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Early Roles That Harry Potter Actors Would Like You To Forget About

If an actor has a long career, it's almost a guarantee that they have a movie or two on their resume that they regret being a part of. Maybe it's a film they took on early in their career when they couldn't afford to turn anything down, or maybe it's a project that looked good on paper, but turned out to be awful on screen. Even the impeccable cast of stars that filled out the Wizarding World in the eight-film "Harry Potter" saga are not immune. 

From legendary Hollywood icons like Sir Richard Harris to young emerging talent like Rupert Grint, nearly everyone who passed through Hogwarts' doors has a film they wish they could scrub from history. But here at Looper we chronicle as many failures as successes, and won't let these successful stars get off so easy. We've taken the time to look through some of the biggest "Potter" performers' long filmographies, highlighting just some of the movies they've made that definitely don't stand the test of time.

From low-budget action schlock to awkward romantic comedies, these are the movies that "Harry Potter" actors would like you to forget about.

Rupert Grint in Thunderpants

Just 11 years old when he was cast as red-headed Ron Weasley in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," Rupert Grint hasn't achieved the same level of box office stardom as his costar Emma Watson. Nor has he appeared in highly acclaimed arthouse films like Daniel Radcliffe. He's preferred instead to stick to roles in prestige television projects, such as "The ABC Murders" with John Malkovich and "Snatch" adapted from the 2000 Guy Ritchie film. But back when he was just getting started in "Harry Potter," Grint also starred in another children's fantasy film. This one however, the 2003 comedy "Thunderpants" — about a boy who cannot stop farting — did not become a cinematic classic.

While Grint does not take the title role in "Thunderpants" — yes, that's the nickname of the film's lead character — he does play the titular tooter's best friend, a child scientist who helps him deal with his worrisome wind-breaking. In fact, it's Grint's character who creates an ingenious invention that channels Thunderpants' blasts and helps NASA launch a mission to save a group of doomed astronauts trapped in outer space. 

In fairness to Grint, this ridiculous romp isn't actually all that terrible. It's a fairly fun children's flick that will at least leave you laughing from the ludicrous light-hearted gags and gurgling guts. But with Grint attempting a more serious and dramatic career, this can't be a movie he's proud to trot out for his new fans to watch.

John Hurt in Monolith

The late, legendary British actor John Hurt has played a number of iconic parts in his long career, with key roles in classic fantasy and sci-fi franchises like "Doctor Who," "Alien," "Hellboy," and of course the "Harry Potter" films, where he played Garrick Ollivander. But there's at least one film he starred in back in the '90s that failed to take hold and become the next big sci-fi action franchise, instead becoming a flop. That was the 1993 movie "Monolith," starring Bill Paxton and Louis Gossett, Jr.

The film focuses on a pair of police officers (Paxton and co-star Lindsay Frost) who are investigating the death of a young boy when they stumble across a possible alien invader with the ability to shapeshift. They soon become targets for more than alien invaders however, with the arrival of a clandestine government agent (Hurt) who wants them to leave the case alone. Hurt is ostensibly the baddie of the piece, but we're not going to sit through the whole thing to find out.

Though it does have some genuinely intriguing ideas, it all comes across so generic and ham-fisted that it becomes a whole lot of nothing. Bad direction, stock characters, an incomprehensible script — you've seen it all before in bad B-movies that were better than this. Hurt is certainly capable of playing a chilling, even terrifying villain, but he's woefully miscast in "Monolith" and would probably have wanted us to forget he was ever in it.

Michael Gambon in Midnight In Saint Petersburg

British character actor Michael Gambon saved the day after the tragic and untimely death of Richard Harris, who had played wise wizard Dumbledore in the first two "Harry Potter" pictures. Stepping into the role with ease, Gambon made the part his own, eventually turning his "Potter" character into his career-defining role even as he entered a late career resurgence. With decades of films under his belt, he'd rarely taken a starring role nor ever found fame as a leading man, but he helped fill out such memorable movies as "The King's Speech," "Gosford Park," and "Sleepy Hollow." 

But one movie that didn't prove so memorable was the 1996 telefilm "Midnight In Saint Petersburg." Billed as a gripping spy drama, it stars British icon Michael Caine as secret agent Harry Palmer in his fifth and final appearance in the role. Palmer is tasked with locating stolen plutonium after the end of the Cold War, a theft that could threaten international peace. From there he's drawn into a plot by rival Russian gangsters, one of which is played by Gambon.

