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JK Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe have led the tributes to Harry Potter star Sir Michael Gambon, hailing him as a ‘wonderful man’ and an ‘outstanding actor’ after he died in hospital aged 82 following a bout of pneumonia.

The towering figure of the British stage and screen began his 60-year career treading the boards with Sir Laurence Olivier and was much-loved with younger audiences as Albus Dumbledore in six of the eight movies based on Rowling‘s books.

The Scottish author wrote: ‘I’ve just heard the awful news about Michael Gambon. The first time I ever laid eyes on him was in King Lear, in 1982, and if you’d told me then that brilliant actor would appear in anything I’d written, I’d have thought you were insane.

‘Michael was a wonderful man in addition to being an outstanding actor, and I absolutely loved working with him not only on Potter but also The Casual Vacancy. My deepest condolences go to Michael’s family and everyone who loved him.’ 

Radcliffe, who played the titular boy wizard alongside the late actor’s Dumbledore, praised Sir Michael as ‘one of the most brilliant, effortless actors’ he has ever worked with.

‘With the loss of Michael Gambon the world just became considerably less fun’, Radcliffe said. ‘Michael Gambon was one of the most brilliant, effortless actors I’ve ever had the privilege of working with, but despite his immense talent, the thing I will remember most about him is how much fun he had doing his job. He was silly, irreverent and hilarious. He loved his job, but never seemed defined by it.’

The actor also described Sir Michael as an ‘incredible story and joke teller’ and said he made the hours they spent on set ‘more memorable and joyous than they had any right to be’.

‘I’m so sad to hear he has passed, but I am so grateful for the fact that I am one of the lucky people who got to work with him’, Radcliffe added.

His co-stars Grint and Watson, who played Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, also recalled fond memories with Sir Michael.

Michael Gambon, pictured as Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter movies, has died aged 82

Michael Gambon with his wife Lady Anne Gambon, with whom he had a son, Fergus

Michael Gambon and his partner Philippa Hart, with whom he had two young sons

In 1999, Sir Michael was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for services to drama. His son Fergus, right, is an auctioneer who is an expert on Antiques Roadshow

JK Rowling tonight paid tribute to the actor calling him ‘a wonderful man in addition to be being an outstanding actor’ 

Rupert Grint, who played Rob, sharing a tribute to Sir Michael this afternoon 

Jason Isaacs and Jared Harris, the son of Richard Harris, have led tributes to Sir Michael today

Alec Baldwin and Damian Lewis also paid tribute to the ‘Great Gambon’

Grint wrote: ‘So sad to hear about Michael. He brought so much warmth and mischief to every day on set. He captivated me as a kid and became a personal role model of mine for finding the fun and eccentricities in life. Sending all my love to his family.’ 

Watson thanked Gambon for ‘showing us what it looks like to wear greatness lightly’. Writing on her Instagram she added: ‘Kind kind kind Michael Gambon. You never took it too seriously but somehow delivered the most serious moments with all the gravitas.

‘Thank you for showing us what it looks like to wear greatness lightly. We will miss you.’

Jason Isaacs, who starred as Lucius Malfoy, tweeted: ‘Magnificent Michael Gambon has died. I learned what acting could be from Michael in The Singing Detective – complex, vulnerable and utterly human. The greatest thrill of being in the Potter films was that he knew my name and shared his fearless, filthy sense of fun with me’. 

As Dumbledore, Sir Michael became world famous after taking the part following the death of fellow Irishman Richard Harris. Sir Michael said when he played the headmaster of Hogwarts, he would ‘just stick on a beard and play me’, calling it ‘no feat’ – although his millions of fans disagreed.

Mr Harris’ son Jared Harris, a Hollywood star in his own right, said: ‘A brilliant actor. I saw him on stage several times, and he lives unforgettably in my memory. He took over Dumbledore from my father, which was fitting as he overtook Brando as my father’s favourite actor’. 

Irish film and TV actress Fiona Shaw has said she will remember her Harry Potter co-star for being a ‘brilliant, magnificent trickster’. Shaw, who played Petunia Dursley in the film franchise, told BBC Radio 4: ‘I will remember him because he was also a gun maker, he could make guns, he always said he could fool the V&A into believing that they were 18th century guns. So I will think of him as a trickster, just brilliant, magnificent trickster, but with text, there was nothing like him, he could do anything.’

She also recalled working with him on the Harry Potter films: ‘He took over from Richard Harris and of course, he began to mimic Richard Harris, who had recently died, and he would do his accent, the slight Irish accent’. 

‘Which of course he always loved having an excuse to do because his family had come from Ireland, and gone to live in Camden. He just loved the precariousness of reality and unreality and, of course, that made him a very great actor.’

Shaw added: ‘He did once say to me in a car ‘I know I go on a lot about this and that, but actually in the end, there is only acting’. I think he was always pretending that he didn’t take it seriously, but he took it profoundly seriously, I think.’

