Dumbledore, Winston Churchill, and Private Godfrey; are just a few of the many roles Sir Michael Gambon brought to life over the course of his illustrious acting career. While the four BAFTAs and three Olivier Awards held to his name are a strong indication of the incredible talent he was, they barely scratch the surface of explaining his influence to the world of drama, both on the stage and screen.
Despite starring in countless productions, I believe it is safe to say Gambon will be remembered most prominently as the man who embodied Albus Dumbledore, of the notorious Harry Potter franchise. While his predecessor for the role, Richard Harris, depicted Dumbledore as a very whimsical figure, Michael was able to transform the literary character into the morally complex, palpable figure of mystery we see in later films. He perfectly encapsulated the harrowing tones of the latter books with his morally ambiguous adaptation of the character, allowing his audience to consider new complexities of Dumbledore’s authority, whilst still being fundamentally entertaining. His ability to transform a character already established by another actor is no small feat, and yet another credit to his excellence at his craft.
Further from his notorious work in the film industry, it is impossible to discuss the legacy of Michael Gambon’s acting career without also acknowledging his phenomenal ability to commandeer a stage. He was incredibly well-versed in the works of Shakespeare, embodying several of his eponymous characters, including Macbeth, Othello, and King Lear. His effortless ability to entertain a twenty-first-century audience with Elizabethan prose serves as further proof of his acting prowess.
Michael Gambon unquestionably made an exceptional contribution to the world of drama, as reflected in the knighthood he received for services to drama in 1998. But more importantly, he has also left a lasting impression on the world. Hordes of celebrities have rushed to pay tribute to Gambon. Actor, Daniel Radcliffe has noted, Gambon was ‘one of the most entertaining people with whom you could ever wish to do a press junket.’ While many others have reflected on his beautiful storytelling abilities.
From children’s fiction to Shakespearean tragedy, Gambon has secured his position in the memory of the nation. His legacy transcends the stage and screen; a phenomenal actor, with a heart of gold, it is clear he was a commendable character both on and off set, and his contribution to the world of drama will never be forgotten.