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Sir Michael Gambon
Born Michael John Gambon
19 October 1940 (1940-10-19) (age 69)
Cabra, Dublin, Ireland
Other name(s) Mike Gambon
Occupation Actor
Years active 1962–present
Spouse(s) Anne Miller (1962-1999) (separated)
Domestic partner(s) Philippa Hart (2000-present)

Sir Michael Gambon, CBE (born Michael John Gambon; 19 October 1940) is an Irish-British actor who has worked in theatre, television and film. A highly respected theatre actor, Gambon is recognised for his role in The Singing Detective and for his role as Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter film series, replacing the late actor Richard Harris.

Contents

Early life

Gambon was born in Cabra, Dublin during World War II. His father, Edward Gambon, was an engineer, and his mother, Mary (née Hoare),[1] was a seamstress. His father decided to seek work in the rebuilding of London, and so the family moved to Mornington Crescent in North London, when Gambon was five. His father had him made a British citizen - a decision that would later allow Michael to receive an actual, rather than honorary, knighthood and CBE[2] (although, under the British Nationality Act 1981 anyone born in Ireland before 1949 can still register as a British subject and, after five years' UK residence, as a British citizen).

Brought up as a strict 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, whose former pupils included Peter Sellers and Joe Cole. He later attended a school in Kent, before leaving with no qualifications at fifteen. He then gained an apprenticeship with Vickers Armstrong as a toolmaker. By the time he was 21 he was a fully qualified engineer. He kept the job for a further year - acquiring a fascination and passion for collecting antique guns, clocks and watches, as well as classic cars.

Career

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 built a very solid CV whilst at RADA consisting of the works of William Shakespeare, Anton Chekhov and many others. Aged 19, while at RADA, he joined the Unity Theatre in King's Cross. Five years later he wrote a letter to Michael MacLiammoir, the Irish theatre impresario who ran Dublin's Gate Theatre. It was accompanied by a CV describing a rich and wholly imaginary theatre career - and he was taken on.

Gambon made his professional stage début in the Gaiety 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. Gambon, along with Robert Stephens, Derek Jacobi and Frank Finlay, was hired as one of the "to be renowned" and played any number of small roles, appearing on cast lists as Mike Gambon. The company initially performed at the Old Vic, their first production being Hamlet, directed by Olivier and starring Peter O'Toole. Gambon played for four years in many NT productions, including named roles in The Recruiting Officer and The Royal Hunt of the Sun, working with directors William Gaskill and John Dexter.

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Theatre

After three years at the Old Vic, Olivier advised Gambon to gain experience in provincial rep. In 1967, he left the NT for the Birmingham Repertory Company which was to give him his first crack at the title roles in Othello (his favourite), Macbeth and Coriolanus.

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. A speedy transfer to the West End established him as a brilliant comic actor, squatting at a crowded dining table on a tiny chair and sublimely agonising over a choice between black or white coffee.

Back at the National, now on the South Bank, his next turning point was Peter Hall's premiere staging of Harold Pinter's Betrayal, an unexpectedly subtle performance - a production photograph shows him embracing Penelope Wilton with sensitive hands and long slim fingers (the touch of a master clock-maker). He is also one of the few actors to have mastered the harsh demands of the vast Olivier Theatre. As Simon Callow once said: "Gambon's iron lungs and overwhelming charisma are able to command a sort of operatic full-throatedness which triumphs over hard walls and long distances".

This was to serve him in good stead in John Dexter's masterly staging of The Life of Galileo in 1980, the first Brecht to become a popular success. Hall called him "unsentimental, dangerous and immensely powerful", even The Sunday Times' curmudgeonly critic of the day called his performance "a decisive step in the direction of great tragedy...great acting", while fellow actors paid him the rare compliment of applauding him in the dressing room on the first night.

From the first Ralph Richardson dubbed him The Great Gambon, an accolade which stuck, outshining his 1990 CBE,[3] even the later knighthood, although Gambon dismisses it as a circus slogan. But as Sheridan Morley perceptively remarked in 2000, when reviewing Cressida: "Gambon's eccentricity on stage now begins to rival that of his great mentor Richardson". Also like Richardson, interviews are rarely given and raise more questions than they answer. Gambon is a very private person, a "non-starry star" as Ayckbourn called him. Off-stage he prefers to back out of the limelight, an unpretentious guy sharing laughs with his fellow cast and crew. While he has won screen acclaim, no-one who saw his ravaged King Lear at Stratford, while still in his early forties, will forget his superb double act with a red-nosed Antony Sher as the Fool sitting on his master's knee like a ventriloquist's doll.

