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since 1997 | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Where is the idea that the ‘Harry Potter’ kids are too old coming from?

Maybe it only seems like the haters are more vocal when a movie is really really popular, but there’s a weird strand of Harry Potter hating going around that I simply don’t understand because it quite factually makes no sense at all, and yet this doesn’t stop anyone from spouting it.

It’s perfectly expressed by Harry Potter hater Eileen Jones of eXiled Online (reposted at AlterNet):

So Harry Potter, the latest one. How many more to go? Only two? Well, good, that means they’ll finish up before the kids turn 30.

That’s the subhead of her essay about why Harry Potter sucks. In other words, it’s really prominent on the page, suggesting that it’s something that her editors believe will attract the attention of lots of readers, theoretically — one imagines — in a positive way, and not — as in my case — in a way that makes you go, What the hell…?

I don’t care who wants to hate whatever movies they want to hate for whatever reason. But this truly boggles my mind. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was shot between September 2007 and May 2008. Which means that Daniel Radcliffe — who will turn 20 years old the day after tomorrow — had just turned 18 when he was portraying a 16-year-old. Emma Watson was 17. Rupert Grint was 19. Tom Felton was, granted, 20 and playing 16… but he certainly looked no older than Radcliffe when the series started shooting, and he still doesn’t now.

The final Harry Potter film, The Deathly Hallows, is shooting now and has been shooting for months. So now the “kids” are, respectively, 20, 19, 21, and 22 playing 17. Which, considering the Hollywood tendency to cast 30-year-olds as high-schoolers, is downright precise. By the time the final film has been released, it will be less than 10 years between the first film and the last, an overall story that covers a span of seven years. And most of the stretching out has occurred at the tail end, when kids change far less: I bet you looked much the same between 17 and 20, certainly compared to how much you changed between 7 and 10, or 10 and 13.

Where is the idea that the Harry Potter kids are too old coming from?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me.)



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  • LaSargenta

    Nothing else for that writer to write about? Usually seems like a non-issue for me.

    I agree with you that these actors are all an awful lot closer to the ages they are playing than the majority of the time. I don’t recall anyone complaining too loudly about a 21 year old Sean Penn in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

    Certainly better than 45 year old women having to play the mother role to a 30-something year old man like so many movies I’ve cringed through.

  • I’m not a fan of the ‘Potter’ books or films, but respect how Rowling allows her protagonists to grow and mature in the books, and amazed at how the producers of the films were able to pick out several very young teen actors who’ve all matured into surprisingly decent adult actors. What do they want, for Harry and Hermione to be like a magical Bart and Lisa Simpson?

    And don’t even tell me about 45 year old women playing the moms of 30 year old men. I work on casting for movies, and whenever Hollywood gets involved, suddenly you have them complaining that your 36-year-old actress is too old to play a 36-year old character. Not surprisingly, the people controlling the money (and by extension the casting decisions) are often aging frat boy douchebags. It’s just a shame that audiences, particularly American audiences, keep proving the douchebags right… though I hold out hope that our culture might one day collectively grow up and see that there’s more to a woman’s appeal than a perky pair of breasts.

  • Saladinho

    I think, in particular, when it comes to fantasy or sci-fi, anything geek related, there’s a point where we’re supposed to grow up and get a life. So, by extension, it’s supposed to be seen that the one time kids playing these roles have outgrown the parts and we fans are being ridiculous for still supporting the series.

    It’s a meaningless argument.

  • I think it’s an off-shoot of the whole ‘type-casting’ curse a good number of actors/actresses have to deal with.

    People see you star in a movie at the age of 13 and get it in their heads that that’s all you can do. Can people wrap their heads around the idea that Macaulay Culkin is now 29 and perfectly capable of starring in action movies (c’mon he’d be perfect as Booster Gold in a JLA movie)?

    In this case, the type-casting revolves around the CHARACTERS: people who think that Harry Potter and his friends are all still petite, prepubescent children, even though these characters actually DO grow up in the novels they’re portraying.

    And for what I’m seeing, the movie fans and the novel fans on the whole are fine with this. Didn’t HBP just do Boffo box office?

