12 'Harry Potter' Stars, Then and Now

9:00 AM 6/25/2017

by Shellie Frai

Twenty years ago, author J.K. Rowling first brought readers into her world of wizardry and magic.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) - Radcliffe, Grint, Watson - Photofest -H 2017
Warner Bros. Pictures/Photofest

It's hard to believe it's been 20 years since the first Harry Potter book was published.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone hit bookstores on June 26, 1997 (the title was changed to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone for U.S. readers). J.K. Rowling's tale about a boy wizard became a global phenomenon: Six more books followed, as did eight movies (the first one hit theaters in 2001), in addition to the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them prequel adaptation (a sequel to the film is in the works) and the theatrical production Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

In honor of the first book's anniversary, The Hollywood Reporter takes a look at what the young actors who starred in the films have been doing since leaving Hogwarts.

  • Daniel Radcliffe

    At age 11, Radcliffe got his big break playing the boy wizard who ultimately defeats the dark wizard Lord Voldemort. At age 17, while on a break from working on the Harry Potter movie series, he shocked fan when he took on Broadway's role as a psychotic stable boy in Equus that called for a prolonged nude scene. His unique roles didn't stop there. After the Harry Potter franchise wrapped, he played Arthur Kipps in thriller The Woman in Black, where he was forced to lie inside a swampy bog, then he did handstands and black-flips on a Broadway stage as J. Pierrepont Finch in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. He later spent weeks studying medicine for his part as the Young Doctor in the TV series A Young Doctor’s Notebook. One of his upcoming roles is playing real-life adventurer Yossi Ghinsberg in the film Jungle, which has pushed him to his extreme: starving himself bone-thin as his character gets lost in a Bolivian jungle.

  • Emma Watson

    From playing the intelligent bookworm to becoming a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador, the face of Burberry and Lancome and a graduate from an Ivy League university, Watson has showed the world she is not just an actress. After the Harry Potter series — which, like Radcliffe, gave the actress her big break at age 11 — Watson went back to school and graduated from Brown University in English Literature. She then helped launch a U.N. gender equality campaign called HeForShe, which helped destigmatize the word feminist. When she did take on movie roles, she did so selectively. She played the free-spirited and eccentric mentor Sam in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, worked with director Sofia Coppola as a teenage, pole-dancing thief in Bling Ring and as Ila and play the daughter of the man God chose to save and told to build an ark in Noah. Most recently, Emma played Belle the box-office hit Beauty and the Beast, tweaking the role slightly from the original so that this time, it's just not Belle's dad who is an inventor, but also Belle herself.

  • Rupert Grint

    After 10 years on the big screen playing the quirky wizard — like his co-stars, he also got his big break at age 11 — Grint continued to revisit his famous role. He appeared in two shorts, "The Hogwarts Express" and "Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts," as Ron Weasley. However, he has also experimented with some odd jobs. His first car, which he got while filming the last Harry Potter movie, was an ice cream truck. This forced him to stock up on ice cream and candy to sell to the kids in his neighborhood and on set for the cast and crew. He then opened a boutique hotel called Rigsby’s Guest House in Hertford, England, which he later closed. When Grint decided to get back to acting, he worked in theater, TV and film. He took the Broadway stage in It’s Only a Play, the big screen in Mojo and the small screen as Charlie Cavendish, a hustler on Snatch, and as Daniel Glass, a misdiagnosed man who faces an existential dilemma, in Sick Note.


  • Tom Felton

    The actor, who played a despicable villain fans love to hate, has kept a lower profile than his other castmates but has been just as busy. The same year the last Harry Potter film was released, he starred as Dodge Landon, playing a villain once again in box-office hit Rise of the Planet of the Apes. He also starred in A United Kingdom alongside Rosamund Pike and as Lucius, an officer of the Roman army, in Risen. Felton has also appeared in TV shows as Erich Blunt, a Silicon Valley prodigy in Murder in the First, and as a supervillain Julian Albert/Doctor Alchemy in the superhero CW show The Flash. He is currently filming the Shakespearean drama Ophelia, in which he plays Laertes. When not acting, Felton is a musician and has released four EPs, where he sings and plays the guitar.


  • Matthew Lewis

    Lewis went from playing a dorky underdog whose notoriously wore a fat suit for all eight movies to posing shirtless in boxers for Attitude magazine. His transformation began after a short stint in the theater, world where he had a supporting role in Verdict, a touring version of the Agatha Christie play. However, he found his home on the TV screen, starring in a variety of shows like The Syndicate, where he played Jamie, an arrogant man who wins the lottery; Bluestone 42, where he played Corporal Gordon; Sean Balmforth in the crime series Happy Valley; and Sgt. Drummond in the period drama Ripper Street. Lewis returned to the big screen, playing Louisa Clark’s (Emilia Clarke) longtime boyfriend Patrick in the romantic drama Me Before You.

