The Best of Harry Potter Actors
By now everyone knows exactly who the best of the Harry Potter actors are. The monstrously successful film franchise based on J.K. Rowling’s even more beloved and successful fantasy series has not only rewritten box office history, but has launched several film careers that may otherwise not have happened. Some may think the actors in the films are just lucky, but it is their talent that has made them known to the world as the best of the Harry Potter actors. Some we’ve known for decades, others for just a few years. No matter how long they’ve occupied our celluloid fantasies, they are forever etched in our minds as the best of the Harry Potter actors.
Because of the power of media and film, when people think of Harry Potter they likely think of Daniel Radcliffe first. Literary purists and Rowling devotees may scoff at the very idea of their literary hero being supplanted by an actor, but such is the influence of film and media. Radcliffe may eschew much of the attention thrust upon him by the media, but it is understandable. He was crowned the highest paid actor in 2009, earning more than $40 million for his work in the last two Harry Potter films. Critics have also acknowledged his growth as an actor since the first film. His ability to express the darker emotions Harry experiences has certainly developed as he has aged, something that is absolutely essential to the franchise as the stories get darker and Harry confronts ever greater evil. What Radcliffe will do once the final film is released remains to be seen. What is certain is that he has earned a permanent spot in the annals of film history.
Named the highest paid actress of 2009, Emma Watson (or as fans know her, Hermione Granger) is a born performer. She is often cited as being the most talented of the trio of young actors at the center of the Harry Potter films. She is able to bring just the right mix of depth, humor and intellect to the part demanded by the way Rowling wrote the character. It also doesn’t hurt that she is drop dead gorgeous, something that directors will take notice of as she matures into young women’s roles.
The story of how she won the part of Hermione is surprising in some ways: Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint had already been cast as Harry and Ron, but producers had yet to find the right actress to play Hermione. Watson’s first audition turned out to be not much more than a drama lesson (as she puts it) and her screen test won the favor of a very important person: J.K. Rowling. But what really won over producers was her sheer sense of confidence. It’s safe to say that fans would agree.
Grint is probably the fan favorite of the three young actors playing Harry, Hermione and Ron. And why wouldn’t he be, with his pitch perfect comic timing and awkward persona that everyone who was ever a teenager can relate to? Another reason that fans and critics alike seem to adore him so much is that he appears to have been born to play the part of Ron. Tall, gangly and sporting that shocking red mop of hair, he is unmistakably of the Weasley clan! Perhaps most endearing, however, is the story of how he won the role of Ron. After hearing that the role was being cast, Grint (with the support of his drama teacher) sent in a video declaring how much he wanted to be in the film and how much he loved the character of Ron Weasley. The video alone turned out be enough to win him an invitation to audition. Producers were clearly taken with his enthusiasm and charm, both of which spilled over into his performances as Ron and have now won him legions of fans the world over.
It may seem strange at first to think that Emma Thompson was cast as Sybill Trelawney, the spacier than spacey Hogwarts professor whom most of the student body (particularly Hermione) regard with ample disdain and annoyance. Thompson is, after all, one of the world’s great thespians (and an Oscar winner to boot) and Professor Trelawney is a relatively minor part in the stories. But when you see the character as played by Thompson, you begin to understand exactly what the producers saw in Thompson. She plays the part with the perfect mix of wonder and weirdness, making Trelwaney a character that audiences want to see more of, which, as any director will tell you, is just right.
When casting the part of the Dark Lord, producers likely had very few options to work with. Who, after all, could play the most evil and despicable wizard alive? It turns out, Ralph Fiennes could. And how. Maybe it was his reputation for playing dark and complex men. Or maybe it was his unforgettably chilling turn in Schindler’s List. Whatever the reason, Fiennes turned out to be a perfectly menacing and evil Voldemort, virtually unrecognizable through all that makeup and special effects you see in the film. Here’s an interesting tidbit about Fiennes’s portrayal of the Dark Lord: in a flashback scene in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince showing young Voldemort at age 11, Fiennes’s nephew Hero Fiennes- Tiffin plays the character of young Voldemort.
Cast as the ever-lovable (but sometimes not so dependable) Hagrid, Robbie Coltrane is a well-known fixture in British cinema and television. He is most recognized for his work on the series Crackers where he plays Dr. Eddie “Fitz” Fitzgerald. He also appears in more serious films at times, including Provoked with Bollywood superstar and actress Aishwariya Rai. Because he is so well known to British audiences, Rowling had Coltrane and Coltrane alone in mind when asked who she would like to play her beloved half-giant. Coltrane did not even have to audition for the part; he simply had to say ‘yes’. To which fans have clearly said: Hell yes!
Though Alan Rickman may not exactly be a household name, everyone knows they should know his name. This is because audiences know they have seen him in many films where his work has simply been unforgettably compelling and brilliant. His performance as Severus Snape, Harry’s arch nemesis, is no different. He plays Snape as very mysterious and difficult to read; we dislike him instantly (some may even straight out hate him) but Rickman gives him just enough leeway that we know we haven’t completely figured him out just yet. If you’ve read the entire series of books, you know exactly what Snape turns out to be so we won’t spoil it for you here. But we will recommend a few other stellar turns by Rickman, including Sense and Sensibility and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Truly, a world class actor.