DoctorDoctor Who Guide

Sir Michael Gambon

Last updated 27 July 2014


Sir Michael Gambon
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Michael John Gambon

Born: Sat 19th October 1940 (age: 74)

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Sir Michael John GambonCBE  is an Irish actor who has worked in theatre, television and film. A highly respected theatre actor, Gambon is recognised for his roles as Philip Marlowe in the BBC television serialThe Singing Detective, as Jules Maigret in the 1990s ITV serial Maigret, and as Professor Albus Dumbledore in the last six Harry Potter films (following the death of actor Richard Harris).

He played Kazran in the 2010 Christmas Special, A Christmas Carol.

Gambon was born in Cabra, Dublin, during World War II. His father, Edward Gambon, was an engineer, and his mother, Mary (née Hoare), was a seamstress.

Brought up as a strict Roman Catholic, he attended St Aloysius Boys' School in Somers Town and served at the altar. He then moved to St Aloysius' College in Hornsey Lane, Highgate, London

At the age of 18, Gambon went off to attend drama school at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London and studied classical acting for 3 years, eventually receiving a BA in Classical Acting. 

Gambon made his professional stage début in the Gate Theatre Dublin's 1962 production of Othello, playing "Second Gentleman", followed by a European tour. A year later, cheekily auditioning with the opening soliloquy from Richard III, he caught the eye of star-maker Laurence Olivier who was recruiting promising spear carriers for his new National Theatre Company

His rise to stardom began in 1974 when Eric Thompson cast him as the melancholy vet in Alan Ayckbourn's The Norman Conquests at Greenwich. Back at the National, now on the South Bank, his next turning point was Peter Hall's premiere staging of Harold Pinter's Betrayal.

In 2001 he played what he described as "a physically repulsive" Davies in Patrick Marber's revival of Pinter's The Caretaker, but he found the rehearsal period an unhappy experience, and felt that he had let down the author. A year later, playing opposite Daniel Craig, he portrayed the father of a series of cloned sons in Caryl Churchill's A Number at the Royal Court, notable for a recumbent moment when he smoked a cigarette, the brightly lit spiral of smoke rising against a black backdrop, an effect which he dreamed up during rehearsals.

In 2004, Gambon played the lead role (Hamm) in Samuel Beckett's post-apocalyptic play Endgame at the Albery Theatre, London. In 2004 he finally achieved a life-long ambition to play Falstaff, in Nicholas Hytner's National production of Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, co-starring with Matthew Macfadyen as Prince Hal.

He made his film debut in the Laurence Olivier Othello in 1965. He then played romantic leads, notably in the early 1970s BBC television series, The Borderers, in which he was swashbuckling Gavin Ker. As a result, Gambon was asked by James Bondproducer Cubby Broccoli to audition for the role in 1970, to replace George Lazenby. His craggy looks soon made him into acharacter actor, although he won critical acclaim as Galileo in John Dexter's production of The Life of Galileo by Brecht at the National Theatre in 1980. But it was not until Dennis Potter's The Singing Detective (1986) that he became a household name. After this success, for which he won a BAFTA, his work includes such controversial films as The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, which also starred Helen Mirren.

In 1992 he played a psychotic general in the Barry Levinson film Toys and he also starred as Georges Simenon's detective Inspector Jules Maigret in an ITV adaptation of Simenon's series of books. He starred as Fyodor Dostoyevsky in the Hungarian director Károly Makk's movie The Gambler (1997) about the writing of Dostoyevsky's novella The Gambler. In recent years, films such as Dancing at Lughnasa (1998), Plunkett & Macleane (1998), and Sleepy Hollow (1999), as well as television appearances in series such as Wives and Daughters (1999) (for which he won another BAFTA), a made-for-TV adaptation of Samuel Beckett'sEndgame (2001) and Perfect Strangers (2001) have revealed a talent for comedy. Gambon played President Lyndon B. Johnson in the television film Path to War. For this performance, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Actor in a Mini-series or Movie and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture made for Television.

In 2004, he appeared in five films, including Wes Anderson's quirky comedy The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou; the British gangster flick Layer Cake; theatrical drama Being Julia; and CGI action fantasy Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

In 2004, he began playing Albus Dumbledore, Hogwarts's headmaster in the third installment of J. K. Rowling's franchise, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, taking over from the late Richard Harris. (Harris had also played Maigret on television four years before Gambon took that role.) Gambon reprised the role of Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which was released in November 2005 in the United Kingdom and the United States. He returned to the role again in the fifth film, 2007's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and the sixth film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. He appeared in the seventh film;Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts I and II, released in two parts in 2010 and 2011. 

In 1990 he played Jerry in Harold Pinter's Betrayal for BBC Radio 3. In 2006 he played Henry in Stephen Rea's play about Samuel Beckett's Embers for Radio 3. In 2007 he was Sam in Harold Pinter's The Homecoming for Radio 3.

He performed as Joe in Beckett's Eh Joe, giving two performances a night at the Duke of York's Theatre in London. He currently does the voice over to the new Guinness ads with the penguins.[12] In 2007 he played major roles in Stephen Poliakoff's Joe's Palace, and the five-part adaptation of Mrs Gaskell's Cranford novels, both for BBC TV.

In 2008 Gambon appeared in the role of Hirst in No Man's Land by Harold Pinter in the Gate Theatre, Dublin, opposite David Bradley as Spooner, in a production directed by Rupert Goold, which transferred to the London West End's Duke of York's Theatre, for which roles each received nominations for the 2009 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor. He also appeared as the Narrator in the British version of Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire.

After Pinter's death on 24 December 2008, Gambon read Hirst's monologue selected by the playwright for Gambon to read at his funeral, held on 31 December 2008, during the cast's memorial remarks from the stage as well as at the funeral and also in Words and Music, transmitted on the BBC Radio 3 on 22 February 2009.[13]

In late 2009 he had to withdraw from his role of W. H. Auden in The Habit of Art (being replaced by Richard Griffiths) because of ill health. That same year he played his role as Mr. Woodhouse in a television adaptation of Jane Austen's famously irrepressibleEmma, a four-hour miniseries that premiered on BBC One in October 2009, co-starring Jonny Lee Miller and Romola Garai.[14]Gambon received a 2010 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie nomination for his performance.

In April 2010, Gambon returned once again to the Gate Theatre Dublin to appear in Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape, which transferred to London's Duchess Theatre in October 2010.

Biography from the Wikipedia article, licensed under CC-BY-SA 






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