Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore stands as an iconic figure within the expansive realm of the Harry Potter universe. His portrayal posed a significant challenge for the film series, especially when the all-important role had to be recast following the passing of original actor Richard Harris. Sir Michael Gambon stepped into this revered role, infusing it with his own unique energy and charisma.
On September 28, at the age of 82, Gambon himself departed from the world — precisely a decade older than his predecessor, Harris, when he passed away. With his departure, the world bid farewell to one of the most distinguished thespians of his era, a luminary who had been a part of Laurence Olivier’s original acting ensemble at the Royal National Theatre. The Harry Potter universe, too, lost one of its most cherished performers. But when did Gambon assume the mantle of Dumbledore after Harris?
Tragically, Richard Harris succumbed to Hodgkin’s disease on October 25, 2002, shortly before the theatrical release of his final film, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.” Despite his ailing health, Harris had been determined to battle his illness and reprise his role in the third installment. During a visit from producer David Heyman at the hospital, Harris implored him not to seek a replacement. Regrettably, recasting became an inevitability after his untimely passing. Following the appointment of director Alfonso Cuarón, Gambon was enlisted as the new Dumbledore four months later.
Gambon made his inaugural appearance as Albus in May 2004’s “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” subsequently continuing to embody the character across the remaining six films in the saga, which were based on the final five books. Although Dumbledore met his poignant end in 2009’s “The Half-Blood Prince,” Gambon made a fleeting cameo as the character’s lifeless form in 2010’s “The Deathly Hallows – Part 1.” He then returned for a dreamlike afterlife sequence in 2011’s “The Deathly Hallows – Part 2.”
In later years, Jude Law assumed the role of a younger Albus in 2018’s “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” ultimately matching Harris’ number of portrayals in 2022’s “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.” As the future of this prequel series remains uncertain, and with new endeavours in the Harry Potter universe on the horizon, Gambon seems poised to retain the distinction of being the actor to embody Dumbledore the most times on the silver screen for years to come.