Sir Michael Gambon speaks about his fears of Alzheimer’s disease

Sir Michael Gambon – who portrayed Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films from Prisoner of Azkaban onward – opened up in a recent interview about his Alzheimer’s fears and upcoming roles. The Irish-born 73-year-old actor revealed that he is so concerned about his memory loss, he wears an earpiece when acting on stage in case he forgets his lines.

He was recently checked by two doctors for Alzheimer’s disease because his memory loss worried him. Luckily, however, he now knows it is not Alzheimer’s.  He said,

The good news is that that’s not the case… It’s a real worry, but there’s not much I can do about it.

He revealed that he wears an earpiece when performing live and that “a girl speaks into it to give [him his] lines.” Apparently, his “overwhelming fear” of not remembering his lines prompted him to pull out of a National Theatre production of The Habit of Art by Alan Bennett in 2009. The official reason was given as “ill health.” The late Richard Griffiths – who fans may know as Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter films – took his place. Gambon also stated that the only roles he believes he can play for the stage are ones with very few lines, such as butlers.

You know, the sort of part where he comes on and says a few words. A role that’s played for laughs – like when the phone goes, he doesn’t know where it is.

Gambon also remarked about his taking over the role of Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore when Richard Harris, who played the part in the first two films, passed away in 2002:

Richard Harris had just died, and they approached me, and I decided to play it with a posh Irish accent, rather like Harris.

I’d never seen any of the previous films, but working on the series was huge fun – and for lots of dosh.

Upcoming projects for Gambon include a TV role in Common in June, a BBC One drama, and a relatively silent part in a Berlin stage production of Eh Joe by Samuel Beckett. An image from Eh Joe can be viewed below:

For more news and information about Sir Michael Gambon, check out his CAST PAGE!