Wonderful conversation going on over at Sword of Gryffindor about the latest revelations about the actor who plays Albus Dumbledore in the movies and the actor who turned down the part.
I haven’t read any of the combox comments except those at the linked articles and they are what you’d expect, namely, fans wanting to see Dumbledore blasted from the Astronomy Tower by Severus Snape in the Half-Blood Prince film (a sentiment I first read on the blog of an Orthodox priest and friend back in 2005). Folks really don’t like Michael Gambon.
Which is too bad. Post Deathly Hallows, I’m thinking he was a brilliant choice for the part. In the first six books, Dumby is everyone’s father and hero; we see him largely as Harry and Hagrid see him (“great man, Dumbledore…”). We learn Severus’ experience of him in the finale, as well as Aberforth’s bitter tale, and come to a fuller appreciation of the man as still heroic but with the proverbial clay feet and failings of all fallen men.
Richard Harris or Ian McKellen would have been able to give us the Divine Dumby narrative misdirection part much better than Gambon certainly. I don’t know how convincingly they could have done the turn around in the last movie, though, so we could see and believe the Machiavellian side to Dumbledore. I think that will be easy to see in Gambon’s portrayal. It’s already evident!
Frankly, I see the change in actors who play Dumbledore as a happy providence. Harry’s understanding of Dumbledore should be changing as the stories move along and he matures; he should be able to see that Albus lied to him when he promised to tell him everything. It’s a whole lot easier for us movie-goers than it was for Harry because the Harris-Gambon switch was a reptilian metamorphosis in the Headmaster it was hard to overlook. Fandom disgust for the “new” Dumbledore parallels Harry’s resistance to thinking of Dumbledore as a man with faults as well as a great wizard. Our shock, whether we thought it a good, bad, or consequential thing, on learning that Ms. Rowling “always thought of him as gay” is a “real world” equivalent of Harry’s disappointment and Bitterness on finally being compelled to the realization he never knew Dumbledore as anything more than an idea or ideal.
Fortunately, with Michael Gambon as Dumbledore, it is hard to put this character on a pedestal. I beg your comments and corrections to the proposed possibility that he may even be the perfect Dumbledore actor for just this reason.