JK Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe have led the tributes to Harry Potter star Sir Michael Gambon, hailing him as a “wonderful man” and an “outstanding actor”.
The Dublin-born star of stage and screen died peacefully in hospital late on Wednesday aged 82, his family said.
Sir Michael found a legion of new fans in recent years after starring in six of the eight Harry Potter films as the beloved Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of the wizarding school Hogwarts.
He took over the role from fellow Irish actor Richard Harris following his death aged 72 in 2002, portraying the character from Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban through to Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2.
Rowling, who wrote the Harry Potter book series on which the films were based, paid tribute to Sir Michael saying she first saw him perform in King Lear in 1982 and if someone had told her the late actor “would appear in anything I’d written, I’d have thought you were insane”.
The author sent her condolences to his family and those who loved him as she recalled her experience of working with him on the Harry Potter films and in the BBC’s 2015 adaptation of her book The Casual Vacancy.
“Michael was a wonderful man in addition to being an outstanding actor, and I absolutely loved working with him, not only on Potter but also The Casual Vacancy”, she said.
Radcliffe, who played the titular boy wizard alongside the late actor’s Dumbledore, praised Sir Michael as “one of the most brilliant, effortless actors” he has ever worked with.
“With the loss of Michael Gambon the world just became considerably less fun”, Radcliffe said.
“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. He was silly, irreverent and hilarious. He loved his job, but never seemed defined by it.”
The actor also described Sir Michael as an “incredible story and joke teller” and said he made the hours they spent on set “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”, Radcliffe added.
His co-stars Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, who played Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, also recalled fond memories with Sir Michael.
Grint remembered the “warmth and mischief” Sir Michael brought to set.
He captivated me as a kid and became a personal role model of mine for finding the fun and eccentricities in life. Sending all my love to his family, Rupert,” he wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of the actor dressed in full Dumbledore regalia.
Meanwhile Watson said Sir Michael would never take things “too seriously” but would still deliver “the most serious moments with all the gravitas”.
“Thank you for showing us what it looks like to wear greatness lightly. We will miss you xx,” she added in a post on her Instagram story.
Actor Jason Isaacs said the “greatest thrill” of playing Lucius Malfoy in the film franchise was that Sir Michael knew his name and “shared his fearless, filthy sense of fun” with him – while James Phelps, who played Fred Weasley, regarded the late actor as a “legend” on and of the camera.
The son of Harris also described Sir Michael as a “brilliant actor”, adding: “He took over Dumbledore from my father, which was fitting as he over took (Marlon) Brando as my father’s favourite actor.”
Fiona Shaw, who played Petunia Dursley in the film franchise, told BBC Radio 4 that she regarded him as a “magnificent trickster” as he would tell her he could make guns that could “fool the V&A into believing that they were 18th century guns”.
She said of working with him on the Harry Potter films: “He took over from Richard Harris and of course, he began to mimic Richard Harris, who had recently died, and he would do his accent, the slight Irish accent.
“Which of course he always loved having an excuse to do because his family had come from Ireland, and gone to live in Camden. He just loved the precariousness of reality and unreality and, of course, that made him a very great actor.”
Dame Helen Mirren recalled working alongside Sir Michael in 1982’s Antony And Cleopatra, and hailed him as an “extraordinary actor”.
She told BBC News she would smile when she thinks of him, adding: “Because he was incredibly funny. He had this natural Irish sense of humour, naughty but very, very funny. He was enormously self-deprecating, and at the same time an instinctive actor and a wonderful person to be around just in general.
“He kept me constantly in laughter, we had some very funny moments playing Antony and Cleopatra together.”
Dame Helen added that he made an “extraordinary contribution to the British landscape of theatre”, saying: “We will all miss him a lot.”
Julia Roberts also described working with Sir Michael on the 1996 film Mary Reilly as an “honour”, writing on Instagram: “He was always smiling, always kind. RIP Sir Michael Gambon. #legend.”
Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins hailed the late actor as “the loveliest of legends” as she reflected on her time working with him on the Doctor Who Christmas special A Christmas Carol in 2010.
“He couldn’t have been kinder, calmer and more supportive. Today we have lost the loveliest of legends,” Jenkins said in an Instagram post.
Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar praised Sir Michael as a “great actor” who “gave his all to every performance”.
While Irish President Michael D Higgins regarded him as “one of the finest actors of his generation”.
He added: “Sir Michael Gambon leaves a great body of work that will remain as a compelling legacy, and a reminder to all who appreciated his work, of all that he accomplished.”
Actress Dame Joan Collins, who played Sir Michael’s wife in the pilot for the proposed BBC sitcom Mama’s Back, described him as “a great actor and great fun”.
Dame Eileen Atkins said there was something “very sweet” about the veteran actor as she reflected on starring alongside him in the revival of Samuel Beckett’s All That Fall.
“He was a lot of fun. He was a great actor, but he always pretended he didn’t take it very seriously. Of course, he does really take it seriously,” she told BBC Radio 4.
“But (his) presence on stage was amazing. He just had to walk on stage and he commanded the whole audience immediately. He was very lovely to play with, when he behaved. He behaved with me. Sometimes he really played tricks on stage.”
Former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson also expressed his condolences, recalling the actor was such a “tremendous guest” he had a corner named after him on the BBC show’s race track.
West End theatres will dim their lights in honour of Sir Michael on Friday evening, the Society Of London Theatre (SOLT) has said.
Co-chief executive of SOLT, Hannah Essex, said the theatre world has “lost an incredible talent” and described his impact on the arts as “immeasurable”.
Sir Michael was also known for playing French detective Jules Maigret in ITV series Maigret, and for his 1986 role as Philip Marlow in Dennis Potter’s The Singing Detective.
A statement issued on behalf of Lady Gambon and son Fergus Gambon said: “We are devastated to announce the loss of Sir Michael Gambon.
“Beloved husband and father, Michael died peacefully in hospital with his wife Anne and son Fergus at his bedside, following a bout of pneumonia.”
Sir Michael made his first appearance on stage in a production of Othello at the Gates Theatre, Dublin, in 1962 when he returned to Ireland following his move to the UK.
His illustrious theatre career also includes appearances in Alan Ayckbourn’s The Norman Conquests, The Life Of Galileo and Nicholas Hytner’s National Theatre production of Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2.
In 2016 he appeared as Private Godfrey in the big screen adaptation of Dad’s Army, and his other film roles included period dramas such as 2010’s The King’s Speech, 2001’s Gosford Park and 2017’s Victoria & Abdul.
Sir Michael was awarded four TV Baftas during his career in recognition of his roles for family BBC drama Perfect Strangers in 2002, as a clockmaker hoping to win a prize in Channel 4’s Longitude in 2001, BBC Elizabeth Gaskell adaptation Wives And Daughters in 2000 and The Singing Detective in 1987.
He was also recognised by American awards shows, with Emmy nominations for Mr Woodhouse in 2010 for an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma and as former US president Lyndon B Johnson in Path To War in 2002.
His turn in David Hare play Skylight, about the fallout of an affair, also led to a Tony nod in 1997 and in 1990 he secured an Olivier Award for comedy performance of the year for diplomatic comedy Man Of The Moment at the Globe, now the Gielgud Theatre.
He was knighted for his contribution to the entertainment industry in 1998.
Published: by Radio NewsHub