Harry, Hermione, Ron, Voldemort, Snape, Dumbledore, Hagrid, Hogwarts, Muggles and Mudbloods.
These have become household names over the last 14 years as J.K. Rowling’s books – and the movies they spawned – have captivated people, around the world, in a way that nothing else seems to have been able.
Even I have to admit that I’m a closet Harry Potter fan. Yep…I’ve seen every one of the films (though I haven’t read the books) and I’ve enjoyed every minute of every one.
And now it’s all over.
VERY MINOR PRE-FINALE SPOILERS, BELOW. PROCEED WITH CAUTION (No details from the final movie are discussed).
Throughout the series we’ve met a host of characters. We’ve learned about how Harry Potter came to Hogwarts Academy to study magic, how his parents were killed by Voldemort and that he’s apparently just about the hottest thing since a supernova, in the wizarding world.
We’ve met Hermione Granger – that dirty mudblood – and seen her grow into a powerful wizard in her own right. We’ve spent a lot of time with Ron Weasley, who’s basically a nerd, and seen him grow in to quite the ladies’ man. We’ve come to know characters like Draco Malfoy, Luna Lovegood, Dudley Dursley, Neville Longbottom and many other students at the academy.
And perhaps, most curious of all, we’ve watched them all grow up (and in one unfortunate case, pass away)…seen the actors – and the characters they play – age over the years. We’ve seen the characters develop as their skills with magic and their maturity and age has shaped them into viable, even powerful users of magic. At the same time we’ve seen the actors develop as their skills with acting and their maturity and age has shaped them into solid, believable players. The same actors playing the same characters, year after year, adventure after adventure, story after story. This, above all else, has lent an amazing level of credibility of immersion to the movies.
Now that the series has come to its conclusion, though, one has to wonder what will become of these young actors. Is there life after Harry Potter? Can any casting director look at Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson or Tom Felton and see anyone but Harry, Ron, Hermione or Draco? Will these people be considered serious actors and cast in serious roles or will they be pigeon holed and typecast like so many before them?
I know I have a hard time with it. Every time I see a photo of Daniel Radcliffe, I see the little boy finding his wand. Rupert Grint, I see the little ginger kid, so awkward and dopey. Tom Felton, I see a dude I want to kick in the meat-marbles. I know these actors aren’t the characters they’ve played but after years of seeing them in those roles, their characters are who I see when I look at them.
They are all very good at what they do and this is just as liable to be a curse as it is a blessing. If casting directors can get beyond their characters and see the actors behind them, they have bright and shining careers ahead of them. If they can’t though, they’ll always just be those crazy kids at wizard camp, fighting against the ultimate bad guy and his band of death eaters.
So here we are at the final installment of this epic story arc. The end of an era. The grand finale. How does it stack up?
I’ll tell you.
As I said, earlier, I’ve seen every one of the Harry Potter movies and I’ve really enjoyed them all. If I had to pick a least-favorite, it would be Goblet of Fire and even that one I enjoyed quite a bit. If I had to pick an absolute favorite, it would definitely be…