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What Happened To The Cast Of Harry Potter?

In the aftermath of the overwhelming success of writer J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter book series, film adaptations were an inevitability... and only a few years after the books started hitting shelves in 1997, the film series kicked off in 2001 with the release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Unsurprisingly, the films were a huge success as well, and as the books wrapped up their own journey, Warner Bros. assembled several different directors and a talented cast made up of new finds and established British actors to tell the story on the big screen.

Throughout eight films — the seventh and final book, Deathly Hallows, was split into two movies — an enormous group of actors brought the Harry Potter books to life, with young talents at the forefront who were flanked by familiar faces. In the years since the Harry Potter film franchise ended in 2011, many of the performers from the movies have continued working steadily... and sadly, some of these actors have passed away. Here's what's happened to the enormous ensemble cast of Harry Potter over the years.

Daniel Radcliffe

After a huge search to find a young British actor to play Harry Potter, producers settled on Daniel Radcliffe, who was cast in the role at just 11 years old, making him the perfect age to play Harry as he turns 11 and heads to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. A young hero with an immeasurable burden placed upon his shoulders, Harry grows up constantly battling his nemesis Voldemort — and Radcliffe, who played the part through all eight films, felt a huge sense of responsibility to his character.

Even before the Potter films came to an end, Radcliffe put in the work to pave a varied career path for himself to ensure that he wouldn't be typecast as Harry forever. Radcliffe made waves in 2007 when he landed the difficult leading role of Equus in London's West End as well as Broadway, and flexed his stage chops further in 2011 on Broadway in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Beyond that, Radcliffe has appeared in an eclectic array of films that includes 2013's Kill Your Darlings, 2016's Swiss Army Man, and 2019's Guns Akimbo, as well as the TBS series Miracle Workers.

Rupert Grint

Before Harry arrives at Hogwarts, he meets a fellow student who will prove to be one of the most important people in his life: Ron Weasley, played onscreen by Rupert Grint. The two become immediate friends, a bond further cemented when they're both sorted into Gryffindor House, and Ron proves to be an invaluable best friend and ally to Harry, whether he's helping Harry fight evil or simply cracking jokes during a difficult moment.

Also chosen from a huge group of candidates, Grint, similarly to Radcliffe, joined the Potter cast at a young age and continued in his role for a decade. Besides a few small roles during his stint as Ron, Grint's first post-Potter project came in 2013 in the anti-war film Into the White. That same year, he appeared in the biopic CBGB; a few years later, he broke into television with roles in Sick Note and Snatch (the latter of which he executive produced). Since 2019, Grint has starred in M. Night Shyamalan's Apple TV+ series Servant.

Emma Watson

Ron and Harry have an amazing friendship, but they'd be absolutely nowhere without their other best friend, Hermione Granger (Emma Watson). The smartest witch of her age, Hermione has an innate genius and intense work ethic that helps Harry and Ron out of several different scrapes, and though her adherence to rules can often prevent her from thinking outside of the box, her selflessness and loyalty helps make this a defining friendship for both boys — and where Ron is concerned, as more of a friendship, as the two eventually marry.

Along with Radcliffe and Grint, Watson joined the franchise as a child, ultimately defining the beloved character of Hermione throughout the movies. Watson's post-Potter career has proven quite successful, both as a performer and a public figure; along with roles in films like 2012's The Perks of Being a Wallflower, 2013's Bling Ring, and 2017's Beauty and the Beast, Watson serves as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations and promotes causes like literacy and gender equality. Recently, Watson appeared alongside Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, and Eliza Scanlen in director Greta Gerwig's 2019 take on Little Women, and is still acting, despite 2021 reports that she had quietly retired.

Maggie Smith

The producers of the Potter films brought together some of the most famous British actors in the business to play the franchise's adult roles — a list that includes Dame Maggie Smith, who plays Hogwarts Transfiguration professor Minerva McGonagall, a strict yet fair teacher who also serves as the head of Gryffindor House. When Harry first meets Professor McGonagall in the books, he immediately thinks she's someone you "wouldn't want to cross," and he's right — McGonagall is essentially a kind and generous woman, but she's also a formidably talented witch, which she proves time and time again, especially when she fights alongside her students during the Battle of Hogwarts.

