Why It's Time For A Harry Potter Remake, And Why It Should Be Animated

An argument for an animated remake version of the Harry Potter books, and some suggestions for actors to voice certain characters roles.
Animated Harry Potter
Animated Harry Potter  Source: Pinterest

In a world full of unoriginal remakes, remasters, and sequels, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. One such franchise I feel is ready and would actually benefit from the remake treatment is Harry Potter. I’d like to argue the case for an animated remake and have several suggestions for voice actors for certain characters.

The live-action movies, while enjoyable and incredibly popular, are extremely flawed in their interpretation from page to screen. While I respect that directors have to consider run times, budget, and optimizing visualization, that sadly comes at the cost of omitting important scenes, plot, and dialogue that flesh out the story to a viewer that hasn’t read the books.

That to me shouldn’t happen because a newcomer isn’t necessarily getting the proper experience. I’ve always felt that if you’re a director adapting an author’s book you should respect the text as written, and that creation isn’t yours to tweak or try to improve on. Think ‘The Hobbit’.

chris columbus director of harry potter
Chris Columbus directed the Harry Potter movie, source: onecms

I’m not here to bash the original films and I appreciate that different directors like to bring their own style and flair to their movies, but the directorial changes made the Harry Potter series suffer as a whole.

To summarise, the first two directed by Chris Columbus were near word for word, scene for scene perfect with minimal omissions that greatly told the stories as written. A great location, props, and costumes, and they still feel magical to this day.

Alfonso Cuaron directing Prisoner of Azkaban
Alfonso Cuaron directing Prisoner of Azkaban, Source: Twitter

Alfonso Cuaron directed 'Prisoner of Azkaban' and it was like a jarring note in a symphony. Suddenly the castle had changed and had a bleak filter, there was a strange rickety wooden bridge out of nowhere, Hagrid’s hut and the Whomping Willow were miles away, and the students were all wearing their muggle clothes. Several plot points were missed out but they made room for arbitrary nonsense.

Unnecessary addition Dre Head
Unnecessary addition Dre Head, Source: Harry Potter fandom

They added a talking Jamaican shrunken head but couldn’t take ten seconds to explain that Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs were in fact Remus, Peter, Sirius, and James, which is how they knew about the map, and that Harry’s Patronus was a stag because that was the animal his father turned into.

Ludo Bagman character missed out of Goblet of Fire Source
Ludo Bagman character missed out on Goblet of Fire 

Sadly that trend of omission carried into 'The Goblet of Fire', now and from then on directed by David Yates. The plot of 'The Goblet of Fire' is phenomenal and elegantly executed, but the film takes away the ‘whodunnit’ element right from the start, misses out on characters completely, and still has that unengaging trend of the muggle clothing throughout.

Bland muggle attire instead of robes on Ministry employees
Bland muggle attire instead of robes on Ministry employees, Source: Wizarding World

The muggle clothing bothers me because it takes away the willing suspension of disbelief that these are actually young witches and wizards in training but they look like 1940s refugees. The Ministry employees all look like Victorian politicians and in no way resemble wizards. Adult wizards in the books are hilariously out of touch with muggle fashion and wear bizarre combinations when trying to blend in.

The other four films do well to trim the fat of the books for the runtime but the aforementioned foibles are still there. Throughout the series, there’s also the wooden acting and poor delivery of lines from the kids, with awkward pauses between dialogue that make it sound like a first draft reading and they’re remembering lines here and there, and sometimes sound like they’re reading from a teleprompter.

There are overly active eyebrow movements from one particular lead girl to try and look like good acting, but ends up looking like the kids from the old Cadbury advert:

Now an animated remake carries nothing but advantages that can improve on these mistakes and still draw in an old and new audience. Firstly with a CGI format, you can create the Hogwarts map exactly as it needs to look with no grounds changes, or set pieces or props to be made.

harrypotter ronweasley hermione
Harry and Ron height difference

Secondly, casting kids for a seven to ten-year project is a tricky business. They might look like the characters you cast them for now at age eleven, but puberty is a dice roll.

