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Throwback Thursday, Fun Friday, a combination of both–going out on a limb here to try something new and fun/silly on the Leaky News page. Bustle recently posted a hilarious list of “25 Harry Potter Characters, Ranked by Dateability.” You can read the list on their sight, here, and peruse their pros and cons of each character–Dolores Umbridge ranks below even Lord Voldemort, holding the glorified 25th position on the list. At Leaky, we would like to know who would be on your list (the goodies and the baddies) and your hilarious reasons why. We will compile a list of the most recurring characters as well as the accompanying reasonings behind each choice! Get your Quick-Quotes Quills and godspeed!
Sound like an interesting book title? Maybe to the more science-oriented fans in this fandom, or those of us particularly interested in genetics. Professors at Rutgers University have turned towards using Harry Potter as an introductory level example of behavioral genetics to answer the famous question: what drives our personal characteristics and actions, nature or nurture? Harry looks like his father (except he has his mother’s eyes, we know, we know–pretending that young Lily’s brown eyes in the movie match Harry’s blue ones–we know). According to Professor Snape, Harry acts like his father; and, as Hermione pointed out for us in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry’s amazing Quidditch skills are not surprising because James Potter was an award-winning Seeker. Harry never grew up with his parents, so did nature play a bigger role in the formation of his character than nurture? (Of course, denying the fact that Harry is a fictional character, as alive as he seems to us, whose formation only comes for the pen of J.K. Rowling). However, Rutger students prefer to look at the Black family and their pure-blood relatives for their experiments. Rutgers reports:
For the past several years, first-year Rutgers students – mostly science majors and all Harry Potter fans — have been learning from Yu and the popular J.K. Rowling novels about the scientific approaches used for studying behavioral genetics.
“Because of the richness of the characters and the many families in the Harry Potter books, there are so many examples of physical resemblances and behavior similarities among family members,” Yu said. “The scientific question that we look at is whether these behavioral characteristics are due to genetic inheritance or because they live under the same roof. It’s the age-old question: ‘is it nature or nurture?’”
Yu says studying behavioral genetics through the tales of Harry Potter books is providing students with an introduction to college-level science and giving them a better understanding of how scientists think and apply scientific approaches to their research.
“They are taught how to spot certain patterns in behaviors that allow them to come up with a hypothesis as to whether the behavioral characteristics are genetically influenced,” said Yu. “They also have to ask themselves whether it is the environment because these characters are living under the same roof.”
At the beginning of the course, Yu explains what behavioral characteristics are, and asks students to pick a parent-child pair from the seven Potter novels and identify a behavior the parent-child pair share that might be genetic. The students engage in animated discussions about their chosen example, in order to come up with a class-consensus example. This semester they had to decide if it would be the athleticism of the Potters or the compulsive behavior of the Blacks – the family of pure-blood wizards.
The Blacks won out, as many students in this year’s class are deeply intrigued by the family’s compulsiveness of carrying things to extreme, even though various members of the family displayed this compulsion in vastly different ways — from the maternal patriarch’s distain of anyone NOT of ‘pure blood’, to Sirius Black’s devotion to Harry Potter’s wellbeing. The next step was to design an experiment that would support or refute the hypothesis that the Blacks’ compulsive behavior was genetically based. Last year’s class — which selected the Potter family’s athleticism to study — decided to use mice for determining the heritability of athleticism. Students, guided by Yu during class discussion, designed an experiment to first train the mice to run straight on a track and not to run back and forth, as mice are prone to do. Then mice would be bred selectively for differences in running speed, and the results would be analyzed to establish whether the behavior was genetic.
For this year’s experiment, the students have just begun to define the research design, which Yu said he will help guide during the rest of the semester. Students are full of enthusiasm and ideas. Megan Coakley suggested using mice of different colors for easy tracking of their parentage – “black, white and something in between” – and offer food to these mice to see if some show compulsive eating. Naweed Karimi recommended breeding mice for their compulsiveness tendencies.
