The Harry Potter Retrospective – The Kids (Charts Ahoy!)

Over the course of the eight Harry Potter films a group of young actors went from amateurs to movie stars, but are they any good? We’ve updated our charts to give you our opinion on who was the best actor and who should give up now.

After each of the eight films we scored Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and Tom Felton out of ten for their acting ability, the results can be seen below.

As you can see film seven was the moment when each of the main three had equal acting skills, but from there they each went in a different direction in the final film.

Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter

Daniel Radcliffe certainly looks like the perfect Harry Potter, it’s just a shame that when the films started he was the worst actor of a weak bunch. As with the rest of the kids Radcliffe learnt on the job and gradually got better up until the fourth film where he was required to lose control of his emotions. Anger and sadness at the death of a friend and the rise of an enemy were not within Radcliffe’s range and he dropped back down. From then he slowly recovered while gaining comedy chops in Half Blood Prince and then proper dramatic muscle in Deathly Hallows Part 1.

After the impressive display in Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Part 2 was a step in the wrong direction as his performance became patchy again. When required to be sincere or earnest Radcliffe falls short, and a final showdown against evil is not a relaxed occasion. Regardless, Daniel Radcliffe has come a long way since 2001 and it will be interesting to see him play a different character. We’ll be watching him closely with Excel at the ready.

Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley

In the early films Grint was not required to do much heavy acting work, providing the comic relief consisting of one-liners and reaction shots. With Radcliffe fumbling the dramatic moments, Grint looked amazing by comparison. As Ron became a more complex character, dealing with family woes and supposedly unrequited love, Grint got his time to shine.

Grint peaked in the final two films, in the first displaying convincing anger and jealousy and then in the final film both grief and love while remaining a source of comedy. Grint has done the most non-Potter acting over the years and isn’t likely to waste time on Broadway or at University so he’s going to be the easiest career to watch in the short-term. Sadly they can’t all include Julie Walters.

Emma Watson as Hermione Granger

Emma Watson has a special place in my heart, having grown up watching her in the Harry Potter films as she grew up with me. She became almost a school crush, one that became increasingly bright and attractive over the years. But what about the acting? For the first two films Watson wasn’t having much luck. In Philosopher’s Stone she struggled with over-enunciating words and followed that up in Chamber of Secrets with some over-active eyebrow work. In films three and four Watson gained ground, tamed her eyebrows and won our sympathies. After that the eyebrows returned with a vengeance and added some irritating breathy pauses for bad measure.

By Deathly Hallows Part 1, she managed to fight them off again and rose to join her co-stars at 8/10 where everyone else peaked. Watson was alone in reaching 9/10 in Part 2, her eyebrows were fully under control and her adoring looks to Rupert Grint, and her being the sole convincing presence in the epilogue sealed the deal. Emma Watson joined the Potter series as a little girl with no control over her face and leaves as a fully fledged actress. Her career will be an interesting one to watch and I get the feeling she will be picky about any future projects.

Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy

Tom Felton has never put in a bad performance and started off as a better actor than any of the main three. Sadly Malfoy’s screen-time across the franchise was far from consistent as in some instalment he was reduced to little more than an occasional menacing presence. In some he was so sidelined as to be reduced to a few scenes of inconsequential sneering.

It was in The Half Blood Prince when Malfoy is forced to question his allegiances and the motives of his parents that Felton finally got another chance to shine and not be forgotten. The same goes for the final film when Felton plays a boy in real distress, trying to do what is expected of him and struggling with his morals. Looking ahead Felton has got plenty of work, I just hope he isn’t typecast as the bad guy, though he does do a good sneer.

Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom

There’s no need for a chart when it comes to Neville Longbottom, from his entrance as the awkward boy with strong moral fibre to a decidedly handsome action hero, Lewis has always been a perfect ten. While those around him were just trying to get their words out and stand in the right spot, Lewis was portraying a real character with apparent ease. I seriously hope this isn’t the last we see of Matthew Lewis, he’s a treasure.

Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley

Oh Bonnie, what can we say? Not convincing as a woman in her late thirties, and barely convincing as a girl in her teens. Good luck.

Sean Biggerstaff as Oliver Wood

To compensate for my gushing over Emma Watson we have a few words from the female half of Mild Concern on Oliver Wood:

To a teenager watching Philosopher’s Stone, there was much to appreciate about the presence of Oliver Wood amongst all those children. With his smile and Scottish accent and the goofily endearing delivery (sigh), it felt like an absolute travesty on hearing that he was to be omitted from Prisoner of Azkaban: didn’t Cuarón realise this was the year Gryffindor won the Quidditch cup? And what is Quidditch without Wood?! There was outrage.

But in hindsight, the training and matches and trials slowed the overall films too much, even when they arguably included important plot points. For the sake of pace, we probably could have done with much shorter Quidditch sequences in general. Even if it meant sacrificing the lovely Wood.