Sir Ian McKellen has said he could never have taken over the role of Professor Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films after the death of Richard Harris because he knew Harris disapproved of him as an actor.

Harris died in 2002 after starring in the first two films in the franchise and was replaced by Michael Gambon for the rest of the series.

Wigan born McKellen has previously said he was approached for a role in the wizarding saga but has now revealed he could never have succeeded Harris because of how he felt about him.

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

During a recording of a special episode of BBC interview show HARDtalk to mark its 20th anniversary, McKellen, best known for his portrayal of Gandalf, dismissed Harris's criticisms as "rubbish".

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 also spoke about how his sexuality has affecting his career, saying he believes he might have had more success as an actor earlier on if he had come out sooner.

The openly gay star only publicly spoke about his sexuality in 1988, 22 years after it was decriminalised.