There were also notable appearances in Old Times at the Haymarket Theatre and Volpone and the brutal sergeant in Pinter's Mountain Language. David Hare's Skylight, with Lia Williams, which opened to rave reviews at the National in 1995, transferred first to Wyndham's Theatre and then on to Broadway for a four-month run which left him in a state of advanced exhaustion. "Skylight was ten times as hard to play as anything I've ever done" he told Michael Owen in the Evening Standard. "I had a great time in New York, but wanted to return".

Gambon is almost the only leading actor not to grace Yasmina Reza's ART at Wyndham's. But together with Simon Russell Beale and Alan Bates he gave a deliciously droll radio account of the role of Marc. And for the RSC he shared Reza's two-hander The Unexpected Man with Eileen Atkins, first at The Pit in the Barbican and then at the Duchess Theatre, a production also intended for New York but finally delayed by other commitments.

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 he finally achieved a life-long ambition to play Falstaff, in Nicholas Hytner's National production of Henry IV, Part 1 and 2, co-starring with Matthew Macfadyen as Prince Hal.

Film

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 Bond producer Cubby Broccoli to audition for the role in 1970, to replace George Lazenby. His craggy looks soon made him into a character 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 films such as The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and 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's Endgame (2001) and Perfect Strangers (2001) have revealed a talent for comedy.

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. 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.

Perhaps his most significant role in 2004, however, was Albus Dumbledore, Hogwarts' 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 Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which was released in November 2005 in the UK 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. Despite having deliberately misled an interviewer (something Gambon enjoys doing often, to mix things up a bit), he has read the books, as evidenced in the Prisoner of Azkaban interviews.[4] Similarly, he has also misled another interviewer to believe that, when playing Dumbledore, he does not "have to play anyone really. I just stick on a beard and play me, so it's no great feat. I never ease into a role—every part I play is just a variant of my own personality. I'm not really a character actor at all ..."[5] When asked if children approach him as Dumbledore in the street, Gambon responded, "Children don't usually recognise me, although a kid came up to me the other day. I was in Cornwall, and he said, Gandalf, can I have your autograph? I said, Piss off!"

Ongoing work

Most recently, he was 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.[6] 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.[7] In late 2009 he had to withdraw from his role of W. H. Auden in The Habit of Art (being replaced by Richard Griffiths) due to ill health. In April 2010, Gambon will return once again to the Gate Theatre Dublin to appear in Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape.

Personal life

Gambon married Anne Miller when he was 22, but has always been secretive about his personal life, responding to one interviewer's question about her: "What wife?" The couple lived near Gravesend, Kent, where she has a workshop. Gambon was invested by Prince Charles as a Knight Bachelor on 17 July, 1998 for "services to drama". (Queen Elizabeth II's approval for the award was notified in the 1998 New Year Honours List.) Anne Miller thus became Lady Gambon. The couple were later separated and estranged.[8][9] They have one son, Fergus, an expert on the BBC's Antiques Roadshow.

While filming Gosford Park, Gambon brought Philippa Hart on to the set and introduced her to co-stars as his girlfriend. When the affair was revealed in 2002, he moved out of the marital home and bought a bachelor pad. Hart, who worked with Gambon on the film, Sylvia in 2003, in late 2006 moved into a £500,000 terraced home in Chiswick, West London. In February 2007, it was revealed that Hart was pregnant with Gambon's child, and gave birth to son, Michael, in May 2007. On 22 June 2009 she gave birth to her second child, a boy named William, who is Gambon's third child.[10]

Gambon is a qualified private pilot and his love of cars led to his appearance on the BBC's Top Gear programme. Gambon raced the Suzuki Liana and was driving so aggressively that it was launched into the air on the last corner of his timed lap. The final corner of the Dunsfold Park track has been named "Gambon" in his honour.

He appeared on the programme again on the 4 June 2006, and set a time in the Chevrolet Lacetti of 1:50.3, a significant improvement on his previous time of 1:55. He clipped his namesake corner the second time, and when asked why by Jeremy Clarkson, replied, "I dunno - I just don't like it".

