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Archive for Friday, November 19, 2010

Who’s who at Hogwarts

November 19, 2010, 8:59 a.m. Updated November 19, 2010, 8:59 a.m.

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Across seven movies and 10 years, the “Harry Potter” franchise has been a wellspring of work for renowned English actors. The producers of the films have managed to net so many of the U.K.’s most respected thespians that “Potter” newcomer Bill Nighy, who plays Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1,” recently joked, “For a while, I thought I would be the only English actor of a certain age who wasn’t in a ‘Harry Potter’ film.”

This is a guide to the notable and familiar British faces who have graced Hogwarts and the Muggle world since the movie series began in 2001.

Richard Harris

Character: Albus Dumbledore

Tenure: 2001-2002

Movies: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”

You know him from: Playing the famous gunfighter "English Bob" in Clint Eastwood’s 1992 western “Unforgiven”

Awards: A 1968 win for Best Actor – Musical/Comedy for playing King Arthur in “Camelot”

Potter lore: Despite his failing health, famed Irish actor Harris took the role at the behest of his granddaughter, and died at age 72, two weeks before the American premiere of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.”

Robbie Coltrane

Character: Rubeus Hagrid

Tenure: 2001-2011

Movies: All of them

You know him from: Playing Dr. Eddie 'Fitz' Fitzgerald in the long-running British TV series “Cracker”

Awards: Three-time winner for Best Actor in “Cracker” at the British Academy Television Awards in 1994, 1995, and 1996

Potter lore: Scottish actor Coltrane, who is only 6’1” in real-life despite playing the giant Hagrid onscreen, was the very first person to be cast in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone,” having been personally selected by author J.K. Rowling.

Alan Rickman

Character: Severus Snape

Tenure: 2001-2011

Movies: All of them

You know him from: Duh. He is skyscraper terrorist Hans Gruber, one of the best, most conniving bad guys ever, in “Die Hard.”

Awards: Hammed it up with style and won a BAFTA playing another love-to-hate bad guy—the Sheriff of Nottingham—opposite Kevin Costner, in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”

Potter lore: Soon after Alan Rickman began playing Snape, author J.K. Rowling told Rickman some secrets about his character that would not be revealed until the last book. This was done so he could have proper motivation for the character throughout the series.

Maggie Smith

Character: Minerva McGonagall

Tenure: 2001-2009

Movies: All but “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1”

You know her from: That depends. If you don’t recognize her as the hilariously acid-tongued Countess of Trentham from Robert Altman’s acclaimed “Gosford Park,” you may recognize her as Mother Superior in Whoopi Goldberg’s “Sister Act.”

Awards: Won Best Actress for “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” in 1970 and Best Supporting Actress in 1979 for “California Suite”

Potter lore: Although Professor McGonagall didn’t make it into part one of the “Deathy Hallows” movies, Smith will be back for 2011’s finale, ““Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2.”

John Cleese

Character: Nearly Headless Nick

Tenure: 2001-2002

Movies: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”

You know him from: Monty Python’s Flying Circus, classic UK TV hit “Fawlty Towers,” “A Fish Called Wanda,” Q in James Bond film “Die Another Day”

Awards: Won a BAFTA award for Best Actor in “Wanda,” nominated for WGA and Academy Awards for the “Wanda” screenplay

Potter lore: Once said: “It's lovely that Harry Potter and the Bond movies are still shot in England - that's a great pleasure, but it's true that most of the well-paid work is in America.”

Fiona Shaw

Character: Petunia Dursley

Tenure: 2001-2010

Movies: All but “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” and “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”

You know her from: Unless you frequent British theater, you probably aren’t familiar with this Irish-born actress and theater director, although she appeared in “Jane Eyre” and “The Butcher Boy.”

Awards: Won an honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2001 for her services to drama

Potter lore: Shaw is moving from the wizards and witchcraft of the Potter series to season four of HBO’s “True Blood,” in which she’ll play a storefront medium and palm reader who might be a witch.

Richard Griffiths

Character: Vernon Dursley

Tenure: 2001-2010

Movies: All but “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” and “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”

You know him from: Griffiths is a highly respected stage and screen actor, but American audiences might remember him best as the wheelchair-bound Dr. Meinheimer, who Lt. Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) sends flying across the moon like E.T. in “The Naked Gun 2 ½: The Smell of Fear.”

Awards: Laurence Olivier Award, the Drama Desk Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, and the Tony Award, all for his role in the play “The History Boys.”

Potter lore: Also co-starred with Daniel Radcliffe in the 2007 play “Equus”—yes, the one that required him to get naked onstage.

John Hurt

Character: Mr. Ollivander

Tenure: 2001, 2010

Movies: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1”

You know him from: The moment in Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi horror flick “Alien” where the title creature suddenly bursts out of his chest. He also parodied the moment in Mel Brooks’ “Spaceballs,” when an alien comes out of his chest again, but this time bursts into song.

Awards: Nominated for two Oscars, one for playing John Merrick in “The Elephant Man,” the other a supporting nod for “Midnight Express.” He won BAFTAs for both roles.

