Home Movies

‘It’s not Charles Dickens.’: A ‘Harry Potter’ veteran wasn’t exactly beholden to the material

Harsh, but probably fair.

Miriam Margolyes OBE is seen at the ITV Studios on January 8, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by HGL/GC Images)
Photo by HGL/GC Images

British screen legend Miriam Margolyes is never afraid to speak her mind. The 82-year-old star has just posed nude for the cover of the UK Vogue‘s Pride issue, explaining that she’d never “had any shame about being gay” despite her parents’ disapproval. In an extensive interview with the magazine, she discusses her life and career, perhaps inevitably touching upon her playing Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter movies.

Margolyes was happy that the role gave her a whole new generation of fans, though confesses that “it doesn’t mean as much to me as it does to them.” And as for opinion on the Wizarding World in general? Well, she doesn’t mince her words:

“For me Harry Potter wasn’t important. I was very glad I got the part and I enjoyed being in it and meeting all the people, but it’s not Charles Dickens.”

This may stem from Margolyes’ public criticism of Rowling’s transphobic comments. Back in 2020, she sympathized with Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, who all made their support of trans rights and opposition to Rowling known, saying:

“I know what has happened. [Rowling] has a rather conservative view of transgender people. I don’t think I do. I can’t make it out. It’s a matter of personal happiness for people and I think that’s what you should concentrate on. If you seriously want to become a woman you should be allowed to. You can’t be fascist about it. I think it’s confusing.”

That said, Margoyles seems to at least respect Rowling, despite not having had any personal contact with her while playing Professor Sprout. In 2022 she said:

“I think the vituperation JK Rowling has received is misplaced. I don’t know her at all. I admire her as a human being. She’s a generous woman, she’s a brilliant writer.”

So something of a mixed bag. Either way, Margolyes seems more than ready to move on from Harry Potter. Her current projects include narrating a series of Charles Dickens audiobooks for Audible, as well as making a documentary about Israel and Palestine (though she says her representatives are worried about her being killed doing it). On top of that she’s about to undergo heart surgery to get a stent fitted, but has a blase attitude towards her future:

“I’m still ducking and diving. I’m still open to new experiences. I’m just very conscious that there is no light at the end of the tunnel.”

Here’s hoping Margolyes sticks around for some time yet, as we need people like her around.

David James
About the author

David James

London-based writer about everything and anything. Willing to crawl over rusty nails to write about Metal Gear Solid or Resident Evil.