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Actors You Forgot Were In The Harry Potter Movies

Beginning with "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" in 2001, J.K. Rowling's epic saga of a boy wizard and his fight to stop an evil dark lord from rising out of the grave has become well known for turning many of its young stars into household names. Many members of the principal cast of unknown child actors, including first-time performers Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, have gone on to become even bigger stars in their own right.

But the "Harry Potter" film series also had one of the largest and most impressive casts of any movie franchise before or since, with any number of seasoned dramatic actors joining Hogwarts each year. Its roster included everyone from global megastars, like Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix LeStrange and Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort, to well-regarded English character actors, like Jim Broadbent as Horace Slughorn and David Bradley as Argus Filch. Across the eight films that comprise the series, it seemed like every major actor in the British isles has appeared somewhere in the Wizarding World.

Many actors' appearances in the series, however, have been largely forgotten. Whether it's because it was a small part in a film two decades old, or because it's a newer star who appeared in the series before they came to fame, keep scrolling for a list of actors you may not remember having appeared in the "Harry Potter" saga.

Rhys Ifans

Though he may not be recognizable to some, thanks to a platinum blonde wig and some eccentric attire, actor Rhys Ifans joined the "Harry Potter" franchise in 2010 in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I" as Luna Lovegood's father, Xenophilius Lovegood. First appearing as a supposed friend of Harry's, it's Lovegood who the young wizard visits when he is looking for answers to the myth of the Deathly Hallows. Recognizing the legend's unusual symbol as the same one that appears on the elder Lovegood's mysterious pendant, Harry seeks answers. Though he's happy to fill Harry in on the mythology surrounding the Deathly Hallows, the elder Lovegood turns on Harry out of desperation to save his daughter, who's been abducted by the Death Eaters. Lovegood uses the opportunity to alert Voldemort and his allies of the whereabouts of the boy wizard and his friends, with the Dementors arriving to consume Harry, Ron, and Hermione. 

After playing the manic Lovegood, Ifans took on the role of Curt Connors and his alter ego The Lizard in the 2012 reboot, "The Amazing Spider-Man." On television, meanwhile, he portrayed Sherlock Holmes' brother Mycroft Holmes on the Johnny Lee Miller drama "Elementary," the Americanized version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's literary classics. The actor more recently reunited with Voldemort actor Ralph Fiennes in the action spy prequel "The King's Man," and returned to the role of The Lizard for the epic crossover film, "Spider-Man: No Way Home."

Regé-Jean Page

In the first of a few "before they were stars" entries on this list, Regé-Jean Page might not have made it on here just a couple of years ago, before his breakout role in the highly acclaimed Netflix original series "Bridgerton." There he stars as Simon Bassett, the Duke of Hastings, and best friend to series star Anthony, the oldest son in the Bridgerton family. But a decade before his star-making run on the streaming drama, Page appeared in "Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part I" as young wizard Cormac McLaggen, a member of Hermione's Gryffindor house. In the film he's seen at the wedding of Bill and Fleur

It's a background role, a blink-and-miss-it cameo at best, but it's fun to discover a younger version of a big new star — years before he rose to fame — casually strutting around in the background of one of the decade's biggest movies. He has no lines, and goes uncredited, and you won't find it on his IMDb page; he appears in just a few seconds of footage, but it's still one of the most delightful Easter egg appearances you're likely to find on a rewatch of the film series, especially if you're a "Bridgerton" fan. Having recently announced his departure from the popular show, he's joined the cast of the big-budget adaptation of "Dungeons and Dragons," due out in 2023, that also stars Chris Pine, Hugh Grant, and Sophie Lillis. 

Warwick Davis

Star of the fantasy epic "Willow," Warwick Davis is more associated with the "Star Wars" franchise than anything else. As the Ewok Wicket, Davis made his big screen debut at the tender of age of 13, and has continually returned to the saga where he's played more than a half-dozen characters, from "Return of the Jedi" all the way through "The Rise of Skywalker." 

While he wouldn't inhabit quite as many characters in the "Harry Potter" series, Davis has managed to play two key roles in the Wizarding World, beginning with Professer Flitwick in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," who would return in nearly ever subsequent installment. He also performed the voice of Griphook in the opening entry, and returned in the final two films to both voice and play the slimy goblin banker.

As Griphook, Davis played a crucial part in Harry Potter's victory over Voldemort in the final film, helping him break into Gringott's bank in order to steal the horcrux that Belatrix LeStrange had squirreled away. Fans may not have recognized him under his heavy makeup, but the actor would become just as important to the magical franchise as he has been to "Star Wars." Though his part in "Harry Potter" may be over, he's not done with the world of fantasy just yet, as he will reprise his role as "Willow" in a new Disney+ series in 2022.