    The “aging-too-fast” critics are wrong. We’re right. Enjoy the smugness. Ahhhhhhhh. :)

  • Accounting Ninja

    That IS really weird. I could think of lots more things to complain about with HP. :)

    And that’s just bizarre about the casting of women, I’ve always thought so. They really want “moms” to look like they gave birth at 9 or 10 years old? Creepy. And I, who am young-looking, have a young-looking mother myself (good genes). But even so, in closely looking and talking with her, she is quite obviously her age. When a 50-something person “looks young”, it doesn’t mean they look interchangeable with an 18 year old. There’s a sort of vitality about them that’s hard to pin down, but it’s not about having no wrinkles and perfect boobs.

  • I’ve always been confused and a bit irritated at the vapidity of this sort of statement about the actors’ ages, especially when they are made, as in this case, by someone who is just hating on Potter because that’s what they are into. And then there are those who will pompously agree and laugh deridingly along with the hater who made the non-sensical statement as if it actually means something. After a while, all I can hear is “hee-haw, hee-hawwww, heee-haw.” ;]

  • Pedro

    i was discussing this just yesterday. Rupert Grint is only three years younger than me (1988). some people say i look 17/18, but i don’t think i do. 20? maybe. but i’m far too mature looking to portray a high school student anymore.

    so maybe the critic is half-right, but it’s still wrong to make that your main point of contention.

  • doa766

    the ones who are way too old are the secondary kids, Draco Malfoy is supposed to be the same age as Harry yet he looks like 5 years older, the Weasley twins look stupid doing their high school jokes when they look around 30

    also it is common for actors to play characters younger or older than they’re

    but that’s actors, only Emma Watson can act and she looks about right for the part without acting anyway, the others are not good

    if the Harry Potter movies started on the six year and they would need to cast actors now for the parts they would never in a million years choose those guys for Harry and Ron

    the only reason they’re playing them now is because they looked the part when they were 10

    and it’s obvious they can’t act the subtle differences of behaviour between 20 year olds and teenagers and that’s why some people are complain about this when they should be complaining that they’re acting sucks

    it was cute when they were younger and the movies were more childish, now the movies are LOTR-esque and real acting is required and they can’t deliver

  • Mimi

    I think people who aren’t into a cultural phenomenon get annoyed when, once again, the world around them gets into it. And they feel like, “GAWD, this is going on FOREVER, aren’t these actors, like FORTY by now?!?!”

    I have a friend who is not into Harry Potter and is borderline belligerent about it. Maybe he can join a club with this woman. Then they could complain to each other and leave me in peace to watch the movie.

  • Alli

    Dan Radcliffe can’t act Doa? Weird. Someone tell all those people who review Broadway for a living that they’re morons!

  • doa766

    Alli: from the NYT review:

    “If that sense of exigency rarely materializes in “The Half-Blood Prince,” it’s partly because the series finale is both too close and too far away and partly because Mr. Radcliffe and his co-stars Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, as Harry’s friends Hermione and Ron, have grown up into three prettily manicured bores. Mr. Radcliffe in particular proves incapable of the most crucial cinematic magic. Namely the alchemical transformation of dialogue into something that feels like passion, something that feels real and true and makes you as wild for Harry as for all those enticingly dark forces.”

    anyway, it’s just another opinion but this is so you’ll see that many many people think the same

    I’ve only seen him on the harry potter movies and the tailor of panama and he’s always bland and stiff, amateur level

  • bats :[

    I still have problems with accepting Leonardo DiCaprio as a “grown up”. He’s a fine actor, but for some reason, I have the hardest time seeing his real age. I had a problem with Kiefer Sutherland, too — maybe it’s young men with blond hair that makes them look like perpetual teenagers.

  • I couldn’t see Leonardo DiCaprio as an adult until ‘Revolutionary Road’. First off, he looks just like my grandfather did in photos from that era. Second, in that final breakfast table scene, the emotions he exhibits are very “adult”, and delivered with such authenticity, that I was sold. What amazes me is how Leo and I are about the same age, yet despite having grown up a Hollywood star, he seems to “get” the mindset of someone who’s been a working stiff all his adult life, like myself. Now *that* must be acting.

  • NorthernStar

    “anyway, it’s just another opinion but this is so you’ll see that many many people think the same”

    O_O
    The NYT reviewer has multiple personalities?

  • Alli

    And this is just an opinion, but many people disagree with you and the NYT.

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