‘Harry Potter’ Actors Charm at Film Festivals Worldwide

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Sep 08, 2017

Posted by: Dawn Johnson | Comments

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Harry Potter series alums have been remarkably busy over the last year, putting out an enviable body of work that could easily fill the docket of one film festival alone. However, this awards season will see this list of intriguing, dramatic, hilarious, and mysterious films featured at a variety of prominent festivals, drawing both accolades and audiences the world over.

Read on for our review of some of this season’s best!

Domnhall Gleeson

Domnhall Gleeson (Bill Weasley) has three films out this festival season, each easily fitting into a different genre, which prominently showcases his versatility as an actor and growing cred in the industry.

First off, he stars in the raucous comedy Crash Pad from writer Jeremy Catalino and director Kevin Tent. Gleeson plays Stensland, a hopeless romantic who becomes entangled in the twisted relationship of married couple Morgan (Christina Applegate) and Grady (Thomas Hayden Church). Stensland is devastated to learn that his one-night stand with Morgan was merely a vengeful fling aimed at hurting her cheating husband and that she has no intention of continuing to see him. He is further flabbergasted when Grady confronts him over the brief affair and then unceremoniously moves into his apartment, where they are presumably left to bond over their mutual hatred of Morgan, who has now spurned them both.

According to PR Newswire, the film premieres at the 4th annual Calabasas Film Festival, which features a mix of major films, student films, and documentaries “from all genres that are guaranteed to entertain.” Check out Gleeson’s comedic turn in the red band trailer below.

Gleeson is also slated to appear in the dark new horror-mystery film from Darren Aronofsy, mother! He costars with blockbuster heavyweights Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, and Michelle Pfeiffer. And though it might appear from the trailer to be standard thriller fare, Indiewire points out that Aronofsy “excels at taking his stories in creepy, unpredictable directions in which it’s hard to tell how much we can believe onscreen — and whether his characters have lost their minds.”

The film centers on Lawrence and Bardem, who have established a seemingly idyllic, tranquil life, one which is suddenly disrupted by strange, uninvited guests played by Harris and Pfeiffer. Gleeson enters into the picture as their son and spoke to The Up Coming about the role–and their influence–at the film’s premiere.

Though the film divided the press corps at the Venice Film Festival, it’s safe to say that with Aronofsy’s track record, such an unusual jarring film may very well be a hit with audiences and critics alike.

He told Variety:

“The entire purpose of ‘mother!’ is that it’s a mystery; it’s constantly surprising the audience. You don’t know where it’s going to go. We didn’t want to make the audience feel safe, because Jennifer’s character in the movie never feels safe. Jennifer’s character is constantly trying to figure out what’s happening to her….

“It was always about bringing the audience into ‘mother’s’ point of view, because I wanted the audience to experience ‘mother’ and her take on this invasion that was happening to her, because that was the point of the movie.”

The film will also play at the Toronto International Film Festival, so the buzz surrounding this one is surely just beginning to percolate. Take a look at the chilling trailer below–can you spot Gleeson or is his part still as mysterious as the film itself?

Also, as previously covered by Leaky, Gleeson also stars in the upcoming family biopic on Winnie the Pooh creator A.A. Milne titled Goodbye Christopher Robin. A notable departure from the style of his other festival entries, this film explores the relationship between Milne, played by Gleeson, and his son, Christopher Robin. It opens at the Chicago International Film Festival.

Kenneth Branagh

Kenneth Branagh (Gilderoy Lockhart), of recent Dunkirk fame, continues to be involved in all aspects of the film industry, including those behind the camera. In addition to starring in and directing the upcoming Murder on the Orient Express, the big screen adaptation of Agatha Christie’s classic murder mystery, Branagh will be attending the Shakespeare Film Festival in Stratford to act as patron later this month. He will unveil and judge the competition finalists at a special outdoor screening on the historic grounds of Shakespeare’s New Place.

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The festival aims to revive interest in and appreciation for Shakespeare among film-goers by featuring films inspired by his work, putting an exciting new spin on the timeless classics. According to the Stratford Observer, the late-September festival will kick off with Omkara, a Bollywood remake of Othello, followed by Disney’s The Lion King, which draws from the well-known Hamlet.

