Did Ian McKellen Turn Down the Role of Harry Potter’s Dumbledore? It's Complicated

Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

Somewhere in his busy schedule of playing titular Shakespearean roles, Sir Ian McKellen has also made time to act in dozens of Hollywood blockbusters, including a couple of the biggest franchises ever to hit our screens—namely, The Lord of the Rings and X-Men.

For many fans, it’s almost impossible to watch him portray Gandalf in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy (and more recently, The Hobbit trilogy) without thinking of another twinkling-eyed, flowing-robed wizard: Harry Potter’s Albus Dumbledore, of course.

Perhaps because of the undeniable similarities between the two characters, rumors circulated for years that McKellen had turned down the role of Dumbledore. In 2017, during an appearance on BBC’s HARDtalk with Stephen Sackur, McKellen explained how it went down. After Richard Harris, who portrayed Dumbledore in the first two films, passed away, McKellen received a phone call asking if he’d be interested in working on Harry Potter. Though the producers never actually told McKellen which part they had in mind, McKellen jumped to the conclusion that it was Dumbledore, and the casting conversation went no further. McKellen explained that Harris had once criticized him—along with fellow actors Derek Jacobi and Kenneth Branagh—for being technically brilliant, yet passionless, and McKellen didn’t feel it was right to take over a role from an actor who didn’t approve of his work.

But CinemaBlend reports that McKellen has now complicated his verification of the rumors in a new interview. While promoting The Good Liar with co-star Helen Mirren, the actors played a rousing round of “Two Truths and a Lie” for BuzzFeed, during which McKellen named three possible lies: “The first film I ever made was never released,” “I turned down the role of Dumbledore in the Harry Potter movies,” and “Kate Beckinsale once proposed marriage to me.”

Mirren guessed that the Dumbledore remark was the lie, and McKellen confirmed that she was correct. Though it might seem like McKellen is contradicting what he said back in 2017, he’s really just clarifying it: He really never did turn down the role of Dumbledore, because he was never actually offered it. Instead, he had pretty much shut down the possibility of appearing in the Harry Potter movies at all.

The ship may have sailed on a McKellen appearance in a Harry Potter film, but we’re still holding out hope for a Gandalf reprisal in the upcoming The Lord of the Rings television series.

For some behind-the-scenes secrets from The Good Liar, hear what the stars had to say at the London red carpet premiere here.

[h/t CinemaBlend]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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The Psychological Tricks Disney Parks Use to Make Long Wait Times More Bearable

© Jorge Royan, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
© Jorge Royan, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

No one goes to Disneyland or Disney World to spend the day waiting in line, but when a queue is well-designed, waiting can be part of the experience. Disney knows this better than anyone, and the parks' Imagineers have developed several tricks over the years to make long wait times as painless as possible.

According to Popular Science, hacking the layout of the line itself is a simple way to influence the rider's perspective. When a queue consists of 200 people zig-zagging around ropes in a large, open room, it's easy for waiting guests to feel overwhelmed. This design allows riders to see exactly how many people are in line in front of them—which isn't necessarily a good thing when the line is long.

Imagineers prevent this by keeping riders in the dark when they enter the queue. In Space Mountain, for example, walls are built around the twisting path, so riders have no idea how much farther they have to go until they're deeper into the building. This stops people from giving up when they first get in line.

Another example of deception ride designers use is the "Machiavellian twist." If you've ever been pleasantly surprised by a line that moved faster than you expected, that was intentional. The signs listing wait times at the beginning of ride queues purposefully inflate the numbers. That way, when a wait that was supposed to be 120 minutes goes by in 90, you feel like you have more time than you did before.

The final trick is something Disney parks are famous for: By incorporating the same level of production design found on the ride into the queue, Imagineers make waiting in line an engaging experience that has entertainment value of its own. The Tower of Terror queue in Disney World, which is modeled after a decrepit 1930s hotel lobby down to the cobwebs and the abandoned coffee cups, feels like it could be a movie set. Some ride lines even use special effects. While waiting to ride Star Wars: Ride of the Resistance in Galaxy's Edge, guests get to watch holograms and animatronics that set up the story of the ride. This strategy exploits the so-called dual-task paradigm, which makes the line feel as if it's going by faster by giving riders mental stimulation as they wait.

Tricky ride design is just one of Disney's secrets. Here are more behind-the-scenes facts about the beloved theme parks.

[h/t Popular Science]