Harry Potter's Wizards Still Haven't Read The Books

By Josh Tyler 2009-07-14 00:45:19discussion comments
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Maybe Michael Gambon has talked about this before and Iíve just missed it, but itís always interesting to take a look at how actors approach the challenge of playing characters adapted from a wildly popular, well-known literary work like Harry Potter. It would seem Michael Gambonís approach, and indeed the approach of many in the Harry Potterís cast, has been to ignore the books entirely.

The LA Times caught up with Gambon, presumably out promoting the upcoming Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and he confessed that not only has he never read any of the books but neither have Ralph Fiennes (who plays Voldemort) or Alan Rickman (who plays Severous Snape). If you think about it, Gambonís reason for avoiding the novels makes a lot of sense. He says, ďYouíd get upset about all the scenes it's missing from the book, wouldnĎt you? No point in reading the books because youíre playing with [screenwriter] Steve Klovesí words.Ē

Though some fans have been disappointed in Gambonís portrayal of the elder wizard, lack of familiarity with the books doesnít seem to have hurt Alan Rickman. Heís almost universally praised as one of the strongest parts of all the Harry Potter films. As someone whoís never read the books though, I have to wonder if maybe thatís wrong with Voldemort whom, friends tell me is a scary, scary villain in the books but as played by Ralph Fiennes has always seemed like a silly fish.

Gambonís approach is quite a contrast to the one taken by other notable on screen wizards. Christopher Lee, who played Saruman in Lord of the Rings infamously reads Tolkienís original works annually and Ian McKellan, who played Gandalf, is a huge fan of the books his character is taken from as well. Itís worked for Rickman but perhaps Michael Gambon could have benefited from a little light reading. I like his Dumbledore well enough, but heís no Gandalf.
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