In the first two movies of the Harry Potter series (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone & Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), Albus Dumbledore looks like this:

enter image description here

However, from the third (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) to the sixth movie (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince), Albus Dumbledore's appearance changes drastically as shown below:

enter image description here

In the first two movies, Dumbledore is portrayed to be donning red robes but from the third movie onwards, Dumbledore is shown to wear greyish-blue robes.

Why did Dumbledore's appearance change drastically? Has any explanation been offered by the directors, producers and/or J.K. Rowling?

Note: I am aware of the change of actor. But my question is not based on them but their change of clothes.

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  • 2
    I'm assuming this question is purely about the clothes, and now about the different actor?
    – JAD
    Commented Mar 30, 2018 at 16:00
  • 15
    Even wizards need to do laundry sometime
    – Steve-O
    Commented Mar 30, 2018 at 16:19
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    I've long thought that they should have gone through a series of successively less frail actors/acting for Dumbledore, representing the fact that how old someone seems is (hand-wavey) inversely proportional to the observer's age. Commented Mar 30, 2018 at 19:56
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    He was demoted from Dumbledore the Red to Dumbledore the Grayish-Blue
    – user13267
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 14:11

2 Answers 2


The new actor and director decided to portray Dumbledore differently.

Dumbledore in the first two films was played by the late Richard Harris; Dumbledore in the rest of the films was played by Michael Gambon. Gambon didn't even try to imitate Harris's portrayal, or to play Dumbledore as described in the books (in fact, he didn't even read the books before taking on the role) - he brought his own style to the role of Dumbledore, regardless of the fact that it conflicted with the Dumbledore of the first two films. As he said in an interview:

To what extent did you have to inherit Richard Harris's performance?
Michael Gambon: No one ever spoke to me about it. Not a word. On the first film I did which was directed by Alfonso Cuaron I walked in there and I'm naturally Irish and my first accent is Irish, I will speak Irish with my parents, and I played just a slight touch of Trinity College Dublin. That light lilt. I did that and Alfonso said, "What's the accent here?" I said, "Irish." He said, "That's OK." And no one's ever mentioned it. I'm a little bit more camp, I think, a bit lighter. A bit more ethereal.

The director of the third film, Alfonso Cuaron, has also commented on the change of actor for Dumbledore, in this interview:

[Gambon] was, in retrospect, a great choice. He’s similar enough that it didn’t feel jarring but at the same time he brings his own thing. It’s a slightly different Dumbledore than it would have otherwise been, isn’t it?
Alfonso Cuarón: It is slightly different. From the get-go we made changes to give the continuity, but at the same time it was not about imitating Richard Harris. That would be so bad for both: for Richard and for Michael. Richard was very regal - as Dumbledore is described in the books - and very beautiful, and we wanted to do it more hippyish, cheekier and a little more shabby. And sometimes more distracted.

TL;DR: both the new actor and the new director wanted Dumbledore portrayed differently in the 3rd film, and then they stuck with that version of Dumbledore for the later films.

In-universe, no explanation for Dumbledore's apparent abrupt change of appearance was ever given.

Answer heavily based on this answer to a similar question on another SE site.


Because the actor and director are different.

In The Philosopher's Stone and Chamber of Secrets Dumbledore is played by Richard Harris,who sadly passed away. Then Michael Gambon took over for the rest of the series bringing his own style to the role. Also the director changed which could also change Dumbledore's appearance.

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    How is this answer different from the already existing one? Commented Jul 21, 2018 at 21:06
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    There's no problem here having the same answer ... but clearly people are going to upvote the version that is substantially more detailed. Welcome to the site, but people are going to downvote something that is a much less less detailed version of an existing answer.
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 16:19

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