Emma Thompson might just be the most badass person to wear the title of Dame. Long before the Chrissy Teigen and Jennifer Lawrence made down-to-earthness a trend, the iconic actress bared her soul and flipped the middle finger. She’s built a career full of creatively fulfilling projects, truly funny characters, and moving performances, but few fans know what she’s like when the cameras stop rolling.

Critical success and awards are all well and good, but they don’t go to Dame Emma’s head. It’s said that she used to store her most impressive awards in her bathroom. Though, she ended up relocating them to the office.

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Acting and creativity were very much the family business. Emma was the first child of Scottish actress Phyllida Law and actor and television narrator Eric Thompson. Plus, her little sister Sophie also became an accomplished actress!

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During her college years, Thompson read the book The Madwoman in the Attic, which explained the way female writers in the Victorian era, like Jane Austen, were limited in their portrayals of female characters. She credits the book for shifting her entire life outlook.

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A young Emma wanted to model the comedy career of fellow rebellious voice, Lily Tomlin. She became the first woman to join Cambridge’s sketch comedy troupe, Footlights, with other rising stars Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry.

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While Emma is lauded as an outspoken, often hilarious, public figure, she prefers a very intimate family-centric personal life. She famously lived in a rather quaint home next door to her mother, whose home interiors are picturesque cozy delight.

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Fresh off a successful run on the West End, and few well-received TV comedies under her belt, Emma Thompson moved onto films. She began dating her costar of several projects, Kenneth Branagh, and their marriage made headlines in 1989.

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Together, Thompson and Branagh were like the UK’s earlier ‘90s high-brow Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. They were referred to as the “golden couple” and made a bunch of film collaborations until Branagh’s affair caused a very public rift.

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After her split from Branagh, Thompson admitted that she entered the worst depression of her life. It didn’t help that the tabloids had a field day over his affair and subsequent relationship with actress Helena Bonham Carter.

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Thompson lived every writer’s worst nightmare when she briefly lost the script for Sense and Sensibility five years into the writing process. She took her computer over to Stephen Fry’s house who was able to recover it. What a pal!

With her partner Greg Wise, Thompson welcomed her only daughter Gaia through IVF treatments in 1999. The couple tried for more children through the same process but weren’t successful. Though, their family did grow several years later.

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Already candid about her fertility struggles, Thompson and her husband Greg Wise turned to adoption. As she explained, “Family is the center of everything for me, but family is about connection, not necessarily about blood ties. It’s about extended family – and extending family.”

Their family unofficially adopted their son Tindyebwa Agaba after they formed a connection at an event for the organization Refugee Council. He was a 16-year-old former child soldier from Rwanda. At first, Tindy spent the holidays with the family and their bond just grew from there.

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A younger generation of Thompson fans know her largely from her role as Professor Sybill Trelawney in the Harry Potter series. Turns out, she might have passed on the part if she wasn’t trying to impress her daughter Gaia.

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As Thompson told the Telegraph, embodying the hair-brained mystic was fairly simple, “One scene I get to stand at the top of the stairs waving an empty sherry bottle which is, of course, a typical scene from my daily life, so isn’t much of a stretch.”

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Some of the deep-cut Harry Potter fans might recognize Sophie Thompson, Emma’s sister, as the actress behind Mafalda Hopkirk in the film series. Despite all three women in the family sharing a profession, they’ve never felt competitiveness between them, only support.

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Emma Thompson was approached by the publishers of Peter Rabbit to continue the classic series by author Beatrix Potter. This was a special honor since no other person else had ever contributed to the series beside Potter, whose last publication was in the 1930s.

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Emma Thompson’s Oscars cred is something that Meryl Streep would raise her glass to. She has two Academy Awards to her name, but she’s also in the exclusive group of people who have received multiple acting nominations within the same year.

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Emma Thompson is one finest living actresses, so it was about time that Royal Family acknowledge her with a title. In 2018, Emma wore white trainers as she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to drama. 

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Emma Thompson is largely seen as a British actress but she actually has a strong connection to Scotland. It’s where she spent much of her childhood. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, her family retreated to her mother’s house in Loch Eck in Argyll.

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Out of all the dames, Emma Thompson might say the most expletives. She’s bridged the gap between dignified and cool. Still, her competition with the sharp-tongued proper dame herself, Miss Maggie Smith is an on-going affair.

