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Why These Harry Potter Characters Look So Familiar

The Harry Potter franchise has become a worldwide phenomenon since the first book was released in 1997, spawning a film franchise (complete with its own spin-off series), a Tony Award-winning Broadway show, and even a theme park, proving that the magical world J.K. Rowling created is as relevant as ever.

The original movie series made stars out of Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson. As the much-beloved main trio of the stories, they served as the backbone of the entire series. Though the younger actors were unknown when they were cast, the adults who played the wizarding world's teachers, criminals, politicians, and parents were already established by the time they joined the Harry Potter universe. From Oscar winners to Star Wars stars, here's where you've seen some of the supporting Harry Potter characters before or after they walked the halls of Hogwarts.

Professor Sybill Trelawney

As the resident Divination professor, Professor Sybill Trelawney is inherently unreliable. Her branch of magic is famously imprecise and Trelawney herself is regarded as a complete fraud by most of her coworkers. Luckily, Professor Dumbledore once saw Trelawney give an actual prophecy (one concerning Harry Potter and Voldemort) and kept her on the payroll, but since she can only deliver actual predictions while she's unconscious, she spends most of her time irritating her students and predicting their violent, untimely deaths.

Trelawney herself might not be an endearing character, but the actress who plays her, Emma Thompson, is a beloved veteran British actress adored by audiences across the world. An Oscar winner for both acting (1992's Howards End) and writing (1995's Sense & Sensibility, in which she also starred), Thompson has appeared in everything from Love, Actually to Nanny McPhee, as well as being named a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II. Regarding her time on the Harry Potter set, she reportedly looks back on it fondly, calling it "great fun." As the only person in history to win Oscars for both acting and writing, Thompson is an incredibly accomplished and celebrated actress, recognizable to film audiences the world over. Whether you've seen her in The Remains of the Day or Beauty and the Beast, Thompson remains unforgettable.

Sirius Black

Harry Potter's destiny was shaped by getting orphaned at a young age. As he finds out at the age of 13, though, he still has a living godfather... but the situation is definitely tricky. Sirius Black was once best friends with Harry's late parents, and was eventually wrongfully imprisoned for betraying them (which he didn't) and for murdering their friend Peter Pettigrew (the real traitor). Spending his life on the run, Sirius does his best to act as Harry's godfather, until he is eventually killed in battle by his own cousin, Bellatrix Lestrange.

Gary Oldman, who portrayed Sirius in three movies (Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, and Order of the Phoenix), was a veteran actor long before he joined the Potter series. Still, it was after he appeared as Sirius that he won his first ever Academy Award for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in 2017's Darkest Hour. Beyond that, you might recognize Oldman from his roles in everything from The Professional to The Fifth Element, from Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead to Dracula, proving that the actor is just as adept at playing a terrifying villain as an unlikely hero.

Remus Lupin

Along with fellow "Mauraders" James Potter and Sirius Black, Remus Lupin created the legendary Marauder's Map. Years later, Lupin appears in Harry's third year at Hogwarts (during Prisoner of Azkaban) as the school's newest Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Though he is beloved by his students, his tenure is eventually blighted by the revelation (to the entire school) that Lupin is actually a werewolf who was bitten as a child. Though he can take a potion to remain a harmless wolf during his transformations, he's still a social pariah. He's shunned by most except his fellow members of the Order of the Phoenix, one of whom he even marries — Nymphadora Tonks, a clumsy yet skilled Auror. Though both of them lose their lives during the Battle of Hogwarts, their legacy lives on through Harry, who watches over their son Teddy as the boy's godfather.

Lupin was played in the films by David Thewlis, who rose to fame in the 1993 film Naked as a conspiracy theorist, a role for which he won the award for Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival. Since then, Thewlis has appeared in a wide variety of films, including The Big LebowskiThe Theory of Everything, War Horse, and Seven Years in Tibet, as well as acclaimed television series like FX's Fargo, showing his range as a blockbuster actor as well as an accomplished thespian. He recently portrayed the villain in Wonder Woman, and will soon be seen in James Cameron's Avatar sequels.

Peter Pettigrew

Seemingly the weakest and meekest member of the Marauders, Peter Pettigrew was friends with Sirius, Lupin, and James, although they didn't know what he would eventually become. As the turncoat who betrayed Lily and James and faked his own death (pinning all of this on Sirius) in order to serve Voldemort and the Death Eaters, Pettigrew is one of the series' most despicable characters. He even goes to the extreme (and gross) measure of living as the Weasley family's pet rat for a whopping 13 years.

Timothy Spall, the veteran British character cast as Pettgrew, rose to fame in 1996's Secrets & Lies, for which he was nominated for a BAFTA. However, he is likely most well known for his roles in Tim Burton's adaptation of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street or his supporting turn in Best Picture winner The King's Speech as Winston Churchill, making him the second member of the Marauders to portray the famous Prime Minister.