If it strikes your fancy, the rest of the article can be read here.
Many of us tuned in to watch the Oscars last Sunday evening, and even though Harry Potter was not directly mentioned, Harry Potter affiliates tend to find their way into the mix. The leading Harry Potter alumni was Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort) in The Grand Budapest Hotel. As Leaky reported a couple of weeks ago, Ralph Fiennes new project took home five BAFTAs. We are proud to add that this remarkable film took home almost as many (four) Academy Awards. The Grand Budapest Hotel won oscars for Best Original Score (subsequently arranged by Alexandre Desplat, who arranged the soundtrack for Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Part 2) Best Production Design, Best Makeup and Hair Styling, and Best Costume Design.
There were several other Oscars that included a few Harry Potter Alums. Eddie Redmayne won an Oscar for Best Actor in The Theory of Everything, which also featured David Thewlis (Remus Lupin). The Phone Call, starring Jim Broadbent (Horace Slughorn), won for Best Live Action Short. Finally Eduardo Lima and Miraphora Mina, who contributed so much to pop design in the Harry Potter films, also won an Oscar for their prop work in The Imitation Game.
Emma Watson was touched by the attention given to gender equality at the Oscars. Ms. Watson praised, through her Twitter, Patricia Arquette for her energizing speech on gender inequality of pay grades between men and women, as women statistically earn less money working the same jobs as men.
@EmWatson Yes . Yes. … Love you.
Emma also tweeted thank you notes to Steve Carell and Jake McDorman for wearing HeForShe cuff links to the Oscars, and openly supporting HeForShe. Ms. Watson’s notes can be seen here and here, as well as below. Steve Carell tweeted back at Emma that it was “an honor to support #HeForShe and gender equality.”
As few of you may recall, Universal Studios reported a spike in revenue with the construction of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade several years ago. It appears that the new Diagon Alley addition of the theme park is proving to be as magically profitable. The Chicago Tribune tells of a 38% increase in Universal’s fourth quarter profits, arguably due to Diagon Alley opening in July. Profits rose to a solid $735 million in the fourth quarter, with cash flows (before depreciation, etc.) rose from $257 million to $352 million. The Chicago Tribune reports:
“Investments in our theme parks are clearly generating strong returns as we drive increased attendance and per capita spending,” Chief Financial Officer Michael Angelakis said on a conference call. “We are transforming our parks into must-see destinations and are very enthusiastic about their potential.”
The results are part of a wave of amusement park investments that have lifted profits and attendance at operators including Walt Disney Co.
Comcast has an attraction based on Harry Potter, one of the most popular youth book and film franchises in history, scheduled to open at its Universal Studios Hollywood theme park in California next year.
Please join us in wishing two of the greatest twins ever a very happy birthday! They charmed and tricked themselves into our hearts as the loveable Fred and George Weasley, and today James and Oliver Phelps turn a very grown-up 29 years old!
Sadly, it does not appear that the BBC One adaptation of The Casual Vacancy flies as well as Harry on a broomstick. The show seems to have lost about 2 million views between it’s premiere and it’s second installment last Sunday. The Independent, among many other news sources, also reports that it’s rival, Julie Walter’s Indian Summers, also lost some viewers. Although the Oscars were on the same night, viewers were not affected due to the time difference between the United States and the United Kingdom. The Independent reports:
Alan Rickman (Severus Snape) sat down with Scotland Tonight, making a rare appearance behind a camera that comes with an interviewer. On a promotional trip to Scotland, Rickman sat down with Scotland Tonight’s John MacKay to talk about his upcoming film, A Little Chaos. The film follows a woman gardner (Kate Winslet) who is charged with designing the elaborate gardens and fountains of Versaille for King Louis XIV. Alan Rickman not only plays Louis XIV, but also directed and help write the film. The interview can be seen here. Please note that the video may not play if you do not live in the United Kingdom.
