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The Untold Truth Of Lucius Malfoy From Harry Potter

The world of "Harry Potter" is filled with a range of fascinating and loveable characters. From the titular Harry to his best friends Ron and Hermione to the various allies that Harry meets on his journey through Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry, fans have a variety of characters to relate to and root for.

But not every character from the franchise is a ball of sunshine and delight. Like any good story of light versus darkness, the "Harry Potter" franchise has a lot of truly evil and despicable characters. While Lord Voldemort acts as the main big bad of the series, Lucius Malfoy presents a more grounded, relatable idea of an absolutely hateful character you badly want to punch in the face. 

Lucius is the father of Draco Malfoy, a high-ranking member of the wizarding world, a secret member of Voldemort's inner circle, and one of the most blatantly bigoted characters in children's fiction. The role of Lucius Malfoy was played by Jason Isaacs in the "Harry Potter" movies, and the actor brought his own personal experiences to enrich the onscreen version of the character. Here are some facts you might not know about the obnoxious Mr. Lucius Malfoy. 

Differences between the books and the films

The "Harry Potter" books are considerably longer than average children's books. Each book was adapted into a single movie, except the last one, split into two films. That means a lot of the material from the books did not make it into the movies, and various details and backstories for characters like Lucius Malfoy got changed for the movies. 

In the books, Lucius is a man who always appears immaculately dressed in a pinstriped suit with short hair. When actor Jason Isaacs was told about these fashion choices, he felt dissatisfied, because they were too similar to something muggles (non-magic people) would wear. "[Lucius] was a racist, a eugenicist [who hates muggles]," Jason Isaacs told Entertainment Weekly. "There's no way he would cut his hair like a Muggle, or dress like a Muggle."

Isaacs managed to convince the filmmakers to drastically change Lucius' look, giving him long blonde hair, a silver cane hiding his wand, and long flowing robes. Additionally, Lucius in the movies performs a lot more action and fight scenes than the one in the books, who is best known for using his wealthy family connections and sucking up to anyone who happens to be in power at the moment to survive. 

Jason Isaacs almost turned down the role

The "Harry Potter" movies more often than not have nailed the casting for major characters, and Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy is no exception. It is hard to imagine any other actor bringing the same level of haughty arrogance and barely-disguised ruthlessness to the character. But Isaacs almost turned down the role when it was first offered to him. 

Lucius makes his initial appearance in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets." The movie is famous for debuting the character of Gilderoy Lockhart, a hilariously inept and overconfident Hogwarts teacher. It was the role of Lockhart that Isaacs had initially auditioned for, and he was disappointed when he was offered the part of Lucius Malfoy instead. Isaacs was already scheduled to play another children's film villain Captain Hook at the time, and that was enough kid-friendly villainy for his appetite.  

"I said to my agent, 'When they call [to offer the Lucius Malfoy role], tell them, no, thank you very much, I am about to go play Captain Hook,'" Isaacs told Digital Spy, adding that he is "not playing two children's villains!" When the actor's family got wind of the news, all his nieces, nephews, and godchildren banded together to demand he take the role so they could visit the "Harry Potter" film set. Thus Isaacs was finally convinced to accept Lucius' role and grew to love playing the character. 

Lucius was more like Hermione than Draco

Lucius Malfoy and his son Draco are a spectacular case of the apple not falling far from the tree. At the start of the series, Draco is basically everything evil and arrogant in Lucius, wrapped up in a tinier package. Lucius and Draco are united in their contempt for the Muggle-born Hermione Granger, which is ironic because Lucius in his student days was a lot more like Hermione than Draco.

Through various passages in the "Harry Potter" novels, we can deduce that just like Hermione, Lucius was one of the smartest students in his year. He always got good marks and was said to be particularly talented at potion-making and Defense Against the Dark Arts. Like Hermione, Lucius kept his nose clean at school and got good enough grades to be awarded the title of prefect in his senior year. Also like Hermione (and unlike Draco), Lucius managed to become a member of the highly exclusive "Slug Club" while at school.

Even as an adult, while despising Hermione for her muggle birth, Lucius indicates he has some measure of respect for her brains when he scolds Draco for getting fewer marks than Hermione despite belonging to a pure-blood family. In some ways, Lucius is like a dark mirror of Hermione, a bright and talented student who was blinded by the "pure-blood wizard superiority" rhetoric of his age.  

