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It’s officially been over 20 years since fans first met the Harry Potter cast, and after all this time, Potterheads may be curious to see what every member of the Harry Potter cast looks like now compared to when the very first film premiered.
The Harry Potter film franchise—which is based on a series of books written by J.K. Rowling—began with 2001’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The first film in the series starred a young Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint as the story’s main protagonists: Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, respectively. Over the course of the film series, fans witnessed the trio grow up at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and work together to defeat the dark wizard, Lord Voldemort. Meanwhile, the actors appeared in each of the franchise’s eight Harry Potter movies before completing their run in the last film of the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, in 2011. But this wouldn’t be the final time that fans saw Radcliffe, Watson and Grint together.
In November 2021, HBO Max announced a Harry Poter reunion special titled Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts. The reunion sees the return of Radcliffe, Watson and Grint, along with other original cast members, directors and producers who worked on the eight Harry Potter films. Tom Ascheim, president of Warner Bros. Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics, said in a statement that the reunion “is a tribute to everyone whose lives were touched by this cultural phenomenon—from the talented cast and crew who poured their heart and soul into this extraordinary film franchise to the passionate fans who continue to keep the Wizarding World spirit alive 20 years later.”
According to HBO Max, the reunion special will tell “an enchanting making-of story through all-new, in-depth interviews and cast conversations,” so fans can expect to see Radcliffe, Watson, Grint and more revisiting the magical world they helped bring to life all those years ago. And like the reunion, we’re taking a look back on where it all began for the Harry Potter cast. Read ahead to see what the Harry Potter cast looked like then and now.
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe)
Daniel Radcliffe was only 12 years old when the first Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, premiered in 2001 and introduced the Wizarding World to the big screen. The young actor quickly rose to fame when he was cast in the series’ titular part of Harry Potter and went on to reprise the role in all eight Harry Potter movies. Over the course of the franchise, viewers witnessed Radcliffe grow up before their very eyes: By the time the final film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, premiered in 2011, Radcliffe was already 22 years old.
Two decades after the first film premiered, Radcliffe joined his castmates for HBO Max’s Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts reunion special at the age of 32. In an interview during the special, Radcliffe revealed that many of his seminal moments in life took place on the set of Harry Potter. “Every part of my life is connected to ‘[Harry] Potter,'” he shared. “My first kiss is connected to someone here. My first girlfriends were here. It all spirals out from the part of set somewhere.”
Prior to the reunion’s premiere in January 2022, Radcliffe also told Entertainment Tonight about one of his best memories from his time as Harry Potter. “I have really, really fond memories of all my scenes with Gary Oldman [who played Sirius Black] and David Thewlis [who played Remus Lupin,]” he told the site in December 2021. “They were some of the first scenes on the third and the fifth film where I started to feel like I was a young man who was just starting to figure out what acting was, and they were pretty cool people to be around.”
Hermione Granger (Emma Watson)
At the age of 11, Emma Watson made her professional screen debut in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as the brainy and witty Hermione Granger. In 2002, she reprised her role in the Harry Potter sequel, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and continued to star in the franchise up until its final installments, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, hit theaters in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Watson was 21 years old when she hung up her cape as Hermione.
In 2021, Watson opened up about how “proud” she was to be a part of the Harry Potter franchise on Instagram, where she shared a sweet throwback photo of herself and her fellow castmates. “I am proud not just of what we as a group contributed as actors to the franchise but also as the children that became young adults that walked that path,” she captioned her post.
She added, “I look at my fellow cast members now and I am just so proud of who everyone has become as people. I am proud we were kind to each other that we supported one another and that we held up something meaningful. Happy 20th Anniversary Potterheads! We hope you enjoy the Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts which will stream New Year’s day, Jan. 1 on HBO Max. ⚡️ Lots to look forward to. 😊” At the time of the reunion’s premiere, Watson was 31 years old.
Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint)
Rupert Grint landed the role of Ron Weasley—a wizard and one of Harry Potter’s best friends—when he was only 11 years old. The child actor submitted an original rap as part of his audition for the part, which tells you just about everything you need to know about Ron Weasley’s personality. By the time the first Harry Potter film premiered in 2001, Grint was already 12 and devoted to starring in the role for another decade. When the franchise wrapped with 2011’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Grint was 22.
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight in December 2021, Grint revealed that he had many “emotions” ahead of HBO Max’s Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts reunion. “Those movies were our childhoods. We grew up on those sets so it has incredible meaning to all of us,” Grint said. “It’s been 10 years since we wrapped the last movie and we’ve seen each other quite a bit in-between that but not a great deal. So it was great to see them again and talk about it. I don’t really talk or think about it a lot, so it was fun to remember.”
The actor, who was 33 at the time of the reunion’s premiere in January 2022, even revealed that he wouldn’t be opposed to playing Ron Weasley again in a possible reboot or sequel to the Harry Potter franchise—especially now that he’s a father. (Grint and his partner, Georgia Groome, welcomed a daughter in 2020.) “There’s been a lot talk of [playing Ron again] with everything going on and I feel like I am that character,” he told the site at the time. “I think I had a very strange relationship with him at first but I feel like there’s a lot of me in there so I’m quite protective of him. I don’t really have a good reason to say no, I’m very proud to be a part of it.”
Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton)
Tom Felton was 14 years old when he appeared in the first Harry Potter film as Hogwarts bully and Slytherin Prince, Draco Malfoy. By the time the Harry Potter film franchise came to close in 2011, Felton was 24. The actor revisited his role at the age of 34 as part of HBO Max’s Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts reunion in January 2022.
