With a history of playing wizards, Sir Ian McKellen seemed like the perfect choice to take over the role of Dumbledore in the Harry Potter franchise following Richard Harris' sad death in 2002. However, the role eventually went to Michael Gambon after Ian passed on the chance to play Hogwarts' headmaster, knowing that Richard disapproved of him as an actor.
In an interview with BBC's Hardtalk, the Lord of the Rings star explained: "When [Richard] died – he played Dumbledore the wizard [while] I played the real wizard [Gandalf], of course – [the producers] called me up and said, 'Would I be interested in being in the Harry Potter films?' They didn't say what part. But I worked out what they were thinking. I couldn't take over the part from an actor who I know disapproved of me."
Richard disapproved of Ian as an actor
The late actor had previously describe Ian's acting style as "technically brilliant, but passionless", which is what led Ian to ultimately reject the role. However, the Gandalf actor was full of praise for the man who ended up playing Dumbledore for six of the eight films. Chatting about Michael, he said: "Sometimes when I look at the posters of Michael Gambon, the actor that gloriously plays Dumbledore, I sometimes think it’s me. You know, we get asked for each other’s autographs!" Richard previously revealed that he turned down the role of Dumbeldore several times before he was persuaded to accept it by his granddaughter, Ella. He told Zap2it: "All I knew is that they kept offering me the part and raising the salary every time they called. I kept turning it down… [Ella] said, 'Papa, I hear you're not going to be in the Harry Potter movie. If you don't play Dumbledore then I will never speak to you again.'"