HELEN Mirren has led the tributes to legendary actor Sir Michael Gambon following his death.
The actor was an icon of the screen and the stage, most fondly remembered for his role as the wizard Dumbledore in the Harry Potter franchise.
He died peacefully in hospital aged 82, with his family releasing a statement to announce the news.
Michael’s friends and co-stars from the worlds of TV, film and theatre have paid tribute to the man and his talents. They remembered him as one of the country’s leading actors, who excelled from Shakespeare to TV and film.
And they also recalled his wicked sense of humour.
Dame Helen Mirren described her late friend as “an extraordinary actor” and a “wonderful person”.
Recalling working alongside Michael in 1982’s Antony and Cleopatra, she continued: “He kept me constantly in laughter.”
She added: “I’m going to smile when I think about Mike because he was incredibly funny, with this natural Irish sense of humour. Naughty but very, very funny. He was enormously self deprecating but at the same time and instinctive actor and a wonderful person to be around.”
Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe previously spoke fondly of working alongside Michael in the wizarding franchise and his penchant for a good prank.
Speaking to GQ, the actor said: “God… I should probably (remember) about the one that was pulled on ME, rather than any I pulled. Because it came from a very unexpected place.
“There’s – in the third film – there’s a shot in the great hall of all the kids sleeping in the great hall, and the camera starts very very wide, and comes in so that it’s an inch from my face, a very long developing set, yeah, and Alan Rickman decided he would plant one of those fart machines in my, uh, sleeping bag, and they waited until like -the camera had come in for this huge dramatic developing shot, and then unleashed this tremendous noise in the great hall.
“I immediately thought: ‘this is one of the other kids f***ing around, and we were going to get in trouble.’
“But as it turns out, it was one of the members of Britain’s acting royalty. I think I laughed a lot, was probably a bit embarrassed, but it was really really funny.”
Author J.K. Rowling, who wrote the Harry Potter novels, was honoured to have worked with the acting great.
In a heartfelt statement on X, formerly Twitter, she wrote: “I’ve just heard the awful news about Michael Gambon. The first time I ever laid eyes on him was in King Lear, in 1982, and if you’d told me then that brilliant actor would appear in anything I’d written, I’d have thought you were insane.
“Michael was a wonderful man in additional to being an outstanding actor, and I absolutely loved working with him, not only on Potter but also The Casual Vacancy. My deepest condolences go to Michael’s family and everyone who loved him.”
As well as stage and screen, Gambon was a favourite guest of TV interviewers for his hilarious and salty stories from his colourful career and life.
Jeremy Clarkson wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter: “I’m so sad to hear that Michael Gambon has died.
“He was hugely amusing, and such a tremendous guest, we even named a corner after him.”
Actor Michael had the last corner on the Top Gear race track named in his honour after he sent a Suzuki Liana flying into the air during the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car challenge in December 2002.
The Dublin-born actor’s passing was confirmed in a statement on behalf of his wife Lady Anne Gambon and son Fergus Gambon, an expert on the Antiques Roadshow, which said: “We are devastated to announce the loss of Sir Michael Gambon.
“Beloved husband and father, Michael died peacefully in hospital with his wife Anne and son Fergus at his bedside, following a bout of pneumonia. Michael was 82.”
Despite his long and devoted marriage to Lady Gambon, he also had two children, Tom and Will, in a relationship with Philippa Hart, who was 25 years his junior. He remained married to Anne up until his death.
After the family’s statement, stars and friends from across the showbiz world paid tribute to Sir Michael.
Harry Potter star Rupert Grint, Ron Weasley in the hit films, said: “So sad to hear about Michael. He brought so much warmth and mischief to every day on set.
“He captivated me as a kid and became a personal role model of mine for finding the fun and eccentricities in life. Sending all my love to his family.”
Joan Collins, who worked with Gambon in BBC sitcom Mama’s Back in 1993, paid tribute to Sir Michael on Facebook.
She wrote that she was “so sorry” to hear of the “wonderful” actor’s death, and said he was “a great actor and great fun.”
Ralph Fiennes, who played Voldemort, the arch enemy to Gambon’s Dumbledore in Harry Potter, said he is “incredibly saddened” to hear of Sir Michael’s death.
He said: “He brought immeasurable joy to Harry Potter fans from all over the world with his humour, kindness and grace. We will forever hold his memory in our hearts.”
Fellow Harry Potter star Jason Isaacs, who played the villain Lucius Malfoy, said: “The greatest thrill of being in the Potter films was that he knew my name and shared his fearless, filthy sense of fun with me.”
Talk TV host and journalist Piers Morgan wrote: “RIP Michael Gambon, 82. A true acting great.
“I once interviewed him at the National Theatre and asked him what he thought of the current malaise of talentless Z-listers pretending to be stars.
“He replied: ‘All I’ve ever wanted to do was act – but all these modern celebrities want is a quick buck with no talent or hard work required. It’s awful.’
“‘What would you call this type of person?’ I asked. ‘I’d call them a cretin.’”
Actor Peter Egan penned: “Deeply sad to see this. One of the funniest men on the planet and a great actor. I’ll miss him.”
Inbetweeners star Blake Harrison, known for his role as Neil, wrote: “The funniest actor I’ve ever worked with. My lunch breaks on Dad’s Army were spent wanting to hear story after story from him. A phenomenal actor. RIP Sir Michael Gambon.”
Richard Harris portrayed Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter before his death in 2002, and his son Jared Harris shared a tribute to his father’s replacement, Michael.
He wrote: “Hilarious! A brilliant actor. I saw him on stage several times, and he lives unforgettably in my memory. He took over Dumbledore from my father, which was fitting as he over took Brando as my father’s favourite actor.”
Dame Eileen Atkins and Fiona Shaw, who played Petunia Dursley, paid tribute to the actor while on BBC Radio 4, too.
Fiona said: “I will remember him because he was also a gun maker, he could make guns, he always said he could fool the V&A into believing that they were 18th century guns.
“So I will think of him as a trickster, just brilliant, magnificent trickster, but with text, there was nothing like him, he could do anything.”
English comedian, presenter and screenwriter David Baddiel wrote: “First time I ever went to see any Theatre with a capital T it was Michael Gambon in Brecht’s Life Of Galileo at The National in 1980. It’s still the best stage acting I’ve ever seen. RIP.”
EastEnders star Larry Lamb appeared on Loose Women and called the late actor “extraordinary,” while branding him the “funniest jokester on stage.”
Actor Michael Warburton called Sir Michael “one of our finest,” as he paid tribute on X.
And Inbetweeners actress Emily Atack shared a photo with Sir Michael on social media, writing: “Sir Michael Gambon. Working with him on the Dads Army movie was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
“He was hilarious, warm and kind. Fascinating to watch at work, a true pro. Rest in peace, sir.”
As well as his iconic role in Harry Potter he starred in blockbusters Gosford Park (2001), Ali G Indahouse (2002), Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) and The King’s Speech (2010).
He also played Philip Marlowe in serial drama The Singing Detective.
The qualified pilot later appeared in BBC TV hits like Perfect Strangers and Emma.
The 82-year-old won four BAFTA’s for his TV work, three Oliver Awards and two Screen Actors Guild Award’s.
In 1998 he was knighted in The Queen’s New Years’ Honours for services to drama.