Sir Michael Gambon (74) to retire as he can 'no longer remember lines'
Actor Sir Michael Gambon has announced his decision to end his stage career due to the difficulty he has remembering his lines. The star said “it breaks my heart” to quit the stage.
The 74-year-old actor, who played Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter film franchise, became so worried by his memory loss that he began performing with an earpiece linking him to a stage prompt.
It’s not an impulsive decision. Sir Michael, who has played Shakespearean greats including King Lear and Othello, was rushed to hospital twice in 2009 after suffering panic attacks when he forgot his lines during rehearsals for a performance at the National Theatre.
The Irish-born actor said he realised it was time to bow out during a read-through for a recent project. “There was a girl in the wings and I had a plug in my ear so she could read me the lines,” Sir Michael told The Sunday Times Magazine.
“After about an hour I thought, ‘This can’t work. You can’t be in theatre, free on the stage, shouting and screaming and running around, with someone reading you your lines.’”
“It’s a horrible thing to admit but I can’t do it. It breaks my heart,” said Sir Michael, who trained at the National Theatre under Laurence Olivier and has won four Baftas and three Laurence Olivier awards.
He previously spoke of undergoing tests for Alzheimer’s disease. However, after a second opinion produced negative results, it became apparent is problem was down to the natural process of aging.
Sir Michael became a household name when he starred in BBC crime drama The Singing Detective in 1986.
Following the death of Richard Harris in 2002, he took over the role of Hogwarts headmaster Dumbledore in the third Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
“Richard Harris had just died and they approached me and I decided to play it with a posh Irish accent, rather like Harris,” he continued.
“I’d never seen any of the previous films but working on the series was huge fun - and for lots of dosh.”
Before he became an actor, he said, he had trained to become an engineer.
He will continue to work in film and TV. Later this year he will appear in the BBC adaptation of The Casual Vacancy, JK Rowling’s first novel for adults, and next year cinemagoers can see him play Private Godfrey in the film version of Dad’s Army.
Independent News Service