Saturday, 9 July 2011

PotterMania: Best casting

As the final film in the Harry Potter franchise approaches, all of us who gave over huge chunks of our lives to both the books and films are feeling especially nostalgic for lost childhoods (although at 25 I think I misplaced mine quite some time ago). The series is a phenomenon - and a brilliantly realised one at that. The chances of its success and impact being repeated in my lifetime are slim. Plus, I love it.

So, I'm going to write a series of articles in the run up to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, starting with this one: The 10 best actor-and-character marriages in the film franchise, in no particular order:

Robbie Coltrane - Hagrid

Robbie Coltrane was famously one of the only actors that JK Rowling had in mind for the films, and there was never anyone else who could have played the friendly dragon-loving half-giant. He's utterly loveable as Harry's substitute uncle-figure, and although his role has been minimal in the more recent films he's always a solid presence.

Helena Bonham-Carter - Bellatrix Lestrange

Thank goodness Helen McCrory's pregnancy robbed David Yates of his first choice for Bellatrix, because I can't imagine anyone else as the shrieking, wild-haired loon that is Voldemort's right-hand-woman. In Bellatrix, the wonderful Bonham-Carter might just have found her iconic role.

Kenneth Branagh - Gilderoy Lockhart

The first two films tend to be forgotten in favour of the superior subsequent ones, but one thing that deserves to be remembered is Kenneth Branagh's gloriously pompous portrayal of the five-time winner of Witch Weekly's Most Charming Smile Award. I had my heart set on Hugh Grant for the role, but Branagh won me over, and then some.

Brendon Gleeson - Mad-Eye Moody

Brendan Gleeson isn't exactly one of the most famous thesps to be signed up to the Harry Potter franchise, but he was the perfect match for the gruff, paranoid Mad-Eye Moody, working equally well as the evil Barty Crouch Jnr and as the just-as-barking real Mad-Eye. Shame he had to be killed off.

Alan Rickman - Severus Snape
Need I even explain this choice? I can't wait to see Rickman get his teeth into That Scene in Deathly Hallows Part 2. No-one swishes a cloak quite like him.

Jason Isaacs - Lucius Malfoy

This was the role that put Jason Isaacs and his steely blue eyes on the map. He was a revelation in his first appearence in Chamber of Secrets, and has just got better as Lucius becomes increasingly frayed around the edges.

Evanna Lynch - Luna Lovegood
Evanna Lynch managed to be completely eccentric and 14 at the same time. Quite a feat. Her lilting tones and look of mild interest at all times is spot-on Luna. I'm not sure if she's actually doing any acting or just playing herself, but it's perfect casting.

Richard Harris - Dumbledore
Nothing against Michael Gambon's also-pretty-damn-good version of Dumbledore, but Richard Harris was the first and best, giving Dumbledore a benign playfulness wrapped around a steel core. It's a shame we never got to see him as the hard-as-nails sorceror he is revealed as in later films - I suspect that you wouldn't have wanted to mess with Richard Harris' Dumbledore.

Imelda Staunton - Dolores Umbridge

Who would have thought that a cat lover with a fetish for pink and torturing school children could be far scarier than Voldemort? Staunton brings the Potterverse's nastiest and most realistic villain to horrible life and sends chills down your spine with merely a child-like giggle.

Rupert Grint - Ron Weasley
Daniel Radcliffe has improved immeasurably as the series has gone on (and with it become someone I'd happily go for a pint with) and Emma Watson maturing into a confident, beautiful woman has fed nicely into Hermione's character development, but Rupert Grint was always the most talented, and the one who nailed his part just right. From comedy relief to unlikely brooding hero, chances are in a scene with all three lead kids in it, it'll be Grint you're watching.

And finally, special shout-outs to Tom Felton, Julie Walters and Matthew Lewis, who only narrowly missed out. Which I'm sure will keep them up all night worrying.

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