Warner Brother’s Leavesden Studio Tour has uploaded a couple of videos to its twitter, previewing the new Hogwarts Express exhibit. The Studio Tour announced its expansion last month, and it will be opening to the public March 19. The Studio’s twitter feed uploaded a twenty-second advertisement for the expansion, as well as a two minute video featuring Stuart Craig explaining the process of creating the Hogwarts Express. Both videos can be seen here, and here.
For many weeks rumors have been accumulating around Emma Watson dating Prince Harry. Although these rumors had many skeptics, the rumors continued to spread like wild fire. This morning, Emma Watson took to her twitter to shut these rumors down once and for all. Her tweet reads:
J.K. Rowling loves rugby. Anyone who has been following her twitter feed as of late is aware of this well known fact. Jo once mentioned that even wizards love the muggle sport of rugby. Given her generous nature, it appears that Jo has made a 5,000 pound donation to a children’s rugby charity campaign, called Wooden Spoon. The charity is a fundraising campaign of Irish player, Geoff Cross, who plays for Scotland–Jo’s team. The fundraiser is in support of Wooden Spoon, which strives to help disadvantaged and disabled children through the sport of rugby. Our friends at MuggleNet reported on the donation, saying:
I have been tempted in recent weeks to keep growing my beard but after a year’s growth and an increasing amount of pressure from my wife I have decided to shave off my now infamous beard in the name of charity.
However before I go any where near the clippers we need to raise £10,000.
He further stated that
the money raised will go to the children’s charity Wooden Spoon, which is dedicated to transforming the lives of disadvantaged children and young people across the British Isles through the power of rugby. It will also support my former Edinburgh Rugby club mate, John Houston’s, fundraising efforts. He needs to raise £50,000 for the 2015 Wooden Spoon Arctic Rugby Challenge.
Many of us Harry Potter fans have always known that J.K. Rowling is amazing beyond words, with a heart three sizes bigger than normal. A letter to a bullied fan has been released. It is beautifully written, not that we expected otherwise, and touching. Johnnie Blue was a lucky fan who had the opportunity to meet J.K. Rowling at a Silkworm signing. There he presented her with a one-of-a-kind journal and a letter, which of course Jo responded to. Entertainment Weekly reports:
You have fantastic handwriting. That’s not the most important thing I’ve got to say to you, but I thought I’d mention it — I’m a connoisseur.
On to more important things:
What you say about Harry helping you at what was clearly a dreadful time in your life means more to me than I can easily express. I freely confess that I loathe bullying and the way it is still so often “handled” in schools.
Your experience is shocking and disturbing and that you have turned out to be a compassionate, moral, highly motivated person is high testimony to your courage. Gryffindor for you, my lad…
Thank you so much for the stunningly beautiful notebook. I love it.
This letter seems to be a series of non-sequiturs, but why break the pattern: I have family roots in Ayrshire — Arran, to be precise. And I’ve never been there. Embarrassing, isn’t it? Don’t tell the Nationalists. I’m sure we’ll see each other again. In the meantime, I’ll watch out for you on Twitter.
Love from Jo
Their correspondence didn’t end there. They have stayed in contact through the magical powers of Twitter, where Rowling continues to answer Blue’s tweets to her whenever he composes them.
It is rumored that Harry Potter alum, Emma Thompson (Professor Trelawney), may be joining her Harry Potter costar in Disney’s live-action Cinderella. According to the International Business Times, there are talks of Emma Thompson taking the part of Mrs. Pott’s, and singing the classic song, “Tale as Old as Time.” The IBT reports:
Now that Emma Watson already signed up to play as Belle in the upcoming live-action “Beauty and the Beast,” Emma Thompson is currently in negotiations to play Mrs. Potts. Known for her role in “Saving Mr. Banks” and “Nanny McPhee,” the British actress is in talks to play the motherly housekeeper who was turned in to a teapot when the whole castle was cursed by an evil witch.
From playing a magical nanny to a cursed housekeeper, the Oscar-winning star also appeared with Watson in several “Harry Potter” films as the eccentric Professor Sybill Trelawney. Thompson’s other notable film credits include “Stranger Than Fiction,” “Brave,” “Love Actually” and “Angels In America.”