With a low TV budget and Caine not at the height of his star power, the movie is done few favors. Much of the plot is forced into boring dialogue-heavy scenes carried out by a cast that doesn't seem very interested in being there. Even the ever-professional Gambon and Caine seem like they are just sleepwalking through the film, and given its cliched plot and paper-thin story, it's not surprising.

Helena Bonham Carter in Novocaine

Helena Bonham Carter would join the "Harry Potter" series in "The Order Of The Phoenix" and return for its three sequels as the villainous, twisted Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange, a part that seems like it was tailor made for the frenetic, frizzy-haired actress. One-time partner of Tim Burton, she has also starred in more than a half-dozen films by the director, including "Planet of the Apes," "Alice in Wonderland," and "Dark Shadows." Across her career she's ventured into just about every genre and dozens of acclaimed movies. But if she could wipe one of them from existence, it has to be the strange dental comedy "Novocaine."

The film stars Steve Martin as a dentist who gets framed for murder after an encounter with alluring patient Susan Ivey (Carter), who seduces him and turns his life upside down. A tonal mish-mash, the movie dances between black comedy and outright parody, making one increasingly numb to its ambitious premise. Whether it's supposed to be a genuinely suspenseful thriller or a comic farce you're never quite sure, but when it's all over you just want to rinse and spit.

Though Carter and Martin give good performances, there's not much else here to entertain, and there are much better comedies in both their respective filmographies.

Alan Rickman in Mesmer

Before "Harry Potter," Alan Rickman already had several well-known roles under his belt, including the Sheriff of Nottingham in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" and the villainous Hans Gruber in the '80s action classic "Die Hard." But he'd reach a new stratosphere in the "Harry Potter" series portraying the dark, enigmatic Professor Snape, a wizard who seemed to blur the line between good and evil. From there, Rickman never looked back, and cemented himself as one of Hollywood's finest — and gloomiest — stars.

But Rickman wasn't without his duds, and few can measure up to the disappointment of "Mesmer," a bizarre biopic about Franz Anton Mesmer, a doctor who peddled his theories in hypnosis and mystical energies in the 18th century. The result is a film that's about what you'd expect from a period drama based on a forgotten figure in pseudoscience history, even if Rickman is his usual charismatic self in the title role.

Still, an actor alone often can't save a film. Variety's review in 1994 ahead of the film's release was blunt in its criticism, calling it "a non-stop assault of contradictory tones, wicked asides and outrageous style. It's a viewing challenge akin to an obstacle course." Ouch.

Ralph Fiennes in The Avengers

Before Ralph Fiennes played a heroic, old-fashioned superspy in "The King's Man," the actor who starred in "Harry Potter" as Lord Voldemort himself led the 1998 flop, "The Avengers." It's a movie that Fiennes — and pretty much everyone else involved — would be thrilled to forget, as it is one of the most notorious film failures of the '90s. Not only was it a box office dud, but it came into theaters with high expectations and was absolutely terrible, wasting a star-studded cast.

Alongside Uma Thurman in a black catsuit, Fiennes donned a bowler hat to play the male half of the secret agent duo of John Steed and Emma Peel, in a big budget adaptation of the hit British television series of the same name. Opposite the agents was screen legend Sean Connery as the film's villain, while the likes of Eddie Izzard and Jim Broadbent rounded out the mostly English roster of onscreen talent. 

But despite having all the ingredients to be the next big action franchise, "The Avengers" was a total disaster. A clumsy, charmless film, the Washington Post called it "dismal in dispiriting, dreary ways." Fiennes himself lamented the movie, telling The Guardian in 2017, "You don't go to work thinking you're going to make a bad film. I went to work thinking, 'Great, let's reinvent "The Avengers,"' which I loved as a kid. It's only now ... that we look back and groan."

Jason Isaacs in Solitaire For 2

Next to Lord Voldemort himself, the most sinister and perhaps downright terrifying villain of the "Harry Potter" films might be slimy Slytherin Lucius Malfoy, father of Draco, and servant of the dark lord himself. Played by Jason Isaacs, the role raised the actor's profile, and a few years after "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II" he joined the "Star Trek" franchise as the equally devious and eventually villainous Captain Gabriel Lorca on "Star Trek: Discovery." But Isaacs' career before "Potter" is dotted with duds, and one stands out as weirder and worse than anything on his resume.

