Accio theatre! Harry Potter film stars on stage
We all know there’s magic in the air at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But deep within the school walls also lies a love of live theatre too. In fact, performing magic tricks is similar to being on stage in front of a large crowd. You practice your craft for months on end, then you showcase what you’ve learned and you might even be considered “one of the best.” Nothing shows quite how magic and theatre go like Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the eighth story in the Harry Potter universe which originated as a stage play.
From the West End to Broadway, many actors from the Harry Potter films have stunned audiences with their seemingly shape-shifting performances. Ralph Fiennes is a million miles away from Lord Voldemort on stage. Meanwhile Daniel Radcliffe’s gawky Harry Potter charm still lingers on stage, and it adds an extra “je ne sais quoi” to his stage performances.
Grab a brew — preferably not a potion — and look back at the Harry Potter film stars on stage.
Harry Potter film stars on stage right now
Dawn French – Fat Lady in Painting
Ever wished you could smash a glass with your singing voice? Dawn French seemingly made the impossible possible in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, playing the Fat Lady in a Painting who looked after the Gryffindor commonroom but eventually ran away. Thankfully, she’s not shyed away from the West End though. In 2018, she made her West End debut in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves at Christmastime. This year, she returns to star in Jack and the Beanstalk.
Kate Fleetwood – Mary Cattermole
While Kate Fleetwood may have played a fleeting role in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part One, her stage career has serious longevity. In recent years, she’s starred in Absolute Hell and Ugly Lies the Bone at the National Theatre and High Society at the Old Vic. In 2022, she’ll play Cruella de Vil in the world premiere of 101 Dalmatians at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.
Kathryn Hunter – Arabella Figg
Hunter plays Harry Potter’s cowardly neighbour, Arabella Figg, who also possesses wizarding powers, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The physical performer typically stars in Shakespeare plays and classic works, notably playing the title roles in King Lear and Cyrano de Bergerac. Hunter will reprise her role in King Lear at Shakespeare’s Globe in 2022.
Paul Whitehouse – Sir Cadogan
We challenge you to spot Paul Whitehouse in the Harry Potter films. He’s lurking as the ghost Sir Cadogan in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It’s easier to see Whitehouse on stage though. He’s currently playing Grandad in Only Fools and Horses: The Musical in the West End. He even created the musical with John Sullivan.
Ralph Fiennes – Lord Voldemort
Should we have put “You Know Who” instead? Regardless, Fiennes’ thrilling portrayal of the Dark Lord in the Harry Potter series scared generations of filmwatchers. He couldn’t be further away from his film character though on stage. Fiennes’ recent credits include Four Quartets, Beat the Devil and Richard III. Currently, he’s playing NYC official Robert Moses in Straight Line Crazy.
Tom Felton – Draco Malfoy
Every schoolkid has an enemy, and for Harry Potter, it came in the form of Slytherin student Draco Malfoy. Felton’s portrayal of Draco Malfoy made the bad guy seem alluring, and we’re sure to be equally captivated when Felton makes his stage debut in 2:22 A Ghost Story at the Criterion Theatre.
Harry Potter film stars on stage
Adrian Rawlins – James Potter
Sadly, we never meet James Potter while alive — he’s killed by You Know Who when Harry Potter is a baby. Adrian Rawlins plays James Potter in the Harry Potter series, but prior to appearing in the films, he starred in many stage shows. On stage, he’s been in Three Winters and Her Naked Skin at the National Theatre, The Three Sisters at the Sondheim Theatre, and The Clearing at the Bush Theatre. Alan Rickman — who played Professor Snape — even directed Rawlins in a production of Hamlet. Snape and James Potter working together in real life? How ironic.
Alan Rickman – Severus Snape
The late, great actor Alan Rickman wasn’t just a potions master as Severus Snape. He goes down in history as a a theatrical master too. The two-time Tony-nominated actor gave exceptional performances in Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Private Lives, but he was regularly treading the boards from 1976 – 2011. His final theatre credit was Seminar on Broadway in 2011. But who can forget the most theatrical performance of them all — the necklace scene in the 2003 film Love Actually, involving Emma Thompson, who plays Professor Trelawney in the Harry Potter films.
Alfred Enoch – Dean Thomas
In the Harry Potter films, Alfred Enoch plays Dean Thomas, a fellow Gryffindor student in Harry’s school year. Away from the wands, Enoch is a versatile West End actor. He made his West End debut in 2012, cast in Timon of Athens and Antigone at the National Theatre. Since then, he’s regularly appeared in Shakespeare plays, including a turn as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet at Shakespeare’s Globe in 2021. He’s also kept his Gryffindor colour too, starring in Red at Wyndham’s Theatre. And he starred in Tree at the Young Vic — thankfully the Whomping Willow wasn’t the topic of conversation.