  • Bonnie Wright

    After playing Harry Potter's love interest, Wright went on to play Mia in Geography of the Heart, a film dealing with the complexity of love. Once the Harry Potter films were over she went to the London College of Communication to study film, where she wrote and directed a short film called "Separate We Come, Separate We Go," which features her Harry Potter co-star, David Thewlis (Professor Remus Lupin). Since then she has starred in the movies, After the Dark and Before I Sleep and is currently starring in a new version of the classic A Christmas Carol.


  • Evanna Lynch

    A die-hard Harry Potter fan who found out about the role after scouring  fan pages, Lynch lived out her dream by landing the coveted character of Luna Lovegood. After ending her spellbinding role, which was well received by critics and even praised by J.K. Rowling herself, Lynch starred in an indie comedy, G.B.F., which screened at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2013. She then took her love of magic to the stage, playing famous magician Houdini's wife and assistant, Bess Houdini, in Houdini. A year later, Lynch landed her first lead role as the title character in My Name Is Emily. While off the stage, Lynch has made a name for herself as a role model to young girls and boys who struggle with body image and self-esteem issues. She has spoken about her own experience with anorexia nervosa, writing the essay "Why the Body Bind Is My Nightmare," where she credits the Harry Potter series for allowing her to overcome the disorder. Lynch is also a spoken advocate for same-sex marriage and veganism.


  • James and Oliver Phelps

    The famous wise-cracking identical twins, who spent their entire childhood stirring trouble in Hogwarts, found it hard to continue acting individually for a period. They stayed by each other's side guest starring in the TV show Kingdom and finding supporting roles in the TV film Danny and the Human Zoo, about the life of comedian Lenny Henry, and in the indie comedy Own Worst Enemy. However, even though they still live together, the two have found their own personal identities as James continued acting and taking on roles in movies The Turn and Ward 3. Oliver stopped acting and took to blogging, creating an online website called Jop World, where he writes about his love of sports, his traveling adventures and his philanthropic endeavors. 

  • Alfie Enoch

    After starring in seven of the eight Harry Potter movies, Enoch decided to trade the wizarding school for one of the most prestigious schools in the world, Oxford University, earning a bachelor’s degree in modern languages. After he graduated, he decided to go back to acting, this time on the Broadway stage. Enoch dove in headfirst into the National Theatre, appearing in both Antigone and Timon of Athens in 2012. He continued acting in Shakespeare plays, taking to the stage in King Lear and Coriolanus, with a goal in mind: to diversify the Shakespearean acting world. After breaking boundaries on the stage, it was not long until Enoch got his big break in American TV, taking on a starring role as Web Gibbins in Shondaland's How to Get Away With Murder.


  • Katie Leung

    Gaining fame by being the girl to give Harry Potter his first kiss in the fifth installment of the series, Leung has continued to encapsulate watchers as she took on roles that pushed the envelope. Taking to the TV screen, Leung played a struggling, illegal Chinese immigrant in the series Run and then an adopted Chinese daughter who lives through the controversial one-child policy in China in One Child. Most recently, Leung is starring opposite Jackie Chan in the action-packed movie The Foreigner, about a man tracking down a group of Irish terrorists. Leung also made a name for herself on the stage. She played Junhee in You for Me for You at the Royal Court Theatre and Sunny in The World of Extreme Happiness at the National Theatre in London, and she just finished playing the main character, Dou Yi, in Snow in Midsummer with the Royal Shakespeare Company as part of the company’s program to bring Chinese classics to a Western audience.
  • Harry Melling

    Determined to shed the child-actor persona and start an acting career without being known for his fat and menacing character in Harry Potter, Melling lost more than 60 pounds, which led him to wear a fat suit in the last Harry Potter movie. After the series, he enrolled himself in the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, where he trained for the stage. Since then he has starred in 12 plays. In his first play, Mother Courage and Her Children, he played a familiar role as the son to none other than Fiona Shaw, who played his onscreen mother, Petunia Dursely, in the Harry Potter series. He also starred as Young Ward in Women Before Women at the Royal National Theatre and appeared in King Lear three times, twice playing the character Fool, then as Edgar. Melling did get back on the big screen, starring as William Barclay in the true-life drama The Lost City of Z, starring Robert Pattinson and Sienna Miller.