On a film I think would have been better with another actor.

As soon as I wrote the title, I knew what I was going to talk about. This has bothered me from the very first time I saw these films.

52. A film that you think would have been better with another actor/actress.

Without a doubt, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Can you guess the character?

Dumbledore, of course.

Oh, Richard Harris… you left so GIGANTIC shoes to fill. Dumbledore was a very difficult role for anyone, after what you did…

And along came Michael Gambon, looking so different! Different beard, different hat… speaking like I never thought Dumbledore would. I think it was more shocking because Professor Flitwick had a very different look too, and he also appears at the beginning of Prisoner of Azkaban.

As I have mentioned before, I had multiple problems with Prisoner of Azkaban, but that is another story. Funnily enough, as much as Dumbledore was one of those problems, he was a minor one. I just didn’t enjoy him that much.

And then came Goblet of Fire.

The moment after the Goblet spits out Harry’s name, Dumbledore is supposed to call him, ask him if he put his name in the Goblet, and accept what Harry says as true. Also, he’s supposed to show in front of the others that he believes Harry. Instead, he calls Harry, the second time he shouts his name, then proceeds to run (???) after Harry, pretty much shake him and demand the truth from him (still shouting). I remember being outraged. “Dumbledore would NEVER do that!!!”, was what I was thinking all the time. Seriously, Gambon? But then I learned he hadn’t read the books. How can you portray a character accurately only from reading a script? Didn’t he even see the first two movies? What a disappointment.

He did a bit better in Order of the Phoenix, even better in Half Blood Prince, and he finally did an excellent job in Deathly Hallows. It took him too long, didn’t it?

Why did you take so long, Gambon? Why?

Who do I think would have done a better job? Well, Peter O’Toole, Ian McKellen (alas, he was already Gandalf), John Hurt (already taken)… or even Michael Gambon, but having READ THE BOOKS and understood the character.

Well, that was the rant of the day. What about you? Do you agree? Is there a movie you think would have been better off with a different actor/actress?

See you soon!

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4 thoughts on “On a film I think would have been better with another actor.

  1. I probably could have guessed. 😄
    I didn’t know that Harris had passed on when I saw PoA. So, I thought, “Wow, this new guy is terrible!” But then I found out that he’d passed on. Very hard to portray a character when someone else has sort of “established” it. Kinda like what the new Bond actors have to do (I mean, who can compete with Sean Connery?) However, I would argue that Gambon’s Dumbledore would make a lot more sense in terms of a “protector” character (as seen in the duel in OOTP).

    • My thoughts exactly. Actually, that battle between Dumbledore and He-who-must-not-be-given-a-nose was pretty epic, as was the Dumbledore vs. the inferi battle in HBP. And talking about HBP, he did a very decent job there, but I think it wasn’t until King’s Cross (and the dialog between him and Snape in the Prince’s Tale) that he really nailed it. He should have read the books, just like Donald Sutherland read THG trilogy before portraying –and actually asking for the part of– President Snow.

  2. I completely agree, though I can’t lay all of the blame at Gambon’s feet. An actor doesn’t work in a vacuum, they don’t just give a performance as they want. The writer writes the story and dialogue and the director directs the actor the way they want them to perform; blaming Gambon for everything isn’t fair, in my opinion. Yes, I agree, he did a terrible job of the character up until the King’s Cross scene, but I don’t agree that it’s all because he didn’t read the books. The writer and director had, and they wanted that performance. I think they may be even more to blame because of that.
    I don’t think you have to read the books to portray a character well, from what I understand, neither David Thewlis (Lupin) nor Gary Oldman (Sirius) read the books their characters were in. I believe several other actors didn’t.
    I don’t believe a good film performance of a written character comes from reading the books, but from the writer and director and actor all working toward creating that same character on film. That didn’t happen with this character.

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