power rankings

Which Young Potter Star Is Having the Best Career Right Now?

They’ve been busy! Photo: Alamy

As J. K. Rowling continues to tank her reputation with anti-trans ideology, the lasting legacy of the Harry Potter films may really be all the careers of young actors that they launched. The franchise’s once-rising stars have grown up and gone on to play Batman, work with the Coen brothers, pretend to rob celebrities, become horror headliners, and, as is currently the case with Daniel Radcliffe, lead a weirdo biopic about Weird Al. But of all their various post-Potter trajectories 21 years on, whose is the best?

Still Mostly Known for Wizardry

Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley) and Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood)

Both Wright and Lynch have focused largely on work outside acting in recent years — Wright on environmental activism and Lynch on véganisme and animal rights. They each work with Rowling’s charity Lumos as well. Basically, both are big on the “Other Ventures” sections of Wikipedia.

Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy)

Felton just put out a memoir, Beyond the Wand, about growing up through the Potter films and, afterward, his experiences with substance abuse. The book details how, after appearing in another big franchise film, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, he felt lost in Hollywood. He’s since moved back to London, recalibrated, written his story, and made a stage debut on the West End earlier this year.

Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom)

Lewis had the internet’s favorite Potter glow-up and has since worked consistently in British film and TV. At the moment, he’s starring in the most calming series, All Creatures Great and Small. Good, respectable, and cozy work!

Emma Watson (Hermione Granger)

Among the main Potter trio, Watson seemed to have had the brightest career ahead of her out of the gate. And she quickly went on to try out various versions of an American accent, some successfully haunting (The Bling Ring) and some less so (The Perks of Being a Wallflower). After a big swing at a Disney movie in 2017’s Beauty and the Beast and playing the least compelling March sister in Greta Gurwig’s Little Women, Watson has been on a break from acting since 2019, instead focusing on activism. (She’s only appeared in a short film for Prada.) She even put a pause on her book club in January 2020. In 2021, she had to publicly dispel a Daily Mail rumor that her career was “dormant.” It’s still unclear what she’s up to, but at this point, she’ll never not be famous.

Better IMDb Than You’d Think

Katie Leung (Cho Chang)

Leung has developed a solid acting career, mixing voice work (notably in the League of Legends series Arcane) with live action and theater. She’s now appearing in Amazon’s new series The Peripheral. Maybe sci-fi’s her niche.

Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley)

It’s a tough break to make your name playing someone as oblivious as Ron, and it felt for a bit like Grint wasn’t sure what to do next. After a smattering of films that didn’t quite hit, Grint has found a better vein in dark-comedy TV with the British series Sick Note and an adaptation of Guy Ritchie’s Snatch. But his best work is in M. Night Shyamalan’s Apple TV+ show Servant, where he’s Lauren Ambrose’s wastrel of a brother. Horror seems a good fit for him — maybe because he gives a great shocked and confused face — and he’ll reunite with Shyamalan again soon in the new movie, Knock at the Cabin.

Freddie Stroma (Cormac McLaggen) and Alfred Enoch (Dean Thomas)

Two actors who have tried hard to do so much other work you forget they were at Hogwarts. Stroma seems deeply committed to making at least once small appearance in every TV show of the moment: He was on UnREAL, Bridgerton, Game of Thrones, and now has a regular role on HBO Max’s DC Comics series Peacemaker. Eventually, you’ll just know him as “that blond guy who is everywhere.” Enoch, meanwhile, spent a lot of time going through all the traumas of How to Get Away With Murder. He’s since appeared in Apple’s big sci-fi series Foundation, played Romeo in the West End, and he has a Christmasy rom-com coming up. These men stay busy.

Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter)

The way to make people stop associating you with a boy wizard might be to just get increasingly oddball. Radcliffe went onstage in 2008 in Equus, as if to prove he could do something serious (and NSFW), and has kept things indie and inventive ever since. He’s been charming in a rom-com (What If), gotten into TV comedy (Miracle Workers), and, yes, played a ­farting corpse in Swiss Army Man — soon, he’ll try Sondheim Off Broadway in Merrily We Roll Along. Weird is really just a play toward his new niche, which is being a kooky little dude.

Wait, They Were in Harry Potter?

Domhnall Gleeson (Bill Weasley)

As the eldest and most absent of the Weasleys, Gleeson didn’t have too much to do in the films (and sure, being a Gleeson, he was already Irish acting royalty), but he’s made a hell of a career since then. He’s been in Star Wars and a period romance (Brooklyn), headlined TV projects (Run), and currently plays an ever-so creepy killer on The Patient. If Gleeson’s in it, it’s probably pretty good.

Harry Melling (Dudley Dursley)

Who could’ve guessed Harry’s cruel cousin would become a favorite actor of film auteurs? Melling has worked with James Gray (The Lost City of Z), Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Old Guard), and the Coen Brothers (with both in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and just Joel in The Tragedy of Macbeth). His breakout reintroduction came mid-pandemic via Netflix’s megahit The Queen’s Gambit, in which he played Anya Taylor-Joy’s rival turned supporter. Next, he’ll be Edgar Allan Poe in the Christian Bale film The Pale Blue Eye. The work speaks for itself.

Robert Pattinson (Cedric Diggory)

He might have only appeared in one Potter film and immediately died, but Pattinson knows the experience of being trapped in a young-adult franchise of his own thanks to Twilight. He knows how to make the most of those checks. He’s helped numerous great indie directors, from the Safdie brothers to Claire Denis, get projects financed with his star power. Also, he’s Batman. Can’t really argue with that.

Which Young Harry Potter Star Is Having the Best Career Now?