Are Dumbledore and Gandalf the Same Actor? (& Why Are They Often Mistook One for the Other)

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Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies are probably one of the most popular franchises ever. Both of these franchises are fantasy treasures and are adaptations of books written by J.K. Rowling ( Harry Potter ) and J.R.R. Tolkien ( Lord of the Rings ). Both Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies are filled with amazing actors and characters that will forever be remembered.

Among them are also two famous wizards – Albus Dumbledore and Gandalf. The physical resemblance between these two actors has many times raised the same question, are Dumbledore and Gandalf the same actor? In this article, we’ll answer that question and explain why are Dumbledore and Gandalf often mistook one for the other.

Dumbledore and Gandalf are not played by the same actors. The role of Dumbledore was played by two actors, Richard Harris and Michael Gabon, and Gandalf was played by Ian McKellen. Dumbledore and Gandalf are often mistaken for one another because they actually look quite alike. They both have long hair and long beard and they wear similar clothes, so it is an easy mistake to make, especially if you are not a huge fan of these franchises.

The fun fact is that Ian McKellen, who plays Gandalf was asked to play the role of Dumbledore as well after the demise of Richard Harris but he turned the role down. Richard Harris played Dumbledore in the first two movies of the Harry Potter franchise and after his demise, Michael Gabon replaced him. All of these actors did a great job in these iconic roles, and we’ll discuss further their similarities and their differences also.


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Are Dumbledore and Gandalf the same actor?

Albus Dumbledore is a powerful wizard from the Harry Potter franchise. He is the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and is considered by many to be the greatest sorcerer in the world. In the first two Harry Potter movies, Dumbledore was played by Richard Harris. The fans of the show think of him as the ‘true and original’ Dumbledore as he was the one who started the franchise in this role and established Dumbledore as a character. Harris portrayed a more gentle and kind version of the character.

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After Richard Harris died, Michael Gabon took over the role of Dumbledore in the other five sequels. Gabon gave a different touch to this role as he was not as gentle and was rather firm and strict toward students. This is partly understandable because as the movies progressed, the characters were more mature and the perils that they were facing were bigger. However, there are some critics of this version of Dumbledore, but Gabon did a really good job anyhow.

The fun fact is that Ian McKellen, an actor who portrayed Gandalf, was also asked to play the role of Dumbledore after the demise of Richard Harris. Apparently, Ian decided to turn down this role because the late Richard Harris did not approve of the work he did as Gandalf and was openly very critical of him. So he decided not to play Dumbledore. However, Ian McKellen did an awesome job portraying Gandalf, a wise and mighty wizard in the Lord of the Rings.

Gandalf is a wizard, who came to Middle-earth from the Far West to unite races in the fight against Sauron. He appears in all of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. We are introduced to this character in the first Lord of the Rings movie when he arrives in his carriage to Frodo’s uncle Bilbo on his 111th birthday. Since then, he is playing one of the most important roles in the franchise, as a leader, protector, and warrior. There were many debates about which character, Dumbledore or Gandalf, is a stronger or better wizard. The truth is, they are both exceptional wizards and to say which one is better is open to interpretation depending on which magical world you prefer more, the wizarding world of Harry Potter or the magnificent world of Tolkien’s creation.

Why do people often misinterpret Dumbledore for Gandalf and vice versa?

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People often misinterpret Dumbledore for Gandalf and vice versa because they have similar physical appearances. They are both tall, with long beards dressed in long robes. They are both powerful wizards and have leadership and protective qualities. Both Dumbledore and Gandalf are very respected in their magical worlds and are considered to be among the most powerful characters.


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The version of Dumbledore portrayed by Richard Harris is a more gentle version of the character, but he looks like Gandalf also. On the other hand, Gabon’s version of Dumbledore is not only very similar to Gandalf in his physical appearance but also in his behavior. Just like Gandalf, this Dumbledore is firm and authoritative and tends to raise his voice in order to make people listen. He is also prone to be aggressive on occasions when the situation asks that of him just like Gandalf.

No matter their similarities and differences, it is fair to say that both of these wizards are probably the most famous ones in the fantasy world and deserve to be treated as such.

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