SIR Michael Gambon has spoken of his Dementia fears, revealing that he wears an earpiece while acting in case he forgets his lines.
The Dublin-born actor, who is best known for playing Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films, said his fear of developing memory loss is so great he has had himself checked out by two doctors.
“The good news is that that’s not the case,” the 73-year-old said of their failure to find signs of the disease in him. “It’s a real worry but there’s not much I can do about it.”
Speaking to an audience at the HighTide theatre festival in Suffolk, the BAFTA-winner admitted his “overwhelming” fear of forgetting lines had forced him to pull out of a 2009 National Theatre production of The Habit of Art by Alan Bennett.
At the time it was reported that “ill-health” had forced him to quit the role.
Gambon said he now believes that the only stage roles he is able to play are walk-on characters with few lines, such as butlers.
“You know, the sort of part where he comes on and says a few words,” he explained. “A role that’s played for laughs — like when the phone goes, he doesn’t know where it is.”
The admission marks a stark change in the career of an actor who won three prestigious Olivier Awards for his stage roles, including the Best Actor gong in 1988 for his performance in Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge.
And while Gambon will appear in a production of Irish Nobel Laureate Samuel Beckett’s play Eh Joe next month in Berlin, he said the “great thing” about the part was the fact it had no words.
“I just sit still, facing a camera, with all of the emotions of my face projected and after half-an hour I have to cry,” he added.