Smith, who was anointed a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II in 1990, is one of the most venerated actresses of her era, known for her work in films like 1969's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, 1978's California Suite (each of which won her an Academy Award), 1985's A Room With a View, 2001's Gosford Park, and recent additions like 2012's The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. From 2010 to 2015, she won three Emmy Awards for her role as the imposing Dowager Countess on the popular period drama Downton Abbey.

Alan Rickman

The world of Harry Potter is inhabited by plenty of complex, layered characters, but few are as fascinating as Severus Snape, played by Alan Rickman. As Hogwarts' Potions master who harbors a serious grudge against Harry, Snape comes off as a pretty typical bad guy out of the gate. However, as it turns out, Snape has given his entire life in service to Harry due to the fact that Lily Potter, Harry's mother, was the love of his life; despite his bad attitude and emotional inflexibility, Snape was undeniably, a true hero.

Snape's death is one of the saddest in the series, and tragically, the world lost Rickman not long after his final turn as the double agent. After gaining international fame and acclaim for his role as the villain Hans Gruber in the 1988 action classic Die Hard, Rickman became one of the most in-demand actors of his era, appearing in films like 1995's Sense & Sensibility, 1999's Galaxy Quest, and 2003's Love Actually, among others.

Richard Harris

When the Harry Potter film franchise got started, legendary British actor Richard Harris was the perfect choice to play the wise, seemingly all-knowing Albus Dumbledore, who serves as the beloved headmaster of Hogwarts and eventually Harry's mentor and parental figure. A brilliant and talented wizard imbued with a healthy sense of humor, wonder, and whimsy, Dumbledore is an enigmatic and mysterious man who, though he clearly has secrets, looks out for Harry constantly during his early days at Hogwarts.

Sadly, Harris — who made a perfect Dumbledore — wasn't destined to play the part for very long. A celebrated actor known for his roles in 1992's Western Unforgiven and the 2000 action drama Gladiator, Harris passed away early in the Potter franchise's timeline in October of 2002 due to complications from Hodgkin's lymphoma, after appearing in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets that same year.

Michael Gambon

In the aftermath of Richard Harris' passing, another talented British thespian stepped up to take over as Dumbledore: Sir Michael Gambon, who made his debut in 2003's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and played the character for the remainder of the franchise. Though Gambon's Dumbledore was a little less gentle than Harris' portrayal — a particular choice in the fourth film, Goblet of Fire, caused fervor amongst fans — but Gambon took on the role with aplomb, portraying a complicated and aging man racked with self-doubt and regret internally but confident and cool on the outside.

A venerated actor of the stage and screen, Gambon — who, along with several of his Potter co-stars, was knighted — earned fame and acclaim for his work with the National Theatre, roles in movies like 1989's The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover, 2004's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and 2010's The King's Speech, and television projects like 2017's Little Women. Though he officially retired from the stage in 2015, citing memory problems, he continues to act onscreen, and Dumbledore may well be his defining role in recent years.

Tom Felton

While Harry is shopping for his Hogwarts school supplies before his first year begins, he ends up meeting one of the people who will antagonize him throughout his time at school: Draco Malfoy, played by a young Tom Felton. A spoiled and pampered bully from a wealthy, high-status family, Draco spends his time picking on Harry, Ron, and Hermione, usually flanked by his two dim-witted, burly goons Crabbe and Goyle (Jamie Waylett and Josh Herdman). Draco never really improves or makes any effort throughout the series, and by the time the Battle of Hogwarts is raging, he has fully allied himself with Voldemort and his Death Eaters, actively working against Harry.

In the years since Potter, Felton has appeared in big-budget blockbusters like 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes as well as independent films like 2012's Apparition and 2018's Ophelia. On the small screen, you might remember his performance in season three of the CW's hit Arrowverse series The Flash, as well as his leading role on YouTube Premium's Origin.

Matthew Lewis

A shy and bumbling young wizard when he arrives at Hogwarts, Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) is definitely the most unassuming new recruit in Gryffindor. However, during his time at Hogwarts, he grows into a determined and strong young wizard, focused on protecting his friends and avenging his parents, who were tortured into insanity by Voldemort's followers. By Deathly Hallows, Neville is leading the renegade group Dumbledore's Army at Hogwarts to fight Voldemort, and plays a crucial role in the Battle of Hogwarts to take down the Dark Lord.

Lewis, like his character, has experienced a pretty dramatic "glow up" since he began his role as Neville, turning into a bona fide leading man over the years. As a result, he's racked up plenty of film roles throughout his career, including in 2016's Me Before You and 2018's Terminal, as well as television appearances on British shows like Girlfriends, Ripper Street, and Happy Valley.

