'Wonderful man': Daniel Radcliffe and JK Rowling lead tributes to Sir Michael Gambon after his death aged 82

28 September 2023, 14:04 | Updated: 28 September 2023, 19:37

Sir Michael Gambon has died aged 82
Sir Michael Gambon has died aged 82. Picture: Alamy/Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Daniel Radcliffe has led tributes to Harry Potter star Sir Michael Gambon after the actor's death aged 82.

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Sir Michael, who is best known for starring as Dumbledore in Harry Potter and in the hit TV show The Singing Detective, died following a bout with pneumonia.

The Irish-English actor also appeared on Top Gear on a number occasions, eventually having a corner of the show's famous racetrack named after him.

'Legend on and off camera'

Sir Michael Gambon as Dumbledore in Harry Potter
Sir Michael Gambon as Dumbledore in Harry Potter. Picture: Alamy

Harry Potter creator JK Rowling, who was heavily involved in the films, labelled Sir Michael a "wonderful man" and "outstanding actor".

She said: "I've just heard the awful news about Michael Gambon. The first time I ever laid eyes on him was in King Lear, in 1982, and if you'd told me then that brilliant actor would appear in anything I'd written, I'd have thought you were insane.

"Michael was a wonderful man in additional to being an outstanding actor, and I absolutely loved working with him, not only on Potter but also The Casual Vacancy. My deepest condolences go to Michael's family and everyone who loved him."

Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, said the world has become "considerably less fun" without Sir Michael in it.

“With the loss of Michael Gambon the world just became considerably less fun. Michael Gambon was one of the most brilliant, effortless actors I’ve ever had the privilege of working with, but despite his immense talent, the thing I will remember most about him is how much fun he had doing his job,” Radcliffe told Page Six

“He was silly, irreverent and hilarious.”

Meanwhile, Rupert Grint, who played Ron Weasley in the films, said Sir Michael had been a "personal role model" for him.

Michael Gambon, who was receiving an Honorary Doctorate of Arts, with his certificate at the Old Naval College, Greenwich
Michael Gambon, who was receiving an Honorary Doctorate of Arts, with his certificate at the Old Naval College, Greenwich. Picture: Alamy

Former Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson said he was "so sad" to hear of Sir Michael's death.

"He was hugely amusing, and such a tremendous guest, we even named a corner after him," Clarkson said.

Comedian David Baddiel is among those paying tribute to Sir Michael Gambon, describing his theatre performance as "the best acting I've ever seen".

Writing on Twitter, Baddiel said: "First time I ever went to see any Theatre with a capital T it was Michael Gambon in Brecht's Life Of Galileo at The National in 1980.

"It's still the best stage acting I've ever seen. RIP."

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James Phelps, who starred alongside Sir Michael in Harry Potter as Fred Weasley, said he was a "legend on and off the camera" as he shared one his favourite memories from his days on the film set.

"Very sorry to hear about the passing of Michael Gambon. He was, on and off the camera, a legend. Just a little memory of Michael," he shared online.

Michael Gambon in The Singing Detective in 1986
Michael Gambon in The Singing Detective in 1986. Picture: Alamy

He continued: "Whilst shooting [Harry Potter Six] I worked on the AD department for the whole shoot (apart from the days I was acting).

"And for that reason I spent many hours with Michael during the shoot. He was always very funny and very welcoming to share any knowledge he had.

"One day we were shooting Dumbledore's final clock tower scene, obviously quite an intense scene. In between set ups Michael asked what I was up to that weekend.

"As it happened my brother and I were reading Peter and the Wolf with the Manchester Halle orchestra. Do you have the script with you?" He asked, I did, "I've done that, let's got through it and if you like I can give some notes".

"So we spent what should have been his downtime going over my weekend gig. It is a memory I've always had as one of the highlights of my HP days."

Jason Isaacs, who played Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies, posted online: "Magnificent Michael Gambon has died. I learned what acting could be from Michael in The Singing Detective - complex, vulnerable and utterly human.

"The greatest thrill of being in the Potter films was that he knew my name and shared his fearless, filthy sense of fun with me."

Meanwhile, the official Harry Potter account shared a message about the "incredibly sad" passing of Sir Michael.

"He brought immeasurable joy to Harry Potter fans from all over the world with his humour, kindness and grace. We will forever hold his memory in our hearts," the message read.

From engineering technician to legendary actor

Sir Michael Gambon attends the World Premiere of 'King Of Thieves'
Sir Michael Gambon attends the World Premiere of 'King Of Thieves'. Picture: Getty

In addition to his role as Dumbledore in Harry Potter, which started in the series' third instalment Prisoner of Azkaban following Richard Harris' death, Sir Michael starred in 2002's Ali G and in both Paddington Bear movies.

He was born in the Cabra suburb of Dublin, Ireland, in 1940, but moved to Camden, north London, aged six.

While he worked for most of his life as an actor, in theatre and TV shows, as well as movies, Sir Michael was a fully-qualified engineering technician by the age of 21.

He made his professional stage debut in the Gate Theatre's 1962 production of Othello, and went on to have an illustrious career in theatre, also playing Macbeth.

Sir Michael grew to national prominence after appearing in a number of hit TV shows and films in the 1970s and 1980s, including The Singing Detective (1986) and the Peter Greenaway film The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989).

More recently, alongside Harry Potter, Sir Michael appeared in both the King's Speech, Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox and both Paddington films.

"We are devastated to announce the loss of Sir Michael Gambon," a family statement read.

"Beloved husband and father, Michael died peacefully in hospital with his wife Anne and son Fergus at his bedside, following a bout of pneumonia."

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