Minerva McGonagall Actress Got Real About Acting in Harry Potter

Minerva McGonagall Actress Got Real About Acting in Harry Potter
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'I didn't really feel I was acting in those things.'

The Harry Potter movies launched the careers of many young actors, including Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. But they also starred legendary actors who had been around for years, such as Robbie Coltrane, Alan Rickman and Dame Maggie Smith.

But while the series has been widely hailed as one of the greatest ever made, Maggie Smith found it wasn't particularly challenging from a creative point of view.

It wasn't acting

'I am deeply grateful for the work in Potter,' she told the Evening Standard, 'but it wasn't what you'd call satisfying. I didn't really feel I was acting in those things.'

She went on to say that Alan Rickman felt the same way. Dame Maggie put her work on Downton Abbey in the same category.

Like many successful actors, she said her first love was the theatre. She appeared in Twelfth Night at the Oxford Playhouse in 1952 and had a number of other stage roles early in her acting career.

Early career and breakthrough

At the same time, she regularly landed roles in TV and film, with her big breakthrough coming in 1968 when she played the title role in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the film, and from there her career went from strength to strength.

But throughout her time in Harry Potter, which she says made her feel like she was doing 'reaction shots', she was desperate to get back on stage in front of a live audience. Many actors, regardless of their career trajectory, find the buzz of a live audience to be the most exciting part of performing. And it's sometimes easy for us viewers, who only see the final cut, to forget how tedious it must sometimes be on set.

Longing for the stage

During her Potter years, Dame Maggie only appeared in three plays, which must have been something of a culture shock for someone who had been a prolific live performer for the previous five decades. When Harry Potter ended, she only had a short break before returning to the set of Downton Abbey.

In 2019, before Covid brought about the temporary closure of theatres, she played Brunhilde Pomsel in A German Life at the Bridge Theatre.

Now 88, she may never return to the stage. And while she may look back on her theatre appearances as the most enjoyable of her career, to many she will always be Minerva McGonagall.

Source: Evening Standard.