Friday, July 17, 2009

No magic needed for Gambon to cast his spell


Sure, it’s those youngsters who command the attention of “Harry Potter” fans on screen, but it’s the crafty Michael Gambon, a.k.a. the revered Professor Albus Dumbledore, who works best before a crowded room of journalists.
Though fielding far fewer questions in a group setting at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel than the off-screen names attached to “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” – specifically director David Yates, screenwriter Steve Kloves, and producers David Barron and David Heryman – the 68-year-old Gambon was quick with his wit when called upon.
For example, off-camera camaraderie solidified this film’s increased bonding between mentor Dumbledore and student Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Gambon tells the contingent that included JMUvies.com correspondent Stan Urankar. “We’d do a scene, then go outside and have a laugh,” Gambon says. “Then we’d do another, then go back out and laugh some more. It may sound a bit churlish, but we had to do that develop our relationship in order to achieve the harmony, the contact that was needed.”
More than one on the panel hints that Gambon and Radcliffe quickly found a common niche as grand storytellers. “They mean lies,” Gambon corrects, to the audience’s delight. “We both tell lies . . . well, at least, I know I do.”
How about the Buckingham Palace-like security that keeps Potter-phernalia from the Internet auction block? “My word, you can’t take anything off that set,” Gambon confesses. “Lord knows we’ve all tried. Everyone wants a wand, but you can’t get a wand out. You can’t get anything. Those prop men are like the border guard.”
If he could land a souvenir? Bet it’d be the long and flowing gown that Dumbledore wears. “I watched Richard Harris (his predecessor as Dumbledore) in the first two movies, and I could see that his costume was so heavy,” Gambon says, feigning a small gasp. “Mine is made of silk – very light, very easy to wear, on and off in a second. I’ll miss that.
“Oh, and I went to the wardrobe department in the early going and asked, ‘Do you think you could sew a bit of a pocket inside?’ ” Gambon’s eyes twinkle at the recollection. “Nice little hiding place for my cigarettes. Very clever – and very convenient.”
Stan’s review of “Potter VI,” as well as comments from all its fast-growing kids, are up now on the Sun News site, where you can read my review of “The Stoning of Soraya M.”

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