Ian McKellen also known as “the dude who plays Gandalf in Lord of the Rings” is a pretty boss dude. So when the original Dumdledore who was played by Richard Harris passed away, there were wizard’s shoes that had to be filled.
The film’s producers called up Ian McKellen, but in a candid interview with BBC’s Hardline, he’s recently revealed why he didn’t take the role:
“When he died – he played Dumbledore, the wizard – I played the real wizard [Gandalf] of course – but when they called me up and said would I be interested in being in the Harry Potter films, they didn’t say what part.
I wonder who Ian McKellen would’ve agreed to playing if they didn’t offer him the role of Dumbledore. Anyway, he continues:
“I worked out what they were thinking and I couldn’t. I couldn’t take over the part from an actor who I’d known hadn’t approved of me.”
Yeah. It turns out that Harris and McKellen had worked together and Harris had decided that McKellan and another one of their coworkers were “technically brilliant, but passionless”. Ouch.
Many people would believe this isn’t true, especially considering McKellen’s iconic role in The Lord of the Rings franchise, but I’m guessing these comments were made before that success came his way.
It’s definitely sweet that McKellen honoured Harris’ wishes beyond death and didn’t take over a role that Harris had loved after his passing. Although, it is pretty well known that McKellen is a super sweet guy, so this news isn’t exactly surprising for fans of his work.
It’s interesting to wonder what could’ve been. Although Michael Gambon did an amazing job as Dumbledore, we can only imagine how differently this scene would’ve gone down with Ian McKellen.