Work

Theatre

Feature films

Year Film Role Notes
1965 Othello Company Film debut
1974 The Beast Must Die Jan Jarmokowski
1985 Turtle Diary George Fairbairn
1988 Paris by Night Gerald Paige
Gerald Paige Narrator (voice)
1989 The Rachel Papers Doctor Knowd
A Dry White Season Magistrate
The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover Albert Spica
1991 Mobsters Salvatore Maranzano
1992 Toys General Leland Zevo
1994 A Man of No Importance Ivor J. Garney
Clean Slate Philip Cornell
Squanto: A Warrior's Tale Sir George
The Browning Version Dr. Frobisher
1995 Bullet to Beijing Alex
Two Deaths Daniel Pavenic
Nothing Personal Leonard
1996 Mary Reilly Mr. Reilly
The Innocent Sleep Det. Insp. Matheson
Midnight in Saint Petersburg Alex
1997 The Gambler Fyoder Dostoyevsky
The Wings of the Dove Lionel Croy
1998 Dancing at Lughnasa Father Jack Mundy
Plunkett & Macleane Lord Gibson
1999 Le Château des singes Master Martin (voice in English version: A Monkey's Tale)
Dead on Time Maurice
The Insider Thomas Sandefur
The Last September Sir Richard Naylor
Sleepy Hollow Baltus Van Tassel
2001 Gosford Park Sir William McCordle
Charlotte Gray Levade
High Heels and Low Lifes Kerrigan
Christmas Carol: The Movie Ghost of Christmas Present (voice)
2002 Ali G Indahouse Prime Minister
2003 The Lost Prince (TV) Edward VII
Little Wolf's Book of Badness Uncle Bigbad (voice)
The Actors Barreller
Open Range Denton Baxter
Sylvia Professor Thomas
Deep Blue Narrator Documentary (voice)
2004 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Albus Dumbledore
Standing Room Only Larry
Being Julia Jimmie Langton
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow Morris Paley
Layer Cake Eddie Temple
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou Oseary Drakoulias
2005 Stories of Lost Souls Larry
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Albus Dumbledore
2006 The Omen Bugenhagen
The Good Shepherd Dr. Fredericks
John Duffy's Brother Narrator (voice)
Amazing Grace Lord Charles Fox
2007 The Good Night Alan Weigert
The Baker Leo
The Alps Narrator Documentary (voice)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Albus Dumbledore
2008 Brideshead Revisited Lord Marchmain
2009 Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire (TV) The Narrator (voice)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Albus Dumbledore
Fantastic Mr. Fox Franklin Bean (voice)
2010 The Book of Eli George
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I Albus Dumbledore Post-production
The King's Speech King George V Post-production
2011 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II Albus Dumbledore Filming

Television

Year TV Series Role Number of episodes Notes
1967 Much Ado About Nothing Watchman #4 1 episode
1968 Public Eye unknown 1 episode
1969 Fraud Squad Rex Lucien 1 episode
1968-1970 The Borderers Gavin Ker 26 episodes
1970 Confession Mr. Tennent 1 episode
1971 Eyeless in Gaza Mark Staithes 3 episodes
1972 The Challengers John Killane 1 episode
The Man Outside Ralph Kenward 1 episode
1967-1972 Softly, Softly Cranley 2 episodes
1973 Menace Ellis 1 episode
A Picture of Katherine Mansfield Harry 1 episode
Special Branch Muller 1 episode
Arthur of the Britons Roland 1 episode
Six Days of Justice Mr.Golding 1 episode
ITV Saturday Night Theatre Brother Kevin 1 episode
Great Mystery Major Rolfe 1 episode
1974 Zodiac Reuben Keiser 1 episode
Masquerade Stewart 1 episode
1976 Centre Play Edith Harrison 1 episode
1972-1976 Play for Today several characters 3 episodes
1977 ITV Sunday Night Drama David Patton 1 episode
1967-1978 Play of the Month several characters 5 episodes
1978 Premiere Kenny 1 episode
1977-1979 Brian Bryant several characters 13 episodes
1979 Chalk and Cheese unknown unknown episodes
1980 Tales of the Unexpected Andrew 1 episode
1982 ITV Playhouse unknown 1 episode
La ronde unknown 1 episode
1985 Absurd Person Singular Geoffrey Jackson 1 episode
Oscar Oscar Wilde 3 episodes
Tropical Moon Over Dorking Bill 1 episode
1986 The Singing Detective Philip E. Marlow 6 episodes
1987 Bergerac Jarvis McLeod 1 episode
Ghosts Pastor Manders 1 episode
1989 The Dame Edna Experience Himself 1 episode Special Guest Program
The Heat of the Day Harrison 1 episode
Monster Maker Ultragorgon 1 episode (voice)
About Face Trevor 1 episode
1990 Blood Royal: William the Conqueror William I 1 episode
1991 The Storyteller The Storyteller 4 episodes
Minder Tommy Hanbury 1 episode
1992-1993 Maigret Insp. Maigret 12 episodes
1993 Performance Archie Rice 1 episode
1994 Faith Peter John Moreton 1 episode
1995 The Wind in the Willows Badger 1 episode (voice)
1996 Expert Witness Himself - Presenter/Narrator 7 episodes
Samson and Delilah King Hanun 1 episode
The Willows in Winter Badger 1 episode (voice)
1999 Wives and Daughters Squire Hamley 4 episodes
2000 Longitude John Harrison 1 episode
Endgame Hamm 1 episode
2001 Perfect Strangers Raymond 3 episodes
2002 Path to War Lyndon B. Johnson 1 episode
2003 The Lost Prince Edward VII 1 episode
Angels in America Prior Walter Ancestor 2 episodes
2006 Celebration Lambert 1 episode
2007 Joe's Palace Elliot Graham 1 episode
Cranford Mr. Holbrook 2 episodes
2009 Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire The Narrator 1 episode (voice)
Emma Mr. Woodhouse 4 episodes

