Sir Michael Gambon, the celebrated theater actor perhaps best known for playing Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter movies, died on Wednesday. He was 82. "Beloved husband and father, Michael died peacefully in hospital with his wife Anne and son Fergus at his bedside, following a bout of pneumonia," his family said in a statement.
Born on Oct. 19, 1940 in a suburb of Dublin, Ireland, Gambon's father relocated the family to London in his youth. He began his acting career as an original member of Laurence Olivier's Royal National Theatre. After appearing in a number of Shakespeare productions on stage, the actor made his film debut in 1965's Othello, which starred Olivier in the title role.
Gambon is best remembered for his tenure as the wise headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter franchise. Two-time Oscar nominee Richard Harris starred as Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter films, before his death in 2002. Gambon took over the role in 2004's Alfonso Cuarón-directed Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
"They rang me up and said, 'Will you do it?' Like any other job I said, 'Sure,'" Gambon said in a 2009 interview. "I've played quite a lot of crooks and killers, and that's quite interesting. Then Dumbledore is the complete opposite, isn't he? He's a nice old man. This will stick out as being a happy memory, being with a thing for so long and the worldwide love of it. You never forget that."
Gambon reprised his role for five more Harry Potter films, through 2011's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Following news of Gambon's death, Daniel Radcliffe called his late co-star "one of the most brilliant, effortless actors I've ever had the privilege of working with."
"Despite his immense talent, the thing I will remember most about him is how much fun he had doing his job. He was silly, irreverent and hilarious," Radcliffe said in a statement. "He loved his job, but never seemed defined by it. He was an incredible story and joke teller and his habit of blurring the lines of fact and fiction when talking to journalists meant that he was also one of the most entertaining people with whom you could ever wish to do a press junket. The sixth film was where I got to spend the most time working with Michael and he made the hours spent in front of a green screen together more memorable and joyous than they had any right to be. I'm so sad to hear he has passed, but I am so grateful for the fact that I am one of the lucky people who got to work with him."
Outside of the Harry Potter franchise, Gambon was known for his roles in films like The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989), The Wings of the Dove (1997), The Insider (1999), Gosford Park (2001), The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), The King's Speech (2010), and Judy (2019).
Across his storied career, Gambon received three Olivier Awards, four BAFTA Awards, and two Emmy Award nominations for playing Lyndon B. Johnson in 2002's Path to War (Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie) and Mr. Woodhouse in 2009's Emma (Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie).
In 1998, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to drama.