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10 Best Book-to-Film “Harry Potter” Characters

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Poppy is the author of "A Bard's Lament" and the Black Diamond series. She lives in Enoshima, Japan, with her husband and young son.

The Harry Potter franchise is known worldwide as arguably one of the best fantasy book series of all time. If you read the books before you watched the movies, you probably had an idea, or hope, of how the story would look on-screen, how actors would portray new characters, and whether the scenes matched up to the action in your head.

When I watched the movies, some scenes were fantastic, whereas some left me disappointed. The same goes for the characters. Sometimes you could really tell whether actors had read the books or not. Here's a breakdown list of who, in my opinion, played their characters well. To see a list of Harry Potter characters portrayed poorly, see Worst Book to Film Harry Potter Characters.

10. Peter Pettigrew (Timothy Spall)

Timothy Spall is a marvellous actor and he did a great job at being the weedy, snivelling Peter Pettigrew, nicknamed Wormtail. I was pleased with his job on-screen in The Prisoner of Azkaban and he continued to be flawless in the later films.

Spall was a great choice for physical features, too: he could act as a short "lump" in the films, sported a bald patch of hair, and could even make his eyes watery and beady.

9. Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter)

Helena Bonham Carter was the perfect choice for this role! Crazy, dark, and dangerous, Bellatrix's sadistic character obsessed with Voldemort and the dark arts was brought to life by Carter's performance.

The insanity, creepiness, and pure evil was portrayed very well by the actress who also appeared in Fight Club, Ocean's 8, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

8. Sybill Trelawney (Emma Thompson)

Professor Sybill Trelawney is the Divination teacher, with a dreamy voice and an odd obsession with Harry, whose death she constantly predicts, thoroughly annoying Hermione. Although she's something of a fraud, she is actually much more important than one might think.

Emma Thompson did a fantastic job of recreating this teacher who is described in the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban book as looking like a "glittering insect." Everything from her hair to her clothes to her voice was perfect. Thompson did a wonderful portrayal of this key character.

7. Moaning Myrtle (Shirley Henderson)

One huge character in The Chamber of Secrets was Moaning Myrtle, the ghost who lurked in an abandoned girl's lavatory after being killed by the basilisk. Shirley Henderson did a truly amazing job of portraying this whiny teenager.

It is impressive enough that the actress, who was thirty-six years old at the time of filming, could pass as a schoolgirl! She then added to the performance by portraying the character perfectly.

6. Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane)

Hagrid is the first person from the wizarding world Harry meets after eleven years of thinking he is a normal, non-magical person. He is quite literally a gentle giant— half-giant, anyway—and is firm friends with Harry, Ron and Hermione throughout the series. He loves dangerous animals, often claiming they're 'seriously misunderstood', and lives in a cabin near Hogwarts as gamekeeper.

Robbie Coltrane looked perfect as Hagrid—everything from his tangled beard and twinkling eyes to his big heavy boots. The only reason he isn't higher on this list is because he didn't get much on-screen time in the later movies. Nice performance, Coltrane.

5. Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes)

The Dark Lord himself was played by a talented (and actually very handsome in real life) Ralph Fiennes. He won over the audience in all of the movies from The Goblet of Fire, from his cold gaze to his high-pitched whispering voice that still gives us the chills to this day.

4. Minerva McGonagall (Maggie Smith)

Professor McGonagall is a great character in the books. Strict, clever and all-in-all an excellent witch, Professor McGonagall gets Harry onto the Gryffindor Quidditch team in his first year, offers advice and help throughout his schooling without showing favouritism, and leads the battle for Hogwarts in Book 7.

Maggie Smith did an excellent job of playing this immensely likeable teacher of Hogwarts. She was slightly intimidating, carrying an air of a very wise witch and great teacher. Thumbs up for Maggie.

3. Argus Filch (David Bradley)

Argus Filch is the Hogwarts caretaker, who lurks around the castle with his cat, Mrs Norris. In the books he is portrayed as a sneaky, rather dirty Squib (non-magical despite being from a wizarding family) who just loves to pick on students and punish them.

Argus Filch is hilarious in the movies, and appears regularly enough to be a nuisance for the students. His wheezy voice and constant disgusted. slightly mad look made him a great character in the movies. He is played by David Bradley who also plays a character in Game of Thrones.

2. Severus Snape (Alan Rickman)

Alan Rickman did a remarkable job as one of the most popular Harry Potter characters, Professor Severus Snape. He hates Harry simply because he is his father's son, and is way more mean in the books than in the films. Nevertheless, Rickman portrayed Snape as the serious, secretive and sarcastic professor who is suspected of being evil, realised to be on Dumbledore's side, suspected evil again, and ultimately proven innocent.

He is one of my favourite characters from Harry Potter, and Alan Rickman was most definitely a fantastic choice to play Snape. Everything from his demeanour, to his sarcastic lines to his billowing black cloak and hair is just perfect. One of the best Rickman roles.

1. Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton)

Dolores Umbridge is delightfully evil. She first appears in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix as a Ministry of Magic representative voting for Harry's expulsion from Hogwarts and later as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher.

Over the year, she says that anyone claiming Voldemort is back is lying, punishes students by making them write lines in their own blood, and introduces many new rules from the Ministry to Hogwarts, making herself Headmistress for a short while. She makes life hell for many students of Hogwarts and coupled with this, she wears a sickly pink cardigan and has hideous plates in her office with fluffy kittens on them. This oxymoron of cute and evil makes her a very memorable character.

Umbridge was played by Imelda Staunton, and exceptionally, too. She speaks in a sickly-sweet way, interrupts people with her tiny cough ("hem hem"), which I was very pleased about as it had been a nice touch in the books, and even wears the pink cardigan. Staunton did a superb job of bringing Umbridge's character to life, and that's why she deserves the number 1 spot.

One of the most important parts of any story is the characters, and these great actors brought these loved villains, heroes, and sub-characters to life! Who were you most impressed with?

© 2015 Poppy


Mr Snuffleupagaus on July 27, 2017:

Bellatrix lestrange was freaking amazing in the movie, she is definitely the best villain.

Poppy (author) from Enoshima, Japan on October 06, 2015:

I don't know about sexy, but you're right, she was awesome! I'll add her in later. Thanks for your useful comment!

Hildy Gloom on October 05, 2015:

u forgot Bellatrix Helena played her perfectly she made Bella scary, sexy, and funny all at the same time!

tom on July 31, 2015:

I always loved Umbridge, and Staunton knocks it out the park. And who doesn't love Alan Rickman?