As Gandalf in both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit sagas, as well as Magneto in the X-Men movies, Ian McKellen has enough great roles under his belt to make him a cinematic icon and a geek favorite. Some fans, though, like to rewrite history and imagine that he found time to play Professor Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films as well.
While speaking to Time Out, the actor revealed that he often has people approach him and mistakenly think he’s Michael Gambon, another talented British thespian who brought the Hogwarts headmaster to life in six of the eight Potter movies. Though McKellen didn’t play Dumbledore, this confusion is pretty funny, as he was actually in contention for the role once original performer Richard Harris passed away, following The Chamber of Secrets.
“People come up to me and say ‘My son’s seen all the Harry Potter movies’ because they think I’m Michael Gambon. When Richard Harris was ill, I was asked if I’d consider being in the movies [as his replacement] and I said, ‘Absolutely. But I never heard anything else about it. Before Richard Harris died he took time out to tell the world that he thought certain actors were rubbish — and my name was on this rather short list. With Kenneth Branagh’s. I was in good company.”
McKellen’s story about Harris not being a fan of his is something he’s told before, of course. Interestingly, though, on that occasion, he stated that it was his choice to turn down the part as he felt it wouldn’t have been right for an actor Harris didn’t appreciate to take over from him. In this recount, however, McKellen suggests he would’ve been perfectly happy to double up as both Gandalf and Dumbledore.
Further in his chat with Time Out, McKellen went on to add that he once asked Michael Gambon whether he experiences the same thing as him, and have people mistaken him as the wizard from The Lord of the Rings. Hilariously, Gambon revealed that he did have this happen, but he just goes along with it.
“I asked him if he ever gets confused with me. He said, ‘Urgh, all the time.’ I asked him what he did. He said, ‘Oh, I just sign your name.'”
Nowadays, not even Gambon plays Dumbledore anymore, as Jude Law is set to debut as a younger version of the character in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Ian McKellen, meanwhile, has said he’d be happy to reprise Gandalf in Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV series, though we wouldn’t hold our breath for that to happen.
Source: Time Out