Michelle Fairley

With a long and varied career stretching back to the late 1980s, Fairley is a journeywoman actress who had appeared in dozens of parts but who had come to only modest fame, having rarely appeared in more than a handful of episodes of any series. But in 2010 she would appear briefly in the first part of the final "Harry Potter" story, "The Deathly Hallows, Part I," as the muggle mother of Emma Watson's Hermione. It was another blink-and-miss-it cameo, but a crucial scene nonetheless. In a heartbreaking moment at the start of the film that sets the stage for the emotional journey to follow, we see Hermione forced to wipe her parents' memories of her existence to keep them safe in the face of the Death Eaters' war on the Wizarding World and beyond.

It was just after her brief work in "Harry Potter" that Fairley would snag an important part in a new fantasy series, starring opposite actor Sean Bean as Ned Stark's wife Catelyn on HBO's "Game of Thrones." She would ultimately appear in more than two dozen episodes, and subsequently land important recurring parts in hit shows like "24" and "Suits."

Kenneth Branagh

Though Kenneth Branagh was already a well-regarded actor and world-class director when he took on the role of Gilderoy Lockhart in "Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets," he was probably unknown to most of the children watching in the audience upon its release in 2002. But as the pompous, egotistical wizard prone to hyperbole, he replaced Professor Quirinus Quirrell as Hogwarts' Defense Against The Dark Arts teacher in the first "Harry Potter" sequels, after Quirrell was revealed to be possessed by Lord Voldemort. While Lockhart does know a thing or two, it's clear he's not the talented wizard that Quirrell was, nor is he truly as gifted as he claims, as most of the stories of his greatness are clearly exaggerated. 

Prior to his appearance in "The Chamber of Secrets," Branagh was perhaps best known for having directed and starred in several Hollywood adaptations of literary classics like "Henry V," "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" and "Hamlet." After "Harry Potter," his career would take off even more, as he directed and starred in the BBC drama "Wallander" for four seasons and directed "Thor," the big screen debut of the famous comic book god of thunder, for Marvel Studios in 2011. He also grabbed the starring role of Agatha Christie's fictional Belgian detective Hercule Poirot in "Murder On The Orient Express" and its upcoming sequel, "Death on The Nile," both of which he's directed.

Robert Pattinson

Robert Pattinson may be starting a new big franchise in 2022 as he takes on the role of Bruce Wayne and the Caped Crusader himself in Matt Reeves' "The Batman," but his first credited film role was also franchise fare. In "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," the young future star of the "Twilight" saga appeared as Cedric Diggory, Harry Potter's most intimidating rival in the Tri-Wizard Tournament. While Diggory at first antagonized Potter for being the youngest of the participants, Harry eventually helped him anyway by telling him about the danger they faced in the first task of the tournament. Cedric returned the favor when Potter struggled with the second task, giving him the clue he needed to complete it. In the final task, Harry and Cedric worked together to claim the Tri-Wizard Cup before Diggory was killed by Voldemort in his first physical appearance.

After appearing in "The Goblet of Fire," Pattinson played Salvador Dali in "Little Ashes" before taking on his breakthrough role as Edward in the "Twilight" movies. Following his stint in teen dramas, the actor would make his case as a serious dramatic performer in movies like "The Lost City of Z," Christopher Nolan's "Tenet" and Robert Eggers' "The Lighthouse" before being cast as the newest version of Bruce Wayne. He's come a long way since his teen heartthrob days, and from "Tenet" to "The Batman," Pattinson has become one of Hollywood's newest A-listers.

John Cleese

Comedy legend and British institution John Cleese — founding member of sketch comedy outfit Monty Python — wasn't exactly unknown or unrecognizable when he appeared in the "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" as Nearly-Headless Nick, the whimsical ghost of House Gryffindor. As the slightly decapitated Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, Cleese was well-known to have appeared in the series at the time. But since his part was limited to a small role in only the first two films nearly 20 years ago, you'd be forgiven for forgetting he was there. 

As he played a sillier, more kid-friendly character — despite his nasty nickname — Nearly-Headless Nick would quickly disappear from the series on-screen as the franchise grew darker and more grim over subsequent installments. For those fans who may have been children when the early films were released, and who only discovered the Monty Python actor's long body of work later as they grew older, learning that Cleese played the role has proven to be a delightful moment.

David Tennant

Better known for his three-season stint as the titular Doctor in the BBC's long-running science fiction franchise "Doctor Who," David Tennant appeared in the other iconic British franchise, "Harry Potter," as Barty Crouch, Jr. The villainous son of Barty Crouch Sr., the Head of the Department of International Magical Co-Operation, the younger, more sinister Mr. Crouch was a devout follower of Voldemort who had tortured the parents of Neville Longbottom. As revealed in "Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire," he used the Cruciatus Curse to drive them insane.

Eventually Crouch would hide away in the guise of Mad Eye Moody and pose as the highly respected Hogwarts professor to manipulate events around Harry Potter, in a bid to put the young wizard before Voldemort to face his doom. After murdering his own father, Crouch Jr. would be exposed by Dumbledore and Snape and returned to Azkaban prison from which he had escaped. 

