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The Surprising Connections Between Harry Potter And Doctor Who

Encompassing a single story told across a total of eight feature films, there are few movie sagas as vast as "Harry Potter." Centered on a young boy wizard, the films follow him and his friends Ron and Hermione as they grow up as students at Hogwarts School Of Witchcraft And Wizardry, all while evil forces seek to resurrect the ancient dark lord called Voldemort. With the help of his friends and other allies, Harry proves to be the key to defeating the dark lord, but it will take the efforts of the entire Wizarding World to stop the mad villain's reign of terror from overtaking the planet. 

While "Harry Potter" may be Hollywood's biggest fantasy franchise, "Doctor Who" can stake a claim as one of the biggest and longest-running science fiction properties on television. Launched in 1963, it's seen more than a dozen actors inhabit the role of "The Doctor" — a nearly immortal hero who travels space and time in a ship disguised to look like an old fashioned police box.

While both are British icons, you still might be surprised by the number of actors who have appeared in both franchises. From lead roles to small bit parts, we've found them all and put together a list of all of the actors that connect the fantasy and sci-fi worlds of "Harry Potter" and "Doctor Who."

John Cleese

A founding member of the groundbreaking British comedy troupe Monty Python's Flying Circus, comedian John Cleese is also well-known for playing the gadget-master Q in the 1990s James Bond films starring Pierce Brosnan. In 2001 though, Cleese would turn heads with a small role in the "Harry Potter" franchise when he took the part of Nearly-Headless Nick, a friendly apparition that lived within Hogwarts. Real name Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, he was executed in a decapitation that didn't go so smoothly, and in the films served as the house ghost for Gryffindor, helping to guide the incoming young wizards. Though he'd appear in the first two films, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," his part would not figure into any further installments.

Of course his two appearances in the "Harry Potter" series still beat his even briefer role in "Doctor Who," where he played a small part in a single episode in 1979. In the installment, the fourth episode of the serial "City Of Death," Cleese turned up as an unnamed art gallery patron. But you might not know it was him, because he was listed in the episode credits only as "Kim Bread," apparently at his own request, not looking for big fame or notoriety for the guest spot.

Warwick Davis

Although actor Warwick Davis may be best known for his many roles in the "Star Wars" franchise, he's also been part of both "Doctor Who" and "Harry Potter." While he may be able to count more than a half dozen roles to his credit in a galaxy far, far away, he's not been limited to a single role in the Wizarding World either. There he made his debut in the series' very first film, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," playing two roles: that of an unnamed goblin banker, and as pug-nosed Professor Flitwick. He returned in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" as Flitwick, and played an anonymous wizard in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban." He would continue portraying Flitwick for the remainder of the series, and also took over the role of the goblin Griphook from "Austin Powers" star Verne Troyer in the final two films.

Over on the BBC, Warwick joined the "Doctor Who" franchise in 2013 when he starred opposite 11th Doctor Matt Smith as Ludens Nimrod Kendrick Cord Longstaff XLI — otherwise known as Porridge. In the episode "Nightmare In Silver," Porridge was a lonely chess-playing Emperor in disguise who aided The Doctor and Clara Oswald in wiping out an invading army of Cybermen.

Mark Williams

British character actor Mark Williams hit the big time when he joined "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" as Arthur Weasley, the father of Ron Weasley, played by Rupert Grint. He returned in subsequent films in the series where he was revealed as a key member of Sirius Black's Order of the Phoenix, a collection of wizards assembled to hold back the forces of Voldemort and prevent the dark lord's resurrection. Arthur Weasley also played a major role in the war with Voldemort in both parts of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," thankfully surviving the battle to see his daughter Ginny marry Harry Potter himself and eventually becoming a grandfather.

Mark Williams played another character of grand parentage in "Doctor Who" when he took on the role of the similarly named Brian Williams. The father of The Doctor's companion Rory Williams, he too joined the family of the franchise's iconic title character when Rory and Amy's daughter grew up to become River Song, eventual bride of The Doctor. Rory's father appeared in two episodes of the series, debuting in "The Power Of Three" and later co-starring in "Dinosaurs On A Spaceship," where he went adventuring with his son and The Doctor aboard an alien spacecraft.

