Inside Michael Gambon's Relationship With Fellow Actor Alan Rickman

The blockbuster "Harry Potter" movie franchise established a new generation of British actors among its talented younger cast. Daniel Radcliffe (Harry), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) have all gone on to enjoy lucrative and critically acclaimed careers on stage and screen, as have other supporting actors such as Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy.

But the movies also showcased the depth of Britain's veteran acting talent, with some of the biggest names in the industry called upon to portray some of the most beloved characters in contemporary children's literature. Among the stars were Alan Rickman, who portrayed the dastardly-seeming Severus Snape, and Michael Gambon, who took on the role of Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore in starting in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" following the death of Richard Harris.

When it was announced in January 2016 that Rickman had sadly died as a result of pancreatic cancer — an illness that he kept a secret from the public and all but a small number of close confidantes — it was a major shock. The news precipitated tributes from a huge number of prominent actors who had worked with him over the years, including Gambon himself, who enjoyed many years of friendship with the beloved actor.

Pranking Potter

Evidence of the spirited relationship between actors Michael Gambon and Alan Rickman was on display during the filming of the "Harry Potter" movies, an experience that the pair reportedly cherished. And despite portraying patriarchal and waspish characters, respectively, Gambon and Rickman acted rather silly and childish on set — much to the entertainment of their young co-stars.

One famous incident involved the two theater veterans playing a prank on the title star, Daniel Radcliffe. As Radcliffe himself later recalled, the trick took place during the filming of the third Potter movie — "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" — when the cast was shooting a scene in which the Hogwarts students were arranged in sleeping bags in the great hall. Gambon reportedly learned that Radcliffe would be lying near a girl he had a crush on, so the older actor hid a fart machine in Radcliffe's sleeping bag. The machine went off repeatedly during the shooting of a take. In the footage, Rickman was the first to break into a smirk, and soon the whole cast was laughing along with the two mischief makers.

A farewell dinner

Following the tragic death of Alan Rickman at the age of 69, Michael Gambon spoke warmly of his great friendship with the late actor, praising his personality and talent. He also shared a touching story of the pair's final meeting together: A dinner party that Rickman had organized while in the hospital for his close friends, who were generally unaware that his illness was terminal, according to Yahoo.

But the love that Gambon had for Rickman wasn't one-way. In 2022, Rickman's diaries from the last two decades of his life were published under the title "Madly, Deeply," and it quickly became a bestseller. In it, Rickman describes going to see Gambon perform the title role in Ben Johnson's play — "Volpone" — in 1995, describing Gambon as "magnificent and so wicked." Elsewhere, he wrote: "When [Michael Gambon] unleashes a bit of magnificence, it's effortless and spellbinding."

On September 28, 2023, it was announced that Gambon had died after contracting pneumonia. He was 82. Per The Independent, actor Fiona Shaw — who played Petunia Dursley in the "Harry Potter" movies — described him as a "brilliant, magnificent trickster."