Home Biography Who Plays Dumbledore: The Secrets Behind Dumbledore’s Casting

Who Plays Dumbledore: The Secrets Behind Dumbledore’s Casting

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Who Plays Dumbledore: Dumbledore is one of the most iconic and beloved characters in the Harry Potter universe. The wise and powerful headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been portrayed by three different actors in the film adaptations of J.K. Rowling’s books: Richard Harris, Michael Gambon, and Jude Law.

How did these actors get cast as the legendary wizard, and what challenges did they face in bringing him to life on screen? Here are some of the secrets behind Dumbledore’s casting in Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts.

Richard Harris: The First Dumbledore

who plays dumbledore

Richard Harris was the first actor to play Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films, appearing in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002). Harris was a veteran Irish actor who had starred in many acclaimed films, such as A Man Called Horse (1970), The Field (1990), and Gladiator (2000). He was also a singer, songwriter, poet, and author.

Harris was not initially interested in playing Dumbledore, as he did not want to commit to a long-term contract for a series of films. He only agreed to take the role after his granddaughter, Ella, threatened to never speak to him again if he turned it down. Harris said that he wanted to play Dumbledore as “a gentle old man who is very kind and very wise”.

Harris brought a sense of dignity, warmth, and humor to his portrayal of Dumbledore, winning the hearts of fans and critics alike. However, he also faced some difficulties in playing the role, such as wearing heavy robes and a long beard that made him uncomfortable. He also suffered from health problems during the filming of the second film, as he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease in 2001. He died on October 25, 2002, at the age of 72, leaving a void in the Harry Potter franchise.

Michael Gambon: The Second Dumbledore

Michael Gambon was the second actor to play Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films, taking over from Richard Harris after his death. Gambon appeared in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009), and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010) and Part 2 (2011). Gambon was also a renowned British actor who had worked in theatre, television, and film for decades. He had won multiple awards for his performances, such as a BAFTA for The Singing Detective (1986) and an Olivier for King Lear (1988).

Gambon was chosen by director Alfonso Cuarón to replace Harris as Dumbledore, as he felt that Gambon had “the presence” and “the authority” to play the role. Gambon said that he did not try to imitate Harris’ performance, but rather created his own version of Dumbledore based on his interpretation of the script. He said that he played Dumbledore as “a bit more eccentric” and “a bit more mischievous”.

Gambon’s portrayal of Dumbledore was more energetic, dynamic, and emotional than Harris’, reflecting the darker and more complex tone of the later films. He also added some improvisations to his scenes, such as wearing a scarf with skulls on it or putting his hand on Harry’s knee. However, some fans were unhappy with Gambon’s performance, especially in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, where he shouted at Harry during the Triwizard Tournament scene instead of speaking calmly as he did in the book. Gambon later admitted that he had not read the books before playing Dumbledore.

Jude Law: The Younger Dumbledore

Jude Law was the third actor to play Dumbledore in the Fantastic Beasts films, which are prequels to the Harry Potter series. Law appeared in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) and will reprise his role in Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (2022). Law is a famous English actor who has starred in many popular films, such as The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), Cold Mountain (2003), Sherlock Holmes (2009), and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). He has also received several nominations for his work, such as an Oscar for The Talented Mr. Ripley and Cold Mountain.

Law was cast as Dumbledore by director David Yates, who had also directed the last four Harry Potter films. Yates said that he wanted Law to play Dumbledore because he had “the charisma” and “the intelligence” to portray the younger version of the character. Law said that he was honored and excited to play Dumbledore, as he was a fan of the Harry Potter books and films. He said that he wanted to play Dumbledore as “a very kinetic, very spontaneous, very bohemian, very witty” person.

Law’s portrayal of Dumbledore was different from Harris’ and Gambon’s, as he showed a more youthful, adventurous, and conflicted side of the character. He also had a more stylish and colorful appearance, wearing a blue suit and a burgundy coat instead of the traditional robes and hat. He also had a closer relationship with Gellert Grindelwald, the main antagonist of the Fantastic Beasts series, who was revealed to be his former lover in the books. Law said that he tried to capture the “love and pain” that Dumbledore felt for Grindelwald.

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