Rupert Grint

With the fast-moving advancements in virtual reality technology, film festivals have begun including more than your standard feature films, shorts, and documentaries. Now, many are also showcasing VR films and, among the three shown at the Venice Film Festival, one starred our beloved Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley).

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Grint led the television adaptation of Guy Ritchie’s cult favorite Snatch, which aired on Sony’s streaming service, Crackle, earlier this year. As Charlie Cavendish, Grint pulls off an intriguing mix of seemingly-contradictory characteristics as a man who is dynamic and chaotic, and yet is still, as seen in the picture, meticulously posh.

Fans at the Venice Festival were able to roll with the punches alongside the conman in the new Snatch VR Heist Experience. VR Focus reports that “the experience transports viewers into the middle of a safe-cracking diamond heist alongside Grint, Luke Pasqualino, Lucien Laviscount, and Phoebe Dynevor.”  

According to Future Lighthouse CEO Nicolas Alcala, the technology even allows participants to alter the course of events through their decisions inside the VR experience, adding to the stakes and increasing the adrenaline factor for viewers as they try to pull off the heist–and escape!–alongside Grint and his cohorts. That’s pretty incredible!

Maggie Smith

More punches will be thrown (seriously, a lot of them!) in the documentary Rod Taylor: Pulling No Punches about the life and film career of Australian actor Rod Taylor. It will be one of the highlighted films at the 9th Annual Burbank International Film Festival and include commentary from the incomparable Maggie Smith (Minverva McGonagall).

Broadway World quoted president and festival director Jeff Rector as saying:

“With more than 60 countries represented, and 25 world premieres, the festival has grown significantly in the U.S. and we are continuing to form new international relationships every year…From Hong Kong, to New Zealand, to South Africa, 20% of film submissions were from abroad this year, and the quality of work continues to be extraordinary.

Kudos to Smith for re-introducing us to the Australian icon with this wonderful documentary! View the trailer for the film below.

Shirley Henderson

Shirley Henderson’s new film Never Steady, Never Still debuts at the Toronto International Film Festival this month as well. Henderson (Moaning Myrtle) plays a mother struggling with the devastation of advanced Parkinson’s disease in the film by writer-director Kathleen Hepburn, who was inspired by her experiences with her own mother’s battle.

According to Metro News, the Canadian and international TIFF programmer Steve Gravestock said of the film, “[It’s] a really beautiful drama, very touching, very powerful…One of the strongest films we saw.” Get a glimpse of Henderson’s moving and physically-taxing performance in the simple but emotionally effective trailer below.

Julie Walters

Julie Walters (Molly Weasley) appears in Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, screening at the Telluride Film Festival. Walters plays Bella Turner, the mother of Peter, a young man who falls for former Hollywood starlet Gloria Grahame. Based on the memoir of the same name, the film follows their May-December romance through Grahame’s death at Peter’s family home in Liverpool. Express describes the film as follows:

“Set in 1978, the film picks up with the vibrant affair between Oscar winner Grahame and the young Peter Turner (Bell). He becomes the person she turns to for comfort, only for events beyond their control to truly test their lust for life.”

Walters stars alongside Annette Benning as Grahame and Jamie Bell, her Billy Elliot costar, as Peter Turner. Catch her almost-unrecognizable portrayal of the Turner matriarch in the following trailer.

David Bradley

Gothic horror film The Lodgers also debuts at the Toronto Film Festival. David Bradley (Argus Filtch) plays Bermingham in the new film from director Brian O’Malley, costarring with Charlotte Vega and Bill Milner, who play the primary characters in the suspense story. Deadline describes the plot as follows:

The Lodgers is a gothic ghost story about orphaned twins Edward (Milner) and Rachel (Vega), who live in a crumbling manor in 1920s rural Ireland. But they are not alone — they share the house with unseen entities who control them with three absolute rules. As separate fates draw them apart, the twins must face the terrible truth about their family’s ghostly tormentors.”

See Bradley at the tail end of the creepy new trailer below.

