Actors Who Left The Limelight After Starring In Harry Potter

It's been over 20 years since millions of ravenous "Harry Potter" fans waited with baited breath to find out who had been cast to portray the students of Hogwarts. After posting a casting call for the role of Harry Potter, Warner Bros. Pictures received over 60,000 applications (via New York Post). Right off the bat, many of these applicants were rejected as author J.K. Rowling was apparently "adamant" about casting mostly British actors, according to Mental Floss — so much so that even Robin Williams was reportedly turned down for the role of Hagrid due to his nationality.

Children cast in the film became celebrities overnight, and even bit players still maintain large social media followings due to their magical on-screen personas. After turning in their wands and hanging up their cloaks, such a big, ongoing gig surely launched all of these kids into superstardom, right? Well, not quite. Unlike stars like Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, who have gone on to enjoy fairly lucrative film (and, in Radcliffe's case, theatre) careers since respectively saying goodbye to Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, many of the former child actors from "Harry Potter" have since stepped out of the limelight. Keep scrolling to find out what they're up to now.

James and Oliver Phelps are taking it easy in the great outdoors

Although James and Oliver Phelps do not consider themselves an inseparable entity — according to The Guardian, they would "ignore" anyone who referred to them as "the twins" — their post-"Harry Potter" careers have remained intertwined. Both boys were only 14 and had almost no acting experience when they were cast in the series. However, James told The Guardian that he didn't start to "take [acting] seriously" until he was 17.

After portraying the older twin brothers of Rupert Grint's Ron Weasley, Fred and George Weasley, in the "Harry Potter" franchise, the actors have had some parts in smaller films. James and Oliver appear to have been cast together in most of their limited filmography, which includes movies like "Danny and the Human Zoo" and "Own Worst Enemy." However, it seems like most of their time has been spent doing "Harry Potter"-related promotional work — like a 2019 Warner Brothers studio tour that touted the brothers as a main attraction — or engaging in their hobbies, which include golf, biking, and following Bob Ross painting videos.

In 2021, the Phelps brothers even started a podcast called "Normal Not Normal," where they interview people who "stepped into the limelight at a young age, and find out what 'normal' means to them." The podcast has featured interviews from fellow "Harry Potter" actors Evanna Lynch and Alfred Enoch, along with conversations with people like NFL player Cameron Jordan and "Queer Eye" star Karamo Brown.

'Harry Potter' alum Jamie Waylett spent time behind bars

For the first seven "Harry Potter" films, Jamie Waylett played Draco Malfoy's (Tom Felton) henchman Vincent Crabbe. However, fans noticed that Waylett was not present for the eighth and final film, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II." In his place was Louis Cordice, portraying fellow Slytherin, Blaise Zabini. So, what happened?

Waylett was apparently replaced following his 2009 arrest for "growing cannabis plants in his mother's north-west London home," according to BBC News. He was required to perform 120 hours of community service as punishment and extended "sincere apologies" to his fans and those involved in the "Harry Potter" movies' production. Unfortunately, any hope Waylett had of reviving his film career disappeared in 2012, when he once again encountered trouble with the law. Waylett was sentenced to two years in jail for violent disorder after participating in a riot in London, where he was photographed in possession of a Molotov cocktail, the previous year (via BBC News). The actor was caught on CCTV in the midst of the riots "swigging from a stolen bottle of Champagne" and holding "a bottle full of petrol with a rag as a wick," though he did not throw it. 

According to the outlet, Waylett's lawyer claimed that he "struggled with fame" and that "although he had the good fortune to be in the 'Harry Potter' films, it turned out to be not so good fortune."

Devon Murray blew through his 'Harry Potter' cash

Unlike most of the child actors cast in "Harry Potter," Devon Murray actually had some acting experience under his belt when he landed his role as Seamus Finnigan in the first film. According to TCM, the Irish actor got his start in Tesco commercials at the age of six, before going on to star in the film adaptation of "Angela's Ashes." He was cast in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" in 2000, and spent the next 11 years appearing in the film series.

However, Murray completely left the acting world after finishing "Harry Potter" (apart from an uncredited role in 2018's "Damo & Ivor The Movie"). TCM claims that he "amassed a somewhat dubious reputation" as a hard-partying "playboy" during his time on the series. In 2016, Murray encountered serious legal trouble when he was sued by his agent for "£230,000 in fees that Murray and his family had failed to pay" after the actor reportedly "spent nearly all of his earnings from the franchise on horses, cars, and property." Murray lost the case, and was ordered to pay £210,000 to his agent.

