The Harry Potter franchise spans seven main books and eight main movies with several spinoffs. Translating the books onto the screen, as you can imagine, was no easy task. Author J.K. Rowling had specific descriptions, and when it came time to casting, certain exceptions were made. This is what the cast of the Harry Potter films was supposed to look like!
Harry Potter - Daniel Radcliffe
It's hard to imagine any other actor being cast as Harry Potter than Daniel Radcliffe. He wasn't the strongest actor when he first took on the role, but he looked the part to the tee. As the movies progressed, things began to change.
Rowling initially described him like this, "Harry had a thin face, knobbly knees, black hair and bright green eyes. He wore round glasses held together with a lot of Scotch tape... The only thing Harry liked about his own appearance was a very thin scar on his forehead that was shaped like a bolt of lightning."
Harry Potter - What He Should Have Looked Like
In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Rowling writes that Harry's hair is now shoulder-length, much like in the picture seen here. This photo is not from the final Harry Potter movie (a very specific scar is missing), though, it's from Victor Frankenstein.
We're not sure why the movies didn't adopt the new look, but director David Yates opted to keep Radcliffe looking like the classic Harry. He's just a little older and a little more wore down by his adventures.
Hermione Granger - Emma Watson
Like with Daniel Radcliffe, it's impossible to imagine anyone except Emma Watson playing Hermione Granger. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Watson fits the description of Hermione from the book to a tee.
As the actress got older, her hair got less puffy and the role evolved to match Watson's growth than what Rowling described in the books. Throughout the movies, Hermione might be one of the characters that changes the most, physically, from the books.
Hermione Granger - What She Should Have Looked Like
When J.K. Rowling first wrote her description of Hermione Granger, she described the character as having, "a bossy sort of voice, lots of bushy brown hair and rather large front teeth."
Oddly enough, by the time Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire came out, the character was changing, with Rowling noting that Hermione "had done something with her hair; it was no longer bushy but sleek and shiny... the reduction in the size of her front teeth was more noticeable than ever." Was this transformation supposed to be as noticeable as it was in the movies, though?
Voldemort - Ralph Fiennes
The true embodiment of evil, Ralph Fiennes brought Voldemort to life on the big screen with terrifying precision. Even with his face covered in prosthetics, he was able to convey every horrifying moment with unmatched skill.
But just how close did the movies get Voldemort to his literary original? The biggest difference is the eyes. In the books, Voldemort is given red eyes, while in the movie, Fiennes natural eye color is used.
Voldemort - What He Should Have Looked Like
In this piece of fan art, Voldemort is given a look much closer to his literary description, "with wide, livid scarlet eyes and a nose that was as flat as a snake's with slits for nostrils."
The eyes here aren't exactly "livid scarlet," but they are much darker and more menacing than Fiennes' natural eye color. This version is also closer to Rowling's description of Voldemort as "tall and skeletally thin."
Draco Malfoy - Tom Felton
When audiences are first introduced to Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, he looks almost exactly as he's described in the book, having a "pale, pointed face." After the care taken into making the actors match the books in that film, however, things began to change.
Malfoy got taller, and his face became more defined. It also became clear that his eyes, which are blue in real life, didn't match the character's, which are grey.
Draco Malfoy - What He Should Have Looked Like
As you can see, actor Tom Felton, early on in the Harry Potter movie franchise is a pretty close match to his literary counterpart. In this piece of fan art, Draco's eyes even appear to be more bluish-grey than a true grey.
The chin here is also more pointed, and the shadows highlight just how pale his face is. He also looks more innocent than evil, whereas Draco in the movies has the actor trying to look evil almost immediately.
Dumbledore - Michael Gambon
J.K. Rowling writes Albus Dumbledore to be, "tall, thin, and very old, judging by the silver of his hair and beard, which were both long enough to tuck into his belt... His blue eyes were light, bright, and sparkling behind half-moon spectacles and his nose was very long and crooked, as though it had been broken at least twice."
It's pretty hard to look at this version of Dumbledore and not see the character described in the books.
Dumbledore - What He Should Have Looked Like
Like we wrote, the movies made Dumbledore identical to his description in the books, so there isn't a piece of fan art or a book cover to look for to point out any major differences.