Bill Nighy – Rufus Scrimgeour
In the Harry Potter films, Nighy plays the Minister for Magic, a character that rises through the ranks to take over the most important role in the wizarding world. The same can be said for Nighy’s theatre career too. Nighy began as an assistant stage manager for a regional production of Plaza Suite in 1969, then eight years later he performed at the National Theatre.
During his career, he’s been in eight shows at the National Theatre; notably Blue/Orange at the National and at the West End’s Duchess Theatre. Nighy also starred in Skylight in the West End and on Broadway (pictured above with Carey Mulligan on Broadway) and won a Tony for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play.
Ciarán Hinds – Aberforth Dumbledore
Ciarán Hinds only stars in one Harry Potter film as Aberforth Dumbledore, Albus Dumbledore’s half-brother. However he’s a theatre veteran who brings his decades of experience to the role. In recent years, he’s collaborated with Conor McPherson on many occasions, including The Seafarer, The Night Alive in New York and Girl from the North Country in London. Recently, he starred in Uncle Vanya in London alongside Toby Jones, who voices Dobby the elf.
Daniel Radcliffe – Harry Potter
Daniel Radcliffe is arguably one of the most famous actors worldwide thanks to playing the title role in the Harry Potter films. He’s also a theatre regular too in both London and New York, so Harry Potter fans can get their wizarding world fix in the real world — dreamy!
Radcliffe made his stage debut in 2002 in The Play What I Wrote, directed by Kenneth Branagh, who plays Gilderoy Lockhart. He then starred in Equus alongside Richard Griffiths, who plays Vernon Dursley in the movies. More recently, he’s been in Endgame in London (pictured above) and will star in Merrily We Roll Along in New York. There’s no need for a timeturner here.
David Bradley – Argus Filch
You may know David Bradley as the languid squib, Argus Filch, from all eight Harry Potter films. Prior to his first appearance in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, he regularly appeared in Shakespeare plays, including an Olivier-winning performance in King Lear at the National Theatre in 1990 (pictured above). He’s also received Olivier nominations for No Man’s Land, starring Michael Gambon who plays Professor Dumbledore, and Henry IV Part I and II.
David Tennant – Barty Crouch Jr.
David Tennant came into the Harry Potter universe in the fourth film, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as eventual Death Eater, Barty Crouch Jr. The dark, evil character proved a breakaway from his typical stage performances, as he’s usually cast in light-hearted roles. Tennant’s West End credits include the title lothario in Don Juan in Soho and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing. He’s also played the Doctor in the television series Doctor Who: Tennant’s definitely a shapeshifter.
Domhnall Gleeson – Bill Weasley
In the Harry Potter series, Gleeson plays adventurer, dragon lover and curse breaker Bill Weasley, the eldest Weasley son. Throughout the films and novels, Bill’s often travelling around the world to solve the latest mysteries. And throughout Gleeson’s career, he’s flown worldwide to perform. Gleeson made his professional debut in The Lieutenant of Inishmore at the Barbican, Dublin, and then on Broadway. Recently, he starred in Medicine at St Ann’s Warehouse, one of the first shows in New York after the pandemic.
Emma Thompson – Professor Trelawney
Thompson’s characterisation of the zany, somewhat delusional divination teacher, Professor Trelawney first began from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Thankfully though, she’s not quite as ditsy in her stage roles. Thompson made her professional debut in 1982, but has recently played Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd in London and played a guest detective in Whodunnit at the Park Theatre.
Evanna Lynch – Luna Lovegood
You may recognise Lynch as the zany, perhaps ditsy, but charming Ravenclaw student Luna Lovegood. The role will follow her forever, helped by her stage debut in the same role in A Very Potter Senior Year in 2012. On stage, her notable credits include Disco Pigs in the West End and at the Irish Repertory Theater. Find out more about the Irish Repertory Theater in New York.
Fiona Shaw – Petunia Dursley
Prior to playing the stern-faced aunt Petunia Dursley on screen, Shaw regularly appeared in West End shows. In fact, she’s a two-time Olivier-winning actress for Electra / As You Like It / The Good Person of Szechwan in 1990 and Machinal in 1994. Maybe one day Shaw will star in a play alongside her Harry Potter co-star Daniel Radcliffe?
Frances de la Tour – Madame Maxime
You may know Frances de la Tour as the Beauxbatons headmistress Madame Maxime from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The theatrical character finds herself in a relationship with Hogwarts gamekeeper Hagrid. But de la Tour is used to playing such flamboyant roles. Since joining the Royal Shakespeare Company in the 1960s, she’s often starred in productions, and has three Olivier Awards and a Tony to her name. Her most recent role was in People at the National Theatre in 2012.
