Actor Known for Playing in Harry Potter Films, Dead at 82

Sir Michael Gambon, the Irish-born British actor of the stage and screen known for playing Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films, has died. He was 82 years old.

Gambon died “peacefully” in the hospital, his representative confirmed in a statement to PEOPLE issued on behalf of his wife Lady Gambon and son Fergus.

“We are devastated to announce the loss of Sir Michael Gambon,” the statement shared on Thursday began. “Beloved husband and father, Michael died peacefully in hospital with his wife Anne and son Fergus at his bedside, following a bout of pneumonia. Michael was 82.”

The statement concluded, “We ask that you respect our privacy at this painful time and thank you for your messages of support and love.”

In addition to a celebrated career in theater and on television, Gambon — who was born in Cabra in Dublin, Ireland in 1940 — had memorable roles in movies like 1992’s Toys, 1999’s Sleepy Hollow, 2001’s Gosford Park and 2010’s The King’s Speech, in which he played King George V and was among the cast that won the SAG Award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture.

He was also twice nominated for Emmy Awards, and he won four BAFTA Awards. In 2012, Gambon received the Richard Harris Award from the British Independent Film Awards, an honor that acknowledges an actor who has, during the course of their career, contributed significantly to British film. In 1998, he received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth.

The actor found his most widely-known role in the Potter franchise, when he took over the part of Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore in 2004’s Prisoner of Azkaban after the death of Richard Harris in October 2002. Harris played Dumbledore in the series’ first two films.

In 2009, Gambon talked to the Associated Press about not realizing the influence of the fantasy franchise when he agreed to play Dumbledore, and coming to appreciate the Potter legacy.

“They rang me up and said, ‘Will you do it?’ Like any other job I said, ‘Sure.’ Then you find yourself in the middle of this thing,” he said, adding, “I’ve played quite a lot of crooks and killers, and that’s quite interesting. Then Dumbledore is the complete opposite, isn’t he? He’s a nice old man.”

“This will stick out as being a happy memory, being with a thing for so long and the worldwide love of it. You never forget that,” said Gambon.

Speaking with The Guardian in 2014, Gambon opened up about acting, specifically how he brings himself to cry for an emotional scene.

“You just do it. That’s what acting is,” he said at the time. “But I admit I try and summon up a powerful image. The one I often think of is that of a little girl in uniform, taken during the Vietnam War, with her clothes and body on fire because of an aerial bomb. I believe she recovered and is now a doctor, which makes me feel I’m not simply exploiting someone else’s tragedy.”

Gambon is survived by his wife, Lady Gambon and son Fergus, as well as two children, Will and Tom, with Philippa Hart.