‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’: First Look at Grown-Up Characters

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child | Source: Official Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Twitter account

The previews for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child have begun in London’s West End. But those of us who don’t live in London or have the money to purchase tickets can still only wonder about the content of the hotly anticipated play based on J.K. Rowling’s wildly successful book series, at least until July 31 of this year, when the script book became available to the general public. Rowling contributed ideas for the theater adaptation of her world famous characters but handed overall writing duties off to playwright Jack Thorne. [Update, 12/2/16: Per Pottermore (J.K. Rowling’s official Harry Potter website), “plans are officially underway for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child to open on Broadway.” Stay tuned for more details!]

For now, we have little more than a (decidedly vague) plot synopsis to go off of:

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest [sic] son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

The London play’s cast list was released earlier this year, complete with photos of the actors in wardrobe as Rowling’s iconic characters. Predictably the photos prompted lots of debate among Potter fans, with one casting choice in particular sparking a lot of controversy, unfortunately. Since most of us won’t be able to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in the foreseeable future, let’s pore over the cast photos once more to compare the past iterations of our favorite witches and wizards against the latest models.

Starting with the (presumably) smaller players, we have Draco Malfoy played by Alex Price, who certainly has the icy expression and platinum blond hair of the character down pat, even if the hair is definitely a dye job. His widow’s peak isn’t quite like Tom Felton’s, but it should be interesting to check in on Malfoy 19 years on, as Potter’s early rival quietly became one of the series’s most compelling characters in the final few books for his resistance in embracing the dark lord as his parents wanted him to. Judging from his expression, Malfoy will still be something of a grump, but I suspect he’ll fall closer to the heroic side of the wizarding world in the new play.

Malfoy’s son played by Anthony Boyle will also show up. Boyle’s big sad eyes already seem to suggest he could be an interesting new addition to the cast — another of the series’s few sympathetic Slytherins perhaps? Better yet, his name is Scorpius. I’ll repeat that: Scorpius. It’s so un-subtle and villainous, it must be the goofiest name of the many, many goofy names Rowling created throughout the Harry Potter series.

Next up we have Ron Weasley. Paul Thornley plays the grown-up Weasley, and from the looks of this still, he has the affable demeanor and ginger hair necessary to fill the role. It’ll be interesting to see if Ron as an adult is still as lovably and goofy as he was in both the films and books. Does Thornley have the timing to take on the role of comic relief just as Rupert Grint did so capably for the films?

Noma Dumezweni is playing Ron’s wife and fan favorite character Hermione. The conversation surrounding the cast photos of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child quickly became dominated by Dumezweni’s race, sparking both nuanced responses and the sort of prejudiced vitriol we’ve all come to expect from the internet by now. Many were upset to see this new version of the character, previously played by Emma Watson. Rowling, who already retroactively diversified her cast of characters by revealing that Dumbledore was gay, wholeheartedly approved the change, speaking with The Observer about her displeasure with the racist response and tweeting:

And now for Ron and Hermione’s daughter Rose-Granger Weasley, who seems to take after her mother far more than her father in the looks department. I don’t have much to say about this one, except that the actress Cherrelle Skeete has a wonderfully mischievous glint in her eyes that I hope is reflected in her actual character.

Ginny Potter, played by Poppy Miller this time around, looks about exactly as I imagined the overworked matriarch Molly Weasley to look in the original book series — in other words, exactly how Ginny would look with another 19 years of age. Credit where credit is due: The casting department for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child know how to cast their Weasleys.

The final member of Harry Potter’s newest generation, Albus Potter’s first journey to Hogwarts ended the final Harry Potter book, and the appearance of actor Sam Clemmett seems to match Albus’s meek demeanor in that film. Again, I have almost zero point of reference for this one, so here’s hoping Clemmett can turn Albus, who may replace his father as the series’s primary protagonist in this play, into a compelling character with the help of Thorne’s script.

Finally, the big hero himself, Harry Potter, played by Jamie Parker. All the superficial details of Harry’s appearance are in place — the scar, the glasses, the dark hair — but I can’t help but wither under Parker’s stern-eyed stare. His strict sullenness seems a little out of whack for the young hero we grew to love in the original book series, but that might just be this photo, or it might reflect some juicy new character developments.

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