Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Farewell to Wands

A few weeks ago on this blog, I pondered the future careers of the juvenile leads of the Harry Potter franchise. Now that the summer which has been rather dominated by the much-anticipated release and colossal success of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 draws to a close, let's turn our attention to the many distinguished members of the acting profession and period drama stalwarts who have supported and thwarted Harry and company in their many endeavours over the past ten years on screen. The Half-Blood Prince himself, Alan Rickman, suggests that acting in a Harry Potter film is a very particular phenomenon: "Jo Rowling lays out a very sure road map. There's what's right and what's wrong. They are rules to playing it and once you live inside those rules, in many ways it plays itself because the situations are so strong and her grasp of her narrative is so iron-clad that it's not so much what you chose to do as not disobeying it."

Although certain cast members such as Rickman had rather meaty roles, you may have missed the brief appearances of many, many others if you're one to blink regularly. Never did so many leading lights have so little to do. Much of their screen time was spent standing in the background reacting to things. The above still from the last movie is a case in point. Miriam Margolyes, Gemma Jones, Jim Broadbent and David Bradley as Professor Sprout, Madam Pomfrey, Professor Slughorn and Mr. Filch react as it seems as though the boy wizard's luck has finally run out, putting a dampener on the end-of-term Hogwarts staff do due to be held the following night! In all seriousness, this series of films has done wonders for the British film industry and is fondly referred to amongst thespians as the Harry Potter Pension Scheme, allowing them not only to inhabit a richly-realised fantasy world complete with wands and outlandish outfits but to spend their time away from said world at other more creatively challenging albeit less financially lucrative pursuits.

Also, all these actors should be forever grateful to the Harry Potter films for providing a wealth of material for the all-important chat-show anecdote. How about Helena Bonham Carter inadvertently rupturing accident-prone Neville Longbottom's eardrum with her wand, Julie Walters being terrified of the pigeons at King's Cross Station whilst wearing Mrs Weasley's birdseed-padded dress and cardigan combo or Michael Gambon having to avail of a beard protector as he chowed down on bangers and mash in the canteen at lunchtime? Surely the like of those stories would liven up any interview about the latest Rattigan revival or Austen adaptation or at least provide some levity and whimsy. So long Harry old chum! The new series of The One Show will be better for you having been with us.

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