Hogwarts’ Faculty Report Card
Now that school's out for summer, and Harry Potter and chums are growing up, we thought it was about time to turn the tables and file a report card on the teaching staff at Hogwarts.
Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint are beginning to branch out for themselves into the Muggles' world. If they're serious about making the grade in movies, how do the esteemed British thespians they've been studying with these past few years measure up as role models?
Michael Gambon (Dumbledore)
A late bloomer, Gambon wasn't considered leading man material until he was approaching 50 (though he enjoyed a successful theatre career). His double role in Dennis Potter's brilliant BBC TV series The Singing Detective changed everything - a lesson for young actors everywhere. Firmly established in British films like The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (he was the thief), Gambon didn't start appearing in Hollywood films until his supporting roles in The Insider and Sleepy Hollow (both 1999). An actor's actor, often typecast as a heavy, he was memorably evil in Kevin Costner's Open Range and a double agent in Robert De Niro's The Good Shepherd. Other notable performances include the victim in Gosford Park and Oseary Drakoulias in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
Maggie Smith (Minerva McGonagall)
Dame Maggie has admitted her career is 'chequered'…But if she's an under-achiever, two Academy Awards and countless more for her theatre and TV work make Minerva the queen of Hogwarts. Smith was Desdemona to Olivier's Othello in 1965, and acted in films for Hollywood legends John Ford and Joseph L Mankiewicz at the tail-end of their careers. She won her first Oscar for The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie in 1969. It's still her most famous role. She was 34 and was on the verge of becoming a mother for the second time. Her own prime unfortunately coincided with the British film industry's worst slump, and as a rule she preferred theatre to Hollywood. But she won a second Oscar, this time for Supporting Actress, for California Suite (1978) and went on to carve a niche for herself as a dotty but acerbic older woman in films like A Private Function (1984) and A Room with a View (1985).
Brendan Gleason (Alastor 'Mad Eye' Moody)
An experienced teacher in real life (he taught maths for ten years), Gleason was 34 before he decided to dedicate himself to acting. His first movie was The Field (1990), with the original Dumbledore, Richard Harris. Gleason benefited from Ireland's popularity with Hollywood producers in the early 90s, notching up supporting roles in Far and Away, The Snapper, Braveheart and The Butcher Boy before John Boorman gave him the plum role of volatile gangster Martin Cahill in The General (1998). He's worked non-stop ever since, but hit a real peak at the turn of the millennium, when he worked for Boorman (The Tailor of Panama), Steven Spielberg (AI), Danny Boyle (28 Days Later) and Martin Scorsese (Gangs Of New York) within an 18-month period.
David Thewlis (Remus Lupin)
This quixotic and mercurial Lancashire born actor was 30 when he starred as the brilliant, motor-mouthed Johnny in Mike Leigh's Naked in 1993. It was an astounding performance, one of the best of the decade, but Thewlis made some eccentric career decisions and failed to capitalise on the moment. He turned down the villain in Die Hard with a Vengeance but took roles in Black Beauty, Total Eclipse, Dragonheart and The Island Of Dr Moreau - all flops. Now firmly stuck in supporting parts, he remains a sparky presence no matter how unrewarding the material. He wrote and directed Cheeky in 2003, but this was another disappointment. Must try harder!
Emma Thompson (Sybil Trelawney)
Since becoming a mother in 1999, Thompson has only appeared in half a dozen films, two of them as the shortsighted clairvoyant, Professor Trelawney. But if Thompson is resting on her laurels a bit these days, she's earned that right. No one has worked harder to create a rich and respected body of work. Thompson graduated from the Cambridge Footlights Revue (Messrs Fry and Laurie were in the same troupe) and had her own - not very good - BBC skit show within five years. Her love affair with Kenneth Branagh coincided with more opportunities to show her dramatic range. In a remarkable four-year period she won the Oscar for Best Actress for Howard's End (1992), a further nomination for Best Actress (The Remains Of The Day, 1993) and Best Supporing Actress (In The Name Of The Father, 1993), another nomination for Best Actress and a win for her screenplay for Sense and Sensibility (1995). She's since written two more excellent roles for herself: Wit (2001) and Nanny McPhee (2005).
Imelda Staunton (Dolores Umbridge)
'A melodious plum pudding of a woman.' That's how Roger Ebert described Staunton's most famous role, Vera Drake (2004). That performance won her an Oscar nomination and recognition in the US (at least, a supporting role in Freedom Writers). Over here she's been something of a national treasure for as long as anyone can remember, but mostly on TV. A newcomer at Hogwarts, she's among old friends: early roles included The Singing Detective with Michael Gambon, Peter's Friends, Much Ado About Nothing and Emma Thompson's TV show, Thompson.
Alan Rickman (Severus Snape)
Rickman scored his biggest movie success with his first role, as Hans Gruber in the original Die Hard. His withering contempt transformed a stock character into a worthy adversary for arguably the best action hero - in fact none of the subsequent Die Hard's have found anyone to measure up to him. Electrifying and sexy on stage (he originated the role of Valmont in the play Dangerous Liaisons) he tends to be too big a presence for the movies, and he's done his most memorable work in comedies. He camped up the sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves (1991) proved an entertainingly inconvenient ghost in Truly, Madly, Deeply the same year, and had a lot of fun with Galaxy Quest (1999). His drawl was an inspired choice for the paranoid android, Marvin, in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005), but it's a pity Rickman hasn't found more dramatic roles worthy of his talent.
Robbie Coltrane (Rubeus Hagrid)
No part is too small for Robbie Coltrane, one of those actors capable of capturing the imagination in a nano-second. Coltrane was JK Rowling's choice for Hagrid from the first, presumably on the strength of his varied TV resume, which includes work with the Comic Strip, Tutti Fruity (with the inevitable Emma Thompson), and of course Cracker. Movie-wise he's dabbled in American independent film but remains best known for character parts in mainstream productions like Goldeneye and The World Is Not Enough, Van Helsing, and Ocean's Twelve.
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