This year will mark 20 whole years since Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone hit theatres across the globe. J.K. Rowling’s novels were brought to the big screen in true Hollywood fashion, enhancing the popularity of the Boy Who Lived and catapulting the likes of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint to superstardom.
Even all these years later, it remains a terrific watch – laying the foundations for the big box office hits that were to follow. However, some characters were better than others in the first Harry Potter movie of them all.
10 Argus Filch
Argus Filch is a loathsome character within the Potterverse. Caretaker of Hogwarts and bitter about being a squib, he’s a minor villain during The Sorcerer’s Stone – reveling in Harry’s misery when he’s caught helping Hagrid with Norbert(a) the dragon and creepily wandering the corridors at night in the hope he’ll find students out of bed.
Filch was played by British actor David Bradley, who certainly looked the part by donning matted hair and a sneering expression. Filch’s screentime gets reduced as the series goes on, but he’s a good presence in this installment, and it’s clear from the beginning he’s not somebody you’d want to get on the bad side of.
9 Vernon Dursley
The Dursleys, much like Filch, are a repugnant bunch. They raise Harry after he’s left at Number 4 Privet Drive as a child, but they fail to follow Albus Dumbledore’s instructions, treating him horribly compared to their own child Dudley Dursley and effectively making him their servant.
Vernon is prominent during the early moments of the movie and the late Richard Griffiths nailed the role, showing just how horrible Harry’s uncle can be. One highlight is when he tries to stand up to Rubeus Hagrid, only to lose his voice the minute the half-giant makes his own heard. That, effectively, has Vernon summed up in one scene: all bark and no bite.
8 Draco Malfoy
Harry meets some lovely people during his time at Hogwarts, ranging from close friends, such as Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, to fellow pupils, Dean Thomas and Neville Longbottom. He’s popular from the moment he steps into Hogwarts, but one person who isn’t fully sold on our hero is Tom Felton’s Draco Malfoy.
Felton is superb in the role of the school bully. He’s cruel, as shown when he tries to bully Neville Longbottom, and arrogant as well. He mocks Ron Weasley for his lack of wealth and even snitches on the main trio when they’re helping Hagrid with his dragon problem. All in all, he’s just as horrible as the book version of the character.
7 Rubeus Hagrid
Rubeus Hagrid is one of the first characters introduced in The Sorcerer’s Stone, joining Albus Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall in leaving young Harry with the Dursleys. And he’s fairly prominent throughout the film, helping Harry get to Hogwarts and looking after him during his time at the castle.
In the source material, Hagrid is a gentle, caring soul, despite his vast size. And this is brilliantly brought to life, with Robbie Coltrane perfect as the half-giant. He comes across as warm and affectionate, meaning Warner Bros got this casting call spot on.
6 Professor Quirrell/Lord Voldemort
Throughout most of the Sorcerer’s Stone book and movie, Harry is convinced that Severus Snape is behind the plot to steal the magical item. However, towards the end, it’s revealed Professor Quirrell is actually working under the orders of Lord Voldemort – in a surprising twist that very few saw coming.
Ian Hart plays both versions of Quirrell well, from the nervous wreck he appears at the beginning to the confident, menacing antagonist at the end. The Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher ends up dying to retrieve the stone, with Voldemort then leaving him for dead. Talk about lack of mercy …
5 Albus Dumbledore
Albus Dumbledore is, like Hagrid, warm and gentle. He may be the world’s most famous wizard of them all, but he’s also a brilliant teacher and inspiration to every young student who walks through the big oak doors of Hogwarts. Michael Gambon played the character from The Prisoner of Azkaban onwards, but it was Richard Harris who took on the role for the release of the Sorcerer’s Stone back in 2001.
Harris just gets Dumbledore, having previously read the books. You can tell, too, because it’s like this Dumbledore was plucked from the very pages of J.K. Rowling’s work. A highlight for the Hogwarts headmaster is when he and Harry share a sweet exchange in the Hospital Wing following his narrow escape from Voldemort and Quirrell, in a moment that oozes emotion.
4 Severus Snape
Has there been a better casting choice than the late Alan Rickman as Severus Snape? That’s certainly debatable, as the actor made the character iconic. That’s not easy to do and Rickman’s hard work as the Potions Master paid off almost immediately, within the first few minutes of Harry’s arrival at Hogwarts.
Rickman shows Snape isn’t a teacher to be trifled with and is equally as loathsome as the likes of Filch, Vernon Dursley and Malfoy. His drawling voice is perfect for the role and he’s dislikable as a result, which is what Warner Bros intended. It really was fortunate that Rickman was able to appear in every Potter movie before his sad passing in January 2016.
3 Hermione Granger
Taking the bronze medal on this list is Hermione Granger. Emma Watson was cast as the clever Gryffindor student and didn’t disappoint, producing a performance that’s completely faithful to the character and winning plenty of fans in the process.
Watson nails the cockier side of Hermione’s character while tweaking her approach once the student becomes close friends with Harry Potter and Ron Weasley. It’s a strong debut performance and one highlight is when she tells Harry to face Quirrell by himself, giving the Boy Who Lived the encouragement he needed to face his enemy, once and for all.
2 Ron Weasley
Narrowly missing out on the top spot is Ron Weasley. Rupert Grint was cast as the youngest male redhead of the Weasley clan and produced a stellar first showing as the character.
Almost immediately, fans learn that Ron is fiercely loyal, funny and courageous, as well. Ron also produces some of the movie’s funnier moments, from swearing about Hermione Granger and her questionable attitude to exclaiming following the discovery of Fluffy the Three-Headed dog. It was no surprise to see Grint become an instant superstar after the movie’s release two decades ago.
1 Harry Potter
Of course, Harry was always going to come top of this list. Radcliffe could easily have been overawed when it came to portraying the iconic character and face of the series. But, instead, he gives an assured performance as the Boy Who Lived.
Radcliffe certainly oozes youthful enthusiasm throughout the title, showing Harry to be a confident yet damaged youngster. He appears to get better and better as both the movie and the entire series go on and, all these years later, it’s hard to imagine somebody else with the lightning bolt scar on their head and circle-rimmed spectacles around their eyes.
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