Bonnie Wright

Introduced in Chamber of Secrets after a very brief appearance in Sorcerer's Stone, Ron's normally vivacious and bright younger sister, Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright) is rendered more or less mute when she meets Harry, on whom she has an enormous crush. After starting at Hogwarts, Ginny is drawn into a trap laid by Lord Voldemort, and in the years that follow, she becomes much more comfortable around Harry. Not only do the two strike up a romantic relationship in Half-Blood Prince, they eventually get married and start a family after Harry finally defeats Voldemort.

Since Potter, Wright has continued working as an actor on the stage and screen, and has even stepped behind the camera from time to time. After founding the production company BonBonLumiere in 2012, Wright appeared in 2013's Before I Sleep and After the Dark, and she also reunited with several Potter colleagues for her 2012 film Separate We Come, Separate We Go and her 2018 film Medusa's Ankles.

Evanna Lynch

Harry and his friends don't meet Evanna Lynch's Luna Lovegood until the fifth book and film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but she certainly makes quite an impression with her strange clothing, outrageously weird beliefs, and dreamy, laissez-faire attitude. Despite all this, Luna becomes close with Harry, Ron, Hermione, Neville and Ginny, with their bond only intensifying after the group takes on Death Eaters at the Ministry of Magic.

Lynch, a longtime Potter fan who was a devotee of the book series, was deemed "perfect" for the part by producers after an open audition and continued to play the role until the franchise ended. When it did, Lynch stayed in the public eye but took on fewer projects, signing on for roles in 2013's GBF and 2015's My Name is Emily while taking breaks from acting to focus on her environmentally friendly makeup line, Kinder Beauty Box.

Helena Bonham Carter

One of the most accomplished and versatile actors working today, Helena Bonham Carter was the ideal choice to play the savage, cruel Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange, whose devotion to Voldemort borders on the inappropriate. After spending years in the wizard prison Azkaban, Bellatrix and her cohorts are freed during the events of Order of the Phoenix and wreak havoc on the wizarding world, terrorizing and murdering with Voldemort's full backing and support. Ultimately, Bellatrix meets a violent end during the Battle of Hogwarts, but not before she does plenty of damage.

Throughout her long and impressive career, Bonham Carter has ping-ponged between period pieces like 1985's A Room With a View and 1992's Howards End, huge hits like 1999's Fight Club, fantastical collaborations with former partner Tim Burton like 2007's Sweeney Todd and 2010's Alice in Wonderland, and biopics like 2010's The King's Speech. Bonham Carter has worked steadily for years, but one of her highest profile roles came in 2019, where she took on the role of the hard-partying Princess Margaret on Netflix's The Crown.

Ralph Fiennes

Voldemort doesn't appear in person for the first three Harry Potter films, as he hasn't yet regained human form, but thanks to some loyal servants and dark magic, he returns to his full strength in Goblet of Fire as the Triwizard Tournament comes to an end. Played by Ralph Fiennes, Voldemort is able to work behind the scenes of the wizarding world to stealthily take control for a full year before the Ministry of Magic is willing to even acknowledge that he's back, and from there, it falls on Harry to take him down and save the world at large.

It might seem crazy that Jennifer Lopez's love interest in the 2002 romantic comedy Maid in Manhattan would go on to play the Dark Lord Voldemort, but Fiennes has some serious range, and he continued showing it off after Potter ended. On the heels of Voldemort, Fiennes appeared in the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall as M, also starring in an adaptation of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations that same year. In 2014, he earned acclaim for a starring role in Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel, then reprised his role as M in Spectre in 2015, also making time to appear in projects like 2016's Hail, Caesar! In 2021, Fiennes starred alongside Carey Mulligan in the Netflix original film The Dig.

Kenneth Branagh

When it came time to cast the bombastic, over-the-top author and Hogwarts professor Gilderoy Lockhart, who makes his debut in Chamber of Secrets, there could be no other choice than Kenneth Branagh. When Lockhart takes over the position of Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts, he's quickly revealed to be completely inept, botching half of his lessons and revealing his utter lack of magical talent... despite his enormous ego.

