×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Whatever happened to Moaning Myrtle from Harry Potter?

It's no surprise that the Harry Potter universe is chock-full of magical figures, creatures, and specters. After all, would the wizarding world really be complete without a few supernatural beings? And as Harry discovers his true heritage and begins his schooling at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he runs into all sorts of magical creatures, including a series of ghosts and poltergeists. From the Bloody Baron and Nearly-Headless Nick to the Fat Friar to the Grey Lady, Hogwarts is just crawling with the spirits of witches and wizards who haven't moved on.

One of the ghosts Harry meets at school is a dearly departed soul who won't let go. Once named Myrtle Elizabeth Warren, the ghost now known as Moaning Myrtle haunts a girl's bathroom, wailing about her untimely death on a nearly constant basis. Though Myrtle is an often irritating and perpetually ridiculous character, she helps Harry solve a few of Hogwarts' most closely held mysteries in times of struggle. But while we eventually find out happened to Myrtle, what happened to the woman who played her on-screen? Well, actress Shirley Henderson has a career that spans well beyond a bathroom at Hogwarts, and today, we're going to find out what she's been doing since her stint in Harry Potter. From Korean films to literary adaptations, here's what happened to the actress who played Moaning Myrtle.

Shirley Henderson got her start in high-profile projects

Born in Scotland, Shirley Henderson started performing at a young age, attending acting schools. At the age of 17, the fledgling actress moved to London to attend the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. After graduating, Henderson then got her start in television, appearing in the British children's drama Shadow of the Stone, where she played the leading role of Mary Lamont, a young girl on trial for alleged witchcraft. After that, she picked up some supporting roles on the small screen, including 1991's period piece miniseries Clarissa and Wish Me Luck, a dramatic series about undercover female spies during World War II, as well as an important part in 1995's Hamish MacBeth. However, her biggest break was yet to come.

In 1996, Henderson booked a huge supporting turn in Trainspotting alongside Ewan McGregor and director Danny Boyle, playing Gail, the beleaguered girlfriend of addict and con man Daniel "Spud" Murphy (Ewen Bremner). Following that, she worked with Mike Leigh and future Harry Potter co-stars Timothy Spall and Jim Broadbent on 1999's Topsy-Turvy, which gave Henderson a chance to show off her pipes, considering that all of the film's stars performed their own songs. 

She's Bridget Jones' best friend

Shirley Henderson's international profile skyrocketed after she landed a huge project based on a bestselling novel. See, in 2001, Renee Zellweger traveled across the pond and adopted a (quite good) British accent for Bridget Jones' Diary, which was based on the smash hit book by Helen Fielding that serves as a modern-day interpretation of Pride & Prejudice. As for Shirley Henderson, she joined Zellweger, Hugh Grant, and Colin Firth as Bridget's best friend Jude, who was paired up with Bridget's other best friends Shazzer (Veep's Sally Phillips) and Tom (Battlestar Galactica's James Callis).

The first film received rave reviews and remains a classic romantic comedy, and so Henderson stuck with Bridget and her story as the film continued to spawn sequels. The year 2004 saw the release of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, which never quite hit the heights of the original with fans or critics, and after both of Fielding's Bridget Jones novels had been adapted, it seemed like the end of the road for the plucky British heroine. However, in 2016, Bridget's story made a grand return with Bridget Jones' Baby, which saw Zellweger, Firth, and Henderson return, while also adding Patrick Dempsey to the cast and breathing new life into the beloved series.

She made two appearances as Moaning Myrtle

When you rewatch the eight epic Harry Potter films, it probably seems like every single actor in the United Kingdom joined the cast, including Henderson. The film series launched in 2001 with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and Henderson officially joined the series in its second outing, 2002's Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, as the ghost known as Moaning Myrtle.

