Sir Ian McKellen has revealed that he turned down the role of gay wizard Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films.
The veteran actor has appeared in a number of blockbuster franchises in massive roles, appearing as wizard Gandalf in Lord of the Rings and Magneto in the X-Men franchise.
One franchise that eluded the actor was Harry Potter, but in an interview with BBC HARDtalk, Sir Ian revealed he was offered a role in the wizarding films.
The actor was offered the role of beloved Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore after the death of Richard Harris, who had played the character in the first two films.
Sir Ian explained: “When Richard Harried died, they called me up and said would I be interested in being in the Harry Potter films – they wouldn’t say what part but I worked out what they were thinking.”
However, he turned down the role because he was uncomfortable taking over from Harris, who had previously described McKellen as “technically brilliant but passionless”.
McKellen explained: “I couldn’t take over the part from an actor who I know disapproved of me.”
The recast role of Dumbledore eventually went to Michael Gambon, who played the character for the remainder of the Harry Potter films.
The actor quipped: “Sometimes when I look at the posters of Michael Gambon [as Dumbledore], I sometimes think it’s me. You know, we get asked for each other’s autographs!”
However, Gambon too is expected to be ejected from the role.
Another recast is reportedly planned for Dumbledore, with a younger version of the wizard rumoured to be making an appearance in Harry Potter prequel franchise Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.
The first film in the franchise paved the way for Dumbledore to appear by introducing dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald, who had strong ties to Dumbledore in the Harry Potter universe.
Potter creator JK Rowling has already hinted that the relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald will be central to the new films – of which there will be five.
The writer hinted: “I can tell you that we do talk about Dumbledore and Grindelwald.
“I’m not allowed to say too much but I can say one thing… we were doing some script sessions the other day, and we always knew it would be more than one movie. But I’ve now done the plotting properly, and we’re pretty sure it’s going to be five movies.”
It remains unclear who will be reprising the role of Dumbledore, or in which of the four planned films he will appear.