An award-nominated actor who trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art who was named to lead the RADA in 2015, Branagh is a legend of the stage and the screen with a special affinity for Shakespeare — he's adapted several of the Bard's plays for the big screen, including 1989's Henry V and 2006's As You Like It. An accomplished director in addition to his work in front of the camera, Branagh has made time to helm projects like the first Thor film in 2011 while continuing to appear in films like 2008's Valkyrie, 2017's Dunkirk, and 2020's Tenet.

David Tennant

Some actors only appeared in one Potter movie, but while David Tennant only popped up in Goblet of Fire, he certainly makes an impression as the briefly seen but utterly disturbing Barty Crouch Jr. A devoted acolyte of Voldemort who escapes Azkaban and murders his own father to further his master's goals, Crouch Jr. masquerades as the Auror Mad-Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson) for an entire year at Hogwarts, posing as the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher until his disguise finally cracks as the Triwizard Tournament ends in tragedy and death.

By the time he appeared in Goblet of Fire, Tennant was already playing Doctor Who on the BBC, a role he continued as the Tenth Doctor until 2010. After his turn as one of the series' most beloved Doctors to date, Tennant changed tack with the gritty British crime drama Broadchurch, where he appeared opposite future Academy Award winner Olivia Colman. Marvel fans likely remember Tennant from his terrifying turn as Kilgrave in Netflix's Marvel series Jessica Jones, and he's also appeared in some recent high-profile film projects, including 2018's Mary Queen of Scots with Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan.

David Thewlis

Thanks to a curse inflicted by Voldemort, the post of Defense Against the Dark Arts ends up with a new professor in the role during every one of Harry's years at Hogwarts. During his third year, the seat is occupied by Remus Lupin (David Thewlis). Though Lupin remains tight-lipped about his personal life at first, Harry, Ron, and Hermione eventually uncover his secrets: not only was he a close personal friend of Harry's father James, but he's also a werewolf. Though Lupin leaves his job at Hogwarts after only one year, he remains close with Harry, proving invaluable in the fight against Voldemort for years to come.

When it comes to non-Potter projects, Thewlis has kept busy over the years, appearing in big films like 2011's War Horse and Anonymous, 2014's The Theory of Everything, the 2017 blockbuster Wonder Woman (as the villain, Ares), and the 2020 Netflix-distributed film I'm Thinking of Ending Things. On the small screen, Thewlis also had a high-profile role in FX's Fargo during its third season, as well as a voice role on Netflix's Big Mouth.

Brendan Gleeson

When audiences first meet Brendan Gleeson's former Auror, Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody, he's not who he seems — literally, as he's being impersonated by Death Eater Barty Crouch Jr. (David Tennant). Audiences finally get to meet him as his true self in Order of the Phoenix, but when he appears in Deathly Hallows, tragically, it's his final appearance; while transporting Harry from Privet Drive to the Weasley family home, Mad-Eye, the "consummate survivor," loses his life to save his allies.

By the time he appeared in the Potter films, Gleeson was already well known for his roles in huge movies like 1995's Braveheart, 2002's Gangs of New York, 2003's Cold Mountain, and 2004's Troy. Between Harry Potter movies, Gleeson starred in the critically beloved 2008 black comedy In Bruges alongside Colin Farrell; after the film franchise ended, he was featured in 2011's Albert Nobbs, 2014's Edge of Tomorrow, and the delightful 2017 comedy Paddington 2.

Domhnall Gleeson

There are plenty of family connections within the cast of Harry Potter — twins James and Oliver Phelps, who played the mischievous Weasley twins, come to mind — but casual fans might not know that the actor who portrays Billy Weasley is the son of Mad-Eye Moody himself, Brendan Gleeson. Domhnall Gleeson appears fleetingly in both Deathly Hallows films as the eldest Weasley sibling... but his career seriously took off from there.

Immediately after his quick turn in the Potter franchise, Gleeson appeared in leading roles in 2012's Anna Karenina adaptation and Richard Curtis' sweet 2013 romantic comedy About Time, but his biggest break was yet to come. 2015 was a pivotal role for this talented young actor, who appeared in the sci-fi thriller Ex Machina and Oscar nominees Brooklyn and The Revenant, and also made his debut in the Star Wars sequel trilogy in The Force Awakens. The younger Gleeson reprised his role in 2017's The Last Jedi and 2019's The Rise of Skywalker, and has also been seen in films such as 2017's mother!, 2018's Peter Rabbit, and 2019's The Kitchen.

