James Phelps Recalls Michael Gambon Helping Him Prepare to Read With an Orchestra

What’s with the Harry Potter cast and crew being the most wholesome people in Hollywood? Seriously, the folks involved in bringing the wondrous wizarding world to life continue to be some of the nicest entertainers out there — and that’s saying something. After all, the Harry Potter series is arguably the most recognizable franchise of the last 20 years.

That level of fame could have easily gone to just about anyone’s head, and yet, it really hasn’t. Even when it comes to the series’ twins, James and Oliver Phelps. The Weasley Brothers.

Iconic, perpetually humble, and quick to laugh — these guys are absolutely amazing. Which is why their recent appearance on Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum was so delightful.

During the podcast, Oliver and James talked at length about their respective careers (together and apart), navigating the entertainment industry, and of course… Harry Potter. When dissecting “The Boy Who Lived”, James shared a brief anecdote about his time filming Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

Specifically, a surprising mentor in the form of legendary British actor Michael Gambon — the man responsible bringing Dumbledore to life after the untimely passing of Richard Harris.

“We were filming the scene when Dumbledore is at the clocktower, without giving to much away, it’s a very important part of the story of the series. In-between takes Michael (Gambon) was outside having a cigarette, and I was just with him looking after him as it were. Making sure he didn’t run off.

Imagine that, aside from being a part of the main cast, your job also entailed keeping track of Dumbledore. No pressure, right James?

“And he said to me, ‘So what are you doing at the weeks end?’ And I said, ‘Well, Oliver and myself are reading Peter and the Wolf with the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester, but I’ve never read with an orchestra before so I’m not sure how to speak in time with the music and all that kind of stuff.’ Without batting an eyelid, Michael was like, ‘I’ve done that kind of stuff before, have you got the script with you?’ I said yes, so he literally sat down with me and went through, like ‘This is where the music is going to come in, pencil that, do this.’ And he’s dressed a Dumbledore telling me all this as well.”

The image of Michael Gambon giving James Phelps life advice while dressed as Dumbledore is a scenario none of us saw coming, but is one we can’t live without once it’s been said. To have an actor of his caliber helping one of his younger casemates isn’t just surprising, it speaks to Gambon’s quality as a person — and James Phelps agrees entirely.

“You’d think he’s in his full right to be preparing for the scene he’s about to shoot, but he was all about giving me the time to do that, and it’s one of those where I’ve never forgot that. I always think there’s a reason why good actors work so many times.”

Sometimes it’s the little things in life that make the most difference, and in the case of this wholesome interaction, that couldn’t be closer to the truth.

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