Harry Potter fans were abuzz at the start of September after JK Rowling turned to Twitter to send her well wishing for Harry and Ginny’s oldest son, tweeting, “I’m in Edinburgh, so could somebody at King’s Cross wish James S Potter good luck for me? He’s starting at Hogwarts today.
#BackToHogwarts.” In keeping with the narrative established at the end of the final book, September 1st would have, indeed, been James’ first day at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
This continued attention to the goings-on of the characters that we got to know during Rowling’s masterpiece book series and the belief in a still-relevant existence for these characters highlights the passion that still exists within the Harry Potter universe, even eight years after the last book was released. This passion has spawned a theme park (“The Wizarding World of Harry Potter”), an upcoming stage production (“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”) and even a connected book series soon to be adapted for film (“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”). The fervent nature of HP fans is a testament to the real connection that people had to Rowling’s novels and the fleshed out, complex characters that exist within them.
It only stands to reason, then, that HP fans are also checking in with the actors that stepped into the roles of their beloved characters. While it is tough to separate Daniel Radcliffe from the titular boy wizard and Emma Watson from know-it-all Hermione Granger, the main actors involved in the film series have actually gone on to some pretty considerable success in the years since the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 in 2011.
Now, because the emphasis here is on the Harry Potter canon, we decided to rule out minor characters who went on to make a splash elsewhere, such as Robert Pattinson and Alfred Enoch. That brought the list down to ten key actors who have managed to carry the momentum of the hugely popular franchise into a successful post-Potter existence.
10. Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood)
Evanna Lynch doesn’t look much different from the girl you remember as loony Luna Lovegood, but don’t confuse Lynch with her sweet-but-eccentric character. Lynch has somewhat distanced herself from Lovegood, taking very different roles that include a homophobic conservative in the teen comedy G.B.F. and the titular character in the coming-of-age drama My Name is Emily. When she isn’t acting, Lynch has become a vocal promoter of healthy body self-esteem after struggling with anorexia.
9. Oliver and James Phelps (Fred and George Weasley)
Although the same cannot be said for their characters, both of the Phelps twins have found life after Harry Potter. The real-life twins have mostly stuck together in their post-HP projects, pairing up on TV movie Danny and the Human Zoo and the upcoming Own Worst Enemy. They aren’t, however, afraid to go it alone, with James set to star in the horror-comedy Patchwork and Oliver starring in the thriller Felo De Se. The twins have not shied away from their Harry Potter origins, being involved in the touring Harry Potter Exhibition, as well as Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter and countless Fan Expo events.
8. Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley)
The girl who stole Harry Potter’s heart has grown up and emerged as a multi-pronged talent. If you were among those who were stunned by a grown up Ginny Weasley in the final scene of the second Deathly Hallows movie, you should see Bonnie Wright now. Wright has become a fashion model at Next Models Agency and a director/screenwriter/producer on various small projects while still plying her acting trade. She has starred in films After the Dark and The Sea and can be seen in the upcoming retelling of A Christmas Carol.
7. Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom)
In an unexpected post-Potter twist, the goofy, awkward and ultimately heroic Neville Longbottom has become something of a Hollywood hunk. Mostly sticking around stateside, Matthew Lewis has strung together a series of British credits across the stage and screen, including parts on BBC series The Syndicate and Bluestone 42 and a run in the West End production of Jonathan Lewis’ Our Boys. Lewis is slated to make his Hollywood return in the film adaptation of 2012 novel Me Before You, which is set for a 2016 release.
6. Robbie Coltrane (Rubeus Hagrid)
Buried under the massive beard and enveloping robes of the gentle giant Rubeus Hagrid was celebrated English actor Robbie Coltrane. Coltrane boasted no fewer than 32 film credits to his name before the first Harry Potter film hit theaters in 2001, but had really made his name on British television as the star of ITV’s crime drama series, Cracker. Since Potter, Coltrane has remain active in youth-oriented cinema with a voice credit in Disney’s Brave and voicing the titular character in the TV film, The Gruffalo. He is also no stranger to movie franchises, with roles in Ocean’s Twelve and two Bond films.
5. Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy)
Since shedding the slicked back blonde hairstyle of Slytherin-housed baddie Draco Malfoy, Tom Felton has spread out his acting credits but has still kept plenty busy. He has kept his villainous streak intact through bad guy roles in 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes and as alleged murderer Erich Blunt during a 10-episode arc on the TV series Murder in the First. Felton also starred in smaller-budget 2013 releases In Secret and Belle. With three films on tap for 2016, including a reunion with Ralph Fiennes in Risen, Felton doesn’t appear to be slowing down.
4. Alan Rickman (Severus Snape)
Few characters elicited the emotional response as celebrated actor Alan Rickman‘s Severus Snape. With almost 40 years of experience on both stage and screen, Rickman brought the cold-blooded Snape to life with a mesmerizing iciness and an energy that belied his deadened expression. This was nothing new for a decorated thespian and accomplished baddie (he was also Hans Gruber in Die Hard) who owns a BAFTA award, an Emmy, a Golden Globe and has been nominated for a Tony. Amongst his many post-HP credits, Rickman was nearly unrecognizable as Ronald Reagan in The Butler.
3. Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley)
Rupert Grint and Daniel Radcliffe were close friends both on and off-screen, so it makes sense that Grint would follow Radcliffe’s path to the Broadway stage. Just as Radcliffe made it to Broadway with Equus, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and The Cripple of Inishmaan, Grint debuted in last year’s It’s Only a Play alongside Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Stockhard Channing and Megan Mullally. On screen, Grint has portrayed rocker Cheetah Chrome in CBGB and starred in the quirky comedy Moonwalkers.
2. Emma Watson (Hermione Granger)
Few within the HP universe have enjoyed a more balanced and meaningful post-Potter career than Emma Watson. Watson has been the type of successful overachiever that would have made Hermione proud, graduating with an English lit degree from Brown University and being appointed as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. Despite these achievements outside of Hollywood, Watson hasn’t left her acting career behind. She has starred in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Bling Ring and This is the End and can be seen alongside Ethan Hawke in the soon-to-be-released Regression.
1. Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter)
The Boy Who Lived not only survived his Hogwarts days and encounters with Lord Voldemort, but Daniel Radcliffe used his star turn as Harry Potter to propel him into stardom. Since the release of the last Deathly Hallows movie, Radcliffe has seemed to delight in taking risks such as going bare in London’s West End in Equus, delving into horror with The Woman in Black and the upcoming Victor Frankenstein and showing a twisted side with Kill Your Darlings and Horns. Yet, people still don’t always know who he is.