Chris Columbus Shares His Last Memories of the Late Richard Harris
When you think of Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films, you inevitably see a picture of Richard Harris in your mind’s eye, dressed in long wizard’s robes, wearing half-moon spectacles, and speaking in that calm Dumbledore manner.
Harris, who played Albus Dumbledore so beautifully in the first two Harry Potter films, passed away almost 16 years ago. Director Chris Columbus remembers him being just as sweet and supporting offscreen as he was when he was pretending to mentor Harry.
Entertainment Weekly spoke to Columbus to get secrets from the sets of the past movies in anticipation of the new Fantastic Beasts film that is being released next month. During the interview, Columbus shared some of his memories from one of the last days on the set of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which was Harris’s final Potter film.
Columbus remembers Harris cheering him on while he played basketball during lunch.
I’d already said goodbye. Then, dressed as Dumbledore, Richard is being driven by a golf cart. I’m making a shot and all I hear is ‘Go, Chris!’ It’s [him] cheering me on as Dumbledore. I thought, ‘This has got to be one of the great moments of my film-making career.’
Sadly, there are no photos of this amazing moment, but Dumbledore driving in a golf cart doesn’t seem all that strange when you take into account that he swam to a cave in search of a Horcrux with Harry by his side.
After Harris was hospitalized, Columbus went to visit him and saw him trying to put his life down on paper.
Next to his bed were stacks of composition books, maybe 25, and in front of him was another composition book — he was writing an autobiography. We sat there for a couple of hours, talking and laughing.
Unfortunately, the book never saw the light of day, but Harris still lives on in the hearts and minds of Potter fans worldwide. And you have to admit, before Michael Gambon became the legendary Dumbledore of the next six films, you couldn’t read the books without hearing Richard Harris’s voice in your mind every time Dumbledore spoke.