Awards and nominations

References

  1. ^ "Michael Gambon Biography". filmreference. 2008. http://www.filmreference.com/film/35/Michael-Gambon.html. Retrieved 2009-01-22. 
  2. ^ "Michael Gambon biography on tiscali". Tiscali.co.uk. http://www.tiscali.co.uk/entertainment/film/biographies/michael_gambon_biog.html. Retrieved 2010-03-14. 
  3. ^ London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 51981, p. 7, 29 December 1989. Retrieved on 2007-12-20.
  4. ^ Michael Gambon. «Guests head to head: Professor Dumbledore and Rubeus Hagrid», 01:38.
  5. ^ Q&A with Michael Gambon, Professor Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter
  6. ^ 8 augustus 2006. "Guinness Penguins". YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfOlH4LOxFw. Retrieved 2010-03-14. 
  7. ^ Michael Gambon (Reader), Words and Music: Harold Pinter. Transmitted on BBC Radio 3, 22 February 2009. Web. 22 February 2009. (Accessible for 7 days afterward on "Listen again" on BBCiPlayer.)
  8. ^ London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 54993, pp. 1–2, 30 December 1997. Retrieved on 2007-12-20.
  9. ^ London Gazette: no. 55229, p. 8994, 18 August 1998. Retrieved on 2008-12-05.
  10. ^ "Birth of William Gambon". Dailymail.co.uk. 2009-06-22. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1194694/Dumbledores-daddy-Sir-Michael-Gambon-68-father--mistress.html. Retrieved 2010-03-14. 

Further reading

  • Who's Who in the Theatre, Fourteenth edition, Pitman (1967) for National Theatre at the Old Vic playbills
  • Who's Who in the Theatre, Seventeenth edition, Gale (1981) ISBN 0810302357 for Michael Gambon's own CV up to 1980
  • Giant of the Stage: A Profile of Michael Gambon by John Thaxter, The Stage newspaper, (16 November, 2000)
  • Gambon: A Life in Acting by Mel Gussow, Nick Hern Books (2004) ISBN 185497736
  • Theatre Record and Theatre Record annual indexes 1981–2007

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Sir Michael Gambon (born October 19, 1940) is an acclaimed Irish-born English actor who has worked in theatre, television and film.

Sourced

  • I hear that the no-smoking crowd are now operating at the National. Surely that sort of mentality doesn't belong in a theatre, it isn't a place where you impose rules on people, it's a dirty radical place where an actor can work with a fag in his hand.
  • Like a heartbeat. Something inside me. Some dream. I think it's being a dreamer as a child. Dreamy kids become actors, don't they?

Unsourced

  • Theater actors are just tolerated. You have to be a movie star to be a celebrity.