Harry Melling – Dudley Dursley
Harry Melling plays Dudley Dursley, a petulant, spoilt young boy whose parents cater to his every whim. Thankfully, his stage roles break away from anything Dudley-related. He’s starred in Hand to God, a satirical play about religion and control, and King Lear in London, and also appears in The Queen’s Gambit.
Helen McCrory – Narcissa Malfoy
Helen McCrory played Draco Malfoy’s mother Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter films. But her lengthy theatre career began way before the wizarding world came alive. She started her stage career in 1990 where she played Gwendoline in The Importance of Being Earnest, later starring in Uncle Vanya, As You Like and The Last Haussmans. Her last London stage credit was in The Deep Blue Sea at the National Theatre in London in 2016. McCrory passed away in 2021.
Imelda Staunton – Dolores Umbridge
You-Know-Who may be evil, but he’s not as wicked as Dolores Umbridge. Imelda Staunton’s characterisation set the Harry Potter films alight, you wouldn’t want to meet Umbridge down a dark alley. Thankfully, Staunton is much kinder in real life, and she’s also delivered stellar theatre performances. She’s been in London productions of Sweeney Todd, Gypsy, Follies and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Staunton is also the current record-holder for the most Olivier Awards in a Best Actress in a Musical category.
Jason Isaacs – Lucius Malfoy
In the Harry Potter films, you’re probably used to Jason Isaacs wearing an ice-blonde wig to bring Lucius Malfoy to life. But on stage, he’s typically playing smart roles in thought-out plays. Isaacs’ West End credits include Angels in America in the 1990s, and hitman Ben in The Dumb Waiter.
Jessica Hynes – Mafalda Hopkirk
Rather than appearing as an onscreen character, Jessica Hynes lent her voice to Mafalda Hopkirk in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, with Sophie Thompson providing the body. Thankfully though, she’s made more of a presence on stage. The Olivier-nominated actress’ credits include The Night Heron at the Royal Court and Far Away at the Donmar Warehouse.
Jessie Cave – Lavender Brown
You may recognise Jessie Cave as the eccentric and lovable Lavender Brown from the Harry Potter films. In 2009, audiences could see her as Lavender Brown and on stage, playing Thomasina in Arcadia in London.
Jim Broadbent – Horace Slughorn
Broadbent made his stage debut in 1982 starring in Every Good Boy Deserves Favour at the Barbican. Since then, he’s trod the board across London’s greatest theatres, notably playing Scrooge in A Christmas Carol and Hans Christian Andersen in A Very Very Very Dark Matter. On screen, audiences can see Broadbent play Harry’s professor, Horace Slughorn.
Julie Walters – Molly Weasley
In the Harry Potter films, Walters plays the Weasley matriarch, Molly Weasley. She’s a bewitchingly entertaining character who is a firm favourite with Harry Potter fans. Like her character, Weasley is also a firm favourite with theatre audiences too. Her recent stage credits include The Last of the Haussmans at the National Theatre alongside fellow Harry Potter mum, Helen McCrory (who plays Narcissa Malfoy) and Mrs. Overall in Acorn Antiques: The Musical.
Kenneth Branagh – Gilderoy Lockhart
Kenneth Branagh made magic even cooler again for the Hogwarts kids as he strutted into lessons as professor Gilderoy Lockhart. By the end of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, it quickly becomes apparent that Lockhart may not know everything. But Branagh knows a great deal about theatre. In 2015, the Oscar-winning actor formed the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company as actor-manager, with shows including Red Velvet, Romeo and Juliet and The Entertainer.
Maggie Smith – Minerva McGonagall
Audiences of all ages fell in love with Maggie Smith’s compassionate characterisation of Minerva McGonagall, Gryffindor houseleader and Transfiguration teacher. Seeing her on stage in recent years is a luxury. Her recent credits include A German Life at the Bridge Theatre, but she’s also starred in the West End and on Broadway in Lettice and Lovage. In 2010, Smith received a Lifetime Achievement award at the Oliviers.
Matthew Lewis – Neville Longbottom
Lewis is best known for playing Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter films, a character that eventually does the ultimate good. His name has even become a verb to transform physically over a number of years. Lewis’ West End credits include Our Boys at the Duchess Theatre in 2012.
Michael Gambon – Professor Dumbledore
Gambon took over the role of Dumbledore from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban onwards, as Richard Harris who originated the role passed away after Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Gambon’s theatrical legacy helped him in the role: he previously starred in West End productions of No Man’s Land, All That Fall, and the 2018 Pinter at the Pinter season.