A supposedly sweet romantic comedy, "Solitaire for 2" is just a jaw-dropping and awkward premise on its face. It centers on Katie, a high-strung woman who has somehow gained the supernatural ability to read men's minds, and of course all she hears are the vulgar, puerile ramblings of their innermost desires. But if that wasn't enough disbelief for an audience to suspend, we also meet Daniel, a behavioral psychologist who uses his uncanny body language expertise to seduce unsuspecting women. Put them together, and you get an unintentionally creepy comedy that'll make your skin crawl with its male chauvinism. 

Despite an out-of-nowhere appearance from Right Said Fred — yes, you read that correctly — "Solitaire For 2" is a confusing mess that provides nothing resembling either endearing romance or witty comedy. Thankfully, Isaacs himself doesn't play the womanizing weirdo, but the pig's best friend.

Tom Felton in Night Wolf

Actor Tom Felton came to fame thanks to his casting in "Harry Potter," though he'd had a few roles before joining the J.K. Rowling epic. Before "Potter" he'd even starred in "The Borrowers" alongside Jim Broadbent and Mark Williams, who would both later join him in the Wizarding World. After leaving Hogwarts, Felton struggled to achieve the same success as the franchise's trio of young stars. One film he took on in the wake of "Harry Potter" that he almost certainly regrets is the 2010 horror movie "Night Wolf."

A film that takes itself way more seriously than it should, "Night Wolf" centers on a group of teens in a cliched situation: stuck inside a house during a dark and stormy night. One by one, they get picked off by a mysterious creature, and wouldn't you know it, it's a werewolf. Of course this comes as a complete shock to audiences who didn't look at the title of the movie or pick up the very obvious clues that the filmmakers probably thought were ever-so-clever.

Felton plays the stock stoner character Gary, one of the beast's first victims, so if you are checking this one out because you love Draco Malfoy, don't expect to see much of him. He might be glad he didn't have to stick around for the film's entire shoot, but he probably wishes he hadn't been there at all. At least he was smart enough to not return for the director's next movie, "Strippers vs. Werewolves."

Brendan Gleeson in Turbulence

Joining Hogwarts in 2005 for "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," actor Brendan Gleeson played Mad Eye Moody, who is at first the disguise of Barty Crouch Jr., played by David Tennant. In subsequent films, Gleeson returns as the real Mad Eye, and helps Potter defeat the Dark Lord Voldemort. Another renowned English character actor, Gleeson's career goes all the way back to the late '80s and includes classics like "Into The West," "Braveheart," and "28 Days Later." His career also has its flops though, and one 1997 actioner may be the one film the actor would love us all to skip over.

Though it boasted a decent cast — including Ray Liotta, Lauren Holly, and Gleeson — "Turbulence" is decidedly not a '90s classic, no matter what the filmmakers lofty ambitions may have been. In the film, Gleeson stars as Stubbs, a bank robber being transported by plane alongside another diabolical criminal named Weaver (Liotta), who manages to break free of his U.S. Marshal escort and take over the plane. 

It may have been a compelling starting premise, but with flat performances — including Holly inexplicably being cast as an action hero — and unimpressive stunts, "Turbulence" crashed and burned. The film's stark similarities to "Con Air," released the same year, definitely didn't help matters. Thankfully, Gleeson spared himself the indignity of appearing in the two direct-to-video sequels, which were somehow even worse.

David Thewlis in The Island Of Dr. Moreau

A member of the Order of the Phoenix, Remus Lupin started out as a quasi-villain in his first appearance, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," with many believing that it was he, in werewolf form, who had been terrorizing Hogwarts. But after the culprit was revealed to be Peter Pettigrew, Lupin became one of the greatest heroes of the Second Wizarding War. He was played by actor David Thewlis, who outside of "Harry Potter" has had plenty of hit films.