It wasn't long after "The Goblet of Fire" that Tennant would secure the coveted and iconic role of the 10th Doctor, succeeding Christopher Eccleston after his departure from the series in 2005. From there he skyrocketed to international fame, taking lead roles in the BBC's crime drama "Broadchurch," as the villain Killgrave in Marvel's "Jessica Jones" for Netflix, and as the voice of Scrooge McDuck in the animated revival of "Duck Tales."

Domnhall Gleeson

The Weasley family was a crucial part of the "Harry Potter" saga, with young Ron playing a lead role as Harry's best friend, and his two twin brothers Fred and George joining the group first as fellow Hogwarts students, and later as friends and defenders of Harry as well. Their father Septimus Weasley, who begins as a funny, bumbling dad, is later shown as a formidable wizard and ally of the Potter faction later in the series too. But it's in the final chapter, "The Deathly Hallows," that we finally meet the as-yet-unseen older Weasley brother, Bill Weasley, who returns from abroad to join the fight against Voldemort. Playing Bill was a young, little-known actor named Domnhall Gleeson, who would go on to star in the sci-fi thriller "Ex Machina," and join the "Star Wars" franchise as First Order General Hux in Disney's sequel trilogy. 

Though not the first actor to play the part, as Bill was played briefly by another actor in "The Prisoner of Azkaban," Gleeson took over the role for the last two films. In "The Deathly Hallows," Domnhall also got to work alongside his real-life father, Brendan Gleeson. The latter played disgruntled wizard Mad Eye Moody, who gives his life when confronted by Voldemort during an attempt to hide Harry Potter. 

Emma Thompson

She may be better known for classic literary dramas like "Sense and Sensibility" (for which she also wrote the screenplay) and romantic comedies like "Love Actually," but award-winning English actress and screenwriter Emma Thompson first dipped her toe into the world of fantasy with "Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban." Despite her fame and prolific career, you'd be forgiven for not realizing that Emma Thompson was ever a part of the "Harry Potter" franchise: she didn't have a major role, and was practically unrecognizable. Decked out in a massive, frizzy wig, her eyes buried under Coke-bottle eyeglasses, and wearing false teeth, she hardly resembled the other parts she had become known for.

Appearing in three of the "Harry Potter" films as eccentric, oddball Professor Sybill Trelawney, Thompson would go on to perform in more films in the fantasy genre, including as the titular character in the "Nanny McPhee" series and as Agent O in "Men In Black 3" and "Men In Black International." She even reteamed with Emma Watson for the live-action version of Disney's "Beauty And The Beast" where she voiced Mrs. Potts. More recently Thompson appeared in another live-action Disney adaptation, "Cruella," as fashion mogul Baroness von Hellman.

John Hurt

John Hurt is the second actor on this list who would go on to play an incarnation of British icon The Doctor on "Doctor Who," and like David Tennant, it wasn't long after his final appearance in "Harry Potter" that he joined the BBC sci-fi series. Hurt was part of the Wizarding World from the very beginning though, with a small role in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" as a wand shop owner in Diagon Alley. He was absent for most of the other movies but returned in the final story, making his appearances a nice bookend to the film series. As Garrick Ollivander, he played the person responsible for matching Harry Potter with his famous wand. In his return in the final two films, he is among those imprisoned at Malfoy Manor, abducted by Voldemort to help him obtain a new wand that can defeat the bespectacled boy.

Hurt was already a legendary figure when he joined the Wizarding World, having rose to prominence in the 1970s when he starred as Roman Emperor Caligula in the BBC's "I, Claudius" and played the lead role in the TV mini-series adaptation of "Crime and Punishment." He would also voice Aragorn in Ralph Bakshi's animated "The Lord of The Rings," while his notable later credits included major roles in "Alien" (it's his chest that the first xenomorph bursts out of), "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," Guillermo del Toro's "Hellboy" and the dystopian sci-fi epic "Snowpiercer."

Verne Troyer

Another actor who appeared under heavy prosthetic makeup, "Austin Powers" actor Verne Troyer played the part of the Gringotts banker Griphook in "Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone." Of course you might not have known it, as the character's voice was ultimately dubbed over by Warwick Davis, who also played Griphook, as well as Professor Flitwick and another unnamed goblin. 

Breaking "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling's longstanding rule of an all-British cast, the diminutive Troyer was the only American to have a notable role in the entire saga. But as Griphook's role grew even bigger in later films, Troyer would be replaced in the role altogether by the same man who performed the voice of Griphook in the first film, Warwick Davis. In behind-the-scenes interviews with Davis during the production of "The Deathly Hallows," Davis revealed that he had campaigned to take over the physical performance. Whether they were already looking for a replacement has never been made clear, but perhaps an American playing a major character in the English production was just too much for creator Rowling.