved his job, but never seemed defined by it. He was an incredible story and joke teller.”
Rupert Grint, who played Ron Weasley, wrote in a tribute on Instagram that Gambon had “brought so much warmth and mischief to every day on set”.

“He captivated me as a kid and became a personal role model of mine for finding the fun and eccentricities in life. Sending all my love to his family.”

Early years and first steps in acting

Michael John Gambon was born on 19 October 1940 in Dublin to a seamstress mother and an engineer father.
The family moved to Camden Town in London when Gambon was six as his father sought work in the city’s post-war rebuilding.

Gambon left school aged 15 to begin an engineering apprenticeship and by 21 he was fully qualified.

Gambon as Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Source: AAP / Mary Evans

However, he was also a member of an amateur theatre group and always knew he would act, he told The Herald newspaper in 2004.

He was inspired by American actors Marlon Brando and James Dean, who he believed reflected the angst of teenage boys.

In 1962 he auditioned for the great Shakespearean actor Olivier who made him one of the founding members of the National Theatre at the Old Vic, alongside other young emerging greats including Derek Jacobi and Maggie Smith.

Building a reputation in the acting industry

Gambon built his reputation on the stage over the following years, making his name in particular with his 1980 portrayal of Galileo in John Dexter’s Life of Galileo.
The 1980s brought wider attention with the lead role in the 1986 TV show The Singing Detective, in which he played a writer suffering from a debilitating skin condition whose imagination provided the only escape from his pain.
The performance won him one of his four BAFTAs.
He also won three Olivier Awards and two ensemble cast Screen Actors Guild Awards – for 2001’s Gosford Park and The King’s Speech.

Gambon was made a Commander of the British Empire in 1992 and knighted for services to drama in 1998, something he called “a nice little present”, although he did not use the title.

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