Despite making multiple appearances in the books, Gilderoy Lockhart (played by Sir Kenneth Branagh), only features in The Chamber of Secrets. Here’s why the pompous wizard celebrity should have been in more Harry Potter films.
In contrast to the darker elements of Harry Potter, one-time Hogwarts professor Gilderoy Lockhart is among the more outlandish or colourful characters in the franchise.
Lockhart was brought to life by acclaimed Shakespearean actor/director Sir Kenneth Branagh in 2002’s adaptation of The Chamber of Secrets. This would ultimately be the character’s only appearance in the film franchise, despite returning later in the books.
In comparison to his immediate predecessor Quirinius Quirrell (Ian Hart), who was quiet and sinister, Lockhart was loud and pompous. His buffoonery often irritated Harry and Ron, as well as other male students at Hogwarts, while many of the female students were infatuated.
Under the direction of then franchise director Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Mrs Doubtfire), Branagh expertly crafted Gilderoy Lockhart’s insincere charm into the family friendly atmosphere which the films embodied at that time.
Branagh also executed Lockhart’s transition from smiling to celebrity to conniving fraud seamlessly. Arguably, Gilderoy Lockhart is one of many antagonists featured in The Chamber of Secrets yet is able to stand out within a large cast of characters.
Even in the context of the storytelling, Lockhart was competing with Tom Riddle, the Basilisk, Aragog, Lucius Malfoy and Snape as an overarching figure. Before his full motivations were revealed, even Dobby the House Elf could be considered in this category, to an extent, as he caused Harry harm.
An antagonist can be defined as opposing the main character’s goals or desires, without actually being a villain. This was certainly the case when Lockhart attempted to cast that fateful Memory Charm in the Chamber of Secrets near the climax of the story. It showed Gilderoy Lockhart was far from the noble hero he had claimed to be.
So, why should have Gilderoy Lockhart returned in at least one future film?
As already mentioned, the character made a brief cameo in the Order of the Phoenix novel, as a patient at St. Mungo’s Hospital at the same time that Arthur Weasley was being treated there. Since Arthur’s hospitalisation was cut from the film version, there was no opportunity for Kenneth Branagh to reprise the role, even in a brief cameo.
Lockhart’s Order of The Phoenix appearance in the books also showed his fall from grace following the backfired Memory Charm. This would have been fun and interesting to see realised on film. The character would be far from the person who had been introduced three instalments earlier, a shell of who he had once been.
Considering Lockhart had planned to inflict this unfortunate fate on Harry and Ron, who fans obviously would be invested in. There would have been a sense of redemptive justice which was lost, owing to the sacrifices necessary in adapting a book to film.
However, in the end, Gilderoy Lockhart’s permanent brain damage and lack of actual magical accomplishments rendered him unlikely to be a long-term recurring character in the franchise. He could not continue his post at Hogwarts, nor would he be viable to join the Order of the Phoenix during the Second Wizarding War.
The best outcome that fans of the character could have hoped for were short appearances, much like the style of his comeback in the books. However, the precision required in the filmmaking process would have made this difficult to accomplish.
Do you think Lockhart could have had a future after Chamber of Secrets?