Playing a singing teapot in the musical film, Thompson if cast in “Beauty and the Beast” will be singing the famous “Tale As Old As Time” which was originally sung by Angela Lansbury in 1991. The song won the Oscar’s Best Song for Menken and Howard Ashman.
With so many fans of the classic Disney film all anticipating for the movie, director Bill Condon is currently casting for the movie’s main cast with Ryan Gosling in negotiation for the role of the Beast. Watson confirmed her casting in Jan. 12 through her Facebook page and news about Gosling playing the Beast followed after her announcement.
Today we wish the beautiful Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley) a very Happy (belated) Birthday! Bonnie turned 24 yesterday, February 17. Please join us in wishing her a very happy birthday!
Tom Felton has revealed more about his documentary project on Harry Potter super fans. In an interview with Just Jared, Tom Felton revealed that his documentary, which will hopefully air on BBC 3 “sometime in April,” will contain new interviews from his Harry Potter co-stars, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint, as well as J.K. Rowling. The documentary is about the passion of the Harry Potter fandom that emerged as no other fandom has done in the past. The extensive interview with Just Jared continues with questions of Tom’s new movie, Against the Sun, his sortment into the House of Gryffindor on Pottermore, and trying to become an extra in the Fantastic Beast films. Just Jared reports:
Just Jared: Could you tell us a about the super fan documentary you’re working on?
Tom Felton: It’s an hour-long one-off that we’re doing with BBC and KR Films. It’s just kind of a chance for me to have a more in depth look at the world of super fans and these people that have followed franchises–kind of at the root of why Harry Potter was so successful. It had such an active fan base. It’s allowed people to be passionate about stuff that maybe they couldn’t be so open with in previous years. It’s kind of a look into that, it’s a road trip journey with me narrating.
JJ: What was your most memorable interview that you conducted?
TF: We’re still editing, but there’s a costume element. This idea that getting into costume (Terminator, comic book characters) and thousands of people that come into convention centers are freed. So I had my little experience with that, which was a bit awkward but fun. We had a guy in Pittsburgh, who’s like the world’s biggest Harry Potter fan, he was head to toe in Potter paraphernalia as I answered the door, which was a bit of an experience.
JJ: Did any of your Harry Potter co-stars take part in your special?
TF: Yeah, I interviewed Rupert [Grint], Daniel [Radcliffe], and J.K. Rowling, which is a huge honor to have those three talk so openly as they have done.
Tom Fletcher as well, many of you know as the lead singer of McFly or McBusted. He’s a huge Harry Potter fan. The documentary isn’t really supposed to be about Harry Potter, but it just so happens the people I’m talking to are related to that.
JJ: Do you know when and where fans will be able to watch it?
TF: It will be on BBC 3, I’m hoping for sometime in April, May. But again, don’t quote me because we’re still cutting it up. And then after that, hopefully later on in the year, it’ll be put up on online. I’m really excited to see what people’s opinion is of it. It was a massive insight for me, going behind the ropes and seeing what people actually do to stand behind a railing at an event. You don’t really think about the three hours it took them to stand there and get the best spot. And there’s a whole bunch of stuff that goes with that.
JJ: In Pottermore, you were sorted to Gryffindor. Could you tell us how you feel about that?
TF: Devastated. Heartbroken. Yeah, I was really not happy. I was filming the end of the documentary and they were like, just tap on something on the laptop so it looks like you’re busy. So I was like, OK. And they opened up Pottermore, and I thought, you know what, let’s do this. In fact, I did try and answer the questions to try and get Slytherin as the answer. And I think the computer saw through my attempt to try. I saw J.K. actually the next day and said there must be a glitch in the system. She guarantees me the Sorting Hat is never wrong.
JJ: If Draco wasn’t a wizard, what would he be doing in the real world as his job?
TF: A thief. Or some sort of shady back-end job. I don’t think he would be ever really good at working. Something definitely illegal.