David Tennant

When young star David Tennant was still largely unknown, he appeared in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," the fourth film in the series, as Barty Crouch Jr., whose father served as a key member of the Ministry of Magic. Secretly serving the dark lord Voldemort, it's revealed at the conclusion of the film that Barty had been hiding in plain sight in the guise of Mad Eye Moody, who he'd imprisoned in an old trunk. Once revealed, his presence threw Hogwarts into chaos, sparking an escalation in tensions throughout the Wizarding World. 

Not long after his appearance in "Goblet Of Fire," Tennant snagged his career-defining role. Cast by showrunner Russell T. Davies, Tennant came on board "Doctor Who" to replace outgoing series star Christopher Eccleston. As the 10th Doctor, he'd go on to star in three full series and a number of specials, leading the series through perhaps its biggest explosion in popularity. Tennant would become not just an iconic Doctor, but a sex symbol as well. Departing in 2010, he went on to star in the BBC drama "Broadchurch" and joined the Marvel universe as the villainous Killgrave in the Netflix original series "Jessica Jones." Perhaps coincidentally, he eventually married actress Georgia Moffett, daughter of former "Doctor Who" star Peter Davison — making him not just the Doctor, but the Doctor's son-in-law as well!

Roger Lloyd Pack

Roger Lloyd Pack's part in the "Harry Potter" series also came in "Goblet Of Fire," playing the father of criminal Barty Crouch Jr. The senior Crouch was an influential figure who served for years in the Ministry of Magic, and was responsible for punishing criminal wizards. Serving as the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement during the First Wizarding War, Crouch Sr. was highly respected within the Wizarding World for both his even hand and fierceness in punishing offenders. That's why it came as a stunning shock when it was revealed that his own son — played by David Tennant — had joined the forces of Voldemort.

Following his appearance in "Harry Potter," Pack joined forces with Tennant himself on "Doctor Who" and appeared opposite the 10th Doctor in the episodes "Rise Of The Cybermen" and "The Age Of Steel." There he played the big bad, industrialist John Lumic, who hailed from a parallel universe. It was Lumic's company Cybus Industries that was responsible for some of the most revolutionary technology in his world, including the EarPod, which was designed to turn humans into Cybermen. Eventually Lumic created the first of the robotic race and became their first leader, the Cyber Controller.

Zoe Wanamaker

From "Inspector Morse" to "Mr. Selfridge" to "Poirot," Zoe Wanamaker has done it all on British television, and in 2001 she joined the world of blockbuster Hollywood features with her role as Madam Hooch in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." Hooch was the Hogwarts flying instructor who trained young wizards on the use of their broomsticks and the art of aerial wizardry. She also served as a Quidditch trainer and the referee who officiated the matches in the wizarding sport, a fictional mix between lacrosse and football played on flying broomsticks. Not a favorite teacher among her students, Hooch was stern, unforgiving, but also caring — a combination portrayed expertly by Wanamaker.

Her role in "Doctor Who" was quite a different one from Hooch. In fact, Wanamaker's character was barely more than a face, as she played a "former" human named Lady Cassandra, who lived in the year 5,000,000,000 when the Earth was on the verge of its destruction due to the expansion of the Sun. Ancient in age, she had been kept alive by a series of more than 700 plastic surgeries, leaving her no more than a visage stretched between two poles — not quite a broom-riding wizard.

Julian Glover

Though you might not realize it, you've probably seen Julian Glover before, as the actor has appeared in some of the most well-known blockbusters in Hollywood history. This includes his part as antagonist Walter Donovan in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," as General Veers in "The Empire Strikes Back," and as Aristotle Kristatos in the James Bond film "For Your Eyes Only." More recently, he was seen in "Game of Thrones" as Grand Maester Pycelle. But whether you realized it or not, he also appeared in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," though this time you'd be forgiven if you hadn't noticed. That's because Glover didn't appear on screen, instead providing the voice of the dreaded giant spider Aragog.

Meanwhile, on "Doctor Who," Glover appeared not once but twice, as two entirely separate characters, nearly a decade and a half apart. In the 1965 serial "The Crusade" he played King Richard the Lionheart, in a story led by First Doctor William Hartnell. Some 14 years later in 1979, he'd appear in the story "City of Death" starring Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor. There he played Scaroth, the last of his alien race, who was hiding on Earth in the guise of Count Scarlioni and plotted to steal the Mona Lisa.

