‘Dan, who has so many colours and shows them in many ways I think has the most difficult part in the series. Yes, he’s the hero, but it’s a really difficult role and he does it so brilliantly.’
David Heyman, producer of Harry Potter
Of all the people affected by the Harry Potter film franchise, of all the actors moulded, of all the careers changed, none were as profoundly impacted as Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe.
Like his co-stars Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, Radcliffe spent nine years of his life – from the ages of 11 to 20 – on the sets of eight Harry Potter films. After spending the vast majority of his childhood in his iconic round glasses, Radcliffe left the franchise with an attraction to stranger, darker roles. As he once told the Guardian: ‘I can't put it down to anything more than that I've got weird taste… I'm not interested in making films I've seen before. There's nothing more exciting to me when I read a script than originality.’
Such roles include his (fully naked) turn as a young man obsessed with horses in the 2007 stage play Equus, as legendary beat poet Allen Ginsberg in 2013 biopic Kill Your Darlings, and as an undercover cop posing as a Neo-Nazi in 2016 thriller Imperium. But most infamously of all, of course, was his part as a seemingly sentient farting corpse in 2016 drama Swiss Army Man – which was about as far away from Hogwarts as you can get. Well, we suppose he was technically an Inferius…
‘I deeply respected her, encouraged her. She’s very smart, always was, and fiercely intelligent.’
David Heyman, producer of Harry Potter
The Hollywood Reporter
Being a straight-A student in real life, Emma and Hermione were one and the same. And much like Radcliffe, Emma Watson’s post-Harry Potter career has gone from strength to strength – and has involved some decidedly different roles from the book-smart icon that brought her into the world of acting. A year after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, for example, she starred in coming-of-age hit The Perks of Being a Wallflower (interestingly, playing alongside future Fantastic Beasts star Ezra Miller) as the flirtatious free spirit Sam. While in 2013 she took on the role of narcissistic wannabe actress (and celebrity home burglar) Nicki Moore in The Bling Ring. Not to mention her huge all-singing, all-dancing role as Belle in 2017’s Beauty and the Beast.
But perhaps the most significant thing to happen to Emma Watson after Potter was finding a platform to campaign for women’s rights and equality. In 2014 she was appointed as UN Women Goodwill ambassador, and later that year launched the campaign HeForShe – which called on men to get involved in the feminist movement – with a speech at the UN headquarters in New York. Hermione would be proud.
‘My strong feeling with Rupert is that he got Ron inside out. And I don’t think he ever needed anyone to tell him. He just knew.’
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2 DVD
Rupert Grint exuded Ron Weasley’s cheekiness right from the off, even writing a rap in his audition tape to take on the role of Harry Potter’s best friend. Grint’s natural comic timing as Ron is well-known and beloved among fans, from his unforgettable reaction to meeting spiders in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (‘why couldn’t it be “follow the butterflies”?’) to maturing into an earnest hero in his own right in the later films.
Grint’s sense of humour lived on after Ron, of course, such as starring in Ed Sheeran’s music video 'Lego House' - making light of their similar appearance. Along with more film projects and TV, Grint began a foray into theatre, earning a WhatsOnStage award for Newcomer of the Year in the black comedy Mojo in 2014.
Most recently, Grint has been on our screens in two comedies: Sick Note, co-starring Nick Frost, and a TV remake of Snatch. The little boy who did a funny rap to get his life-changing role is still making everybody laugh.
‘I could never have dreamt of the talent we’d have in these films, but there are seven, that in private, I refer to as "The Big Seven".'
J.K. Rowling at the premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
J.K. Rowling once revealed that she refers to the core kids of the Harry Potter franchise as ‘The Big Seven’. They are: Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom), Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) and Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy).
We have, of course, already covered Harry, Ron and Hermione, but the rest of the Seven have also found themselves shaped, in varying ways, by their years at Hogwarts.