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Not unlike Thompson, Maggie Smith’s star-studded ambitions began at an early age when her family moved to Oxford. After graduating High School in 1951, she immediately joined the Oxford Playhouse School. Her stage debut was as Viola in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

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Like many young people with fame on the brain, Maggie moved to New York in the mid-’50s. She performed in the comedy revue New Faces of 1956, alongside some of the rising stage stars of the day.

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Later in 1956, Maggie secured her first film role in Child in the House, though it was uncredited. She struggled to break into the business, but in 1959, she finally succeeded with the crime film Nowhere to Go.

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Though she had some trouble breaking into Hollywood, that certainly wasn’t the case when it came to theater. She became a well-known stage actress at the National Theatre of Great Britain in the ‘60s, and even acted opposite Sir Laurence Olivier. 

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5. Smith is such an accomplished actress that she’s achieved something only a handful of other actors have: the Triple Crown of acting, or a Tony, Emmy, and Academy Award. She’s an overachiever, too, since she actually has multiple Emmys and Oscars.

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6. Despite her prolific career, she is best known for a single role she had later in life: that of Professor Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter series. Though she said that role “wasn’t what you’d call satisfying,” she certainly became a fan favorite!

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7. Still, Maggie has made her mark in some of the most beloved films of the last fifty years: Clash of the Titans, The Secret Garden, Hook, Sister Act, Gosford Park, and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel are only a few examples. 

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8. Maggie also became a TV star (and at 75 years old!) with her role in Downton Abbey as Lady Violet Crawley. For her performance, Maggie won three Emmy Awards, a SAG award, and her third Golden Globe award. Talk about talent!

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9. They say only the best can tackle Shakespeare, and that’s what Maggie did from the beginning. She’s acted in professional productions of Othello, Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, among others, though she’s admitted, “Shakespeare is not my thing.”

10. For her performance as the title character in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Maggie was awarded the Academy Award for Best Actress. Her performance was lauded as “one of those technically stunning, emotionally distant performances” that only a British actor can pull off.

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11. By 1978, Smith was still as popular as ever on and off the stage and screen. She even won another Oscar, this time for Best Supporting Actress, for her performance in the comedy/drama California Suite, written by Neil Simon.

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12. By the time Smith was 53, she could pretty much pick and choose whichever roles she wanted. In the case of the play Lettice and Lovage, the role she ended up winning a Tony for was written specifically for her by playwright Peter Shaffer.

13. Funnily enough, the Harry Potter films weren’t the first time Smith and Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry, worked together. They had actually performed together in the 1999 BBC television production of David Copperfield. Small world!

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14. Maggie Smith had a known aversion to talk shows, but she broke her no-talk-show streak in 2015, when she appeared on The Graham Norton Show. It was her first appearance on a talk program in 42 years!

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15. After 12 years away from the London stage, Smith returned in 2019 with a most ambitious project, A German Life. The 85-year-old actress performed a 100-minute long monologue on stage, an undertaking that won her a record sixth Best Actress Evening Standard award.

16. You may have heard of another famous member of Maggie Smith’s family, her son, actor Toby Stephens. He appeared in the James Bond film Die Another Day and in the TV series Black Sails and most recently Netflix’s Lost In Space.

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17. In 2007, it was reported that Smith had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Unbeknownst to anyone but friends and family, Smith had filmed the entirety of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince while undergoing chemotherapy.

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18. Of course, one of Smith’s proudest moments was in 1990, when she was raised to Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. She received the honor for her services to the performing arts — a worthy reason, indeed!

19. Two months after her divorce from actor Robert Stephens, she married playwright Alan Beverley Cross, and they remained married until his death in 1998. She wasn’t left completely alone, however: She has two sons and five grandchildren.

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20. If you ask Maggie to choose a favorite — stage or screen? — it’s an easy choice to make. “Theater is basically my favorite medium,” she once said. “I didn’t really feel I was acting in [Harry Potter and Downton Abbey].”

Just because Maggie Smith breezed through most of the filming of Harry Potter doesn’t mean everyone else did. The filming of the series spanned over ten years time, and the books written beforehand took even longer to write. Even the story itself has a fascinating backstory…

1. Early drafts of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire included a dog-loving character named Mopsy Fleabert, who was going to take in Sirius as a stray dog. However, Mopsy didn’t make the final version of the story.

