Now that David Yates's hot-blooded and handsome adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has opened — setting box-office records already, no less — it's time to start looking forward to the sixth film in the series, which begins filming in September in anticipation of a fall 2008 release. Yates, who is directing this one as well, has not made any casting announcements yet, so we can only speculate about who might play the new characters introduced into the story in Book Six, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
Speculate … and campaign! Unless Yates follows our wife's advice and just makes a seventeen-hour movie directly transcribing every scene in the book, some of these characters may not make the cut, but let's pretend they all will and find roles for the six or so British and Irish actors who haven't already been employed by the Harry Potter series.
As Horace Slughorn, the fat, influence-peddling new Potions professor at Hogwarts, who better than Topsy-Turvy's Jim Broadbent? J.K. Rowling describes Slughorn as having a "shiny pate, prominent eyes, [an] enormous silver, walruslike mustache." Broadbent looks exactly like Slughorn and can play forced jollity like no one else. We're already giggling thinking about Jim Broadbent proudly showing off the boxes of candies he receives from one of his former students, now working at Honeydukes.
Rowling describes the sixth book's new Minister of Magic thus:
Rufus Scrimgeour looked rather like an old lion. Keen yellowish eyes … a certain rangy, loping grace … an immediate impression of shrewdness and toughness.
Sounds like the leonine Bill Nighy (The Vertical Hour, Notes on a Scandal) to us! He's already friends with his State of Play director Yates, so it shouldn't be too hard to get him the role.
Marvolo Gaunt, the wild-eyed grandfather of Voldemort, is a vile hermit who lives in a shack in the woods. His "big brown eyes and wrinkled face," Rowling writes, give him the look of "a powerful, aged monkey." His volatile temper requires a fierce, dangerous actor to play him; we suggest Daniel Day-Lewis, who looks more and more like a hermit each year. He wouldn't even need to shave his beard!
Though Draco Malfoy's mother, Narcissa Malfoy, doesn't appear in the earlier movies, she does appear in the fourth book, where she's described as a pale blonde woman who "would have been nice-looking if she wasn't wearing a look that suggested there was a nasty smell under her nose." The role requires a combination of glamour, menace, and desperation, as Narcissa's big scene in the sixth book involves her begging for her son's life. Rumors have Naomi Watts in the role, but we think she seems far too nice. How about the aristocratic Kristin Scott Thomas?
Werewolf Fenrir Grayback is a child-menacing monster whose wolf and human characteristics are beginning to blur. "A big, rangy man with matted gray hair and whiskers," Rowling writes, also mentioning "a rasping bark of a voice." At first we thought of Nighy for this role as well, but then we hit on Deadwood's Ian McShane. Besides being a fantastic actor, he's definitely dangerous enough to play the role. In this photo, in fact, he looks remarkably like a guy who might have already eaten a couple of babies for breakfast.
The novel opens with a very funny scene between the Minister of Magic and the beleaguered Muggle Prime Minister, who can't believe that wizards keep showing up in his fireplace just as everything seems to be going wrong all across England. We find it hard to imagine that this bit will make it into the movie, which is a real shame, because The Queen's Michael Sheen would be perfect for it.
Photo credits: Getty Images (Sheen, McShane, Day-Lewis, Nighy); Buena Vista Pictures (Broadbent); Sony Pictures Classics (Thomas)