Actor James Phelps, who played Fred Weasley in the Harry Potter film series described him as ‘a legend’.

‘Very sorry to hear about the passing of Michael Gambon. He was, on and off the camera, a legend,’ he posted.

The actor shared a screenshot of text describing ‘one of the highlights’ of his time on set with Sir Michael.

The excerpt read: ‘In between setups Michael asked what I was up to that weekend. As it happened my brother and I were reading Peter and the Wolf with the Manchester Halle Orchestra.’

Phelps said Sir Michael offered to share notes with him and his twin brother, Oliver, who played George Weasley in the films.

‘We spent what should have been his downtime going over my weekend gig. It is a memory that I’ve always had as one of the highlights of my [Harry Potter] days.’

Dame Helen Mirren recalled working alongside Sir Michael in 1982’s Antony And Cleopatra, and hailed him as an ‘extraordinary actor’.

She told BBC News she would smile when she thinks of him, adding: ‘Because he was incredibly funny. He had this natural Irish sense of humour, naughty but very, very funny. He was enormously self-deprecating, and at the same time an instinctive actor and a wonderful person to be around just in general.

‘He kept me constantly in laughter, we had some very funny moments playing Antony and Cleopatra together.’

Actress Dame Joan Collins, who played Sir Michael’s wife in the pilot for the proposed BBC sitcom Mama’s Back, described him as ‘a great actor and great fun’. 

Meanwhile, Irish President Michael D Higgins hailed Sir Michael  as ‘one of the finest actors of his generation’.

‘Michael Gambon, born in Dublin, was one of the finest actors of his generation’, the president said in a statement.

‘Having won recognition as an exceptional talent very early in his career, on stage, film, television and radio. More recently, a new generation of children and adults came to know him for his portrayal of Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films.

‘However, his was a talent delivered over six decades. As an actor he seemed boundless, be it through his work with Sir Laurence Olivier’s National Theatre in London, to his performances at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford. His friendship with the late Peter O’Toole reflected a commitment to the importance of work on stage that they shared.’

He added: ‘Sir Michael Gambon leaves a great body of work that will remain as a compelling legacy, and a reminder to all who appreciated his work, of all that he accomplished.’

Sir Michael’s rise to one of the world’s most celebrated actors was all the more extraordinary given his humble background, born in Dublin to a working-class couple who encouraged him to be an engineer after he left school at 15.

He was nominated for 13 Olivier awards after he appeared in countless William Shakespeare productions, excelling in Othello.  He also starred in a string of hit TV shows and in 1968 won an audition to be the next James Bond in On her Majesty’s Secret Service after Sean Connery quit. But he told producer Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli ‘I haven’t got nice hair and I’m a bit fat’ and the part went to George Lazenby.

Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter); Gary Oldman (Sirius Black); Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) ; Michael Gambon (Dumbledore) and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), pose at a photocall in 2004 

James, who played Fred Weasley in Harry Potter with his twin Oliver, led the celebrity tributes to Sir Michael 

James described his former co-star Sir Michael as a ‘legend’ both on and off screen

Fiona Shaw, who played Petunia Dursley (pictured with Richard Griffiths and Harry Melling), described Sir Michael as a ‘magnificent trickster’

Sir Michael with Sir Michael Caine at a press conference for their movie The Actors in 2003 

The actor with Dame Maggie Smith and Lady Antonia Fraser at the press night of Krapp’s Last Tape at the Duchess Theatre in London in 2010

Knighted in 1999, he was loved for playing French detective Jules Maigret. A statement on behalf of his wife Lady Anne Gambon and son Fergus, issued by publicist Clair Dobbs, said: ‘We are devastated to announce the loss of Sir Michael Gambon.

‘Beloved husband and father, Michael died peacefully in hospital with his wife Anne and son Fergus at his bedside, following a bout of pneumonia. Michael was 82.

‘We ask that you respect our privacy at this painful time and thank you for your messages of support and love.’

He married retired mathematician Lady Anne in 1962. Their son Fergus is an expert on ceramics and works for auctioneer’s Bonhams. He also regularly appears on the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow. 

Sir Michael was born in Dublin to a seamstress mother and engineer father.

He left school at 15 with no qualifications, then took up an apprenticeship as a toolmaker. By the age of 21 he was a qualified engineer, but only worked as such for a year before deciding to become an actor. 

Sir Michael, who has won four TV Baftas, is known for his extensive back catalogue of work across TV, film, radio and theatre over a career spanning decades.

In recent years he played Albus Dumbledore in six of the eight Harry Potter films.

Speaking about it recently he said of playing the wizard that he does not ‘have to play anyone really’.