Jason Isaacs

Jason Isaacs will feature at the Toronto Film Festival as well when his satire The Death of Stalin debuts. Isaacs plays The General in this film from Armando Iannucci, who brings his extensive experience in the genre to bear. Indie Wire elaborates:

“Ianucci excels at writing vulgar dialogue and scathing banter shared by awful people responsible for running the countries they represent into the ground. ‘Death of Stalin’ follows that pattern while upping Ianucci’s filmmaking ambition — it’s basically ‘Veep’ in the Soviet Union, with a bunch of top-ranking ministers vying (and scheming) to inherit the late dictator’s role.”

The film is set after the death of the Soviet dictator, and Isaacs’ General isn’t the only one eying the top post as the power-hungry come out of the woodwork, including Steve Buscemi as Nikita Khrushchev, Jeffrey Tambor as Georgy Malenkov, and Rupert Friend as Vasily Stalin, among many others in a stellar ensemble cast.

The Death of Stalin is based on the graphic novel by Fabien Nury. View the trailer below.

Katherine Waterston

Katherine Waterston (Tina Goldstein) costars in The Current War with the superbly-talented Benedict Cumberbatch, playing Thomas Edison, and Michael Shannon as George Westinghouse. Waterston plays George’s wife, Marguerite. Indie Wire shares this official summary of the film, set to premiere at the Toronto Film Festival:

“Set in the late 1880s, ‘The Current War’ details the rivalry between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse and the race to create a marketable and sustainable electricity system. Edison championed the use of a direct current for electric power distribution over an alternating current, which was backed by Westinghouse Electric and a host of European companies.”

The Guardian also weighs in on The Current War with the following observation:

“The film is a major awards hope for the controversial producer Harvey Weinstein, who was once a guaranteed Academy favorite with Shakespeare in Love and Chicago but whose stock has fallen in recent years. ‘Edison and Westinghouse’s rivalry is the ultimate tale of competition driving ingenuity,’ Weinstein said of the film. ‘Theirs was a battle of intellect, a race of creativity and technological innovation that we see echoed in the self-made inventors dominating spaces like Silicon Valley.'”

See the newly-released trailer for this historic drama below!

Emma Thompson

Emma Thompson (Professor Trelawney) has two films in competition this festival season. As previously reported by Leaky, Thompson stars in The Meyerowitz Stories with Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, and Dustin Hoffman. She plays Maureen in the film, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival and releases on Netflix Oct. 13. The trailer doesn’t offer much of a hint at the nature or extent of Thompson’s role, but it’s sure to be a compelling movie with a cast of this caliber. Revisit the trailer below.

Thompson’s second film, The Children Act, will launch at the Toronto Film Festival. Adapted by Ian McEwan from his novel of the same name, it tells the story of Fiona Maye, a judge in Britain’s Family Court, who becomes involved in a difficult case of medical ethics involving a minor with religious objections to his cancer treatment.

Toby Jones

Also featured at the Toronto International Film Festival is Journey’s End, a remake of the classic by R.C. Sheriff which has been staged repeatedly since 1928 and was first brought to the silver screen in 1930. Screen Daily describes the WWI drama as “an intimate portrait of men at war; the tender bonds formed between brothers in arms and the unbearable burdens of command.”

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Asa Butterfield plays new recruit Raleigh, Paul Bettany fills the shoes of battle-weary Osborne, Sam Claflin is commanding officer Stanhope, who drowns the pressures of wartime leadership in whiskey, and Toby Jones (Dobby) is a philosophical cook, rounding out an impressive ensemble cast.

The Screen Daily review finds no weakness in the film adaptation and notes:

“[The] screenplay is filled with telling little human touches — the way food becomes a focal point of existence, the gallows humour, the small acts of kindness, the distracting whimsy. There’s also a very British sense of understatement in the way death is met with a stoical shrug and a hearty ‘cheerio, then’. In Journey’s End, war is the ultimate expression of the need to keep calm and carry on.

“…All [the actors] underplay beautifully, conveying the quiet reality of a desperate situation. It is a governing sense of restraint that lends the film such an emotional kick, and breathes fresh life into an old classic.”

All of these films warrant the attention of audiences world-wide, and as fans of this incredible group of actors and actresses, we’re excited to see them get the recognition and platform these festivals will bring! Which ones do you plan to see and which are you tapping early on for awards this season?





The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.