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2. Rubeus Hagrid was based on a member of the Hell’s Angels that J.K. Rowling met. Actor Robbie Coltrane described the inspiration: “He was just huge and terrifying. And then he would sit down and talk about his garden and how his petunias had been very bad that year.”

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3. Although this plot point isn’t explored in the books, J.K Rowling said that if Hermione looked into The Mirror of the Erised, which shows ones deepest heart’s desire, she would see the trio “alive and unscathed and Voldemort finished.”

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4. Another character who did not interact with the mirror is Voldemort. Since the conclusion of the books, she has said that Voldemort would see “himself, all-powerful and eternal.” She also shed light on another unknown aspect of the Dark Lord. 

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5. In the wizarding world, boggarts are used to expose one’s greatest fear. Rowling said Voldemort’s boggart would be his own lifeless body because he thinks death is a shameful human weakness. 

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6. The books often note Dumbledore is over 120 years old — no Sorcerer’s Stone necessary. Rowling explained that’s because wizards live much longer than humans, what with all the advanced medicine at St. Mungos.

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7. Dumbledore is actually an old English word that means “bumblebee.” When asked why she chose this name, Rowling said it was because she “always imagined him as sort of humming to himself a lot.” This seems fairly accurate.

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8. Rowling enjoyed adding real-world connections to the fictional series. For example, she stated that it was “no coincidence” that the dark wizard Grindelwald was defeated in 1945 — the same year that World War II ended.

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9. The first Harry Potter book came out in 1997, during a complicated time in the author’s life when she was still a struggling writer. Surprisingly, the epilogue — with all characters paired off with respective spouses and children — was written sometime in 1990.

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10. Harry Potter may have been The Boy Who Wasn’t if it weren’t for an 8-year-old girl! Alice Newton, the daughter of the chair of Bloomsbury Publishing back in the ’90s, loved the Philosopher’s Stone and gave it the green light. Thanks, Alice!

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11. While writing the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Rowling said she considered having Dudley Dursley appear on platform 9 ¾ with his very own magical child. She ended up not doing it because “any latent wizarding genes would never survive contact with Uncle Vernon’s DNA.” 

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12. As with any writer, Rowling considered a few different ideas for the series that were left out of final drafts. In fact, she recently admitted to one massive change she considered writing into the books for the most insane reason.

Rowling admitted to “seriously considering” killing Ron Weasley halfway through the series simply out of spite. Thankfully, she decided against that act, or she might’ve had an angry mob on her hands. 

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13. One of the most heartbreaking deaths in the series is Harry’s owl, Hedwig. Well, the loss was not for nothing: Hedwig’s demise symbolized the loss of Harry’s innocence as he aged and went on to fight bigger battles.

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14. Before the fifth book, The Order of the Phoenix, came out in 2003, an unauthorized version was released in China. Titled Harry Potter and Bao Zoulong, which translates to Harry Potter and Leopard-Walk-Up-To-Dragon, it was actually a surprising crossover with another fantasy series. 

The unauthorized story was the plotline of J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit with names changed to Harry Potter character’s. It opened with the line “Harry doesn’t know how long it will take to wash the sticky cream cake off his face.”

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15. That is not the only version of Harry Potter that has been published without permission. Another title from China includes Harry Potter and the Golden Turtle, and India brought us Harry Potter in Calcutta.

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16. In the French edition of the series, Voldemort’s middle name is Elvis in order to make the name Tom Elvis Jedusor become “je suis Voldemort” during that pivotal scene in the Chamber of Secrets

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17. Rowling has refused to write any prequels to the series because she stated her readers “don’t need them.” She has also refused to continue the series any further, stating she won’t write any more HP books. 

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18. In 2011, a full set of first edition Harry Potter books sold for over $11,000 at auction. This hefty price tag is nothing compared to the astronomical amount of revenue brought in from the movies.

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19. That iconic scene when Harry got his Hogwarts letter is the envy of every 11-year-old. The production team hand wrote the details on every single envelope. They actually had to go through the process twice because the first batch of letters was too heavy for the owls!

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20. At first glance you might not notice the tiny detail in this scene that fleshes out Ron Weasley’s character even further. Harry and Hermione’s robes are dark in color, whereas Ron’s are faded significantly. That’s because his are hand-me-downs.