Emma Thompson

In Harry's third year at Hogwarts, he and his classmates are introduced to Divination lessons, a rather murky branch of magic that requires a lot of guesswork and very little actual skill or talent. The course is led by the whifty, unreliable Professor Sybil Trelawney (Emma Thompson), whose confidence in her own skills doesn't exactly match her output, which is mostly comprised of incorrect prophecies and predictions. However, unbeknownst to Trelawney herself, she once made a very real prediction: the one that settles both Harry and Voldemort's awful fate.

Emma Thompson, one of the most well-known and influential British actors of her time, plays the silly Trelawney to perfection, almost unrecognizable in enormous glasses and piles of shawls. In other projects, Thompson, who is also an accomplished screenwriter — in 1995, she won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for her take on Austen's Sense & Sensibility, in which she also starred — has appeared in everything from 2013's Saving Mr. Banks, 2016's Bridget Jones's Baby, 2017's Beauty and the Beast, and 2019's Late Night.

Gary Oldman

When Harry first learns about Sirius Black, played by Gary Oldman, he believes that the man wanted by the entire wizarding community is a murderer who killed 13 people with a single curse... which is only made worse when Harry is led to believe that Sirius betrayed his parents and led to their death. However, as Harry gets to know the man who turns out to be his godfather, he realizes that not only has Sirius been falsely accused of his crimes, but he's a kind and generous man, which makes it all the more tragic when he's killed in front of Harry in Order of the Phoenix.

Gary Oldman was already an enormous star before Harry Potter, thanks to high-profile roles in 1993's True Romance, 1994's The Professional, and 1997's The Fifth Element and Air Force One, among many others. After competing for an Oscar in 2012 for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the veteran finally won one in 2017 for Darkest Hour for his performance as Winston Churchill.

Imelda Staunton

Voldemort may be the scariest villain in Harry Potter, but Dolores Umbridge, played by Imelda Staunton, gives him a run for his money. A devoted Ministry employee desperate to rise within the ranks, Umbridge ends up placed at Hogwarts to "keep an eye" on Dumbledore and his supposed wrongdoings, eventually succeeding him and becoming headmistress. Umbridge doesn't last long, but her cruel acts — including scarring students as punishment — leave their mark for years to come.

Staunton was well known pre-Potter thanks to her roles in 1995's Sense & Sensibility (alongside several future Potter co-stars), the 1998 Best Picture winner Shakespeare in Love, 2004's Vera Drake, and 2005's Nanny McPhee alongside Emma Thompson. Staunton joined forces with Michael Gambon and Julie Walters, two Potter alumni, in both Paddington films in 2014 and 2017, and in 2019, Staunton appeared in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil with Angelina Jolie.

Harry Melling

Every summer, Harry is forced to spend the season with his awful Muggle relatives, including his repulsive cousin Dudley Dursley (Harry Melling). A spoiled child who grows up to be a complete bully, Dudley is given anything he wants by his indulgent parents, and is a true terror for much of his life — though in the books and in a deleted scene from Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Dudley shows remorse and even a begrudging love for Harry, shocking everyone in the process.

In the years that followed, Melling became a huge star in his own right, shedding the image of Dudley Dursley and working on several high-profile projects. From 2018 to 2020, Melling appeared in three popular Netflix films — The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, The Devil All the Time, and The Old Guard — but you might know him best from his scene-stealing supporting role in the beloved 2020 Netflix miniseries The Queen's Gambit, in which his character lends his love and support to chess prodigy Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy).

Fiona Shaw

Alongside her son Dudley Dursley (Harry Melling) and her awful husband Vernon (Richard Griffiths), Petunia Dursley (Fiona Shaw) creates entirely unhappy memories for her nephew Harry despite being the last link he has to his mother and her sister, Lily Potter. For years, the Dursleys force Harry to sleep in a cupboard under the stairs and generally abuse him until he finally learns the truth about his magical blood. After that revelation, the Dursleys avoid and marginalize him as much as possible, never truly acknowledging him as a real member of the family, despite the fact that Petunia occasionally indicates that she loves and misses her late sister.

Fiona Shaw was a legend of the British stage before she took on the role of Petunia Dursley, originating roles in plays like Samuel Beckett's Happy Days, and she continued working steadily after her Potter years ended. On the big screen, Shaw appeared in films like 2011's The Tree of Life, 2018's Colette, and 2020's Enola Holmes, and also found time for television roles in popular shows like Killing Eve, Fleabag, and True Blood.