Potter lore: As wand-maker Mr. Ollivander, Hurt filmed scenes for “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” but they didn’t make final cut of the film. He makes his “Potter” first appearance in nine years in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1.”

Julie Walters

Character: Molly Weasley

Tenure: 2001-2010

Movies: All but “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”

You know her from: She was recently one of Meryl Streep’s former bandmates in “Mamma Mia!,” but she was nominated for an Oscar, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) award for playing the ballet teacher that encourages an 11-year-old boy to follow his dream in 2001’s “Billy Elliot.”

Awards: Walters was also nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1983’s “Educating Rita,” opposite Michael Caine. She won BAFTAs for this and “Billy Elliot.”

Potter lore: In 2006, she played the main role in the British TV drama “Driving Lessons” alongside Rupert Grint, who plays her son Ron in the “Potter” movies.

Jason Isaacs

Character: Lucius Malfoy

Tenure: 2002-2010

Movies: All but “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”

You know him from: Isaacs is the evil, evil British army officer who kills Mel Gibson’s son (played by Heath Ledger) in the over-the-top Revolutionary War epic “The Patriot.”

Awards: Nominated for a Golden Globe for the 2006 BBC TV series “The State Within”

Potter lore: Prior to the making of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” when asked whether or not he would appear in the movie, Isaacs replied, "I hope so - you'll have to ask David (producer David Heyman). I can't bear the idea that somebody else would get to wear my Paris Hilton wig, but you never know.”

Kenneth Branagh

Character: Gilderoy Lockhart

Tenure: 2002

Movies: “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”

You know him from: Directing and starring in the Shakespeare adaptations “Henry V,” Hamlet,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” and “Love’s Labour Lost.” Branagh is currently directing Marvel comics’ “Thor,” due in 2011.

Awards: Nominated for the screenplays of “Henry V” and “Hamlet,” as well as a Best Actor nomination for “Henry V.”

Potter lore: Ex-wife Emma Thompson and ex-girlfriend Helena Bonham Carter are both “Potter” series co-stars, but neither appear in Branagh’s one “Potter” entry, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.”

Michael Gambon

Character: Albus Dumbledore

Tenure: 2004-2009

Movies: “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”

You know him from: Supporting roles in everything from Wes Anderson’s “The Life Aquatic” to Tim Burton’s “Sleepy Hollow” and Michael Mann’s “The Insider”

Awards: Four BAFTA wins for Best Actor, including his sublime work in the bizarre 1986 noir/musical “The Singing Detective” for the BBC

Potter lore: In addition to Dumbledore, Gambon has played two roles previously played by Richard Harris. The character of Chief Inspector Jules Maigret was played by Harris in a 1988 TV movie, and Gambon played the character for two British TV seasons in 1992 and 1993.

Emma Thompson

Character: Sybill Trelawney

Tenure: 2004, 2007

Movies: “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”

You know her from: Depending on your tastes, she’s either a bright, witty presence in a seemingly endless stream of period pieces or she’s “Nanny McPhee.”

Awards: Won Best Actress in 1993 for the Merchant/Ivory picture “Howard’s End” and won Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar in 1996 for “Sense and Sensibility”

Potter lore: Thompson shares a birthday with Emma Watson, who plays Hermione Granger in all of the “Potter” films. On her role in “Azkaban” she said: "I have a nervous breakdown in the film and in one scene I get to stand at the top of the stairs waving an empty sherry bottle which is, of course, a typical scene from my daily life, so that isn't much of a stretch."

Gary Oldman

Character: Sirius Black

Tenure: 2004-2007

Movies: “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”

You know him from: A true chameleon, he’s played everything from UK punk icon Sid Vicious in “Sid and Nancy” to the low-key Commissioner Gordon in the Christopher Nolan-directed “Batman” movies

Awards: Not even one Oscar nomination—a sad oversight. His performance in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 “Dracula” won him a Saturn Award for Best Actor.

Potter lore: Both Oldman and Ralph Fiennes (Lord Voldemort) have played villains in the Hannibal Lecter series: Fiennes played the Tooth Fairy in “Red Dragon,” and Oldman played Mason Verger in “Hannibal.”

David Thewlis

Character: Remus Lupin

Tenure: 2004-2011

Movies: “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1”

You know him from: “The BIg Lebowski.” He’s the pretentious foreign guy in Madge’s apartment with the really annoying laugh: Knox Harrington.

Awards: Won the Best Actor statue at Cannes in 1993 for Mike Leigh’s “Naked”

Potter lore: He was originally being considered for the role of Hogwarts Professor Quirinus Quirrell in the very first movie of the series, but eventually was cast as Lupin.

Timothy Spall

Character: Peter Pettigrew/Wormtail

Tenure: 2004-2011

Movies: “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1”

You know him from: Small roles in movies like “Vanilla Sky” and “The Last Samurai”—Spall is “that guy,” even though you can never seem to place his name

Awards: Nominated for a British Independent Film Award and a European Film Award for Mike Leigh’s working-class drama “All or Nothing” in 2002.