Jason Isaacs improvised many scenes

Films are a completely different medium from books, and there is a lot of room for change when a novel gets adapted into a film. While bringing the book version of Lucius Malfoy to the big screen, Jason Isaacs tried to do his best to expand on the source material in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" in the few scenes the actor had to make an impression on audiences. 

Lucius' most memorable scene in "Chamber of Secrets" comes near the end when Harry tricks him into freeing Lucius' magical slave Dobby. In the book, an angry Lucius "lunges" at Harry before being stopped by Dobby. In the movie, Jason Isaacs improvised drawing his wand from his cane and attempting to curse Harry. Interestingly, Isaacs chose to try to curse Harry with the killing spell "avada kedavra," which had not been introduced in the films yet, but which had already been introduced in the fourth "Harry Potter" novel (via The Things). 

Additionally, the scene where Lucius says, "Let us hope that Mr. Potter will always be around to save the day," was also an improvisation on the part of the actor, he revealed in a behind-the-scenes interview. To his surprise, Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe responded immediately to the bit of improv with, "Don't worry, I will be." The filmmakers loved the impromptu exchange so much that they decided to keep the whole thing in the final cut of the movie. 

Becoming a fan after being cast

Today, "Harry Potter" is regarded as a once-in-a-generation cultural phenomenon that cuts across all age and gender demographics. But this reputation did not spring up overnight. In its early years, the "Harry Potter" books and movies were still regarded by many as strictly meant for children, which is how Jason Isaacs viewed the franchise when he was asked to audition to play Lucius Malfoy.

"They're children's books," the actor explained in an interview with Justin Lee Collins. "I wondered why all my friends were being slightly backward, reading children's literature." After getting the role of Lucius, Isaacs was finally given the books to read and became an overnight convert to the "Harry Potter" fandom after realizing that the series is much more complex and three-dimensional than regular stories aimed at a tween demographic.  

"[The books] were like crack," Isaacs says in the same interview. "I could not put them down. I was up all night, red-eyed [reading them]." After that, the actor says he finally understood why the whole world was going crazy over "Harry Potter," and grew to appreciate the opportunity he had been given to become a part of such a beloved world.  

Studying Draco and Snape

Lucius Malfoy was a relatively late addition to the "Harry Potter" canon. He gets mentioned in the first movie by his son Draco, who loves to brag about how rich and influential his father is. But audiences only get to see Lucius in the flesh in the second movie. That means Jason Isaacs had some homework to do by watching the first movie to prepare for playing Lucius.

Since he was going to play a bad guy, Isaacs had to get a feel for the type of villainy that exists in the world of "Harry Potter." And what better way to understand that than by watching Alan Rickman play Professor Severus Snape in the first movie? "Alan Rickman was in the first film, and utterly brilliant," Isaacs told Entertainment Weekly. "Nobody does sinister like Alan Rickman. I thought, 'If I'm going to do something, it'd better be unbelievably extreme.'" 

Another actor Isaacs watched closely was Tom Felton playing Draco to decide how to play his parent. "[Draco] is such an unpleasant little slimeball," the actor stated in an interview. "I decided I should win him some sympathy. So you see me bullying [Draco] mercilessly." And so, taking inspiration from the previous movie, Isaacs came up with a version of Lucius who was even more overtly unpleasant than Snape, and who liked to openly bully his own son.  

Lucius is very, very rich

Before audiences ever got to meet Lucius Malfoy, they knew he was an immensely wealthy and well-connected man. Because Draco would never shut up about the generational family wealth that the Malfoys enjoyed. It is an established fact that Lucius and those of his kin are among the wealthiest wizard families in Great Britain at the time of the "Harry Potter" saga. 

But the truth is, Lucius is very, very rich not just by his own franchise's standard, but by the standards of fiction in general. This was established in 2006 when Forbes magazine came up with a list of the most wealthy characters in all of fiction. There were some real heavy-hitters on the list, including the likes of the Dark Knight himself, Bruce Wayne, and the richest duck in the world, Scrooge McDuck.

