Some Harry Potter characters’ ages were close, others were not. How big or small were the age differences?
The Harry Potter film series spanned 10 years, from 2001 to 2011. In both the films and books, fans follow Harry’s journey in discovering the Wizarding World. We meet key characters such as Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, Hagrid and Snape, among many others.
Although in many senses a coming-of-age story, this ultimately leads to Harry’s final climatic battle against Voldemort in The Deathly Hallows.
Despite the films being released in the 2000s/2010s, the story actually takes place in the 1990s. This covers when JK Rowling first conceived the idea and ultimately wrote the early books.
You may be surprised to learn that the Harry Potter characters’ ages differ from the actors’. In fact, even the main trio of actors are of different ages from one another.
So, let’s look at how old the core actors were compared to their characters in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (or Sorcerer’s Stone).
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe)
Book Age: 10 (turns 11)
Film Age: 10 (turns 11)
Actor Age: 11
Daniel Radcliffe landed the title role of Harry Potter. His previous work included BBC’s adaption of David Copperfield, opposite future Potter co-stars, Maggie Smith, Zoe Wanamaker and Imelda Staunton. Radcliffe also had a supporting role in 2001’s The Tailor of Panama, featuring future Mad-Eye Moody, Brendan Gleeson.
As Radcliffe was born in 1989, this made him approximately 11 years old during the filming of the Philosopher’s Stone. At the time, he was about equal age to his character. However, the filming lasting longer than the story affected this.
By The Deathly Hallows, Radcliffe was in his early 20s playing a 17-year-old.
Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint)
Book Age: 11
Film Age: 11
Actor Age: 12
In the books, Ron Weasley is the ‘middle child’ of the trio. He’s younger than Hermione but older than Harry. However, in real life, Rupert Grint is the oldest of the three actors. Born in 1988, he was 12 when he shot The Philosopher’s Stone in 2000.
Similarly to Radcliffe, Grint went from being close in age to his character to slightly older. By 2009-2010 during The Deathly Hallows, he was 21-22 still playing a schoolboy.
Hermione Granger (Emma Watson)
Book Age: 11 (nearly 12, born September 1979)
Film Age: 11
Actor Age: 10
Emma Watson was the youngest of the main actors, first playing Hermione as a 10-year-old in 2000. In fact, in real life, Watson would have been too young to attend Hogwarts herself. Despite being slightly younger, there’s no question Watson held her own and fit the role.
Albus Dumbledore (Richard Harris)
Book Age: 110
Film Age: 110
Actor Age: 70
The late, Oscar-nominated Irish actor Richard Harris played Dumbledore in the first two films. As the famous story goes, Harris accepted the role at the bequest of his 11-year-old granddaughter. Unfortunately, Harris was aware that he was very ill and in the last years of his life.
Harris was also the godfather to producer David Heyman, who optioned the rights to the Harry Potter books.
As fans will know, Harris ultimately passed away in October 2002, at the age of 72. He spent his last 3 days in a coma.
Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane)
Book Age: 72
Film Age: 72
Actor Age: 50
Robbie Coltrane was 50 years of age when he started playing Hagrid in 2000. Simple maths tells us he was 60 by the final film, Deathly Hallows Part 2, which was shot in 2009-2010. However, even by the end, Coltrane was still younger than Hagrid had been in the first book/film!
According to JK Rowling’s biography of the character, Hagrid was born in the Forest of Dean in 1928.
Minerva McGonagall (Maggie Smith)
Book Age: 56
Film Age: 56
Actor Age: 66
Before ruling the roost at Downton Abbey, Dame Maggie Smith oversaw Hogwarts as Professor Minerva McGonagall, Deputy Headmistress. Unlike many of the adult cast members, Smith is actually older than her character by a few years.
Once again, we refer to JK Rowling’s biography for her characters. This states McGonagall’s birth as 1934, making her 56 by the first book/film. However, Smith herself was born in 1934. As the first film took place 10 years in the past from the start of production, Smith was 10 years older than the character.
That being said, the Fantastic Beasts films threw McGonagall’s age into disarray. These take place during the late 1920s and early 1930s. However, the later films feature an adult McGonagall, when she should be a child at this time.
Alan Rickman (Severus Snape)
Book Age: 31
Film Age: 31
Actor Age: 54
The late Alan Rickman played Severus Snape throughout all 8 films. Rickman, a veteran stage and screen actor, imbued the perfect combination of mystery, nuance and smugness to create a memorable, compelling Snape.
As we know from the books, Snape was born in the early 1960s. This places him in the same school year as Harry’s parents, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and many more.
In real life, however, Alan Rickman was born in 1946. This means he was 54 playing the 31-year-old Snape in The Philosopher’s Stone.
Rickman sadly passed away in 2016, at the age of 69.
Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton)
Book Age: 11
Film Age: 11
Actor Age: 13
Tom Felton was one of the older child actors in Harry Potter. He’s just behind the Phelps Twins who played Fred and George Weasley. So, even though Draco was 11 years old in the beginning, Felton was already 13 when he started playing him.
In fact, Felton is almost three years older than Emma Watson, despite their characters being around the same age.