The confusion between Michael Gambon and Ian McKellen regarding their roles in “Harry Potter” and “The Lord of the Rings” primarily stems from their portrayals of two iconic wizard characters: Professor Albus Dumbledore and Gandalf the Grey, respectively. While they are separate characters from different fictional universes. Lets read in detail comparing, Dumbledore and Gandalf, Michael Gambon vs Ian Mckellen.

Michael Gambon vs Ian Mckellen

Richard HarrisProfessor Albus DumbledoreHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
Michael GambonProfessor Albus DumbledoreHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (2010)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011)
Ian McKellenGandalf the GreyThe Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)
The Hobbit Trilogy (2012-2014)
Michael Gambon vs Ian Mckellen

Michael Gambon and Ian McKellen

Similar Appearance

One reason for the confusion is the physical resemblance between Michael Gambon and Ian McKellen. Both actors are older British men with white beards and a distinguished presence. This resemblance can lead to fans mistaking one for the other, especially when their roles involve wizards.

Dumbledore’s Recasting

Richard Harris originally portrayed Professor Dumbledore in the “Harry Potter” film series. However, after Harris’s passing, Michael Gambon took over the role starting with the third film, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (2004). This change in actors for such an iconic character may have caused some viewers to associate Dumbledore with the wrong actor.

Also Read: Richard Harris vs Michael Gambon Dumbledore Who Played It Well

Dumbledore and Gandalf

Both “Harry Potter” and “The Lord of the Rings” film series were being produced and released around the same time, with some overlap. This proximity in release dates could have further blurred the lines between the two actors and their respective roles.

Both Dumbledore and Gandalf are beloved and iconic characters in their respective franchises. Fans often hold these characters in high regard, making them memorable and easy to associate with the actors who portrayed them.

Michael Gambon’s portrayal of Dumbledore and Ian McKellen’s portrayal of Gandalf were both praised for their captivating performances. Gambon brought a stern and protective demeanor to Dumbledore, while McKellen’s Gandalf was wise and powerful. These memorable performances made it even more challenging for some viewers to separate the actors from their roles.

Ian McKellen as Dumbledore Cast

After the unfortunate passing of Richard Harris, who originally portrayed Professor Albus Dumbledore in the “Harry Potter” film series, Ian McKellen was indeed considered as a potential replacement for the iconic role. However, McKellen made a heartfelt decision to decline the offer. This decision was rooted in his deep respect for Harris but also influenced by remarks Harris had made about him earlier.

Also Read: Actor Who Played Gandalf The Grey, Sir Ian McKellen Story

Reportedly, Richard Harris had described Ian McKellen as “technically brilliant, but passionless.” These words,

although they may have been expressed in a different context, left a lasting impact on McKellen. He believed that stepping into a role previously criticized by the late actor would not do justice to Harris’s legacy and would be an uncomfortable endeavour. Thus, McKellen graciously stepped aside, ultimately allowing Michael Gambon to take on the role of the beloved wizard, Professor Dumbledore, in the later films of the series. This decision reflected McKellen’s respect for his fellow actors and his dedication to honoring the memory of Richard Harris in the role he had made so iconic.

Michael Gambon Movies

“The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover” (1989) – A dark and provocative film directed by Peter Greenaway.

“The Wings of the Dove” (1997) – A period drama based on the novel by Henry James.

“The Insider” (1999) – A thriller directed by Michael Mann, inspired by a true story involving tobacco industry whistleblowers.

“Gosford Park” (2001) – A critically acclaimed ensemble drama directed by Robert Altman.

“Amazing Grace” (2006) – A historical drama about the abolition of the British slave trade.

“The King’s Speech” (2010) – A highly acclaimed film about King George VI’s efforts to overcome his speech impediment.

“Harry Potter” film series (2004-2011) – Michael Gambon portrayed Albus Dumbledore in this beloved fantasy franchise.

“The Singing Detective” (1986) – A miniseries that earned him a BAFTA Award.

“Maigret” (1992) – A television series where he played the lead role of Chief Inspector Jules Maigret.

“Sleepy Hollow” (1999) – A Tim Burton film where he appeared as Baltus Van Tassel.

“Layer Cake” (2004) – A British crime film starring Daniel Craig.

“Being Julia” (2004) – A drama-comedy film where he played Jimmie Langton.

“The Good Shepherd” (2006) – A spy film directed by Robert De Niro, featuring Gambon as Dr. Fredericks.

Harry Potter Cast

The “Harry Potter” film series boasts an impressive ensemble cast, featuring a mix of established actors and talented newcomers. Here is a list of some Harry Potter Cast members and the characters they portrayed:

  • Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
  • Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
  • Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
  • Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
  • Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall
  • Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
  • Richard Harris (in the first two films) and Michael Gambon (from the third film onward) as Albus Dumbledore
  • Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort
  • Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange
  • Gary Oldman as Sirius Black
  • Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood
  • Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy
  • Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom
  • David Thewlis as Remus Lupin
  • Brendan Gleeson as Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody
  • Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge
  • Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy
  • John Hurt as Mr. Ollivander
  • Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
  • Timothy Spall as Peter Pettigrew (Wormtail)


Was Sir ian mckellen harry potter actor?

No Sir Ian McKellen wasn’t Harry Potter actor. It was Michael Gambon.

Has Gandalf actor died?

No Gandalf actor Sir Ian McKellen hasn’t died.