Fans of sage and wise wizards might have had more magic than they thought actually possible, as Ian McKellen has revealed he was offered the role of Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter, but turned it down for a surprising reason.
Of course, we know that McKellen was up for the role of Dumbledore after the passing of the OG wizard Richard Harris following the release of The Chamber of Secrets. However, luckily for us, it seems that McKellen needed to get a magic fix from somewhere, so he took up the role of Gandalf the Grey (then Gandalf the White) in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and then later in The Hobbit trilogy.
Well, Ian McKellen has now spoken out about why he turned down the role of Dumbledore, and it’s actually for a super surprising reason.
Speaking to HARDTalk on BBC radio, McKellen explained that he turned down the role for the iconic wizard because the OG Dumbledore, Richard Harris, wasn’t actually a fan of his acting.
“When [Richard Harris] died – he played Dumbledore, the wizard – I played the real wizard of course,” he joked.
According to McKellen, Harris had felt that — along with fellow Shakespearian actors Sir Derek Jacobi and Sir Kenneth Branagh — he was “technically brilliant but passionless.” Ouch.
Ultimately, Michael Gambon stepped in to take over the role of Dumbledore, adding his own flare to the role by giving Dumbledore a slight Irish accent.
Happily, there are no hard feelings between Ian McKellen and Michael Gambon (or Gandalf or Dumbledore for that matter), as McKellen said that he often mistakes Gambon for himself.
“Sometimes when I see posters of Michael Gambon, the actor who gloriously plays Dumbledore, I think it’s me,” he joked. “You know, we get asked for each other’s autographs!”
Tbh, while we think that McKellen would have made a great Dumbledore, we’re glad he got the opportunity to truly embody the role of Gandalf. What’s more, we’ve loved seeing Michael Gambon take on the iconic Hogwarts headmaster, too. Now we’re in the mood to find some crossover fanfiction.