Miriam Margolyes – Pomona Sprout
The eccentric actress was introduced into the Harry Potter world as Herbology pressor, Pomona Sprout. But she’d already wormed her way into our hearts thanks to her spectacular acting skills. Margolyes originated the role of Madame Morrible in Wicked in London and played the role on Broadway. In 2019, she starred in Sydney and the Old Girl at the Park Theatre.
Pam Ferris – Aunt Marge
Ferris’ role in the Harry Potter films may be a fleeting one, but her hilarious portrayal of Aunt Marge in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban guarantees laughs every time. On stage, Ferris is an Olivier-nominated actor, best known for starring in The Entertainer. She’s also been in Closing Time at the National Theatre and Notes on Falling Leaves at the Royal Court.
Paul Ritter – Eldred Worple
Ritter played Eldred Worple, a small role in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince who is friends with Professor Slughorn. His stage roles aren’t small though. Ritter originated the Dad role in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, with further credits including The Norman Conquests and The Audience starring Helen Mirren. Ritter passed away in 2021.
Ralph Ineson – Amycus Carrow
Ineson plays Amycus Carrow, a dark wizard who served in a wizarding war and grew up to become a Death Eater. Perhaps ironically, the theme of death stayed with him in future theatre shows. Ineson starred in Hangmen at the Royal Court. Now you can catch Hangmen on Broadway with a new cast including Alfie Allen and David Threlfall.
Rhys Ifans – Xenophillius Lovegood
In the Harry Potter films, Ifans plays Xenophillius Lovegood, Luna Lovegood’s father and the character that introduces the titular wizard to the concept of the Deathly Hallows. On stage, Ifans also introduced us to new portrayals of well-known characters, notably Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol at the Old Vic.
Richard Griffiths – Vernon Dursley
In the Harry Potter films, Griffiths played the dastardly father and uncle Vernon Dursley. He tortured Harry Potter before he went off to Hogwarts, but thankfully he never make audiences squirm! Griffiths’ last West End credit came in 2012, starring in The Sunshine Boys opposite Danny DeVito. He also appeared in Equus on Broadway, coincidentally alongside Daniel Radcliffe, and also won an Olivier for The History Boys. Griffiths passed away in 2013.
Rupert Grint – Ron Weasley
Grint became a global star thanks to playing Ron Weasley in all eight Harry Potter films. He’ll forever be associated with the eight movies, but he’s also appeared in new roles on stage. Grint made his West End debut in 2013, starring in Mojo. A year later, he starred in It’s Only A Play on Broadway. Maybe Grint will return to the stage in the future? Let’s cast a wishing spell.
Sophie Thompson – Mafalda Hopkirk
Why have one Thompson sister when you can have two? While Emma Thompson played Professor Trelawney, her sister Sophie plays witch Mafalda Hopkirk alongside Jessica Hynes. Thompson’s a dazzling stage actress too, proved by her six Olivier nominations. Her recent acclaimed performances were in Present Laughter, The Importance of Being Earnest and Guys and Dolls, all in London.
Steffan Rhodri – Reg Cattermole
In the Harry Potter films, Rhodri plays Reg Cattermole, a Ministry of Magic employee. Typically, the Ministry of Magic employees conduct run-of-the-mill tricks, but that’s unlike Rhodri’s stagecraft. Rhodri’s theatre credits include The Hairy Ape at the Old Vic, James Graham’s This House and a West End production of Killer Joe starring Orlando Bloom.
Timothy Spall – Peter Pettigrew
In the first Harry Potter film, Ron Weasley casts a spell to “turn a stupid, fat rat yellow”. Little did we expect the rat to turn into a person! Peter Pettigrew appears from nowhere in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Timothy Spall plays Pettigrew in the films. Spall’s latest West End credit was The Caretaker at the Old Vic in 2016, and thankfully he didn’t give a ratty performance.
Toby Jones – Dobby the Elf
We never see Jones onscreen in the Harry Potter films. Instead, he voices Dobby, an elf who begins as a slave and is eventually freed by a sock gift. But audiences are treated to Jones’ excellent on stage performances where he leads front and centre. Jones’ recent credits include Uncle Vanya in the West End and an Olivier-winning performance in The Play What I Wrote, directed by Kenneth Branagh (who plays Gilderoy Lockhart.)
Zoë Wanamaker – Rolanda Hooch
Wanamaker plays flying instructor Rolanda Hooch in the Harry Potter films, notably teaching Potter to fly which kickstarts the young wizard’s love of Quidditch. Wanamaker’s got a prestigious theatre track record too, recently starring in Two Ladies and the Pinter season in London. Her father Sam Wanamaker also built and opened Shakespeare’s Globe in 1997, and the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse is named after him. There’s a bit of theatre magic everywhere you turn.