Aberforth Dumbledore

Even the most casual Harry Potter fans are familiar with Albus Dumbledore, the wise and powerful headmaster of Hogwarts, but his lesser-known brother, Aberforth, has a storied history of his own. Living in the shadow of his famous sibling, Aberforth (who reportedly had a bit of a weird background involving goats) was content to serve as the barman for the long-standing Hog's Head pub in Hogsmeade. One of the only people who knows the truth about the mysterious daughter of the Dumbledore family, the late Ariana, Aberforth is secretly just as caring and generous as his brother, despite his gruff exterior. He is crucial in helping the Order of the Phoenix move in and out of Hogwarts during the war against Voldemort without being detected.

Ciáran Hinds was ultimately chosen to play Aberforth in Deathly Hallows Part 2, the series' final film, and was likely recognizable to audiences thanks to his storied career. Hinds' work includes prestige films like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (alongside Gary Oldman), There Will Be Blood, and Munich, as well a voice role in Frozen and a turn in Justice League as played the villainous Steppenwolf. Beyond his extensive stage work, he has also been a mainstay of HBO series, including Rome, where he played Julius Caesar, and Game of Thrones, where he appeared as Mance Rayder, the inscrutable King Beyond the Wall.

Professor Slughorn

There are plenty of professors who work and live at Hogwarts, but few are as memorable as the portly and pompous Professor Slughorn, who, despite his kindly demeanor, can be self-serving and difficult during crucial moments. A former Potions master who returns to the school to teach in Harry's sixth year, Slughorn quickly forms a group of "elite" (according to him) students who informally become known as the "Slug Club," hosting salons for them in the hopes that he can make connections with future influential figures. Despite this, Slughorn is still a powerful and benevolent wizard, helping Harry in his quest to find the Horcruxes (albeit reluctantly) and eventually fighting for the school in the final Battle of Hogwarts, ultimately representing one of the series' only virtuous Slytherins.

Such a complex character required a perfect casting choice, and producers found that in Jim Broadbent, an Academy Award winner (for 2001's Iris) who has starred in huge television and film projects throughout his long career. While some fans might remember him as one of the leads in Mike Leigh's Topsy-Turvy, audiences might have also seen him in Moulin Rouge! (for which he won a BAFTA), Bridget Jones' Diary (as well as both of its sequels), Hot Fuzz, and even Paddington 2, among many other titles. He also joined the cast of Game of Thrones in 2017 as Archmaester Ebrose, training Sam Tarly at the Citadel.

Rufus Scrimgeour

J.K. Rowling is known for her meticulous world-building, and there are few better examples of that than the Ministry of Magic, the entity which controls all laws and governance of the wizarding world. Filled with departments that range from serious to seemingly silly to mystical, the Ministry is led by a Prime Minister-like figure called the Minister for Magic — and throughout Harry's journey, he interacts with two. For three years, Harry is familiar with Cornelius Fudge, a stubborn yet well-meaning Minister who often makes a mess out of proceedings. During the run-up to an all-out war against Voldemort, Fudge is succeeded by the tough former Auror Rufus Scrimgeour, with whom Harry finds himself immediately at odds.

Though Scrimgeour's appearances in the films are brief, only showing up in Deathly Hallows Part 1, he opens the film by assuring the wizarding community that he will keep them safe. This speech is anchored by British actor Bill Nighy's staunch performance. Nighy, despite a varied career, is likely best known to audiences around the world as the raucous and over-the-top rock star Billy Mack in Love, Actually, but he has also appeared in each film of Edgar Wright's Cornetto trilogy, as well as in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise as Davy Jones and the Underworld series as Viktor.

Bill Weasley

With seven children, it can be hard to keep tabs on the Weasley family. Particularly elusive is Bill, the oldest, coolest, and most mysterious son of the family. A curse-breaker for Gringotts, the Wizarding bank, Bill serves as yet another brother figure for Harry and is first introduced with long hair, a single earring, and an indefinable swagger that Harry can't help but admire. He remains a fervent supporter of Harry's, despite sustaining injuries (like a werewolf bite) in the fight against Voldemort. He eventually settles down with Fleur Delacour, a part-veela, part-witch who also fights alongside Harry and the Weasley family in the final conflict.

Bill only sporadically appeared in the Harry Potter films, but rounding out the Weasley family was still vital, and Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson was more than up to the job. The son of Brendan Gleeson, who appears in the franchise as the rugged Auror Mad-Eye Moody, the younger Gleeson has made a name for himself in his own right. Besides supporting and starring roles in Oscar nominees like Ex Machina, Brooklyn, and The Revenant, he also anchored Richard Curtis' About Time (playing the son of his Potter co-star Bill Nighy's character). He found even bigger fame in the Star Wars universe as General Hux. Rounding out his resume with turns in Black Mirror and films that range from Mother! (alongside his brother Brian) to Anna Karenina to Goodbye Christopher Robin, Gleeson is still a star on the rise, and undoubtedly has a bright career ahead of him.

