Harry Potter and The “Jarringly Awful” Acting

Before they became worldwide stars through the Harry Potter films, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint were all untrained actors handpicked to play iconic roles. At the beginning, they were merely cute kids, but as their parts matured, they were called to play deeper, more complex emotions. Leo Lewis, critic for The London Times, says the young actors fail to rise to the occasion in his review of The Order of the Phoenix. He takes a particularly vicious swipe at Radcliffe:

The acting skills of Radcliffe (Harry), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) and Emma Watson (Hermione) have improved, but not enough to truly flesh out the characters and provide the narrative depth that this transitional, plot-advancing film needs. They have got “angry” and “determined” down pat at this point, but struggle somewhat on the more nuanced grimaces. Harry’s bellowing cod-psychoanalysis of Voldemort is jarringly awful.

Yeah, I’m sure that one kinda smarts. Ironically, Radcliffe has the strongest acting pedigree of the three, having received mostly positive reviews for his challenging role in Equus. However, most of his acting training has been solely on Harry Potter movies, which were always more about special effects than playing an emotional arc. Radcliffe, Grint, and Watson all sat down with The Daily Telegraph to talk about their experience growing up through the Harry Potter movies, and Watson says she would like to take a step back before pursuing other acting roles:

“Never having done an audition before and never having done any professional acting and going into the biggest film franchise of all time, I’ve kind of come from nowhere and gone straight in at the top. Where do I go from here? I feel like I need to backtrack and work my way through again. I’d be really interested to kind of train properly because I feel I shouldn’t be here. I should have done so much more.”

I think this is courageous of her. I’m sure she has people who tell her she’s brilliant – that she could be the next Keira Knightley – but she has enough self-awareness and humility to know her skills need some honing. Imagine a woefully inadequate actress like Jennifer Hudson staring her Oscar in the face and recognizing, “Hey, I could use some training.” Wouldn’t happen – she has too many Hollywood hustlers telling her she could play Aretha Franklin. Such is the danger of believing one’s own hype.

One hopes the Harry Potter kids will avoid that fate – enroll in school, do some Shakespeare, and invest in their careers. It’s the British way, after all.

In other news:

  • Jordan has had her baby…and yep, it has a vagina!(The Sun)
  • Lily Allen was questioned by police for her infamous run-in with a photographer a few months ago. (BBC)
  • Lily Allen confesses to lesbian dreams.(Contact Music)
  • Graham Norton may host a talent show devoted to finding Britain’s best tribute bands. Oasis, sorry, not eligible.(What’s On TV)
  • Noel Gallagher says Johnny Marr “made him pick up a guitar” so at least now we know who to hold accountable…(NME)
  • Joe Wright‘s Atonement is already getting an Oscar push, according to Variety‘s Anne Thompson.
  • Daniel Craig should play Steve McQueen, says the Bullitt star’s widow. Couldn’t imagine a better fit.(Cinematical)
  • Irish actor Jason O’Mara will play Sam Tyler in the David E. Kelley version of Life On Mars.(RTE)
  • The U.S. version of Footballers Wive$ may still be on.(Digital Spy)
  • Doctor Who will be getting a new sidekick in addition to Freema Agyeman‘s Martha, says a show insider.(Mirror)
  • Danielle Lloyd – who, to the best of my knowledge is still known for being a disgraced beauty queen and possible racist – has split from her latest conquest, footballer Marcus Bent.(The Sun)
  • The Sun picks on Tim Henman for losing at Wimbledon – again.

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

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