He said: ‘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…’

Away from acting, it was reported in 2015 that he split his time between the £5million country pile he shared with Lady Anne near Gravesend in Kent, and a home in West London with set designer Philippa Hart and their young sons, Tom and Will. The boys are believed to be in their early teens.

Sir Michael Gambon and Philippa Hart in 2015

Sir Michael split his time between his wife Lady Anne, left, and Philippa Hart, right, who is the mother to his two young sons Tom and Will

The star with Philippa Hart and their eldest son Tom at playwright Tom Stoppard’s 80th birthday party six years ago

Former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson said the actor was such a ‘tremendous guest’ when he appeared on the BBC show that he had a corner named after him on the racetrack

Sir Michael and Philippa had been in a relationship since 2000, when they worked together on the film Longitude, in which he starred as the 18th-century watchmaker John Harrison.

Within a year of their meeting, he was openly introducing her as his girlfriend to Charles Dance, Dame Maggie Smith and other cast members on his next movie, the Oscar-winning Gosford Park, in which he played a philandering aristocrat.

And while his wife was initially said to be devastated by the news, with Sir Michael moving out of their home, she evidently came to terms with the arrangement, as he subsequently moved back in. 

He then split his time between both families, roaring from London to Kent and back in his selection of sports cars including a Ferrari, a Mercedes and a 178mph Audi R8 which were his pride and joy. The actor was always protective when it came to his private life, once replying ‘what wife’ when asked about his marriage.

His love of fast cars was renowned. He was also a qualified pilot.

Former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson said the actor was such a ‘tremendous guest’ when he appeared on the BBC show that he had a corner named after him on the racetrack because he went round it on two wheels.

‘I’m so sad to hear that Michael Gambon has died,’ Clarkson tweeted.

‘He was hugely amusing, and such a tremendous guest, we even named a corner after him.’

Harry Potter stars Robbie Coltrane and Michael Gambon in  New York in 2011

Sir Michael as Winston Churchill in Churchill’s Secret, a 2016 drama about the war hero’s stroke and its aftermath 

The actor played the Prime Minister of the UK in 2002 comedy film Ali G Indahouse 

Sir Michael attends the world premiere of Dad’s Army at Odeon Leicester Square in 2016

The actor starred as Private Godfrey in hit comedy Dad’s Army. He is seen in a 2016 pilot 

Sir Michael with Cate Blanchett during a film premiere in London’s Leicester Square 

The actor starring as Maigret, a French detective (left) and in 1974 show Orson Welles Great Mysteries

Sir Michael in 1987 with Dame Judi Dench at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards

He is also known for playing French detective Jules Maigret in ITV series Maigret, and for starring in the BBC series, The Singing Detective.

Sir Michael made his first appearance on stage in a production of Othello at the Gates Theatre, Dublin, in 1962 and was knighted for his contribution to the entertainment industry in 1998.

He put in a memorable performance in the BBC’s 2015 adaptation of JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy and his illustrious theatre career includes appearances in Alan Ayckbourn’s The Norman Conquests, The Life Of Galileo and Nicholas Hytner’s National Theatre production of Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2.

In 2016 he appeared as Private Godfrey in the big screen adaptation of Dad’s Army, and his other film roles included period dramas such as 2010’s The King’s Speech, 2001’s Gosford Park and 2017’s Victoria & Abdul.

Sir Michael was also recognised by American awards with Emmy nominations for Mr Woodhouse in 2010 for an adaption of Jane Austen’s Emma and as former US president Lyndon B Johnson in Path To War in 2002.

His turn in David Hare play Skylight, about the fallout of an affair, also led to a Tony nod in 1997 and earlier in 1990 he secured an Olivier Award for comedy performance of the year for diplomatic comedy Man Of The Moment at the Globe, now the Gielgud Theatre.

Sir Michael retired from the stage in 2015 after struggling to remember his lines in front of an audience due to his advancing age. He once told the Sunday Times Magazine: ‘It’s a horrible thing to admit, but I can’t do it. It breaks my heart.’

Comedian David Baddiel was among those paying tribute, describing his theatre performances as ‘the best acting I’ve ever seen’.

Posting to X, formerly Twitter, Baddiel said: ‘First time I ever went to see any Theatre with a capital T it was Michael Gambon in Brecht’s Life Of Galileo at The National in 1980.

‘It’s still the best stage acting I’ve ever seen. RIP.’

The actor in a 2008 adaptation of Brideshead Revisted with Ben Whishaw and Hayley Atwell

Sir Michael with John Carson and Jennifer Hilary in a 1980 episode of Tales Of The Unexpected

Sir Michael on the first night of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame at the Albert Theatre St Martins Lane in London in 2004

Sir Michael as Winston Churchill in 2016 drama Churchill’s Secret. Pictured alongside him are Lindsay Duncan as Clementine Churchill and Romola Garai as Millie Appleyard 

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