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15 Great British Actors Who Never Showed Up In 'Harry Potter' - But Should Have

Updated March 19, 2021 469 votes 71 voters 2.3k views15 items

List RulesVote up the best actors you're surprised never made a 'Harry Potter' appearance.

It’s almost considered a British actor’s birthright to be in a Harry Potter film. But what about the British actors not in Harry Potter? The original Harry Potter cast is perfect, and no one is saying any of them should have been replaced. It just almost seems strange that some of Britain's most acclaimed actors never took their rightful place in the Potter Universe. 

Over the course of eight Harry Potter movies (not to mention two Fantastic Beasts films and counting), a parade of the UK's top acting talent regularly popped up as a Muggle, a wizard, or a Death Eater. Despite most of the roles being minor, British acting royalty like Emma Thompson, Richard Harris, Helena Bonham Carter, and Gary Oldman battled or helped save Harry and his pals. 

But why would certain Dames and Knights get skipped over? Perhaps a few were asked and politely declined because it's simply not their cup of tea. Perhaps there were scheduling conflicts. Perhaps, they inexplicably were just never asked. 

Vote up the British actors you're surprised never made a Harry Potter appearance.

  • Photo: Skyfall / Sony Pictures Releasing

    Judi Dench found a love of acting early on and honed her craft at the York School of Art and London's Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art. The future Dame made a name for herself with the Royal Shakespeare Company and eventually worked her way through every leading female stage role in every Shakespeare work. 

    The two-time Laurence Olivier award recipient evolved into an international movie star after winning an Academy Award for her performance in  1998's Shakespeare in Love. The actor has also appeared in eight James Bond movies as the character M, becoming the first female Head of Secret Intelligence Service in the British spy film series.

    If that's not British enough, the actor also played Queen Victoria in the 1997 biopic Mrs. Brown. In 1988, Dench earned her official title of Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. 

    Yet, Dame Judi Dench seemingly never caught the eye of Harry Potter producers. Here is yet another British acting legend, one who is admired nearly universally in the UK, who could have easily made the perfect Hogwarts professor or a long lost relative of Harry's.

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  • Photo: The Dark Knight Rises / Warner Bros. Pictures

    Sir Michael Caine is one of the most prolific actors in film history. The London-born thespian got his start on the theater stage, but quickly became a successful English big-screen leading man. Caine starred in several popular British films, including Zulu, The Ipcress File, Alfie, The Italian Job, and Get Carter. Queen Elizabeth knighted Caine for his contribution to British cinema in 2000. 

    The actor had no problem transitioning to a Hollywood actor. Caine has made his career playing smaller roles in blockbuster superhero movies like Bruce Wayne's butler, Alfred Pennyworth, in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, and co-starring roles in hilarious comedies like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

    Despite Caine's proclivity to mix up genre, tone, and role, he never appeared in a single Harry Potter movie. It seems like he would have been perfect as a Hogwarts professor or even a villainous Death Eater. Perhaps Caine's well-known Cockney accent got in the way of his chances?

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  • Photo: Sherlock / BBC One

    Perhaps no 21st-century English actor is more popular than Benedict Cumberbatch. The handsome Brit was born in London and attended various English boarding schools. Like most aspiring British thespians, Cumberbatch learned his craft by performing Shakespeare on the theater stage. He continued his classical training at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

    After graduating, the actor scored several parts on British television. Cumberbatch introduced himself to the world when he took on the quintessential British role of Sherlock Holmes in the BBC series Sherlock. He also landed supporting roles in the English movies AtonementThe Other Boleyn Girl, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

    Most American movie fans will recognize the popular actor from his superhero role in the Marvel universe as Doctor Strange. He has also co-starred in Star Trek: Into Darkness and The Hobbit trilogy. He received an Oscar nod for his portrayal of English mathematician Alan Turing in the 2014 biopic The Imitation Game

    Considering the actor's worldwide appeal, it's odd that he never appeared in a Harry Potter movie. However, he did voice Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) on a 2013 episode of The Simpsons called "Love Is a Many Splintered Thing."

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  • Photo: Snowpiercer / RADiUS-TWC

    Tilda Swinton grew up attending British boarding schools and later attended Cambridge University. She learned her craft with the Royal Shakespeare Company in London. The Academy Award-winning actor admitted that she feels like a "tourist" when she flies out to Hollywood to make a studio picture. In fact, Swinton has carved out a prolific career making arthouse films while sprinkling in the occasional supporting role in a Tinseltown blockbuster. 

    The British thespian seems like a natural choice to play a scene-stealing supporting character in a Harry Potter movie. The Michael Clayton star was actually asked to portray Sybill Trelawney (Emma Thompson), a half-blood witch and professor of Divination at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. 

    Swinton turned down the offer for an odd reason: She's not a fan of boarding schools. In fact, she described her own experience at West Heath boarding in London as "hell." She added, it was a "very lonely and isolating environment."

    "That's why I dislike films like Harry Potter which tend to romanticize such places," she revealed. "I think they are a very cruel setting in which to grow up and I don't feel children benefit from that type of education. Children need their parents and the love parents can provide."

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