Ian Mckellen reveals he was offered Dumbledore's role; explains why he refused
Sir Ian Mckellen, known for his portrayal of Galdalf in the Lord of the Rings movies and Magneto in X-Men, revealed that he was offered the role of Dumbledore in the Harry Potter franchise and the reason why he turned down the offer.
In a BBC HARDtalk interview, the actor talked about how he was asked if he would be interested in being part of the Harry Potter roles, but that the role was not specified. "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 didn't approve of me," he said.
The actor Mckellen is referring to is Richard Harris, who essayed the role of the Hogwarts headmaster in the first two films. He once said that Mckellen was “technically brilliant but passionless." He died in 2002, and there were six films remaining to be made in the Harry Potter franchise.
It was this critique that prevented Ian Mckellen from accepting the role. Eventually, Michael Gambon, who is known for his work in Sleepy Hollow and Gosford Park, was finally cast and went on to play the character for the remaining six films.
Mckellen acknowledged that he and Gambon look quite similar. "When I see the posters of Mike Gambon, who gloriously played Dumbledore, I think sometimes it's me. We get asked for each other's autographs," he once said. When asked if he regrets his decision, he said that he was glad he got to play a "real wizard" in Lord of the Rings, rather than Dumbledore.