Sir Ian McKellen reveals why he really turned down Harry Potter

Get the tissues ready, this is sad...

Words by Jadie Troy-Pryde

What would the world be without the magic that is Harry Potter? J.K. Rowling recently revealed that it almost didn’t happen when the first book of the series was rejected a whopping twelve times before a publisher picked it up.

So when it came to making her beloved books into films, casting the right actors for the roles was imperative – especially the part of Dumbledore, Rowling’s favourite Harry Potter character.

British actor Richard Harris was chosen to play the headmaster we all wished we had at secondary school, but he sadly passed away after the release of the second film, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, in 2002.

Sir Ian McKellen, who had been playing a Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings, was rumoured to be stepping into the magical slippers and setting up shop in the Hogwarts office, but it was actually Michael Gambon that was recruited as the new Dumbledore.

Why? Well it seems that McKellen was offered the role but decided to turn it down out of respect for Harris, who apparently wasn’t his biggest fan.

Talking to Hardline, McKellen said: ‘When he died – he played Dumbledore, the wizard – I played the real wizard [in Lord of the Rings] of course – but when they called me up and said would I be interested in being in the Harry Potter films, they didn’t say what part.

‘I worked out what they were thinking and I couldn’t. I couldn’t take over the part from an actor who I’d known hadn’t approved of me.’

What a gentleman. Brb, crying.

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