The reality of what it’s like shooting a scene for a movie or TV show is often hilariously different from what you see on screen. Sex scenes tend to be anything but “sexy” to act out; laugh-out-loud moments are frequently the result of countless attempts to get the exact perfect timing, by which point all concerned parties are too exhausted to actually find them funny; and scenes where people are meant to be grieving the loss of a loved one can be amusingly awkward, especially when it turns out one of the cast members isn’t quite as emotionally invested as those around them.
So it was during the filming of a key moment from “Half-Blood Prince,” as Radcliffe recounted to the Los Angeles Times in 2009:
“Dumbledore dies, and I had to do a scene lamenting over his body. Michael is the most respected actor I have ever worked with, so I had to really pull out the stops to convey the emotion. But after the fourth take, I looked down and saw that he had dozed off. I had to prod him to wake up. So much for impressing someone with your skills!”
In his defense, you can’t entirely accuse Gambon of breaking character, what with Dumbledore being dead and all (nor is he the only actor to catch up on some shuteye while playing someone who’s ventured to the grave). For that matter, one could even describe this as the ultimate form of method-acting. Much like Dumbledore has only just left Harry up a creek without a paddle in his battle against Voldemort, it appears Gambon wasn’t so concerned about pulling his younger costar out of the moment as to deny himself a cozy nap.
Now that’s a true acting legend.