J.K. Rowling is one of the bestselling British authors of all time. Her books are internationally beloved. However, there is another author from England who is equally renowned. That writer is none other than William Shakespeare himself. There may be few apparent connections between the magical world that Harry Potter and his friends live in and Hamlet’s Denmark, Shylock’s Venice, or any of the other characters and settings in Shakespeare’s works. Yet, there is something about the two author’s works that inspire crossovers, if not with plots then with people. The Harry Potter franchise has had some of the world’s best Shakespearian actors and actresses take on the roles of muggles and wizards alike.
Here is a list of some Shakespearian Actors and their connections to Harry Potter:
Kenneth Branagh – Professor Gilderoy Lockhart
Professor Lockhart may not be the most memorable character from the Harry Potter franchise, but when portrayed by Shakespearian heavyweight Kenneth Branagh on screen, it is difficult not to pay attention. Away from Harry Potter, Branagh is known for his abilities to bring the Bard to the big screen. His film adaptations include Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, Hamlet, and Love’s Labour’s Lost. He has also appeared onscreen as Iago in Oliver Parker’s Othello. Aside from his films, Branagh has been connected to countless stage productions.
Emma Thompson – Professor Sybill Trelawney
The former wife of Branagh, Thomson has acted in Shakespeare adaptations on and off the screen. She appeared alongside Branagh in Henry V before taking on a lead role in his Much Ado About Nothing. She has also been involved in several stage productions of Shakespeare’s works throughout her acting career. Though her portrayal of sharp-tongued Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing may make her unrecognizable as the helter-skelter Professor Trelawney, Thompson’s acting can be enjoyed in whatever project she’s involved with.
Alan Rickman – Professor Severus Snape
Though often difficult to love in his role as Professor Snape, Alan Rickman is capable of much more than the monotone portions master. He is a former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and his formal training has involved him in many Shakespearian productions. Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, and Antony and Cleopatra are only a few of the many projects that Rickman has participated in throughout his acting career.
Maggie Smith – Professor Minerva McGonagall
Maggie Smith has had a long acting career spanning across the globe from the London stage to Stratford, Ontario. Her work with the Stratford Festival landed her roles as Lady Macbeth and Cleopatra. She has also starred as Desdemona in the 1965 film adaptation of Othello. At eighty years old, Dame Maggie Smith is still acting and will probably appear on stage again.
Ralph Fiennes – Lord Voldemort
Another Royal Shakespeare Company alum, Fiennes has taken on roles from Hamlet to the one “who must not be named” himself, Lord Voldemort. Since the mid-eighties, he has played many of the great Shakespearian roles from lovesick Romeo, to aging Prospero. He received a Tony Award for his portrayal of Prince Hamlet on Broadway, and made his debut as a director with his adaptation of Coriolanus. Though his role as Voldemort is finished, Fiennes continues to be heavily involved in Shakespeare productions.
Fiona Shaw – Mrs. Petunia Dursley
It may not be easy to picture tight-lipped Mrs. Dursley as Richard II, but Fiona Shaw has successfully tackled both roles. She has worked extensively with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Her most memorable appearance in a Shakespearian production was in her role as Richard the II in 1997 gender bending rendition of the play. She remains one of the top classical actresses working today.