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21. Young Daniel Radcliffe used to ask Sir Richard Harris, the first Dumbledore actor, to run lines with him. He already knew his part, but the old man was having trouble remembering his lines so Radcliffe practiced with him. The boy is Gryffindor through and through!

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22. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, there is a scene during Dudley’s birthday at the zoo that shows students outside the reptile house. They are all clad in green, looking like muggle versions of Slytherin students! Clever.

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23. The closing credits for Prisoner of Azkaban involve the Marauder’s Map displaying the names of those involved in the film. The footprints on the bottom left show a cheeky little detail — two Hogwarts students, erm, misbehaving.

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24. When Harry first comes back to Diagon Alley in the third film, a wizard is shown reading and enjoying a cup of tea. The book he’s reading is A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, which is foreshadowing to the time travel plot line in the movie.

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25. Every HP fan knows the password to Dumbledore’s office is “sherbet lemon,” but did you notice the dish of the very same candy on his desk? Not the most secure password to be honest.

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26. When Rupert Grint auditioned for the role of Ron, he wanted to stand out. So, the then 11-year-old wrote a rap. The opening line of which is “My name is Rupert Grint, I hope you like this and don’t think I stink…”

27. Ron and Hermione were meant to be. Hermione’s patronus is an otter while Ron’s is a Jack Russell terrier. Jack Russells are known to chase otters, and otters are a part of the weasel family (Weasley anyone?). It was all right in front of us!

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28. Christian Coulson, the actor that played Tom Riddle the younger form of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named — in the Chamber of Secrets was actually related to Ralph Fiennes, the actor who portrayed Lord Voldemort.

29. Emma Watson didn’t even want the role of Hermione in the first place. Directors held auditions all across Britain in various elementary schools, and when they came to her she opted out. Luckily, her teacher convinced her to audition after all!

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30. Voldemort hugging Draco Malfoy in the final movie has been rewatched a million times because of its profound awkwardness. The scene was improvised when actor Ralph Fiennes went in for a hug and Tom Felton had no idea what to do.

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31. If you pay close attention to the crowd during the beginning of the third task in the Goblet of Fire, you can see the students from Beauxbatons dancing the macarena. Extras began doing it for fun, and the director decided to keep it in.

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32. The end credits of Goblet of Fire mention that “No dragons were harmed” in the making of the film. No doubt this was thanks to Hagrid’s gamekeeper expertise!

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33. You may have thought Rupert Grint deserved an Oscar for his reaction to the spiders in Chamber of Secrets, but he actually wasn’t acting at all. He is intensely phobic about spiders in real life!

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34. Over the years, the cast of the movies became like family. Alan Rickman, also known as Professor Snape, had some boundaries, though. He wouldn’t allow Mathew Lewis (Neville Longbottom) or Rupert Grint in his new BMW because they spilled a milkshake in his old car!

35. When Harry has doubts about his Quidditch acumen in the first movie, he sees his father’s accomplishments and is renewed in his enthusiasm. As you can see, James Potter is in great company with Professor McGonagall to his side.

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36. When Neville can’t remember what he’s forgotten in the first movie, we never find out what it is. If you pay close attention, you’ll see he isn’t wearing his robes. That’s what he forgot!

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37. If you notice in the final scene of the film film, Harry’s scar has faded significantly. This is because Voldemort has been defeated forever, and the connection between them severed.

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When filming wrapped up, the cast all went their separate ways. And while most die hard fans kept up with Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, and Daniel Radcliffe, few followed the promising careers of the rest of the cast.

1. Tom Felton: Though his character Draco was known for being one of Harry’s biggest adversaries, Felton and Daniel Radcliffe were actually close friends. But perhaps even more shocking, Emma Watson – whose character Hermione equally despised Draco – actually admitted that Felton was her first love!

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Today, Felton continues to land consistent roles in both film and television, having recently starred in the first season of the YouTube sci-fi series Origin. Grown-up Draco is also an established musician, having released four EP albums since 2008. Talk about talented!

2. Bonnie Wright: Before being cast as Ginny Weasley, Wright never had any prior professional acting experience. Her brother had mentioned that she reminded him of Ginny, so when casting calls for the part were put out, Wright decided to give it a shot. The rest, as we know, is history.