Moaning Myrtle, who died at Hogwarts years before Harry started school, still haunts the bathroom where she died, exacting revenge on her school bullies whenever she can find time to take a break from sobbing in the bathroom and living in the Hogwarts toilets. Despite her difficult nature, she actually proves useful during her interactions with Harry. In Chamber of Secrets, Harry eventually discovers that the mythical monster of Slytherin house, a basilisk, is housed in a secret chamber directly beneath Myrtle's bathroom (which is how she died), and in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, she assists Harry as he tries to decipher one of his tasks for the multi-school Triwizard Tournament, even though she does so while spying on a 14-year-old while he takes a bath. Perhaps the weirdest part of Henderson's Potter role is that she was 37 years old when she first played the 14-year-old ghost of Myrtle, but regardless, she fit the role perfectly.

Henderson supported royalty in Marie Antoinette

Immediately after exiting the Harry Potter franchise in 2005, Shirley Henderson found herself in a project fit for royalty — Sofia Coppola's avant-garde Marie Antoinette. The 2006 film stars Kirsten Dunst as the titular, doomed queen of France, who enjoys a life of pure excess before meeting a particularly grisly end during the uprisings of the French Revolution. The film, which ultimately won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design, also features Henderson as Madame Sophie, the daughter of Louis XV — and therefore the aunt of King Louis XVI (played in the film by Jason Schwartzman) — who's frequently at odds with Marie Antoinette and constantly plotting against the hapless queen throughout her reign. Madame Sophie might not have been a leading role, but it was an important one, proving that Henderson was the perfect utility player in everything from indie films to period pieces to blockbusters.

She lived for a day with Miss Pettigrew

After Harry Potter, Henderson continued her prestigious streak with her next international project, one based on a classic 1938 novel by British writer Winifred Watson. In Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, released in 2008, Academy Award-winning actress Frances McDormand stars as Guinevere Pettigrew, an uptight and troubled woman who has trouble holding a job in London shortly before World War II. Before long, she meets Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams), an American socialite, singer, and actress who invites Guinevere into her home as a social secretary. However, when Guinevere discovers that Delysia is in relationships with three separate men, the situation takes a bit of a turn.

In the film, Henderson plays the crucial supporting role of Edythe Dubarry, a trendsetter and fashion icon who throws lavish parties and is deeply involved with Joe Bloomfield (Ciaran Hinds, who also appeared in the Potter films as Aberforth Dumbledore), which is particularly complicated thanks to Guinevere's crush on Joe. Thanks to a small yet talented cast and positive reviews, Miss Pettigrew continued Henderson's winning streak after leaving J.K. Rowling's wizarding world.

She went from J.K. Rowling to Leo Tolstoy

Classic works of literature are always ripe for adaptation, and in 2012, director Joe Wright, who'd previously worked on adaptations like Atonement and Pride & Prejudice, embarked on his third collaboration with Keira Knightley when he directed Leo Tolstoy's epic masterpiece, Anna Karenina. With a screenplay by venerated writer Tom Stoppard, the film retells the timeless story of the aristocratic socialite Anna Karenina (Knightley), who quietly endures a loveless marriage with her husband Alexei Karenin (Jude Law) until she falls in love and begins an affair with the handsome and enigmatic Count Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). In the aftermath, she ends up shunned from society, and when she finds herself backed into a corner, Anna takes some pretty drastic steps.

So what about Shirley Henderson? Well, she plays a small but crucial role as Meme Kartasov, a vengeful society woman horrified to be in Anna's presence, and though her role in the film is minimal, it turns out to be an extremely important factor in Anna's eventual downfall.

Shirley Henderson returned to one of her signature films

Plenty of actors jump at the chance to return to the films and worlds that brought them fame and acclaim, and Henderson is no exception. Way back in 2009, director Danny Boyle, on the heels of winning an Academy Award for directing for Slumdog Millionaire, announced that he wanted to make a sequel to his breakout film, Trainspotting. And over the next couple of years, the rumors continued to swirl as the movie's stars made occasional comments about the possibility of a Trainspotting part two. Originally, Boyle said he wanted to base the film on Porno, the literary sequel to Irving Welsh's Trainspotting novel, as well as wait for the film's original cast to age appropriately so that he could set the story way after the events of the first movie. 

