A friend of mine has embraced the latest release in Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series, and I, too, am forced to select a coping mechanism.
I began my quest for post-Potter serenity by watching a yet-unseen-by-me succession of Woody Allen movies. I don’t know why I thought that was a good idea — as though four-eyed characters are interchangeable or something. When the sheer volume of anxious ticks set to jazz music became grating, I scrubbed my kitchen squeaky (next stop, bathroom), but alas, no sponge or disinfectant could mend my broken heart. (Though I daresay the ammonia didn’t hurt.)
Until Netflix sends my Weeds, Season 2 discs, and until my younger sister finishes the damn book so we can have a proper wake for dearly departed Fred Weasley, I’ve finally accepted that I can’t yet turn my gaze from Harry. And with that knowledge, I have chosen to fantasy-cast the two remaining movies; because if there’s one thing I love as much as a good book, it’s pretending I have the decision-making clout of a powerful Hollywood executive.
Horace Slughorn: Brian Cox
Two individuals from this office proffered Bob Hoskins for Slughorn, the rotund potions master of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, but I still favor Brian Cox. His dance card’s rather full for the next few years, but surely he can fit one giant spider burial into his schedule, with a possible post-graveside-service rendition of “Odo the Hero.” (Music from the motion picture, track 1: “Odo the Hero,” lyrics: J.K. Rowling; vocals: Brian Cox, Robbie Coltrane; musical arrangement: Coldplay.)
Rufus Scrimgeour: Hugh Laurie
Rowling gives Half-Blood Prince’s replacement Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour a worn, elderly lion-like visage. I’ve always imagined him as a scruffy Robert Redford. But that won’t do — ol’ Sundance is America. It’s come down to two — Jeremy Irons and Hugh Laurie, and (Pikachu!) I choose Hugh! He’s got the limp down pat — just imagine it was caused by a dark wizard and not an aneurysm. Plus, he can chill with old friend Emma Thompson on the set.
Aberforth Dumbledore: Michael Caine
One minute this Deathly Hallows character is fiddle-di-deeing with goats, the next he’s sharing the tragic, chilling story of his and Dumbledore’s deceased sister with Harry & Co. There’s just one person to play this hot-cold part (though he would have made a damn fine Albus, too): the Alfie and the O’Malley, Michael Caine.
Marvolo Gaunt: Bill Nighy
Strange, how the actors we most endear — the funniest, the goofiest — can contort themselves into the cruelest characters when they want to. Consider the cold-hearted, blue-blooded Bill Nighy of The Constant Gardener, or the vicious and proud tentacle-faced Nighy of the Pirates series. Finally, recall how damn scary Bill (and some makeup artists) made himself appear as he transformed into a zombie in Shaun of the Dead. Combine all three, and I think we’ve got a suitable, brutally mean grandpappy for Voldemort on our hands.
Hepzibah Smith: Judi Dench
Judi Dench has never achieved the expansive body mass of Hepzibah Smith, the aged bourgeois woman-child of Half-Blood, but Imelda Staunton isn’t the squat toad Rowling describes Dolores Umbridge as in book five, either, and she got cast. So I vote for the great Dame Dench to sink her scenery-chewing teeth into this small but engaging role (she’s in possession of a horcrux, for Pete’s sake, you can’t cut her!). Picture the still girlishly charming actress seated on a giant pink poof, lording over a house-elf named Hokey and making passes at a young Voldemort. Priceless.
Xenophilius Lovegood: Jim Broadbent
Who else would have raised his daughter to believe in Nargles and Crumple-Horned Snorkacks? This book-seven character has the critical role of explaining the novel’s titular elements, the Deathly Hallows, to our band on the run — just before he betrays them to the Death Eaters. He’s not a Judas, he just wants his daughter back … which is why Jim, who’s always exuded a paternal aura (“You’re dying, Satine.” Sob!), is the ideal Quibbler editor and Luna-spawner.
Gellert Grindelwald: Peter O’Toole
Sure, this pre-Voldemort dark wizard, long since defeated by Dumbledore, only shows up for about a page in Deathly Hallows (when V-dawg soars up to his prison-tower for the purpose of acquiring Grindy’s Wand of Destiny — the world’s most powerful magic stick), but he’s exactly the skeletal being I envisioned declaring “I welcome death” to the heir of Slytherin. And wouldn’t it be great if he received that we-owe-you-one Oscar for his 60-second performance?