JJ: What are your thoughts on the new Harry Potter [movies] and have you heard anything?
TF: I haven’t! I know they’re in production. I know [director] David Yates and [producer] David Heyman, and Jo (J.K. Rowling) are back together, which is kind of the old dream team that did it in the first place. It’s kind of amazing that they’re coming back. I’m trying to weave in a little cameo, background extra role for myself. I can be some crazy bum in the back of the pub or something like that. Yeah, it’s exciting. I know lots of people are eagerly awaiting this. I think that it’s great they’re not treading on the toes of things they’ve done previously, and although it is related, I don’t think there’s going to be anything we’ve seen before. There’s not going to be resurfaced old characters or something like that. Yeah, I’m looking forward to it!
The rest of the interview can be read here.
Tom Felton participated in Quickfire Q&A with the Daily Mail. Tom answered questions about his favorite super villains and super heroes, wanted secret powers and talents (yo-yoing?), star-struck moments, and style inspirations. You can see some of the Q & A below, and the rest at the Daily Mail.
Your guilty pleasure? Wearing my PJs all day. I’d be in them now if a film crew weren’t here.
Career plan B? International rap superstar.
Who would play you in the movie of your life? Leonardo DiCaprio. He may be a bit too expensive, though.
Your most memorable kiss? The first one with my lady [stunt artist Jade Olivia]. It was outside her house with her dad watching out of the window, I’m sure!
Biggest bugbear? People who say ‘like’, after every, like, word that they, like, say. I’m sure I do it too, though.
As a child you wanted to be? James Bond. Still do, really.
Who is your best friend? Um, my mum? No, my girlfriend.
Secret to a happy relationship? Compromise. Mainly on the male side.
Optimist or pessimist? I’m optimistically pessimistic.
Style icon? Prince Charles.
Favourite villain? Dr Evil.
Where would you time travel to? Maybe just 100 years ahead. I’d like to know how things work out…
Most loved fairy tale? Jack and the Beanstalk.
Most underrated virtue? Good manners.
Your celebrity crush? Keira Knightley.
Pop! action figure toys has created a Harry Potter line. The new toys were revealed at the 2015 Toy Fair in New York. According to MTV, the figures will feature characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Hagrid, Dumbledore, Voldemort, and Snape. The toys are available for preorder online at Pop Vinyls, and will hit stores in July in time for Harry and J.K. Rowling’s birthday. MTV posted a picture showing how adorable the Snape and “Voldycute” figurines were.
A trailer for new horror film, Regression, was released in time for Friday the 13th. The trailer featured Emma Watson, in the leading role, as a tormented young woman who fears for her life after experiencing something horrific. According to IMDB, Emma Watson’s character accuses her father of a crime he does not remember committing. The Digital Spy reports:
Watson stars in the thriller as Angela Gray, a young girl who accuses her father of a horrible crime in 1990. However, as Detective Bruce Kenner (Hawke) investigates the case, it appears Angela’s father has no memory of the accusation. As a psychologist is bought in to help uncover forgotten events, a much bigger mystery is unveiled.
The psychologist is played by Harry Potter alum David Thewlis (Remus Lupin). His voice over in the trailer is eerily similar to lines from his character as Professor Lupin in the Harry Potter films. The trailer can be seen below. Regression will be released in the United States and the United Kingdom on August 28, 2015.
J.K. Rowling hit twitter on another writing break today. This time when she answered fans’ questions she assured Pottermore users that a much-awaited Patronus Test was on the way. She tweeted that she has, indeed, written the test, and it should be available to Pottermore users soon. Ms. Rowling also retreated an advertisement for The Casual Vacancy mini-series, premiering this Sunday on BBC One, as well as the HBO dates set for the United States release. You can view all of her witty responses to fans on her twitter, here.
. I’ve written one and it won’t be too long until you can take it. We’re working on it!
