Ian McKellenIan McKellen has played one of the most famous wizards of all -- Gandalf in "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" films -- but he might have been "Harry Potter's" Dumbledore as well.

Speaking to BBC's HARDtalk, the actor said he was offered a role in the Harry Potter franchise after the death of Richard Harris, who played the original Dumbledore.

HARDtalk host Stephen Sackur brought up a quote by Harris in which he referred to McKellen and a few other actors as "technically brilliant but passionless."

McKellen called the slam "nonsense," but admitted it's the reason he turned down the role: "When they called me up and said would I be interested in being in the Harry Potter films, they didn't say in what part. I worked out what they were thinking, and I couldn't ... I couldn't take over the part from an actor who I'd known didn't approve of me."

The part went to Michael Gambon, who played the Headmaster of Hogwarts in the next six Harry Potter films.

McKellen laughed, "Sometimes, when I see the posters of Mike Gambon, the actor who gloriously plays Dumbledore, I think sometimes it is me."

But he has no hard feelings about not adding another mega-franchise to his resume: "I'm the real wizard," he joked of playing Gandalf.

McKellen currently appears in "Beauty and the Beast" as Cogsworth.

[Via EW]