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‘Harry Potter' actor retires from stage due to memory loss

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Posted at 11:14 AM, Feb 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-09 15:09:25-05

After more than 50 years of professional stage acting, Michael Gambon is retiring from theater due to short-term memory loss.

The Irish actor revealed the news to London’s The Sunday Times this week, telling the newspaper, “It breaks my heart.”

Gambon, 74, is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Albus Dumbledore in the last six “Harry Potter” films. He’s a four-time BAFTA award winner for British television work, as well as a Golden Globe award nominee.

Like many actors, his career began on stage. Gambon reportedly made his professional stage debut at Dublin’s Gate Theatre in 1962 and has continued to work in theater since then.

Gambon told The Sunday Times lately he’s been forgetting lines quickly after memorizing them. “It’s a horrible thing to admit but I can’t do it. It’s when the scripts in front of me and it takes forever to learn,” he said. “It’s frightening.”

The actor revealed he recently tried to use an earpiece that would allow lines to be fed to him from offstage but said, “After about an hour I thought, this can’t work.” He said he decided about six months ago to lower the curtain on his long stage career.

He has several television and movie projects currently in production, including an adaptation of “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling’s “The Casual Vacancy,” which will air on HBO.

Clint Davis is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @MrClintDavis.