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

Michael Gambon
Born Michael John Gambon
October 19, 1940 (1940-10-19) (age 70)
Dublin, Ireland
Years active 1962 - present
Spouse Anna Miller (1962-1999)
Philippa Hart (2001-present)
Awards Royal Television Society Award
1987 The Singing Detective
2000 Wives and Daughters
Broadcasting Press Guild Awards
1987 The Singing Detective
Evening Standard Theatre Awards
Best Actor
1987 A View from the Bridge
1995 Volpone
Irish Film and Television Awards
2006 Celebration
Critics' Circle Theatre Awards
Best Actor

1990 Man of the Moment
2000 The Caretaker
Film Festival Catalonian International Film Festival Awards
Best Actor
1989The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover

Sir Michael John Gambon, CBE (born October 19, 1940), is an acclaimed Irish actor with a career that spans nearly five decades and includes a variety of roles in theater, television and film.

Contents

Biography

Early life

Gambon was born in Dublin during World War II. His father, Edward Gambon, was an engineer and his mother, Mary (née Hoare),[1] was a seamstress. His father decided to seek work in the rebuilding of London, and so the family moved to Mornington Crescent in north London, when Gambon was five. His father had him made a British citizen — a decision that would later allow Michael to receive an actual, rather than honorary, knighthood and CBE.[2] (although, under the British Nationality Act 1981 anyone born in Ireland before 1949 can still register as a British subject and, after five years' UK residence, as a British citizen).

Raised a strict 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, whose former pupils included Peter Sellers. He later attended a school in Kent, before leaving with no qualifications at fifteen. He then gained an apprenticeship with Vickers Armstrong as a toolmaker. By the time he was 21 he was a fully qualified engineer. He kept the job for a further year – acquiring a fascination and passion for collecting antique guns, clocks and watches, as well as classic cars.

Early acting career

Aged 19 he joined the Unity Theatre in Kings Cross. Five years later he wrote a letter to Michael MacLiammoir, the Irish theatre impresario who ran Dublin's Gate Theatre. It was accompanied by a CV describing a rich and wholly imaginary theatre career – and he was taken on.

Gambon made his professional stage début in the Gaiety 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. Gambon, along with Robert Stephens, Derek Jacobi and Frank Finlay, was hired as one of the ‘to be renowned’ and played any number of small roles. The company initially performed at the Old Vic, their first production being Hamlet, directed by Olivier and starring Peter O'Toole. He played for four years in many NT productions, including named roles in The Recruiting Officer and The Royal Hunt of the Sun, working with directors William Gaskill and John Dexter.

Work in the theatre

After three years at the Old Vic, Olivier advised Gambon to gain experience in provincial rep. In 1967, he left the NT for the Birmingham Repertory Company which was to give him his first crack at the title roles in Othello (his favourite), Macbeth and Coriolanus.

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. A speedy transfer to the West End established him as a brilliant comic actor, squatting at a crowded dining table on a tiny chair and sublimely agonising over a choice between black or white coffee.

Back at the National, now on the South Bank, his next turning point was Peter Hall's premiere staging of Harold Pinter's Betrayal, an unexpectedly subtle performance — a production photograph shows him embracing Penelope Wilton with sensitive hands and long slim fingers (the touch of a master clock-maker). He is also one of the few actors to have mastered the harsh demands of the vast Olivier Theatre. As Simon Callow once said: “Gambon's ‘iron lungs and overwhelming charisma are able to command a sort of operatic full-throatedness which triumphs over hard walls and long distances.”

This was to serve him in good stead in John Dexter's masterly staging of The Life of Galileo in 1980, the first Brecht to become a popular success. Hall called him ‘unsentimental, dangerous and immensely powerful’, even the Sunday Times’ curmudgeonly critic of the day called his performance ‘a decisive step in the direction of great tragedy...great acting’, while fellow actors paid him the rare compliment of applauding him in the dressing room on the first night.

From the first Ralph Richardson dubbed him The Great Gambon, an accolade which stuck, outshining his 1990 CBE,[3] even the later knighthood, although Gambon dismisses it as a circus slogan. But as Sheridan Morley perceptively remarked in 2000, when reviewing Cressida: ‘Gambon's eccentricity on stage now begins to rival that of his great mentor Richardson’. Also like Richardson, interviews are rarely given and raise more questions than they answer. Gambon is a very private person, a ‘non-starry star’ as Ayckbourn called him. Off-stage he prefers to back out of the limelight, an unpretentious guy sharing laughs with his fellow cast and crew.

While he has won screen acclaim, no-one who saw his ravaged King Lear at Stratford, while still in his early forties, will forget his superb double act with a red-nosed Antony Sher as the Fool sitting on his master's knee like a ventriloquist's doll. There were also notable appearances in Old Times at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, and as Volpone and the brutal sergeant in Pinter's Mountain Language.