There is one minor difference. Can you guess what it is? One theme that you may have caught on to so far is that the movies didn't pay attention to eye color, and Albus didn't get any special treatment. Michael Gambon, who took over the role after Richard Harris passed away, has brown, not blue eyes.
Snape - Alan Rickman
In a casing decision that was surprisingly not as controversial as it should have been, the movies cast Alan Rickman as Severus Snape. If you've watched them, you know how synonymous Rickman has become with the role.
The issue is his age, and it's a big issue! In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, it's noted for the first time that Snap was born in 1960, making him 31-years-old during Harry's first year at Hogwarts. Eagle-eyed viewers should have also noticed that Snape is shorter than Sirius Black on screen when the opposite is true on the pages.
Snape - What He Should Have Looked Like
With a little de-aging magic, it's easy to see that Alan Rickman was indeed perfectly cast as Severus Snape. His age might not match, but his overall look, greasy black hair, a hooked nose, ad sallow skin," does.
Most curious to us is that J.K. Rowling already knew Rickman was cast as Snape, yet she decided to keep him in his early 30s in the books when it would have been easy to change so late in the franchise.
Hagrid - Robbie Coltrane
It's easy to recreate a character from the pages to the movies when their face is hidden by long hair and a bushy beard. The actor, Robbie Coltrane, is unrecognizable as Hagrid and is nearly identical to how he's described in the books.
The movies show a Hagrid who is larger than life, with an intimidating body size, but a heart and soft as a teddy bear. There is one thing the movies got wrong!
Hagrid - What He Should Have Looked Like
When Hagrid is introduced to readers in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, he is described as, "almost twice as tall as a normal man and at least five times as wide. He looked simply too big to be allowed, and so wild–long tangles of bushy black hair and beard hid most of his face, he had hands the size of trash can lids, and his feet in their leather boots were like baby dolphins."
That means that Hagrid should have been nearly 12 feet tall, while Coltrane is barely over six feet tall. While the movies do their best to make Coltrane appear taller, would you say he matches his "twice as tall" description?
Sirius Black - Gary Oldman
Sirius Black is probably one of the characters the Harry Potter films took the most liberties with. An ally and friend to Harry, Gary Oldman was made to look more regal than worn down, and much healthier physically than described.
Oldman does nail the fragile mental state of Black described in the books. He is, after all, a former prisoner of Azkaban who is living in the world again for the first time in years!
Sirius Black - What He Should Have Looked Like
This version of Black from one of the films is much closer to how he was described in the books. This shot may be taken out of context from the movies, but this description is why we chose to use it:
"...a mass of filthy, matted hair hung to his elbows. If eyes hadn't been shining out of the deep, dark sockets, he might have been a corpse. The waxy skin was stretched so tightly over the bones of his face, it looked like a skull. His yellow teeth were bared in a grin."
Luna Lovegood - Evanna Lynch
On the surface, Evanna Lynch may seem like a direct match to Luna Lovegood in the books. She plays the character, quirks and all, to perfection. And she always looks surprised, one of the character's defining traits.
On-screen, however, Luna is given almost platinum blonde hair, not dirty as described in the books. Her eye color also doesn't match, which at this point on the list feels like a small thing to nitpick.
Read this description of Luna Lovegood and tell us it's not a perfect match to the character in this picture. She's a dirty blonde with, "straggly, waist-length... very pale eyebrows, and protuberant eyes that gave her a permanently surprised look."
We do give the filmmakers credit for not staying too far from the source material. It really is the little differences that separate actress Evanna Lynch from fully embodying Luna Lovegood.
Ron Weasley - Rupert Grint
Ron Weasely is one of the three most important characters in the entire Harry Potter franchise. He is Harry's best friend and eventually Hermione's boyfriend. With so much importance placed on the character in the books, it's amazing how much Rupert Grint doesn't match the character.
Grint must have blown away the room at his audition. Aside from his hair color, he looks nothing like how the character is described in the books.
Ron Weasley - What He Should Have Looked Like
In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, J.K. Rowling describes Ron Weasley like this, "tall, thin and gangling, with freckles, big hands and feet, and a long nose." He also has red hair, the only physical feature the character and actor Rupert Grint have in common.
Grint stands a very non-tall 5'8" and has no freckles. Oddly enough, it would have been easy enough to give the actor fake freckles, but it never happened.