The British actor could have succeeded Richard Harris.
In addition to Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, Sir Ian McKellen could have played another famous bearded sage of Anglo-Saxon literature on the big screen. When Richard Harris, the first director of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore, died in 2002 after the second film, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, production had thought of McKellen to take over.
In an interview, the actor playing Gandalf and Magneto (in the first generation X-Men) confided in the reasons for his refusal to play the character of JK Rowling: “When I received the call to know If I was going to play in Harry Potter, they did not tell me what role it was, I guessed what they had in mind and I could not … I could not take a role played By an actor who did not approve of my work. ” Ian McKellen refers to a remark made by Richard Harris during his lifetime about him: in an interview, the late Harris said that Ian McKellen was a “technically brilliant but passionless actor.” Dumbledore’s former interpreter made the same remark about Kenneth Brannagh (Professor Lockhart in the saga) and Derek Jacobi at the time. In the end, it was Michael Gambon who replaced Richard Harris at the foot of the six other films of the franchise of the sorcerer’s apprentice. “Sometimes, when I see posters of Mike Gambon, the actor who then played it brilliantly, I think it’s me!” Concludes McKellen, laughing.
The character of Dumbledore will again be the heart of the saga Fantastic Animals, prequel to Harry Potter imagined by J. K. Rowling directly for the cinema. The author said he would be openly gay in these new films, while his sexuality was never clearly evoked in his books. We do not know yet who will interpret the future director of Hogwarts for now.