Bill Nighy

Well known for his stern persona and fiercely expressive visage, actor Bill Nighy has played a variety of key roles in television and film, from parts in "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" to the lead villain Davey Jones in "Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End." But as the Second Wizarding War dawned in the "Harry Potter" series, Nighy joined the cast of "The Deathly Hallows, Part 1" as incoming Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour. With a deep frown and piercing eyes, he announced to the world that the Ministry of Magic would never yield to the forces of darkness and presided over the posthumous affairs of the great wizard Dumbledore. Though his role was small, Nighy made his mark on the franchise as few others could with such limited screen time.

The actor would likewise leave a lasting impression on "Doctor Who" fans when he played an art gallery director, Dr. Henry Black, in the episode "Vincent and the Doctor." After adventuring in the past with none other than Vincent Van Gogh, The Doctor brings the troubled artist forward in time to an exhibit of his work in a Paris art gallery in the 21st century. There, Nighy's Dr. Black opines about the brilliance of Van Gogh's work, providing one of the series' most touching moments. But even more interestingly, in 2013, it was revealed that Nighy had once turned down the role of The Doctor himself

Toby Jones

House elf Dobby had one of the most inspiring and tragic arcs in the entire "Harry Potter" film series, starting out as little more than a slave to the slimy, wicked Malfoy family. Treated horrifically by family patriarch Lucien Malfoy, Dobby was finally given independence from the Malfoys when Harry Potter was able to trick Lucien into giving Dobby an article of clothing, which was the key to giving a house elf his freedom. Later Dobby would help Harry and his friends escape the clutches of Bellatrix Lestrange, but was tragically killed in what may be the saddest moment in the series. As a fully CGI creation however, it may come as a surprise to some to learn that Dobby was voiced by none other than Toby Jones, known to some audiences as Arnim Zola in the "Captain America" films.

But "Doctor Who" fans know Jones for a very different role. In the episode "Amy's Choice," Jones plays the mysterious so-called Dream Lord, a diabolical villain who puts the Doctor and his companions through two deviously dangerous scenarios. He then forces the Doctor to decide which is real and which is a dream, with the final outcome deciding their fate. A sinister antagonist who was more of a mental match for the Doctor than most, it was a far cry from the friendly, meek house elf Dobby.

John Hurt

Screen legend John Hurt was already a big name long before he joined either franchise, starring in several iconic roles throughout his long and illustrious career. From "I, Claudius" to "Alien" to "Hellboy" he'd been around the block more than once, but in 2001 he appeared in the first "Harry Potter" film as the doddering old wandmaster Garrick Ollivander. As the wizened shop keeper in Diagon Alley, Ollivander was responsible for assigning a wand to every new, young, aspiring wizard, and he did so again for Harry and his friends. He returned in both parts of "Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows," where he helped Harry track down the final piece of the puzzle that could help him defeat Voldemort.

A few years later, in a very special 50th anniversary "Doctor Who" special, Hurt joined that franchise as a previously unseen incarnation of the Doctor himself known only as The War Doctor. After all, if you're looking for an English actor to portray an aged, war-weary old man, you can't do much better than John Hurt. Alongside both the 10th and 11th Doctors, Hurt's War Doctor helped save his people — and the universe entirely — from total annihilation. Though it would be his only appearance, it was an indelible one, with Hurt's legacy easily cemented by his powerful performance as a grizzled and disillusioned version of the Doctor.

Shirley Henderson

Actress Shirley Henderson has appeared in a number of well-known projects, including the acclaimed miniseries "Happy Valley" and serving as the voice of Babu Frick in "Star Wars Episode XI: The Rise Of Skywalker." But she might be best known for playing Moaning Myrtle, the dreary ghost of a long-dead Hogwarts student that haunted the school grounds, in the "Harry Potter" franchise. Appearing in "Chamber of Secrets" mostly as comic relief, she was still important in uncovering the hidden chamber that was accessible through the girls' bathroom. Myrtle also played a key role in Harry's quest to win the contest of champions in "Goblet of Fire," where she helped him solve the riddle of the golden egg.

On "Doctor Who," Henderson showed up in the episode "Love and Monsters" as Ursula Blake, a young woman who helps uncover the truth of the mysterious "Doctor" who has apparently saved the Earth from alien invasion several times over. In tracking down the elusive Time Lord, she and two other inquisitive young minds are drawn into one of The Doctor's adventures. During the course of their encounter with a grotesque alien monster, Ursula is absorbed by the creature, but thankfully David Tennant's 10th Doctor is there to save her.