Potter lore: Spall also voiced Ron Weasley's rat Scabbers in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”

Julie Christie

Character: Madam Rosmerta

Tenure: 2004

Movies: “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”

You know her from: “Doctor Zhivago,” “Fahrenheit 451,” “McCabe & Mrs. Miller,” Don’t Look Now,” “Shampoo,” you name it.

Awards: A screen legend, she won Best Actress in 1966 for “Darling,” and has been nominated three times since (in 1972, 1998, and 2008).

Potter lore: Christie has played the mother of two Defense Against the Dark Arts professors in other films. In “Hamlet,” she plays the mother of Kenneth Branagh and in “DragonHeart,” she plays mother to David Thewlis.

Ralph Fiennes

Character: Lord Voldemort

Tenure: 2005-2010

Movies: “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1”

You know him from: He was “The English Patient,” and “The Constant Gardener,” but was unforgettable as an absolutely amoral Nazi commander in “Schindler’s List.”

Awards: Nominated for Oscars for “Patient” and “Schindler’s.” Lost “Schindler’s” Oscar to Tommy Lee Jones in “The Fugitive.” Huh?

Potter lore: His nephew, Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, played 11-year-old Tom Riddle a.k.a. Young Lord Voldemort in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”

Brendan Gleeson

Character: Alastor ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody

Tenure: 2005-2010

Movies: “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1”

You know him from: “Braveheart,” where he played Hamish Campbell, loyal blue-facepainted sidekick of William Wallace (Mel Gibson)

Awards: Nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor - Comedy or Musical for “In Bruges.”

Potter lore: Gleeson was a teacher for 10 years before turning to acting as a profession. To date, he is the only actor to play a Hogwarts professor who has actually been employed as a teacher.

Miranda Richardson

Character: Rita Skeeter

Tenure: 2005, 2010

Movies: “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1”

You know her from: That’s her with the smoking gun on the poster for “The Crying Game.”

Awards: Nominated for Best Supporting Actress for “Damage” in 1993 and Best Actress in 1995 for “Tom & Viv.”

Potter lore: Richardson did an impersonation of Emma Watson playing Hermione in a Comic Relief sketch from 2003 called “Harry Potter and the Secret Chamberpot of Azibaijan.” The next year she was cast as yellow journalist Rita Skeeter in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”

Imelda Staunton

Character: Dolores Umbridge

Tenure: 2007-2010

Movies: “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1”

You know her from: Did you see “Vera Drake”?

Awards: You should. She was nominated for Best Actress for her heartbreaking turn in “Drake,” a 2004 drama from Mike Leigh, whose name is popping up on a lot of these actors’ lists…

Potter lore: She is so perfect and calculating as the scheming Professor Umbridge in “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” that she absolutely steals the show.

Helena Bonham Carter

Character: Bellatrix Lestrange

Tenure: 2007-2010

Movies: “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1”

You know her from: She created one of the most disturbing and memorable modern movie characters: Marla Singer from “Fight Club,” but before that she was a “corset queen.” Now she’s Tim Burton’s go-to gal (and the mother of his children).

Awards: In 1997, Carter was nominated for Best Actress in the period piece “The Wings of the Dove.”

Potter lore: Two months after giving birth to her daughter, Carter was on the set filming her parts for

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”

Jim Broadbent

Character: Horace Slughorn

Tenure: 2009

Movies: “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”

You know him as: The zany Harold Zidler, owner of the “Moulin Rouge!” — a place where turn-of-the-last-century Parisians sing Elton John, The Police, and Nirvana.

Awards: Won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in the movie “Iris.” Remember that one? Me neither.

Potter lore: Like Staunton before him, Broadbent upped the ante in every scene he’s in, infusing the “Half-Blood Prince” cast with energy and helping a sluggish movie feel just a little bitter lighter when he’s onscreen.

Rhys Ifans

Character: Xenophilius Lovegood

Tenure: 2010

Movies: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1”

You know him as: The naked guy from that Julia Roberts movie “Notting Hill.”

Awards: Won a BAFTA Best Actor statue for a 2004 TV movie and was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for playing the sloppy, half-naked “Notting Hill” guy.

Potter lore: This is totally non-Potter related, but it was reported last week that Ifans is the new Spider-Man villain in the upcoming reboot. Mum’s the word on who he’ll play still…

Bill Nighy

Character: Rufus Scrimgeour

Tenure: 2010

Movies: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1”

You know him as: The over-the-hill rocker suffering an identity crisis in “Love Actually,” Shaun’s stepfather in “Shaun of the Dead”

Awards: 2003 was a good year for Nighy, as he won a BAFTA for playing Billy Mack in “Love Actually” and a TV BAFTA for the miniseries “State of Play.”

Potter lore: Nighy has been in adaptations of three of the UK’s most famous fantasy book series. He played Sam Gamgee in “The Lord of the Rings” for BBC Radio, Reepicheep in “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” and is Scrimgeour in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.”

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