Fleur Delacour

A formidable French witch who eventually marries Bill Weasley, Fleur Delacour is first introduced to Harry Potter audiences in Goblet of Fire during the Triwizard Tournament, representing her school, Beauxbatons. Initially a haughty and perhaps overly confident competitor, Fleur softens when Harry rescues her younger sister during a dangerous task, and she remains in touch with Harry and the Weasleys throughout the series. She's even there for Harry, Ron, and Hermione (among others) in Deathly Hallows when the trio needs a safe haven. As a part-veela, a magical creature of such beauty that men often become tongue-tied in their presence, Fleur not only stunned entire rooms, but seemed to improve the appearances of everyone around her. But don't be fooled by her looks, as Fleur is an incredibly powerful witch in her own right.

Playing a creature that represents pure beauty and light was no easy task, but producers found their perfect Fleur in Clémence Poésy, a French actress who also works as a fashion model. Poésy is likely best known to international audiences for a few specific film and television projects beyond Harry Potter. In 2008's Academy Award-nominated crime film In Bruges, Poésy appeared alongside Potter stars Ralph Fiennes and Brendan Gleeson. She returned to Oscar-worthy films with an appearance in 127 Hours alongside James Franco. Some audiences might also remember her 2010 guest role on Gossip Girl as Chuck Bass' fleeting flame Eva.


One of the most mysterious and intriguing parts of the wizarding world is the lore of magic wands. When Harry receives his first wand before starting at Hogwarts, he is told that the only place to go is Ollivander's. Initially a curious yet alarming figure to Harry, Mr. Ollivander is the first one to tell Harry that his chosen wand shares a phoenix feather core with Voldemort's, making Harry a subject of interest to Ollivander throughout the series. Eventually, he proves crucial in helping the trio discover the dangerous Elder Wand and rescue it from Voldemort's clutches.

Only Sir John Hurt could have possibly brought the necessary balance of gravitas and whimsy to a character like Ollivander, and this decorated British actor played the wandmaker in both the first and last Harry Potter films. But Ollivander was just one of many hallmarks in a legendary career. Rising to prominence in films like A Man for All Seasons and Midnight Express, Hurt gained worldwide notoriety thanks to his role in Alien, where he was a part of one of the most famous scenes in film history. Aside from key roles in films like Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy, V for Vendetta, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Hurt also appeared as the "War Doctor" in Doctor Who's 50th anniversary special, marking a truly special moment for longtime fans of both Doctor Who and British cinema.

Nymphadora Tonks

A clumsy yet formidable Auror who prefers to go by her last name only, Nymphadora Tonks is the most prominent example in the series of a Metamorphmagus, a witch or wizard who can change their appearance at will. A former Hufflepuff, Tonks is a kind, funny witch who is also a powerful Auror and a member of the Order of the Phoenix. She remains a friend and ally to Harry until her untimely death in the Battle of Hogwarts, where she perishes alongside her husband, Remus Lupin. The two leave behind a son, Teddy (named for Tonks' late father), for whom Harry acts as godfather.

Prior to appearing as Tonks in the final four films of the Harry Potter series, Natalia Tena made her big screen debut in 2002's About a Boy. Her most high-profile role outside of the Harry Potter franchise is that of Osha in Game of Thrones, joining plenty of other actors who moved between these particular universes. As a wildling who becomes an ally to Bran Stark before losing her life at the hands of the sadistic Ramsay Bolton, Tena created an endearing and likable character. After her time on Thrones came to an end, she re-teamed with her fellow fallen castmate and real-life friend Oona Chaplin (who played Talisa, Robb Stark's doomed wife) for a special Christmas episode of Black Mirror.

Molly Weasley

As the matriarch of the Weasley family, Molly Weasley serves as a mother to her seven children, a maternal figure to the orphaned Harry, a loving partner to her sometimes absent-minded husband Arthur, and a powerful member of the Order of the Phoenix. Known for her strict parenting style and her generous, open spirit, Molly is the beating heart of the Harry Potter universe, setting an example for mothers and women everywhere. In the final book of the series, the highly-skilled witch enters the Battle of Hogwarts and defeats Voldemort's right-hand woman Bellatrix Lestrange, an incredibly dangerous and powerful witch, in a duel to protect her daughter Ginny. Her willingness to sacrifice anything for her family says everything any fan needs to know about Molly Weasley.

Molly is brought to life in the films by veteran actress Dame Julie Walters, a highly decorated performer who has won everything from Golden Globes to BAFTAs during her storied career. Walters has appeared in a ton of films likely familiar to Potter fans, including both beloved Paddington movies, 2018's Mary Poppins Returns, and Billy Elliot, as well as films like Calendar Girls, Brooklyn, and more. Walters has also shown audiences a more whimsical side in Mamma Mia! and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again as Rosie Mulligan, one of Donna's (Meryl Streep) former bandmates and close friends.