Star of the Harry Potter films Michael Gambon has been forced to retire earlier than expected from theater acting due to memory loss.
Gambon played Dumbledore in all of the Harry Potter movies except the first two films and was beloved by fans across the world. Fortunately, Michael will be able to continue acting in films, but his aging memory has kept him from the stage. According to the Sunday Times, The 74-year-old actor has been unable to memorize his lines in plays lately, and has decided it would be best to stick to film alone.
“It’s a horrible thing to admit,” Michael Gambon said, “but I can’t do it. It breaks my heart. It’s when the script’s in front of me, and it takes forever to learn. It’s frightening.”
The realization that he needed to retire came to Gambon in the middle of an audition for a West End play six months ago, according to the Huffington Post. Michael needed to wear an ear piece to be fed the lines of dialogue. That’s when it hit him that he could no longer continue in the theater.
“There was a girl in the wings, and I had a plug in my ear so she could read me the lines,” Gambon explained. “And after about an hour, I thought, ‘This can’t work.’ You can’t be in theater, free on stage shouting and screaming and running around, with someone reading you your lines.”
While Michael Gambon was worried at first that his forgetfulness might be due to Alzheimer’s disease, his doctors reassured him that he was healthy. That meant the memory loss was due to old age alone and would have to result in early retirement.
Gambon has struggled with memorizing lines in the past. He admitted to having panic attacks on stage that were so severe that he had to be taken to the hospital twice in the middle of rehearsals in 2009, all because he was failing to memorize his lines. Michael Gambon has played many reputable roles in the theater, including Shakespeare’s King Lear.
But it’s not all bad news. Michael can still act in film, which he has become best known for. While shooting movies, lines can be fed to him take-by-take. While Michael Gambon won’t be reprising his famous role as Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series, he will be performing the adapted work of J.K. Rowling again in the BBC production of The Casual Vacancy.
For more on Dumbledore, check out what J.K. Rowling had to say about him, Jewish wizards and wiccans.