David Hare's Skylight, with Lia Williams, which opened to rave reviews at the National in 1995, transferred first to Wyndhams Theatre and then on to Broadway for a four-month run which left him in a state of advanced exhaustion. “Skylight was ten times as hard to play as anything I’ve ever done” he told Michael Owen in the Evening Standard. “I had a great time in New York but couldn’t wait to get back”.

Gambon is almost the only leading actor not to grace Yasmina Reza's ART at Wyndham's. But together with Simon Russell Beale and Alan Bates he gave a deliciously droll radio account of the role of Marc. And for the RSC he shared Reza's two-hander The Unexpected Man with Eileen Atkins, first at The Pit in the Barbican and then at the Duchess Theatre, a production also intended for New York but finally delayed by other commitments.

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 he finally achieved a life-long ambition to play Sir John Falstaff, in Nicholas Hytner's National Theatre production of Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, co-starring with Matthew Macfadyen as Prince Hal.

Screen success and acceptance

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 Bond producer Cubby Broccoli to audition for the role in 1970, to replace George Lazenby. His craggy looks soon made him into a character 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 films such as The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and 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.

Recent career

In recent years, films such as Dancing at Lughnasa (1998) and Plunkett & Macleane (1998), 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's Endgame (2001) and Perfect Strangers (2001) have revealed a talent for comedy. 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.

Perhaps his most significant role in 2004, however, was Albus Dumbledore, Hogwarts' headmaster in the third installment of J. K. Rowling's franchise, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, taking over from fellow Irish actor Richard Harris, who had died of Hodgkins disease. (Harris had also played Maigret on television four years before Gambon took that role.) Gambon reprised the role of Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which was released in November 2005 in the UK and U.S. He returned to the role again in the fifth movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which was released in 2007. He will once again return to portray Dumbledore in film the sixth Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Gambon admits to not having read the Harry Potter novels and says that this is because he does not want to be upset by an extremely large change or death in the books. Similarly, he has also stated in an interview that, when playing Dumbledore, "I don't have to play anyone really. I just stick on a beard and play me, so it's no great feat. I never ease into a role – every part I play is just a variant of my own personality. I’m not really a character actor at all..."[4]

In an Ironic twist, Gambon also played a British spy in "The Good Shepherd" (2006). His codename was "The headmaster".

Most recently, he was 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.[5] 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.

Personal life

Gambon married Anne Miller when he was 22, but has always been secretive about his personal life, responding to one interviewer's question about her: "What wife?" The couple lived together in a country house near Gravesend in Kent, where Anne has her workshop. Gambon was invested by Prince Charles as a Knight Bachelor on 17 July 1998 for services to drama (Queen Elizabeth II's approval for the award was notified in the 1998 New Year Honours List) and his wife thus became Lady Gambon.[6][7] The couple have a son, Fergus, who appears as an expert on the BBC's Antiques Roadshow.

While filming Gosford Park, Gambon brought Philippa Hart on to the set and introduced her to co-stars as his girlfriend. When the affair was revealed in 2002, he moved out of the marital home, but rather than moving in with his lover, he bought himself a bachelor pad. Philippa, who worked with Gambon on the film Sylvia in 2003, in late 2006 moved into a £500,000 terraced home in Chiswick, West London with her pet pug dog. In February 2007, it was revealed that Philippa was pregnant with Gambon's child, and was due to give birth in May 2007.[8]

Gambon is a qualified amateur pilot, and his love of cars led to his appearance on the BBC's Top Gear programme. Gambon raced the Suzuki Liana and was driving so aggressively that it was launched into the air on the last corner of his timed lap. The final corner of the Dunsfold Park track has been named "Gambon" in his honour. He reappeared on the programme on the June 4, 2006, and set a time in the Chevrolet Lacetti of 1:50.3, a significant improvement on his previous time of 1:55. He clipped his namesake corner the second time, and when asked why by Jeremy Clarkson, replied that 'I dunno - I just don't like it'.

