74-year-old actor Michael Gambon has announced his retirement from stage acting. The actor, best known for his turn as Albus Dumbledore in the final six ‘Harry Potter’ films has revealed “frightening” memory issues.
The three-time Olivier Award winner debuted in his first major stage role in a 1962 production of ‘Othello’ at Dublin’s Gates Theatre. Michael Gambon’s last stage role was in 2013’s Off-Broadway play ‘All That Fall’ in New York City.
The actor’s illustrious theater career led to him being knighted for “services to drama” in 1998.
During an interview with London’s Sunday Times magazine Gambon wrote, “It’s a horrible thing to admit, 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 North Londoner says he realized there were bad memory issues while we was reading a script for a West End play six months ago. “There was a girl in the wings and I had to plug in my ear so she could read me the lines,” he said. “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 to you.'”
While he may be stepping away from live plays, he is still acting. Michael Gambon most recently appeared in the TV adaptation of JK Rowling’s ‘The Casual Vacancy,’ which will air on the BBC this spring.
“Now I can’t really do theatre. It breaks my heart, but I can’t really remember lines,” he also said to the Radio Times. “That was my whole life, I did more than 20 West End plays. I think it’s just age, your brain doesn’t work as well as it used to, it affects memory and that’s obviously connected to speech – I suppose that’s my problem.”
It’s sad to see such a stage legend walk away from his first love, but at least we will still be able to watch Michael Gambon appear in movies and on the small screen.