For the vast majority of the public, Michael Gambon, who died of pneumonia on September 28 at the age of 82, will forever remain the cunning but kind Albus Dumbledore of the Harry Potter saga. For many filmgoers, however, the esteemed actor continues to be associated with masterpieces as diverse as Peter Greenaway’s experimental and baroque film The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover and Gosford Park ), by Robert Altman.
Endowed with a rich, inimitable timbre, he was the voice of Uncle Pastuzo in both Paddingtons by Paul King and that of Franklin Bean in Fantastic Mr. Fox by Wes Anderson. He often acted as narrator, notably for the Coen brothers in “Hail, Caesar!” and Xavier Dolan in The Death & Life of John F. Donovan (My life with John F. Donovan). Quebec filmmaker has long had a tattoo with the actor’s image as Dumbledore.
Another unique feature of Michael Gambon: his very long and very thin fingers, which allowed him to achieve the best effect. He won numerous Olivier and BAFTA awards over the course of his sixty-year career.
He was born in 1940 to a seamstress mother and an engineer father and spent the first six years of his life in Dublin, Ireland. In order to benefit from the extensive work associated with the reconstruction of London, the family moved to England and took care of applying for British citizenship for little Michael. This enabled him, years later, to be named “Sir” Michael Gambon by Queen Elizabeth II.
At 21, an engineer like his father, he decided to give up everything to pursue his passion for gaming. He was accepted into a Dublin troupe based on a completely fabricated CV. In 1963, Laurence Olivier, impressed by a monologue by Gambon from Richard III, hired him at the Royal National Theater in London, which he had just founded.
On stage, the actor will play the title roles in “Othello,” “Macbeth,” “Coriolanus” and “King Lear.” In the 1960s and 1970s he alternated between theater and television (in 1992–1993 he will be an excellent Inspector Maigret).
After a series of small roles in the cinema, he established himself in 1989 as a nouveau riche, cruel and vulgar gangster in “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover”, a worldwide box office success. The revenge that Helen Mirren has in store For him, the ending caused a lot of conversation.
Gambon subsequently appeared as a memorable supporting cast member in various Hollywood productions. For example, in 1996 we mention the unloved Mary Reilly by Stephen Frears, in which Julia Roberts plays the maid of Doctor Jekyll, played by John Malkovich. In a few scenes, Gambon, as the heroine’s father, creates a monster even more frightening than Mister Hyde.
In 1999, he will be remembered as a tobacco industry giant in Michael Mann’s The Insider and as a beheaded landowner in Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow.
It will always be a nice memory to have been part of something for so long [Harry Potter] who is universally loved
In 2001 he was lord of the Delightfully Undrinkable Manor in Gosford Park. The following year, the sudden death of Richard Harris forced Warner Bros. to find a new Dumbledore: the studio chose Michael Gambon, to whom Alfonso Cuarón gave free rein to offer a different interpretation, both more playful and warm-hearted. The initial surprise passed, he became the final incarnation of the character.
On the Today Show in 2009, Michael Gambon said of Harry Potter: “It will be a fond memory to have been part of something that is universally loved for so long.” »
It is impossible here not to think of Albus Dumbledore’s last words to Harry Potter: “Have no pity for the dead, Harry. Pity for the living. Especially those who live without love. »