Filmography

Cinema and television

Year Film Role Notes and Awards
1965 Othello Company
1968 The Borderers (TV) Gavin Ker
1974 The Beast Must Die Jan Jarmokowski
1985 Oscar (TV) Brian Bryant
Turtle Diary George Fairbairn
1986 The Singing Detective Philip E. Marlow BAFTA TV Award

Royal Television Society Award

Broadcasting Press Guild Awards

1989 The Rachel Papers Doctor Knowd
A Dry White Season Magistrate
The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover Albert Spica Catalonian International Film Festival Award
1991 Mobsters Salvatore Maranzano
1992 Toys General Leland Zevo Nominated - Saturn Award
1993 Maigret (TV) Inspector Maigret
1994 A Man of No Importance Ivor J. Garney
The Browning Version Dr. Frobisher
1996 Mary Reilly Mr. Reilly
1998 The Gambler Fyodor Dostoyevsky
1998 Dancing at Lughnasa Father Jack Mundy
1999 Wives and Daughters (TV) Squire Hamley BAFTA TV Award

Royal Television Society Award

Plunkett & Macleane Lord Gidson
The Insider Thomas Sandefur
Sleepy Hollow Baltus Van Tassel
2000 Longitude (TV) John Harrison BAFTA TV Award
Endgame (TV) Hamm
2001 Perfect Strangers (TV) Raymond BAFTA TV Award
Charlotte Gray Levade
Gosford Park Sir William McCordle
Christmas Carol: The Movie Ghost of Christmas Present (voice)
2002 Ali G Indahouse Prime Minister
Path to War Lyndon B. Johnson Nominated - Golden Globe Award

Nominated - Emmy Award

2003 The Lost Prince Edward VII
The Actors Barreller
Deep Blue Narrator (voice)
Open Range Denton Baxter
Sylvia Professor Thomas
Angels in America (TV) Prior Walter Ancestor
2004 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Albus Dumbledore
Being Julia Jimmie Langton
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow Editor Paley
Layer Cake Eddie Temple
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou Oseary Drakoulias
2005 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Albus Dumbledore
2006 The Omen Bugenhagen
The Good Shepherd Dr. Fredericks
Celebration (TV) Lambert Irish Film and Television Awards
Amazing Grace Lord Charles Fox
2007 The Good Night Alan Weigert
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Albus Dumbledore
Joe's Palace (TV) Elliot Graham
Cranford (TV) Mr. Holbrook
The Alps (TV) Narrator (voice)
2008Brideshead Revisited Lord Marchmain
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Albus Dumbledore post-production

Theatre

  • Othello (Second Gentleman), Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, professional debut 1962, followed by a European tour
  • Hamlet, National Theatre at the Old Vic, 1963
  • Saint Joan, National/Old Vic, 1963
  • The Recruiting Officer (Coster Permain), National/Old Vic, 1963
  • Andorra, National/Old Vic, 1964
  • Philoctetes, National/Old Vic, 1964
  • Othello, National/Old Vic, 1964
  • The Royal Hunt of the Sun (Diego), Chichester Festival and National/Old Vic, 1964
  • The Crucible (Herrick), National/Old Vic, 1965
  • Mother Courage and Her Children (Eilif), National/Old Vic, 1965
  • Love for Love (Snap), National/Old Vic, 1965, also tour to Russia and Germany
  • Juno and the Paycock (Jerry Devine), National/Old Vic, 1966
  • The Storm, National/Old Vic, 1966
  • Events While Guarding the Bofors Gun (Flynn), Birmingham Rep, 1967
  • A Severed Head (Palmer Anderson), Birmingham Rep, 1967
  • The Doctor's Dilemma (Patric Cullen), Birmingham Rep, 1967
  • Saint Joan (Cauchon), Birmingham Rep, 1967
  • Peer Gynt (The Button Moulder), Birmingham Rep, 1968
  • Othello (title role), Birmingham Rep, 1968
  • Macbeth, The Forum Theatre, Billingham, 1968
  • In Celebration (Andrew), Liverpool Playhouse, 1969
  • Coriolanus (title role), Liverpool Playhouse, 1969
  • The Plebeians Rehearse the Uprising (Wiebe), RSC Aldwych Theatre, 1970
  • Major Barbara (Charles Lomax), RSC Aldwych Theatre, 1970
  • Henry VIII (Surrey), RSC Aldwych Theatre, 1971
  • When Thou Art King (Hotspur), RSC Roundhouse, 1971
  • The Brass Hat (Guy Holden), Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, 1972
  • Not Drowning But Waving (Robin), Greenwich Theatre, 1973
  • The Norman Conquests trilogy (Tom), Greenwich Theatre, 1974
  • The Norman Conquests (Tom), Globe Theatre, London 1975
  • The Zoo Story (Gerry), Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park lunchtime production, 1975
  • Otherwise Engaged (Simon), Queen's Theatre, 1976 (replacing Alan Bates)
  • Just Between Ourselves (Neil), Queen's Theatre, 1977
  • Alice's Boys (Bertie), Savoy Theatre, London, 1978
  • Betrayal (Jerry), National Theatre, 1978
  • Close of Play (Henry), National Lyttelton Theatre, 1979
  • Richard III (taking over as Buckingham), National, 1980
  • Othello (Roderigo), National, 1980
  • Sisterly Feelings (Patrick), National, 1980
  • The Life of Galileo (title role), National Olivier Theatre, 1980
  • King Lear (title role) RSC Stratford,1982; Barbican Theatre, 1983
  • Antony and Cleopatra (Antony), RSC Stratford, 1982; Barbican, 1983
  • Tales from Hollywood (Ödön von Horváth), National, 1983
  • Old Times (Deeley), Theatre Royal Haymarket, 1985
  • A Chorus of Disapproval (Dafyd ap Llewellyn), National Olivier, 1985
  • Tons of Money (Sprules), National Lyttelton, 1986
  • A View from the Bridge (Eddie Carbone), National Cottesloe Theatre, 1987
  • A Small Family Business (Jack McCracken), National Olivier, 1987
  • Mountain Language (Sergeant), National Lyttelton, 1988
  • Uncle Vanya (title role), Vaudeville Theatre, 1988
  • Veterans' Day (Walter Kercelik), Theatre Royal Haymarket, 1989
  • Man of the Moment (Douglas Beechey), Globe Theatre, London, 1990
  • Othello (title role), Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, 1991
  • Taking Steps, Stephen Joseph, Scarborough, 1981
  • Volpone (title role), National Olivier, 1995
  • Skylight (Tom Sergeant), National Cottesloe, 1995
  • Skylight (Tom Sergeant), Broadway, 1996
  • Tom and Clem (Tom Driberg), Aldwych Theatre, 1997
  • The Unexpected Man (The Man), RSC The Pit, Barbican, 1998
  • Cressida (John Shank), The Almeida Theatre at the Albery, 2000
  • The Caretaker (Davies), Comedy Theatre, 2001
  • A Number (The Father), Royal Court Theatre, 2002
  • Endgame (Hamm), Albery Theatre, 2004
  • Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2 (Sir John Falstaff), National Olivier, 2005
  • Celebration (play) Pinter staged reading (Lambert), Gate Theatre, Dublin/Albery, 2005
  • Eh Joe (Joe), Duke of York's Theatre, 2006