What’s to say they’ll look that way in two to three years’ time? What if Harry grows to be a lot taller than Ron when Ron is described as the tallest? Whereas with animation you can control the kids’ growth at the correct pace.

You can cast young children who are really talented voice actors who are perfect for a role despite what they look like. A prepubescent Harry could in theory be a female actress: look at Bart Simpson. The Weasley children don't necessarily have to be redheads, and you can cast some twins who are actually funny.

Thirdly voice acting carries the benefit of being able to record all their audio dialogue in one go for all seven or eight films, rather than every year when age or timing conflicts are a factor. Then you could chop the audio into each film as needed.

A consistent Hogwarts castle throughout the series would be great.
A consistent Hogwarts castle throughout the series would be great. 

Most importantly animation can carry consistency. The castle, characters with prosthetic faces, normal characters, and CGI characters won’t all look separate from each other on-screen because they’d all be under the same CGI format.

There’s a magical element too with animation, a Disney, Pixar, or Dreamworks feel that will appeal to kids and adults alike. Animated characters make for better toys and merchandise, as they are first and foremost intended for children. A new slew of video games with the same style of animation would dominate in sales. And everyone is going to flock to watch a Harry Potter film.

Harry Potter video game series
Harry Potter video game animation consistency 

In short, it would cost less to make because you wouldn’t need as many people to create it. You’d generate untold amounts of revenue from the films, games, and merchandise and as long as you follow the book plot, scenes, and dialogue closer, not only are you providing something new that the films didn’t show, you’re going to get little or no criticism from avid book fans. It would provide new depth for newcomers or to people who’ve seen the original films but have not read the books.

For example, the final scene with the battle between Harry and Voldemort is absolutely perfect in the books: Harry calmly explains to Voldemort how he’s beaten him and how the Elder Wand is his, calls him ‘Tom’ to anger him, and is surrounded by all his friends and allies in the Great Hall.

It’s an important scene because it shows how Harry’s love, compassion, and loyalty have gained him friends which highlights his strength and power over Voldemort; who is shown that his isolation is his weakness and ultimately his downfall. Not some weird face-merging fall that some faceless film executive thought was better. 

Here are some suggestions for voice actors who I feel are suited to certain roles for the harry potter remake:

Contenders for the voice role of Albus Dumbledore
Contenders for the voice role of Albus Dumbledore

Albus Dumbledore: Anthony Hopkins/ Liam Neeson/ Stephen Fry/ Patrick Stewart

Dumbledore is the most important one to get right for me as he has a LOT of dialogue, is described as having a rich, deep voice, and drives the narrative forward, so needs exemplary delivery and a great actor for it, which is why I’ve proffered the most suggestions.

Starting with my favorite contender, Anthony Hopkins is forever cemented to me as the most eloquent, erudite, veteran British thespian for his role as Hannibal Lecter. Having read Dumbledore and Lecter, there are great similarities between the two in terms of their charm, vocabulary, wit, and good manners. Warm, kindly baritone, dedication, and delivery make Hopkins the perfect Dumbledore for me.

Liam Neeson also has a rich, deep voice that carries a bit of menace behind it that would be perfect for Dumbledore’s action scenes to come across as scary to Voldemort. Think of the phone call in 'Taken'. There’s also a strength and warmth to it: think Aslan from the 'Narnia' series.

Stephen Fry obviously narrates the audiobooks so in a sense has already performed the role. More than this though I feel he could bring the warm, kindly Dumbledore that we all know and love. It doesn’t hurt that he is a font of wisdom like the suggested role. Patrick Stewart is similar to Hopkins in relation to his baritone thespian roots and has a warm chuckle in his voice that, like Stephen Fry, would bring across Dumbledore’s warm manner.

Sean Bean as Ned Stark in Game of Thrones
Sean Bean as Ned Stark in Game of Thrones, Source: Indiewire

Hagrid: Sean Bean

While Robbie Coltrane is visually perfect, having read his dialogue I can tell that Hagrid is from my neck of the woods. There’s a definite Midlands/ Sheffield accent that Robbie Coltrane didn’t quite pull off.