Coming in hot at number 14 on the list and beating out Princess Peach for the honor is Lucius Malfoy with an estimated net worth of $1.6 billion. The magazine hints that Malfoy's wealth continues to grow through a series of unscrupulous business practices, including an "[attempt] to corner the global cauldron market," and "[selling] short more than $1 billion worth of Galleons," which caused the wizard banking system to crash.   

A long line of bad men

Lucius might be the best-known out-and-out villain from the Malfoy family, but he was far from the only one. Turns out, the Malfoy family has a history of turning out baddies named Lucius. And honestly, if you're going to name your kid something that sounds uncomfortably close to Lucifer, you can't be surprised if they turn out to be devils. 

Case in point, Lucius Malfoy I, an ancestor of the proud (very proud) Malfoy clan back in the 16th century. Just how proud was this version of Lucius? Well, according to Pottermore (via Wizarding World), Lucius considered himself important enough to ask Britain's monarch Queen Elizabeth for her hand in marriage. Even though she was a muggle, Lucius apparently felt her royal birth elevated her enough for him to overlook her non-magical blood. 

It has been alleged by historians that the queen refused to marry Lucius, and that "the queen's subsequent opposition to marriage was due to a jinx placed upon her by the thwarted Malfoy." Talk about being a vindictive ex. Centuries later, Draco's dad Lucius would try a similar stunt on an innocent female when he placed a cursed diary in little Ginny Weasley's bag, thus kickstarting the events which would eventually lead to the Chamber of Secrets being opened and Ginny almost dying. 

Sending two kids down a dark path

The "Harry Potter" franchise has no dearth of horrifically evil villains like Lord Voldemort, Fenrir Greyback, and Bellatrix Lestrange. This is why it is sometimes overlooked just how truly evil and despicable Lucius Malfoy also is, even though he manages to hide it successfully most of the time under the guise of politeness and good manners. 

The truth is for most of his life Lucius was as unforgivably, unrepentantly evil as Bellatrix or Voldemort. A case in point is the fact that he is responsible for inducting not one but two innocent children down a dark path that would lead to them becoming Death Eaters under the service of the evilest wizard of all time. One of the kids was obviously his own son Draco, whom Lucius helped turn into a Death Eater, a decision Lucius eventually comes to regret. 

The other kid was Severus Snape. At the time when Snape was a junior at Hogwarts, Malfoy was already a powerful senior. The older boy welcomed the angry, resentful Snape who came from a broken home and filled his head with all sorts of nonsense about pure-blood supremacy and the need to get rid of muggles. Through Malfoy, Snape came into contact with Voldemort and his hateful ideology and fell in with a crowd of students on track to become Death Eaters. 

A different sort of Death Eater

Despite starting out as a cartoonish, over-the-top villain, Lucius Malfoy has a pretty compelling character arc across "Harry Potter." In the beginning, Lucius was set up as a wealthy, elite, but thoroughly unscrupulous man with no principles, who sided with whoever happened to be winning at the moment.

When Voldemort is at the height of his power, Lucius joins his Death Eaters gang. He then turns his back on the organization following Voldemort's defeat, before rejoining them once again after Voldemort comes back to power in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." But things are not the same as before. Lucius starts expressing an emotion that neither Voldemort nor any other Death Eater except Snape had ever shown before: regret. 

As Lucius' entire family starts to get embroiled in Voldemort's quest for power, it becomes clear that Lucius is beginning to rethink his decision to join the Dark Lord. After Draco gets in Voldemort's crosshairs, Lucius wants nothing more than to leave all this Death Eater business behind. By the end, his experiences finally open Lucius' eyes to the fact that his family's views on pure blood supremacy might be wrong, and he becomes a marginally less terrible person as a result. For an ex-Death Eater, that is still some pretty impressive personal growth.   

Lucius is surprisingly accepting of the LGBTQ community

It would be easy to view Lucius Malfoy's bigoted behavior in the books and paint him as an out-and-out bad guy – the type of guy who would have no problem hating anyone and everyone who does not conform to his perception of being a "good wizard." But the truth is Lucius is a more tolerant guy than audiences might give him credit for in at least one respect.

