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Who Had The Best Movie Career After Harry Potter?

With “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” bringing Pottermania back into our lives this weekend, it seems like a good time to check in and see who the biggest winners from the original Harry Potter movies were. Enough about “The Boy Who Lived,” I want to know about “The Girl Who Cashed In” and “The Boy Who Lived To Appear Alongside Leonardo DiCaprio In ‘The Revenant.’”1

So I set out to discover which Harry Potter actors have had the best careers since the franchise kicked off in 2001 — similar to the analysis I did of people who’ve acted in the Star Wars franchise. How many other movies did they make, how good were those movies and how much money did they bring in?

To find out, I turned to IMDb. For every actor who was credited in one of the eight Harry Potter movies, I pulled every full-length feature film2 that he or she was credited in, as well as the ratings for each film and its box-office take, if IMDb had it.

We know the Potter films kept the established U.K. actor corps paid, but they also found and elevated new, young talent. Here’s the total number of non-Potter films that the top 20 busiest Potter actors made (as in acted, directed or wrote)3 after their first Harry Potter movie:

Toby Jones Voice of Dobby 39
John Hurt Ollivander 31
John Cleese Nearly Headless Nick 27
Timothy Spall Peter Pettigrew 23
Gary Oldman Sirius Black 22
Emma Thompson Sybill Trelawney 22
Jason Isaacs Lucius Malfoy 21
Brendan Gleeson Mad-Eye Moody 21
David Thewlis Remus Lupin 21
Bronson Webb Pike 20
Jim Broadbent Horace Slughorn 20
Ralph Fiennes Voldemort 19
Shirley Henderson Moaning Myrtle 19
Robert Pattinson Cedric Diggory 17
Michael Gambon Albus Dumbledore 17
Alan Rickman Severus Snape 15
Julie Walters Molly Weasley 14
Bill Nighy Rufus Scrimgeour 14
Maggie Smith Minerva McGonagall 13
Ned Dennehy Alderton 13
Who has stayed the busiest since their first Harry Potter film?

Source: IMDb

It’s the older crowd — the parents and the teachers — that’s been busiest since joining the Wizarding world. Of the younger generation, Bronson Webb — who played a one-off character in Draco’s gang in the third film — has worked most often since, with small roles across 20 films. Among the higher-billed young cast, it’s Robert Pattinson, who once played Cedric Diggory but is now better-known for playing Edward Cullen in the Twilight films.

Where’s our main trio — Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint? They’ve mostly spent big swaths of time with projects other than films. Watson went to college after the Potter films stopped shooting but will soon apparate back into the big time in a major Disney reboot of “Beauty and the Beast”; Radcliffe did do a stint as a farting corpse but has mostly stuck to the stage; and Rupert Grint is doing Rupert Grint.

How about the relative quality of Potter actors’ post-Potter films? Certainly Pattinson should be held accountable for his crimes. For performers who appeared in five or more films after their first Potter outing, I found the average IMDb rating of all their non-Potter movies.

Margery Mason Honeydukes Express Lady 6 7.42
Domhnall Gleeson Bill Weasley 12 7.37
Simon McBurney Voice of Kreacher 6 7.28
Arben Bajraktaraj Antonin Dolohov 5 7.02
Brendan Gleeson Mad-Eye Moody 21 6.90
Clémence Poésy Fleur Delacour 5 6.88
Helena B. Carter Bellatrix Lestrange 12 6.88
Ralph Fiennes Voldemort 19 6.86
Emma Thompson Sybill Trelawney 22 6.85
Kenneth Branagh Gilderoy Lockhart 11 6.84
Ralph Ineson Amycus Carrow 10 6.83
Richard Griffiths Vernon Dursley 9 6.82
Imelda Staunton Dolores Umbridge 12 6.80
Alan Rickman Severus Snape 15 6.80
Julie Christie Madame Rosmerta 7 6.79
Who’s been in the best movies since their first Harry Potter film?

Source: IMDb

Domhnall Gleeson (Bill Weasley) is the most interesting one here, given his absurd 2015. He was in Oscar-nominated films “The Revenant” and “Brooklyn,” played General Hux in box-office smash “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” and performed alongside Alicia Vikander and Oscar Isaac in the critically beloved “Ex Machina.” Among the younger cadre of Potter actors, he’s the strongest contender for best run since Hogwarts. Bill Weasley’s wife, Fleur Delacour (played by Clémence Poésy), isn’t doing half-bad herself, appearing in movies including “In Bruges,” “127 Hours,” and “The Ones Below.”

Still, being in good movies is nice and all, but who has been swimming in Sickles since?

Toby Jones Voice of Dobby $2.2b
Gary Oldman Sirius Black 2.1
John Cleese Nearly Headless Nick 2.0
Domhnall Gleeson Bill Weasley 1.5
Kenneth Branagh Gilderoy Lockhart 1.5
Robert Pattinson Cedric Diggory 1.4
Warwick Davis Filius Flitwick 1.3
Helena B. Carter Bellatrix Lestrange 1.3
Kate Fleetwood Mary Cattermole 1.1
Emma Thompson Sybill Trelawney 1.1
Whose non-Potter movies have made the most money since their first Harry Potter movie?

Dollars not adjusted for inflation

Source: IMDb

Based on the box-office gross records from IMDb, franchise-hopping is the way to go, per usual. Toby Jones has been Captain America foe Dr. Arnim Zola in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, John Cleese found a home in the Shrek world and Kenneth Branagh directed “Thor.” Warwick Davis, Kate Fleetwood and Gleeson were in “The Force Awakens.” Gary Oldman was in the Nolan Batman movies since entering the Harry Potter world in “Prisoner of Azkaban,” and Helena Bonham Carter was in “Alice in Wonderland.” All this bodes well for Watson, whose “Beauty and the Beast” opens next year.

Some folks have also succeeded on the small screen. “Game of Thrones” is lousy with Harry Potter actors, including Natalia Tena (Nymphadora Tonks in Potter and Osha in Thrones), Michelle Fairley (Hermione’s mother and Catelyn Stark), David Bradley (Argus Filch and Walder Frey) and Ciaran Hinds (Aberforth Dumbledore and Mance Rayder). Alfred Enoch, who’s a lead on “How to Get Away with Murder,” played Dean Thomas. Obviously Maggie Smith’s run on “Downton Abbey” should count for something, but since she won’t even show up to her own Emmy victories, we needn’t dwell on it.

And with a whole new five-film epic coming up in “Fantastic Beasts,” we can look forward to yet another bit-part star getting launched to inexplicable superstardom a few years down the line.


  1. Sure, that doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as well, but neither does “Domhnall Gleeson.”

  2. A movie had to have more than 5,000 ratings on IMDb to be included.

  3. Stuntmen and Ms. Bonham Carter’s driver don’t count.

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.