He veered at times more towards a Devonshire accent. Sean Bean has that perfect ‘rough and ready’ quality that would make Hagrid sound more down-to-earth as befits his humble but strong character.

Jeremy Irons as Aramis in The Man in the Iron Mask
Jeremy Irons as Aramis in The Man in the Iron Mask, Source: Twitter 

Severus Snape: Jeremy Irons

Obviously, it should be Alan Rickman. He was born for that role and his performance is the one consistent joy to watch throughout the whole original series.

He’s irreplaceable. Jeremy Irons has his own silky villainous voice, used handsomely as Scar in 'The Lion King', that could be lent to Snape’s icy, sarcastic manner. Irons incidentally did a convincing job of playing Alan Rickman’s characters’ brother in ‘Die Hard 3’.

James McAvoy for the voice of Sirius Black
James McAvoy for the voice of Sirius Black, Image Source: The Times

Sirius Black: James McAvoy

McAvoy is just the right age range to play Harry’s mentor/godfather/ older brother type. He’s energetic and eloquent and has the versatility to sound either rough or elegant. Having said that Gary Oldman would be welcome to reprise the role.

Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, Source: Vanity Fair

Remus Lupin: Ewan McGregor

Another mentor to Harry, McGregor can adopt a kindly teacher voice as he did as Obi-Wan Kenobi to young Anakin in 'Star Wars'. I think he’d be a welcome choice for Lupin.

Robert Lindsay and Zoe Wanamaker in My Family
Robert Lindsay and Zoe Wanamaker in My Family, Source: BBC

Arthur and Molly Weasley: Robert Lindsay and Zoe Wanamaker

While I realize that Zoe Wanamaker played Madam Hooch in ‘The Philosophers Stone’, her chemistry with Robert Lindsay in ‘My Family’ was incredible to watch.

I’ve never seen a more convincing on-screen couple before or since, and feel that their dynamic has a relatable reality that everyone in some form can recognize: he the exasperated hen-pecked dad and she the domineering but kind-hearted matriarch would make for a perfect reunion dynamic. 

Tom Holland in Onward
Tom Holland in Onward, Source: Screen Rant

Harry Potter aged 13-17: Tom Holland

Not a necessary one depending on how talented a young kid can be found for the role, but Holland can adopt that mid-teenager voice as he did in ‘Onward’ and ‘Spies in Disguise’. It doesn’t hurt that any film his name’s attached to turns to gold.

#tywinlannister #charlesdance #scrimgeour
Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister in 'Game of Thrones Source: CinemaBlend

Rufus Scrimgeour: Charles Dance

While his ministerial approach and ethics are misguided, Scrimgeour is a no-nonsense, strict, and powerful man. Charles Dance has the perfect voice given his similar role as Tywin Lannister in ‘Game of Thrones. Scrimgeour is also described as an ‘old lion’ which given his characters’ House symbol in ‘Thrones’ could also apply to Dance.

Daniel Radcliffe as grown-up Harry, appearance similar to James Potter
Daniel Radcliffe as grown-up Harry, appearance similar to James Potter, Source: The Independent

James Potter: Daniel Radcliffe

Daniel Radcliffe expressed interest in playing the role of James Potter before, and it would be a nice little nod back to the originals. It helps that his acting has greatly improved since he’s got older as well, I thought he was great in ‘Horns’ and more recently ‘Miracle Workers’.

In conclusion, the ground is more than fertile for an animated remake of Harry Potter, to recapture the magic with some great voice acting, all-new dialogue, and scenes, even if it extends the larger books into two parts to do the stories justice.

The books are perfect but the current films we have to represent them are not. There are unlimited possibilities for visual greatness in the form of a consistent Hogwarts castle and school robes; with the creatures and spell effects all falling into the same animated category.

If I knew that an animated Philosopher’s Stone was on the way, with Anthony Hopkins as Dumbledore, Sean Bean as Hagrid, and Jeremy Irons as Snape, I’d feel ten years old again.

Jason is a freelance content writer living in Nottinghamshire whose preferred topics are movie/game reviews and climate change.

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