Ultimately, T2 was officially greenlit in 2015 and released in 2016, featuring all of the main members of the original cast. Henderson returned as Gail, who married her boyfriend from the original film, Spud (Ewen Bremner), and had a child with him. However, when Spud's addiction problems take hold, Gail and her son leave him to figure out his own recovery, with some seriously dark results. Renton (Ewan McGregor) tries to help the situation, and after the group steals a large sum of money, Spud gives his share to Gail, and as the film ends, the family finally reunites, giving Gail's story a deservedly optimistic ending.

Moaning Myrtle traded Hogwarts for Netflix

With the streaming giants like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime looming over the film and television industry as they produce hit shows and acclaimed films (and even win major awards), it stands to reason that established actors would want to get involved in the world of streaming. And Henderson joined the revolution in 2017, teaming up with an acclaimed director for an ambitious project.

Henderson played a pivotal role in Netflix's Okja, directed by auteur Bong Joon-Ho (Parasite, Snowpiercer). The film is about a young girl and her pet pig, whose DNA has been modified to make it completely different and unique. The cast paired established South Korean actors like Byun Hee-bong, Yoon Je-moon, and Choi Woo-shik with Hollywood stars like Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Lily Collins, and Steven Yeun. And, of course, there's Shirely Henderson in a literal supporting role as the assistant to Swinton's flighty CEO, Lucy Mirando. Besides being one of Netflix's most critically praised films, the movie also gave Henderson another chance to prove her worth in front of new, international audiences. 

She played the wife of a famous comedian

Shirley Henderson continued her strong run in prestigious projects in 2018 when she appeared against an Academy Award-nominated actor in a film that chronicled one of history's most legendary comic talents. In Stan & Ollie, which stars Oscar nominee John C. Reilly as Oliver Hardy and Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel (who also has Oscar nominations for non-actor awards), the film tells the decades-spanning story of two friends who form a comedic duo and struggle through personal and professional problems on their path to international stardom. As the pair try to get a film made amidst a tumultuous tour throughout the United Kingdom, and as Hardy's health hits a serious downward spiral, the two eventually hold a successful show in Ireland and work together until Hardy's untimely death.

The roles of Laurel and Hardy's wives required two talented actresses who wouldn't be diminished to simple background players, and Stan & Ollie found that in Henderson, who plays Lucille Hardy, and Nina Arianda, a Broadway star who plays Ida Kitaeva Laurel. During a pivotal scene where Laurel and Hardy argue at a party, during which Hardy angrily tells Laurel that the two aren't actually friends but only together for comedic convenience, Ida and Lucille argue as well, giving their roles just as much heft as the film's male leads. 

She's had leading roles in serious British dramas

Clearly, Shirley Henderson spent years making a name for herself in big international films, but she always found time to return home and work in highly regarded British television dramas, most of which have centered around crime and mysteries.

Henderson kicked off this trend with 2013's Southcliffe, where she starred as local Claire Salter, a woman in the midst of a breakdown. Working alongside stars like Game of Thrones' Joe Dempsie and Black Mirror's Rory Kinnear as inhabitants of a small town grappling with a series of violent shootings, the show was a success for Henderson, eventually earning her a BAFTA nomination for the role. After that, she took on a supporting part in the second series of BBC One's Happy Valley, as a teaching assistant with a dark past and plenty of secrets. She followed that up by re-teaming with her Potter co-star Rupert Grint for 2016's The ABC Murders, an adaptation of an Agatha Christie starring her legendary leading detective Hercule Poirot (played by John Malkovich). 

Shirley Henderson has been working in theater for her entire career

Despite plenty of huge projects, blockbusters, and international recognition, Shirley Henderson's true home is on the stage, and throughout her career, she's always made time to return to different theater projects.

Henderson has appeared in classics and new plays for decades, including Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale in 1988, Federico Garcia Lorca's The House of Bernarda Alba, and Noel Coward's Girl from the North Country, with her performances spread across the United Kingdom from Glasgow to London. Girl from the North Country proved particularly successful for Henderson, who walked away with an Olivier Award (the British equivalent of a Tony Award) for her starring role as Elizabeth Laine, the titular "girl." The Moaning Myrtle actress certainly keeps her film slate full, racking up an impressive number of credits over the years, but after getting her start in theater school in London, it seems as if the stage is where her artistic heart truly belongs.