The Harry Potter reunion special, Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts, is all set to stream come New Year. The special sees Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint reunite with fellow cast members including Robbie Coltrane, Helena Bonham Carter, Jason Isaacs, Gary Oldman and Ralph Fiennes. And while that is certainly exciting news for Potterheads, what one will definitely miss during the highly-anticipated show are the actors who made HP characters immortal on-screen. We will especially miss the actors who passed away since the 20 years that the franchise began.
When one thinks of the initial Harry Potter movies, besides the famous trio of Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), it is hard not to mention the late great Alan Rickman, who was wonderful in every frame he was a part of. In fact, extra credits to casting directors for choosing Rickman who suited the part to the T. Not everything in those movies were a perfect adaptation, but some things were near-perfect. Rickman playing the antihero Severus Snape was certainly one of them. With his sweeping dark robe, chin-length dark, matted hair, and that cynical, dry and partly-amused tone — Rickman got everything about Snape down to the dot.
As a person who has read all the seven books and watched the eight movies in the series, I can safely say that after seeing Rickman perform as Snape, it was his face that I pictured constantly whenever the name cropped up during my reading. That edge in his voice, the held-back anger and angst of the past, his face tightened by unfulfilled desires and secrets, and of course, revenge. Rickman knew what he was doing. He was doing magic.
Much before Snape’s actual fate was revealed, Rickman knew of his past and his future, thanks to writer JK Rowling, who the actor had requested should give him the inside details to better his act. Director Chris Columbus and Daniel Radcliffe reportedly reveal in the special, that the veteran actor never told anyone the secrets he was entrusted with.
Alan Rickman passed away on January 14, 2016.
Remember the wise old face of the artiste who portrayed Albus Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter films — Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets? Of course Michael Gambon did a fine job. But, it’s hard to debate how brilliant Harris was as the mystical, all-too-knowing wizard. As fate would have it, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) was Richard Harris’ last film role before his death in the same year on October 25. But would you believe it that there was a time when Harris had no intention of playing Dumbledore? Yes, you read that right! Harris was not game for the HP world, but was coerced into it by his young granddaughter.
Helen McCrory has been in better movies than the last three in the Harry Potter world. And she had had meatier roles before she breathed her last this year in April. But Narcissa’s maternal instinct to protect her devious son Draco, and her need to be present for him and leave him a better world is stamped throughout the book. Helen brought that buried, silent side out of that character through her stellar, credible portrayal of Narcissa. Interestingly, Helen McCrory was first cast as Narcissa’s sister Bellatrix Lestrange, but had to step back from the part owing to her pregnancy. Lestrange was played by Helena Bonham Carter.
Better known to many fans as the loud, dubious and annoying Mr Vernon Dursley, British actor Richard Griffiths had a remarkable screen presence, which he displayed during his short screen time in the Potter movies. Once in conversation with the Dominion Post, the actor had revealed that he was willing to go to absurd lengths to maximise his screen time. And by his own admission, he had once, in fact, pitched an idea to author Rowling at the premiere of the third Potter film, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Talking to the publication, the actor stated, “I said to her `’Don’t you think it would be funny if (Vernon) rolled up at Hogwarts on Parents Day and got freaked out as he went around the place?’ She said ‘No, I don’t think that would be funny at all’.” And that was the end of that. Clearly drastically opposite to his character, Griffiths was popular for lighting up the room with his wit and candour. The actor passed away in 2013.
Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts will stream in India on January 1 on Amazon Prime Video.