Eight years removed from her days at Hogwarts, Wright remains at the forefront of British entertainment. Not only has she starred in a fleet of films and television episodes since 2011, but she also owns her own production company – Bon Bon Lumiere – and is an established model.

3. Joshua Herdman: After getting his start as Draco’s sidekick Goyle in Sorcerer’s Stone, Herdman went on to reprise the role in the next seven films. He still acts today, his most recent role being that of Righteous in 2018’s Robin Hood.

But perhaps most surprising of all is Herdman’s new passion: mixed martial arts. The once-pudgy Goyle is currently 2-0 in amateur MMA and hopes to one day join the professional circuit. After all: why use a wand when you can just use your fists instead?

4. Harry Melling: Reviled as Harry’s spoiled cousin Dudley Dursley, Melling actually lost so much weight between Order of the Phoenix and The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 that the role was almost recast. Fortunately, Melling wasn’t made to give up the part and instead wore a fat suit for his scenes.

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The new-and-improved Harry Melling credits his dramatic weight loss as the reason he hasn’t been typecast as Dudley when auditioning for other roles. Melling recently starred as the Artist in the Coen brother’s 2018 Netflix film The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, a performance for which he received critical acclaim.

5. Evanna Lynch: Though Luna Lovegood was created before Lynch debuted as the character in 2007’s Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling cites her portrayal of Luna as her major inspiration for the character’s development in later novels. “[She] got in my head,” Rowling said of Lynch. “I even heard her voice when I was writing Luna.”

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Lynch remains a draw both on the screen and on the stage, having starred in a handful of independent films and dozens of stage productions since 2011. She was also featured on season 27 of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars and even made it to the finale where she and her partner placed third overall.

6. Matthew Lewis: Given that his character Neville is known for his constant bad luck, it’s no surprise that Lewis experienced a similar slew of hardships while shooting some of his scenes. The early films saw him wear uncomfortable fake teeth and plastic pads behind his ears, and during the filming of Order of the Phoenix actress Helena Bonham Carter accidentally ruptured his eardrum!

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Like Melling, Lewis’ physical transformation over the years has also helped him to avoid the typecasting that some of his co-stars have fallen victim to. He continues to appear regularly in a number of UK television series and even had a supporting role in the popular 2016 rom-com Me Before You.

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7. James & Oliver Phelps: In the same spirit of the characters they’d go on to play, the 14-year-old Phelps brothers skipped school exams to attend a 2000 casting call for the roles of Fred and George Weasley. Despite having no prior acting experience, the twins landed the part after a total of six auditions.

Though Fred & George were well-known mischief makers, James & Oliver have a passion for philanthropy and devote a good portion of their free time to charity work. The twins also remain active in promoting the Harry Potter franchise and are well-known supporters of music and sports in the UK.

8. Stanislav Ianevski: Unlike the other stars on this list, Ianevski had virtually no interest in acting prior to playing Viktor Krum in Goblet of Fire. It wasn’t until he was spotted by a casting director and prompted to take acting classes that Ianevski decided to audition, beating out 650 other actors for the role.

The hulking Bulgarian continues to pop up in films from time to time, typically playing characters that fit his intimidating presence. He is currently slated to star as Boris the Hammer in the upcoming action-thriller The Cloaking.

9. Luke Youngblood: Following his minor role as the Quidditch play-by-play announcer Lee Jordan in the first two films, not many would’ve expected Youngblood to put together the successful career he’s made for himself thus far. After earning bit parts on shows like Glee and Lie to Me, Youngblood landed the recurring role of Magnitude on the hit comedy Community.

Youngblood also went on to play the part of Sid in the fantasy-comedy Galavant. The 32-year-old British actor is currently scheduled to play Agent Rabbit in a future Alice in Wonderland short-film spinoff called Hollywoodland.

10. Hugh Mitchell: Who could forget Collin Creevey, the eager young photographer that was petrified after glimpsing the dreaded basilisk through the lens of his own camera? Mitchell’s memorable role in Chamber of Secrets subsequently landed him a part in Nicholas Nickleby, where he played a younger version of the titular character.

Up until 2015, Mitchell was featured in a number of film and television roles, the most notable of which being appearances in The Da Vinci Code and The White Queen. He has since stepped away from acting to pursue interests in music and – coincidentally – photography.