HARRY POTTER IN THE FORTIES!

What if Harry Potter hadn't been created by author J. K. Rowling in the late 1990s, but rather by Hollywood in the 1940s?  Who would have been cast as who in an All-Star Hollywood Harry Potter film? As you look over our choices, you might say "But (actor/actress) can't do a convincing English accent!" to which we answer - hey, it's the 1940s!  They didn't worry about such things!

UNCLE VERNON DURSLEY (Billy Gilbert)

      Uncle Vernon Dursley is Harry's loud, nasty and blustering guardian.  What better '40s actor to capture loud, nasty and blustering, as well as funny, than Billy Gilbert, long-time nemesis of Laurel and Hardy as well as the voice behind Sneezy in Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwafves?  In the imaginary 1940's film, Harry could even put a sneezing spell on his Uncle!

Played by Richard Griffiths in the real films.

AUNT PETUNIA (Una O'Connor)

     Aunt Petunia Dursley is Harry's only living blood relative.  Equally nasty though not as loud as Uncle Vernon, Petunia needs to be played by somebody who can do mean and funny.  We were leaning toward Agnes Moorehead for a while, as well as Marjorie Main, but in the end we went with Una O'Connor.  It was really a tossup.

Played by Fiona Shaw in the real films.

HAGRID (Alan Hale Sr.)

     We needed to find a forties actors who was large, lovable and childlike himself to play the half-giant Rubeus Hagrid.  In the end, we went with Alan Hale, Sr.  Hale would need a lot of makeup, but we think he would do just fine.

Played by Robbie Coltrane in the real films.

PROFESSOR McGONAGALL (Elsa Lanchester)

     We had many fine ideas for a 1940s actress to capture Professor Minerva McGonagall.  We were thinking Judith Anderson, Una O'Conner, Margaret Hamilton, Mildred Natwick or Edna Mae Oliver.  But this picture of Elsa Lanchester, plus her work in many, many movies, convinced us she would be perfect for the part.  Once again, Agnes Moorehead lost out - we'll have to write in a part for her!

Played by Maggie Smith in the real films.

SEVERUS SNAPE (Basil Rathbone)

       When it comes to playing an ambiguous villain, we came up with Basil Rathbone and immediately stopped there.   We know this picture of Basil is way too debonair, but trust us - Basil's the guy.  He was such a good actor, capable of playing heroes as well as villains, we could have cast him as Dumbledore or Voldemort too.  

Played by Alan Rickman in the real films.

ALBUS DUMBLEDORE (Claude Rains)

    Dumbledore was a tough call.  He is character who needs to be larger than life yet also human.  We considered many fine 1940s actors - Edward G. Robinson (has the twinkle in his eye, but too short), character actor Donald Crisp (not enough star power) and even Frank "The Wizard of Oz" Morgan (too comical).  We even thought of Fred Astaire (a dancing Dumbledore!). In the end, we went with Claude Rains.  A little makeup and a long beard and he'd make a great Dumbledore.

Played by Richard Harris and Michael Gambon in the real films.

LORD VOLDEMORT (Boris Karloff)

     He Who Must Not Be Named. Harry's mortal enemy - Lord Voldemort.  We came up with a number of great character actors from the 1940s who could do justice to the part - Charles Middleton, Raymond Massey (he'd make a great Dumbledore too), Henry Darnell, Henry Brandon... but really, once we thought of Boris Karloff, the contest was over.

Played by Ralph Fiennes is the real films.

HERMIONE GRANGER (Natalie Wood)

     Who to play Harry's chatty and irritating "Know It All" witch friend?  We immediately thought of Margaret O'Brien (chatty - check; irritating - check), but we thought a little more and came up with the young Natalie Wood instead for her acting skills, and also for her abilility to be, well, not quite as annoying as Margaret O'Brien. 

Played by Emma Watson in the real films.

RON WEASLEY (Mickey Rooney)

    Here we ran into a problem.  We want Mickey Rooney to play Ron Weasley, Harry's best friend.  In the 1940s, Mickey Rooney was already becoming a man, whereas Natalie Wood was a young child.  In the books and films. Ron, Hermione and Harry are all supposed to be the same age. But then we remembered that in our scenario, Harry Potter is a Hollywood invention of the 1940s studio system. So - voila - Ron Weasley is actually an older student who has been left back several times.  And Hermione is a child prodigy who was put into wizarding school early. Problem solved!

Played by Rupert Grint in the real films.

HARRY POTTER (Roddy McDowall)

    The star of the show.  We could only think of one young actor in the 1940s to play Harry in our fantasy version - Roddy McDowall.  Throw a pair of glasses on this kid and he is Harry Potter! As far as age differences between McDowall, Natalie Wood and Mickey Rooney - see the note above for Ron Weasley.

Played by Daniel Radcliffe in the real films.

BONUS CASTING



     Various Death Eaters: Bela Lugosi, Peter Lorre, Edward G. Robinson, Charles Middleton and Gale Songergaard.


     Lily and James Potter, Harry's parents, who would be killed by Boris Karloff in the first ten minutes of our film, would be played by one of the most popular romantic teams of the 1940s, Olivia De Havilland and Errol Flynn. This being a Hollywood movie of the 1940s, they would come back alive at the end - you see, it was all a bad dream, Harry!  And look, here's your school principal Claude Rains and the truant officer Boris Karloff to check up on you!

Harry Potter    The Secret Vortex