Sarah Phelps was the woman in charge of adapting J.K. Rowling’s best selling adult novel, The Casual Vacancy, to the small screen. Recently, Phelps has commented on the working dynamic with J.K. Rowling, being an author who is very much alive, and very successful. Ms. Rowling has previously commented on the adaptation of her novel, and praised Ms. Phelps for her successful work. The Mirror Reports:
Taking a book from the page to the small screen can be difficult at the best of times, but working on a project when the author is alive and “phenomenally successful” has its own set of challenges.
She told Radio Times: “It’s one thing adapting a writer who’s been dead for a century or so but when you have a writer who is not only very much living and breathing but who is as phenomenally successful as J.K. Rowling, the dynamic is rather different.”
However, Phelps needn’t worry considering the Harry Potter author has praised her as someone “at the top of her game”.
She previously said: “Sarah Phelps is a writer at the top of her game.
“Having met Sarah, and discussed the television adaptation of The Casual Vacancy, I was happy and confident to hand over the job of crafting my novel for the small screen. Sarah has done a great job and I am delighted with how it has turned out.”
Amongst rumors of Ryan Gosling joining the cast of Disney’s live-action rendition of its classic Beauty and the Beast, Harry Potter fans have been “shipping” other Harry Potter alums as Emma’s beastily love interest. Rupert Grint, playing as Hermione’s husband in the Harry Potter films, is not amongst fans’ top picks. There is word of some hardcore shipment between Emma/Belle and Tom Felton as the Beast. Daniel Radcliffe only encouraged the mayhem with his response and comments on the news of Emma obtaining the role as Belle. International Business Times reports:
Fenton’s name started gaining some attention when co-star Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) admitted during her interview with PEOPLE that fans are tweeting her for Tom to play the Beast. Fans who are now campaigning for Fenton and Watson tandem aptly called themselves “Dramiones.”
Based in a report, the two co-stars are not going to have a problem with chemistry since “The Noah” actress used to have a crush with Fenton.
Meanwhile, Vanity Fair’s Imagined Celebrity Connections featured Daniel Radcliffe and his reactions to Watson’s newest Disney role. Written by Josh Duboff, the article quips about the actor calling his former co-star as he tried to congratulate her while suggesting that he could play the Beast for Emma Watson’s Belle.
“I’m sure you’re gonna go with Harry Styles or one of those Hemsworth giants, but don’t forget: I can sing!” according to the publication. “And I’ve got a lot of hair! And it could be a little Harry Potterreunion.”
Please, leave your votes on Dan or Tom, or reactions of thumbs up or down to either idea, below!
Ralph Fiennes’ (Voldemort) new movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel, won five BAFTAs last night. It was nominated for eleven awards, and took home five golden masks for original screenplay, original music, costume design, make-up and hair, and production design. Metro posted an article of the awards, featuring a picture of Ralph Fiennes dancing with happiness.
Sir Michael Gambon (Dumbledore) has announced his retirement from theater. Sir Gambon told The Sunday Times Magazine that he decided it was time for retirement when he could no longer recall his lines, saying “it breaks my heart”. He has been pursuing tests for Alzheimer’s disease, but a second opinion of his medical condition proved negative testing, and memory loss due to the natural process of aging. The Independent reports:
The 74-year-old actor, who played Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter film franchise, became so worried by his memory loss that he began performing with an earpiece linking him to a stage prompt.
He realised his time in front of a live audience was up, he continued, after an audition for a new West End play, during which a girl in the wings read his lines for him.
“It’s a horrible thing to admit but I can’t do it. It breaks my heart,” Sir Michael told The Sunday Times Magazine.
“You know, the sort of part where he comes on and says a few words,” he said.
“A role that’s played for laughs – like when the phone goes, he doesn’t know where it is.”
He previously spoke of undergoing tests for Alzheimer’s disease. However, after a second opinion produced negative results, it became apparent is problem was down to the natural process of aging.
However, he still has some time left on the small screen. Sir Michael will next appear in Scandinavian drama Fortitude at the end of February.