Bonnie Wright, for example, has turned from acting in recent years to directing, and even directed Harry Potter co-star Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy) in her 2018 feature film debut Medusa’s Ankles. While Evanna Lynch, in addition to her film and stage roles, has returned to her roots as a Harry Potter fan and used her fame for good. Both on her own, and helping the non-profit organisation The Harry Potter Alliance, she has raised money and awareness on issues ranging from anorexia to multiple sclerosis to same-sex marriage. Evanna and Bonnie together are also ambassadors for J.K. Rowling’s charity, Lumos. Dumbledore’s Army united once more.
Matthew Lewis, meanwhile, has had a healthy career on television, film and theatre, appearing in BBC dramas and comedies such as Bluestone 42, Ripper Street and Happy Valley. Lewis once observed to the Evening Standard that, post-Neville, ‘I realised how much of a fondness I have for playing people who aren’t heroes.'
And last but certainly not least, there is Tom Felton, who has landed roles in films such as 2011 blockbuster Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and the critically acclaimed 2016 British film A United Kingdom, alongside David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike. Most notable for Harry Potter fans however was his 2015 BBC Three documentary Tom Felton Meets the Superfans, in which Felton spoke to Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and J.K. Rowling about reckoning with fame and adulation.
‘I was a Weasley waiting for a role.’
Domhnall Gleeson on Bill Weasley
Domhnall Gleeson made his Wizarding World debut in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 as the effortlessly cool and handsome Bill Weasley. He was not the first Gleeson to be cast in Harry Potter of course - his father Brendan Gleeson famously played Auror Alastor 'Mad Eye' Moody. Since Potter, Gleeson has very much forged his own path, and become a star in his own right – one who has become a regular feature in both critically acclaimed and hugely successful movies.
On the smaller end of the scale are films like the black comedy Frank, about an ‘eccentric’ singer who wears a papier-mâché mask over his head; the Oscar-winning artificial-intelligence thriller Ex Machina; and the BAFTA award-winning and Oscar-nominated immigrant drama Brooklyn. He also reunited with his father onscreen to share a memorable scene in Irish film Calvary, in which Domhnall plays a killer begging for forgiveness from a priest (Brendan).
But of course, arguably his biggest role to date has been his portrayal of the cartoonishly evil General Hux from 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens; a role he reprised wonderfully in last year’s sequel Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
But to us, we’ll always remember him as Bill.
‘He's not really a complete cliché of the good kid in school. He's just quiet. He is actually just a genuinely good person, but he doesn't make a big deal about it or anything.’
Robert Pattinson on Cedric Diggory
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was a breakout film for Robert Pattinson, who played the cool, confident and ultimately tragic Cedric Diggory. At the time, the role came from a spell of bad/good luck – with Pattinson landing the audition thanks to a casting director who felt guilty that his part was cut from 2004 period drama Vanity Fair.
The strange luck would continue a few years later, when Pattinson found himself bombing in one audition he was certain he was going to get, but then nailing another the next day – for the role of Edward Cullen, the sparkly vampire from romantic young adult sensation Twilight. In the space of three years, he had gone from appearing in one huge film franchise, to becoming the face of another.
Twilight made Pattinson a star, but later smaller and bolder projects showed just what a talented and versatile actor he really is. David Cronenberg’s 2012 film Cosmopolis, for example, saw Pattinson – who was playing a self-loathing billionaire – balance a cold exterior with a raging inner life; while James Gray’s 2016 biopic The Lost City of Z, about British explorer Percy Fawcett, cast Pattinson as Fawcett’s charismatic and likeable co-explorer Henry Costin.
But perhaps his best role in recent years has been in the relatively little-known 2017 crime thriller Good Time, in which Pattinson plays a robber who, at the same time as robbing, is also looking after his brother who has learning disabilities. It’s a ferociously commanding performance, a role filed with moral contradictions and emotional complexity.
Join us next week where we’ll be looking at the new Fantastic Beasts family, including its main star, Eddie Redmayne.