Sources

  • Who's Who in the Theatre, Fourteenth edition, Pitman (1967) for National Theatre at the Old Vic playbills
  • Who's Who in the Theatre, Seventeenth edition, Gale (1981) ISBN 0810302357 for Michael Gambon's own CV up to 1980
  • Giant of the Stage: A Profile of Michael Gambon by John Thaxter, The Stage newspaper, (16 November, 2000)
  • Gambon: A Life in Acting by Mel Gussow, Nick Hern Books (2004) ISBN 185497736
  • Theatre Record and Theatre Record annual indexes 1981-2007

References

Other websites

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Template:S-awards
Preceded by
J.B. Priestley
for When We Are Married
Best Comedy Performance
1986
for A Chorus of Disapproval
Succeeded by
George Abbott
for Three Men On A Horse
Preceded by
David Jason
for Porterhouse Blue
British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
1987
for The Singing Detective
Succeeded by
Bob Peck
for Edge of Darkness
Preceded by
Peter O'Toole
for Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell
Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor
1988
for A View From the Bridge
Succeeded by
Oliver Ford Davies
for Racing Demon
Preceded by
Michael Gambon
for Longitude
British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
1999
for Wives and Daughters
Succeeded by
Tom Courtenay
for A Rather English Marriage
Preceded by
Michael Gambon
for Perfect Strangers
British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
2000
for Longitude
Succeeded by
Michael Gambon
for Wives and Daughters
Preceded by
Chicago
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2001
for Gosford Park
Succeeded by
Traffic
Preceded by
Albert Finney
for The Gathering Storm
British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
2001
for Perfect Strangers
Succeeded by
Michael Gambon
for Longitude

Template:Olivier Awards Template:BAFTA Film Awards Chron Template:SAG Awards Chron

Persondata
NAME Gambon, Sir Michael
ALTERNATIVE NAMES Gambon, Michael John
SHORT DESCRIPTION
DATE OF BIRTH 1940-10-19
PLACE OF BIRTH Dublin, Ireland
DATE OF DEATH
PLACE OF DEATH


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