But the 1996 disaster "The Island of Dr. Moreau" was most certainly not among them. A historically bad film, it was led by fading star Marlon Brando as the eponymous doctor, and co-starred Val Kilmer, Fairuza Balk, Ron Perlman, and Temuera Morrison alongside Thewlis. The film proved such a failure that it turned the once revered Brando into a joke and torpedoed Kilmer's rising stardom. But it's Thewlis who sparks the film's story, as his character crash lands on the island and discovers the experiments of the dark, demented Moreau, who is creating bizarre, mutated half-human creatures. 

Thankfully, the film's failure doesn't rest on Thewlis' shoulders. That's down to Brando's laziness, the film's haphazard construction, and a muddled and meandering story. But perhaps most importantly, it's just plain boring. Even the effects by Stan Winston — while impressive at times — often come across as comical. If Thewlis could back out of this one retroactively, we have no doubt he would.

Maggie Smith in Better Late Than Never

Alongside original Dumbledore actor Richard Harris, Maggie Smith may have been the most famous star cast in the first "Harry Potter" film. With a career that stretches back to the 1950s, she was a British icon of cinema, and her casting as Professor McGonagall lent a major air of respectability to the cast. Following her stint in Hogwarts, Smith would take another iconic role as Violet Crawley in the critically acclaimed BBC Series, "Downton Abbey." With so many movies in her filmography, there's bound to be one she regrets, and our choice would be 1983's "Better Late Than Never."

An awkward, downright cringey comedy, it stars David Niven and Art Carney as two old men who fight to become grandfather to 10-year-old Bridget. After the death of her mother, the two turn up unsure which one is biologically related to her. If that sounds sweet, think again, because they both only want in after learning she's due to inherit a sizable fortune. Maggie Smith is the grandmother who had dalliances with both men decades before, but can't seem to remember anything about them. Catherine Hicks, of "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" fame, co-stars as a beautiful young woman who is only there for the two old men to leer at.

Despite its strong cast, the script is atrocious, and the concept uncomfortably executed. The entire film is well below the talents of Dame Maggie Smith, and an embarrassment to her enormous talent.

Imelda Staunton in The Virgin of Liverpool

Actress Imelda Staunton went from little-known character actor to most-hated woman in households everywhere in 2007 when she gave her first performance as prudish professor Dolores Umbridge. But just four years before she came to fame in the Wizarding World, Staunton made a little film she now probably wishes she could make disappear, "The Virgin of Liverpool." 

You'd be forgiven for thinking this one was a groan-worthy sex comedy given its title and place on this list, but it's actually about a statue of the Virgin Mary. The film centers on a young girl who discovers the statue when it is being discarded by a priest during renovations of his church. While her family is annoyed by the statue she brings home, it gets attention from the community for apparently performing an active miracle in a chip shop.

Aspiring to be a sappy sentimental family movie, it ends up a groaner of a story that looks incredibly cheap. So it comes as no surprise to learn that the filmmakers made the movie just a few weeks after finding a random script on the internet. "I found the script on a film website called Script Shop," said producer Andrew Boswell in an interview with BBC, "and within five weeks we had the crew, cast and money in place." Yeah, no kidding. Thankfully, producers spent a little more time and effort on Staunton's 2007 project, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."

Richard Harris in Tarzan, The Ape Man

Even more renowned than Dame Maggie Smith, Sir Richard Harris led the first two "Harry Potter" pictures as the wise, gentle wizard Dumbledore before the star's passing in 2002. But decades before he stepped onto Hogwarts' grounds, Harris appeared in some of Hollywood's finest films, from classics like "The Guns of Navarone" and "Mutiny on the Bounty" to modern greats like "Unforgiven" and "Patriot Games." But of course, like everyone else on this list, he's got at least one that he would take back if he could. In Harris' case, it's the 1981 adventure, "Tarzan, The Ape Man."

A modern reinterpretation of the classic novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the film is not the rousing, tree-swinging adventure fans might have wanted or even expected. That's because oddly enough, Tarzan himself isn't even the star of the movie, with the story instead focusing on his female companion Jane, with Harris playing her father. With "10" star Bo Derek in the role of Jane, producers turned the film into little more than softcore titillation, packing the movie with enough nudity and uncomfortable adult situations to make even John Waters blush. 

It appears, however, that those involved knew it was bad, including Derek, who praised Harris' professionalism in the face of such a horrid script. "The picture was doomed," Derek would recall in a 2002 essay in Entertainment Weekly, "but Richard gave it his all anyway."