Sir Ian McKellen has revealed that he had the opportunity to succeed Richard Harris in the role of Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter franchise. 

Richard Harris originally played the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for the first two Harry Potter movies before passing away in 2002. He was succeeded by Michael Gambon who played the role for the other six installments. 

In a special episode of BBC interview show HARDtalk to mark its 20th anniversary, McKellen has admitted that he was approached for a role in the fantasy saga but decided that he couldn't succeed Harris because he knew the Limerick native didn't rate him as an actor. 

Apparently Harris once described McKellen, Kenneth Branagh and Derek Jacobi as "technically brilliant but passionless."

"When they called me up and said would I be interested in being in the Harry Potter films, they wouldn't say what part but I worked out what they were thinking. I couldn't take over the part from an actor who I know disapproved of me." McKellen said. 

It all worked out for the best if you ask us. Gambon made the role of Dumbledore his own and could we really accept McKellen playing Gandalf AND Dumbledore? In any event, McKellen admitted that he and Gambon often get mistaken for each other. 

“When I see the posters of Mike Gambon, who gloriously played Dumbledore, I think sometimes it’s me. We get asked for each other’s autographs.”

McKellen also spoke about his sexuality on the show. The openly gay star only first began talking about his sexuality in 1988, twenty two years after homosexuality was decriminalised in the UK. 

“Friends now say ‘Will you stop talking about being gay?’ But I do it because for so many years I felt like I couldn’t. So I do it for the kids who feel like they can’t."

Via Irish Examiner