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Here's Why Arthur From Kingsman: The Golden Circle Looks So Familiar

If you walk up to someone with a casual awareness of Matthew Vaughn's Kingsman series and say "wasn't Michael Caine great as Arthur in the second one," and they say "boy oh boy, he sure was," then guess what? According to British law, you're allowed to spit on their legs. "You twit! You certified phony!" you can scream at them as they run, rightfully humiliated, from your presence.

That's because, as any real fan of the Kingsman series would know, Arthur isn't a name, it's a designation, like "M" in the Bond movies or whatever shared moniker your first grade teacher gave to their revolving door of ill-fated classroom gerbils. The first Arthur shown in the films was, indeed, played by Sir Michael Caine, before his character chugged a mouthful of righteous turnabout after trying to wipe out most of the population with violence-inducing SIM cards. Good riddance to him. Don't cull humanity, and you won't get poisoned.

Taking his place is the equally British Sir Giles, seen only for a scant few moments in Kingsman: The Golden Circle, before meeting his demise at the business end of a missile in the Kingsman Tailor Shop. This new Arthur was gone too soon, yes, but more than that? He was decidedly familiar.

That's because Arthur Mark II was played by none other than Michael Gambon, star of stage and screen, celebrated thespian, and occasional quirky old man who invites 11-year-olds to come live with him by telling them that they're magic. But here, we're getting ahead of ourselves.

MIchael Gambon spoke fluent nightmare on The Storyteller

For a brief, very weird period in the late '80s, the Jim Henson Company got into the business of giving kids night terrors with The Storyteller, a highly produced series of televised fairytales with the downy-soft Disney corner guards scrubbed off of them. There was "The Soldier and Death," the story of a man who, among other things, scares the embodiment of death so badly that it refuses to let him die, forcing the man to travel to hell in his pursuit of rest. There's "The Luck Child," which tells the tale of a baby who gets thrown off a cliff, but grows up to be king anyway. There are half-hedgehog men and heartless giants and horrifying trolls, all done up in the best body horror prosthetics available at the time — for kids!

The show's framing device featured a quirky old narrator, played by John Hurt, who bookended the stories. The series disappeared just about as quickly as it arrived, but a spinoff miniseries followed in 1990. "What if German folklore is too gruesome?" the new series seemed to ask. "What if we went with the always palatable world of Greek myths instead?"

And so, for four episodes, The Storyteller returned in the form of The Storyteller: Greek Myths, this time narrated by Michael Gambon. Instead of sitting by a cozy fire and reading books like his predecessor, Gambon's Storyteller was portrayed as a bedraggled man stuck in the Minotaur's labyrinth on Crete, relaying tales perhaps as a means of retaining his sanity as he desperately searched for a way out. Again, this was a children's program, created by the same people who brought you "Put Down the Ducky."

Gambon kept Hogwarts running in Harry Potter

2001 brought with it a new era of young adult novels adapted into billion-dollar franchises. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone roared into the box office, pulling in roughly the GDP of Saint Kitts and cementing itself as a series that wasn't going anywhere. Unfortunately, the second entry in the Harry Potter universe wound up being the last for Albus Dumbledore actor Richard Harris. After a brief illness, Harris passed away at age 72, and the hunt was on for a new Hogwarts headmaster.

The job fell on Gambon's shoulders, and the next seven years saw Gambon reprising the part in six films. He undoubtedly got the lion's share of Dumbledore's personal drama, from the character's brooding nervousness in Order of the Phoenix to his dramatic end in Half-Blood Prince, to his appearance in the open-concept afterlife of Deathly Hallows. As a result, Gambon became simultaneously one of the best known fictional father figures in pop culture history and, counterintuitively, one of the most difficult actors in history to recognize without a beard.

Michael Gambon killed two birds with one stone on Doctor Who

There are three nigh-on unavoidable gigs that any actor working out of the U.K. will eventually run across. One is Harry Potter, one is Doctor Who, and the last is an adaptation of A Christmas Carol. While Gambon got the meaty end of the Hogwarts stick, hanging onto his role as Dumbledore across six films, he knocked the other two out in one fell swoop.

The 2010 Doctor Who Christmas special, helpfully entitled "A Christmas Carol," features Michael Gambon as Kazran Sardick, the Ebenezer Scrooge of the future. We've all heard the story before: A miserly old space curmudgeon refuses to use his weather control machine to stop a starliner from crashing to the planet's surface, until a quirky time traveler from an extinct race of hyper-intelligent beings rewrites his timeline to make him a kinder man. It's an old chestnut, but a heartwarming one. The episode mirrors the Charles Dickens tale alarmingly closely, right down to the part at the end where Scrooge flies off into the sky on a shark-propelled sleigh.

On a barely related note, Gambon also voiced the Ghost of Christmas Present in 2001's animated adaptation of A Christmas Carol, alongside Nicolas Cage as Jacob Marley and Simon Callow as Scrooge. Yes, really.