In an interview with Square Mile in December 2021 ahead of the reunion, Felton reflected on his life before and after Harry Potter. When asked about the pressures of fame, Felton said, “It’s a very common question. How do you shake off the burden of being part of these things? Honestly? I’ve never, ever felt that this is a weight to carry. It can really affect you. I try to do as best as I can, really. We don’t really have too many examples—bearing in mind that when we did it, 20 years ago, obviously there was no social media. There wasn’t anything at all. To suddenly be in this world now where you can type in God knows what… I banned my mum from Googling me.”
As an adult, the actor revealed that he’s focused more on being content than hustling for his next opportunity. “I’m not desperately trying to win a Golden Globe or an Oscar. I’m more interested in a happy balance between Muggle life and getting out there to experience lots of things,” he said, before noting that he can remain more anonymous compared to his other Harry Potter castmates, who are still easily recognizable today. “I got the best of both worlds. I take the Tube, I take the bus, I walk my dog in the park,” he noted. “I saw Emma [Watson] the other night – she looks exactly the same as she did ten years ago. It’s almost impossible for her to not be spotted. I get a lot of people whispering, ‘is that whatshisname?’”
Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis)
When castings were first held for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Lewis—who was a huge fan of the series—jumped at the opportunity to audition. The child actor ultimately landed the role of the shy yet true Gryffindor wizard, Neville Longbottom. For the part, Lewis had to wear a set of false teeth, shoes that were two sizes too big, a fat suit and ear prosthetics all at the age of 12 in the franchise’s first film.
Looking back, Lewis actually finds it somewhat “painful” to watch his performance in the Harry Potter films. The actor, who was 22 at the time of the final film in the series and 32 when HBO Max’s Harry Potter reunion premiered in January 2022, told The New York Times that his role as Neville simply hits too close to home for him to bear. “I find it quite difficult when too much of me starts to come through in a character. It’s easier when I can play someone completely different, like a police officer in London or someone who’s wealthy,” he told the paper. “At times it’s painful how much of me there is in Neville. When I’m watching, I’m like, ‘That’s not Neville; that’s you.'”
Fred and George Weasley (James and Oliver Phelps)
Real-life twins James and Oliver Phelps were 15 years old when they first portrayed Harry Potter character Ron Weasley’s older brothers, Fred and George Weasley, in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 2001. The pair continued to star in their roles throughout the franchise’s eight films, concluding with 2011’s Deathly Hallows: Part 2 when they were aged 25. Ten years later, the pair both joined the rest of the Harry Potter crew for HBO Max’s 20th anniversary reunion special.
Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright)
Ginny Weasley—the youngest of the Weasley bunch—was played by actress Bonnie Wright. Wright debuted the role at age of 10, also making her one of the youngest members of the Harry Potter cast when the series’ first film premiered in 2001. In the final film in the franchise, Wright was 19 (she turned 20 when Deathly Hallows: Part 2 was released a year after filming took place). Since her role in the Potter universe, Wright has gone on to become an activist and star in dozens of other films.
Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch)
Quirky wizard Luna Lovegood was played by actress Evanna Lynch. The young star landed the role of the Ravenclaw member when she was 13, beating out over 15,000 other Potter hopefuls who auditioned for the part debuting in the fifth installment of the film franchise, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, in 2007. “They called me right after school and told me,” Lynch recalled in an interview with Good Morning America. “We were on our way home from school, and my mum wanted to go get her groceries, and I was like ‘absolutely not, if I miss this phone call, they might not call back and give it to someone else.’ You kind of can’t process something that big, so I just took it a step at a time, I went home and I actually did my homework.” The Irish actress continued to star in the role until Deathly Hallows: Part 2 in 2011, at which point she was 20 years old.
Professor Severus Snape (Alan Rickman)
The late Alan Rickman starred in the imposing role of Professor Severus Snape beginning at the age of 55. The English actor didn’t even start acting until he was in his 50s to begin with, making his role as Professor Snape a particularly poignant breakthrough. He continued to star in the role until the franchise’s final film, Deathly Hallows: Part 2, premiered in 2011. Rickman was 65 at the time.
Just four years later, however, the star tragically passed away at the age of 69 after a private battle with pancreatic cancer. Radcliffe, who starred as Harry Potter under the tutelage of Rickman’s intimidating character, remembers the actor fondly. “He was so encouraging of me both on set and in the years post-Potter,” Radcliffe said following Rickman’s passing. “I’m pretty sure he came and saw everything I ever did on stage both in London and New York. He didn’t have to do that.”
Professor Minerva McGonagall (Maggie Smith)
Dame Margaret “Maggie” Smith began starring in the Potterverse at the age of 67. The renowned English actress debuted the role of the half-blood witch and wise Hogwarts professor, Minerva McGonagall, in 2001’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. By the time Deathly Hallows: Part 2 was released in 2011, Smith was aged 77. While Smith didn’t return for the Harry Potter reunion on HBO Max in 2022, she was still active and performing at the age of 87 when the reunion premiered.
Harry Potter: Return to Hogwarts is available to stream on HBO Max. Here’s how to watch it for free.
For more about Harry Potter, check out The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook
by Dinah Bucholz. The New York Times bestseller features more than 150 recipes from the Harry Potter universe, from cauldron cakes to knickerbocker glories, for fans to re-create at home, regardless of if they’re wizard, witch or muggle. Other spell-binding recipes include Hagrid’s rock cakes, treacle tarts (Harry’s favorite dessert), Molly’s meat pies (Mrs. Weasley’s classic dish) and Kreacher’s French onion soup pumpkin pasties, a staple on the Hogwarts Express cart. The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook is a must-have for any Harry Potter fan who wants to know what it’s really like to eat in Hogwarts’ dining hall. For more Harry Potter collectible items, check out our Harry Potter gift guide here.
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