Ian McKellen, 84, is a stage and screen actor whose career has spanned over six decades.
Along with playing the iconic villain Magneto in the X-Men franchise, he also played Gandalf in both the Lord Of The Rings films and its prequel trilogy The Hobbit.
Throughout McKellen’s acclaimed career, he has won numerous awards, including a Tony Award, six Oliver Awards and a Golden Globe – as well as racking up nominations for two Oscars, five BAFTAs and five Emmy Awards.
And it has now been revealed that McKellen once turned down the role of playing Professor Albus Dumbledore.
Related Article: Harry Potter Actor Sir Michael Gambon Has Died
For the first two Harry Potter movies, the Hogwarts headmaster was portrayed by Richard Harris.
He sadly passed in October 2002 – just a month before Chamber Of Secrets came out.
Sir Michael Gambon then took over the role and played the character for the rest of the franchise.
Yet there was a possibility that it could’ve been McKellen taking over the role if it wasn’t for some comments that Harris had previously made about him.
Speaking to BBC’s HARDtalk, the Mr. Holmes actor revealed that Harris disliked him, and described him as a ‘technically brilliant but passionless’ performer.
McKellen explained: “When [Harris] 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?’.
“I couldn’t take over the part from an actor who I had known didn’t approve of me.”
However, he was full of praise for Gambon and admitted that fans have confused him with Dumbledore in the past.
The Six Degrees Of Separation actor continued: “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!”
This is not the first time that McKellen has addressed Harris’ criticism of him, as he quipped in a previous interview that he didn’t want to take the role of Dumbledore as he had already played the ‘original wizard’.
He said (via Vanity Fair): “Seeing as one of the last things [Harris] did publicly was say what a dreadful actor he thought I was, it would not have been appropriate for me to take over his part.
“It would have been unfair.”
While I’m sure McKellen would’ve made an excellent Dumbledore and would have added another iconic character to his filmography, Gambon became synonymous with the role and it would be difficult to picture anyone else other than him in the part.
So all in all, it probably worked out for the best that he turned it down.