In an interview with PotterCast (via Accio Quote!), J.K. Rowling revealed that homophobia is not a trait that Lucius Malfoy possesses. "I think you could be, um, gay, pure-blood, and totally without any kind of criticism from the Lucius Malfoys of the world," the author revealed, adding that to a guy like Lucius, what really matters is "blood status," and whether a person is pure-blood, half-blood, or Muggle-born. 

While audiences are well aware of Lucius' hatred and contempt for "dirty" muggle-born or half-blood wizards, even that hatred is tempered by practical concerns. Rowling once wrote on Pottermore (via Wizarding World), that despite their strong desire to remain pure-bloods, the Malfoy family does occasionally agree to marry half-bloods rather than marrying their own first cousins and other close relatives, which increases the risk of genetic defects from inbreeding.

A grim fate

By the end of the "Harry Potter" saga, Lucius Malfoy is on his last legs. He had already turned his back on wizarding society when he chose to partner up with Voldemort a second time. After the death of the Dark Lord, whatever power Lucius had wielded was stripped away, and he could no longer pretend he had been mind-controlled into following Voldemort like he had the last time.

As a result, Lucius Malfoy at the end of the saga is a mere shadow of his former self. We don't get any definite answers as to his state of being in the final "Harry Potter" novel or movie. But Jason Isaacs has some idea about what would have happened to Lucius in this new world where he is seen as a powerless has-been criminal lackey with a repulsively bigoted world view who belongs in Azkaban prison along with the rest of the defeated Death Eaters.

"I think what would've happened afterwards, is that [Lucius] would become a shell of himself," Isaacs told Syfy Wire, adding that while his money would protect him from the worst punishment, Lucius would forever lose respect in the eyes of his son and wife, and the wizarding society, in general, would "shun him and he would cower inside his mansion and drink himself into an early grave. And frankly, deserve it." 

A puzzling adoration from fans

It is no secret that "Harry Potter" has a lot of horrible male characters, but that never stopped fans from fantasizing about them obsessively. Seriously, one of the most adored male characters from the franchise is Severus Snape, a guy who joined the Death Eaters, held bigoted views, and relentlessly bullied/abused every student at Hogwarts he could get his hands on.

But Snape has that whole "misunderstood anti-hero" thing going that makes his appeal at least slightly fathomable. What is less understandable is the army of fans that Lucius Malfoy and his son Draco have. It is a fascination that series creator J.K. Rowling once admitted gets on her nerves. "It's bad boy syndrome, isn't it? It's very depressing," Rowling stated in an interview (via The Rowling Library). "One of my best friends watched the film and she said, 'You know who's really attractive?' I said, 'Who?' She said, 'Lucius Malfoy!'"

Other fans don't fantasize about getting with Lucius, but rather becoming him, as Tom Felton recalled his encounter with a fan who had legally changed his name to Lucius Malfoy and wanted to adopt him. For his part, Jason Isaacs is aware of the copious amounts of Lucius-centered fan art floating around the internet. "I've come across some of the less steamy stuff, but I've occasionally let my eyes flicker across the fully obscene material," the actor told Digital Spy. "I then quickly scrub my eyes out with Dettol!" 

A measure of redemption

When talking about any sort of redemption for a character as hateful as Lucius Malfoy, it becomes less about him turning into a full-on good guy, and more about him just becoming a slightly less scummy version of his former self. Lucius fans will be happy to know that does happen in the stage play "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child."

Set decades after the events of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the play has Draco's family in a prominent role. While Lucius plays a less important role, it is revealed that he had a hand in crafting a new, even more powerful version of the time-turner. Despite having access to the device, Lucius chooses not to use it to bring Voldemort back from the dead despite knowing he would be handsomely rewarded for the effort. Additionally, Lucius seems less eager to foist his "pure blood supremacy" ideas on Draco or his grandson Scorpius anymore. 

At least to the extent that Draco is allowed to raise his son with a different, more liberal set of beliefs, although "family gatherings were often fraught with tension [between Lucius and Draco]," as J.K. Rowling notes on Pottermore (via MTV). Compare this to Draco's childhood, when Lucius relentlessly pushed his foul beliefs on his son to the point of turning him into a Death Eater, and it becomes clear that both Lucius and Draco have finally achieved some level of maturity and mutual respect in their relationship.