If any of our sources are behind a paywall, here is a BBC version of this story.
The rumors have been flying since early last week. Is Ryan Gosling playing opposite Emma Watson in Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast? The studio doing the film has not commented, and neither has anyone already on board with the film. Speculations come from Tracking Board, who claim that Ryan Gosling is Disney’s top pick. If this casting rumor proves true, or false, you will be able to find it here at Leaky!
Kenneth Branagh (Professor Gilderoy Lockhart) is the director of Disney’s upcoming live-action Cinderella. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Mr. Branagh talked of his fairytale. He wanted to emphasize that this classic children’s story was “not about a man saving a woman,” almost echoing his Harry Potter co-star, Emma Watson, on the strength and equality of women and women characters. Mr. Branagh also discussed media in light of recent events at Charlie Hebdo and the release of The Interview. Segments of the interview can be read below, the rest can be read here.
Was making Cinderella something of a departure for you?
The fairy tale element was a surprise to me in that, although I’ve read them and enjoyed them, I didn’t ever think this was a subject I was likely to make a film about. But when you go back to the original source material, you become aware of how all-pervasive this Cinderella myth is. How many times do you read about “the Cinderella story,” the story of the underdog, the story of the ordinary human being, often subjected to cruelty and ignorance and neglect, who somehow triumphs?
How much did you deviate from the original Disney cartoon?
The animation actually took a number of liberties with the original story, which of course has been told and retold across every type of culture, with different names and even different types of cruelty. There are some in which the stepsisters cut their toes off in order to force their feet into the slipper. What we put front and center was a level of reality and psychological truth in the performances that would be surprising in the context of a fairy tale.
Have you tried to modernize Cinderella for the current generation?
The first time we meet the grown-up Cinderella, she’s reading a book; she isn’t just scrubbing the steps. She’s already intellectually stimulated. And she makes a decision to try and understand the cruelty and the ignorance of her stepmother and stepsisters. We see a strength of character that is sort of a form of nonviolent resistance. And she meets the prince way ahead of the ball, before she decides to fall for him. They get to know each other and the seeds of a romance are sewn in terms of equality. It’s not about a man rescuing a woman.
Following Charlie Hebdo and The Interview, do you think the entertainment industry should hold back when it comes to potentially controversial material or go at it?harder?
I think what you’re always looking for as artists is to be honest, and to continue to be honestly driven by that which you are passionately engaged with. It should need not be forced. One of the reasons I work in the classics is that all sorts of issues which are universal and timeless can be addressed in that way, and I think all artists have to find their way to it. Some wish to be more directly provocative. But they need to do so honestly and not from a position of either fear or desire to react in some abnormal or extreme way. “To thine own self be true” is what Shakespeare has us hear in Hamlet, and as artists, that’s what you’ve got to do.
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Julia McKenzie plays the role of Shirley Mollison in BBC One’s adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy. The Sunday Express conducted an interview with Ms. McKenzie on her role in the mini-series. It is a very different role than what Ms. McKenzie has acted in the past. She talked of her appreciation for trying something new, how she obtained the role, and working with Michael Gambon (Dumbledore), who played her husband. You can read parts of the interview below, and the full interview here:
She’s against the grain of the types of characters you’ve played then?
She’s violently different, so this has been wonderful fun for me. You can see through her in a second; the whole front, the face, the outfits, she thinks it gives the village tone. She’s a great social climber. She lives on her nerves. She obviously manages Howard, and this is her anchor.
There’s a great deal of jealousy directed towards her daughter-in-law, Samantha [Keeley Hawes], which is why she grabs hold of Miles and Samantha’s children whenever she can. In any situation Shirley takes control before Samantha can.
Did you work with Michael before?
I’ve done a couple of productions with Michael. I was going to take the summer off because I’d been working pretty heftily. My manager said I’d be playing Michael’s wife and I said, “Well I’ll do it then!’ The trouble is that Michael makes me laugh so much.
The Casual Vacancy premieres next week, February 17, on BBC 1.