Adrian Rawlins

Even if he only shows up in either a handful of brief flashbacks or in visions seen by Harry Potter himself, the character of James Potter is a crucial part of the saga. His presence may not be felt much onscreen, but it looms over the entire series; his relationships with the likes of Sirius Black, Professor Snape, Dumbledore, and Voldemort himself often propel the story. It was his sacrifice that allowed Harry to live to one day stop the dark lord, so in a very real way, James Potter was one of the Wizarding World's greatest heroes. He was played in flashbacks and visions by actor Adrian Rawlins.

Rawlins would actually have a bigger onscreen role in "Doctor Who," even if his character's overall importance to the story wasn't nearly on the same level of James Potter. He appeared in the episode "Planet Of The Ood" in 2008, playing Dr. Ryder, a do-gooding doctor who secretly aided the imprisoned Ood and hoped to release them from their captive servitude. Though his hope of freeing the Ood was achieved, he met his end at the hands of his boss, Klineman Halpen, the CEO of the company that ran an Ood slave-trading operation.

Helen McCrory

Before her roles on "Peaky Blinders," "His Dark Materials," and "Penny Dreadful," actress Helen McCrory made her presence known in the "Harry Potter" film series as Narcissa Malfoy. The wife of Lucien Malfoy and Draco Malfoy's mother, she was also the sister of Bellatrix Lestrange. Though not officially a Death Eater herself, she was closely allied with them through her family, and firmly supported their cause of ridding the Wizarding World of half-bloods. She appeared briefly in "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" and both parts of "The Deathly Hallows."

"Doctor Who" made use of Ms. McCrory's talents in a fifth season episode titled "The Vampires Of Venice." There she had a much bigger role than in "Harry Potter," playing Rosanna Calvierri, the main villain of the piece and the leader of an apparent clan of female vampires living in Venice, Italy in the 16th century. But it's revealed that rather than vampires, Rosanna and her clan are actually a group of Saturnyn, an alien species fleeing from a crack in time that has been spreading across the universe.

Michael Gambon

Actor Michael Gambon, of course, wasn't the first actor to play the role of Hogwarts headmaster and renowned wizard Albus Dumbledore. Thrust into the spotlight after the tragic passing of Irish acting great Richard Harris, who had played the part in the first two films, Gambon proceeded to make the role his own. A gentle, kind, and humble mentor to the students at Hogwarts, Dumbledore strode around the halls with a twinkle in his eye dispensing sage wisdom with a gentle touch. Greatly respected by both students and faculty, Gambon brought the perfect mix of powerful gravitas and soft-spoken humility to Dumbledore.

By contrast, Gambon's part in "Doctor Who" was anything but humble and kind. Instead, the actor played an embittered tyrant named Kazran Sardick in the Christmas special named for the Charles Dickens classic, "A Christmas Carol." Like the original work by Dickens, the story tells of an aging and angry man whose heart is softened by visits to his past. But rather than be greeted by ghosts, it's The Doctor himself who travels back to Kazran's youth and changes history, turning him from a disillusioned old man into a kinder, more giving elder who rules with compassion.

David Bradley

Hogwarts groundskeeper Argus Filch was one of the most enigmatic characters in the series. It was impossible to figure out — especially early on — if Filch was good or evil, whose side he was on, and if he could be trusted. Ultimately, Filch turned out to be little more than a grumpy, distrusting malcontent instead of a devious villain himself. But whether you liked his grimaces and scowls or despised the way he treated Harry and his friends, there's no denying he was played impeccably by actor David Bradley. A veteran of stage and screen, he's known for roles outside of "Potter" too, including memorable TV appearances in "Broadchurch" and "The Strain," as well as the films "Hot Fuzz," "Captain America: The First Avenger," and "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End." 

Bradley first joined the "Doctor Who" franchise in perhaps the most unusual way of anyone on this list. After playing a one-off character in the "Dinosaurs On A Spaceship" episode, he played a dramatized version of William Hartnell, the actor who portrayed the very first Doctor, in the 2013 docudrama about the making of the series itself, "An Adventure in Space and Time." Later, in 2015, Bradley would take on the role of Hartnell's First Doctor himself in the Christmas special "Twice Upon A Time," in which he crossed paths with 12th Doctor Peter Capaldi.