These days, Murray lives a quiet life in the country with his girlfriend, Shannon McCaffrey Quinn, and a baby boy named Cooper, who arrived in January 2021 (via E!). His Instagram is filled with photographs of his family, horses, and dogs, along with some "Harry Potter" throwback pics. By all accounts, it seems that the former child actor's seemingly wild life has settled down.

Evanna Lynch stands up for animal rights

Recounting a 2020 interview from the "Talking Tastebuds" podcast, The Irish Sun revealed that Evanna Lynch was admittedly "obsessed" with the "Harry Potter" world before she won her role as Luna Lovegood. "When I met Daniel, Rupert and Emma, I knew everything about them, their pets' names, birthdays, parents names," she confessed. "I had to pretend I didn't." Lynch went on to say that this contributed to her unrealistic expectations about her post-"Harry Potter" career, explaining that she "didn't think it would be as hard to be an actor as it actually is."

Lynch has had bit parts since the film series ended in both short films and television productions, according to her IMDb page. Her main focus, however, seems to have shifted from acting to vegan activism. In 2018, the actor launched a vegan beauty box line called Kinder Beauty, which sends a monthly box filled with cruelty-free and vegan beauty products to subscribers. Unlike some celebrity promotional items, the box has seen significant success: In the USA Today "10Best" ratings, Kinder Beauty was voted the "Best Beauty Box Subscription" of 2021. Sounds like success to us!

Tom Felton strums his post-'Harry Potter' days away

In the "Harry Potter" films, Tom Felton played Harry's foil and nemesis, Draco Malfoy. According to ScreenRant, he had acting experience before being cast as the Slytherin, appearing in movies like "Anna and the King” and "The Borrowers." But while Felton didn't quit acting like some of his "Harry Potter" co-stars, he hasn't starred in any major feature films since the franchise concluded: He popped up in "Get Him to the Greek" and "13Hrs" while filming "Harry Potter," and went on to land smaller roles in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," "Ophelia," and various television projects.

More recent posts on Felton's Instagram account show that, in between acting gigs, he's been laying low and enjoying other pursuits, like cooking and hanging out with his adorable black lab, Willow. In one 2021 post, he was seen golfing with James Phelps — or is it Oliver? (just kidding, we had to) — in a round that he apparently lost, given his caption: "Even a life long Slytherin ... will (occasionally) let a Weasley win." 

Felton is also an accomplished singer — a 2020 video of him singing King George's part in "Hamilton" made big waves on social media when fans demanded he play the role in the musical. Although he seems to have taken a step back from the limelight (apart from the occasional viral TikTok video), Felton stills has a lot of love for his "Harry Potter" days, as throwback photos are all over his Instagram feed.

Inside Bonnie Wright's move behind the camera

Bonnie Wright began playing Ron Weasley's little sister (and Harry Potter's future wife), Ginny Weasley, when she was just nine years old. But ever since her graduation from university with a film and television degree, the former child star has focused her energy on production in the film and television world. She has also taken up directing: in 2021, she released a music video, "Melt," with artist and close friend Gillian Maguire. In an interview with Teeth about the project, Wright explained that she was "really interested in exploring" the experience of watching "people close to you unfold, develop, let go of things," a concept which she conveyed in the video itself.

Wright also frequently posts on Instagram, revealing that she is an environmental activist living in Los Angeles, who frequently participates in virtual conversations about sustainability and other environmental issues. As Wright told Teeth, "I've continued with music videos, commercials, short films, and am hopefully entering into my first feature film." However, it's unclear whether she is interested in a role behind or in front of the camera for this upcoming movie (or perhaps both?). Either way, given her success with Maguire's "Melt" video, we expect to see Wright accomplishing big things in the directing world sometime soon.

'Harry Potter' star Sean Biggerstaff is cooking up a storm

According to a 2021 Empire piece (via Wizarding World), Sean Biggerstaff didn't originally audition for the role of Gryffindor Quidditch captain Oliver Wood. Instead, the Scottish actor put on his "best RP accent" and went out for the part of Ron Weasley's straight-laced older brother, Percy Weasley. The casting director instead asked Biggerstaff to read for Oliver Wood. This surprised Biggerstaff. "I knew that the only physical description you get of Wood was 'burly', and as a 17-year-old I was built like a glass of water — so I don't know what she was thinking!" he told Empire. "It was a totally bizarre casting decision, but I was very blessed she made it." 

Indeed, the part fit, and Biggerstaff went on to act in the first two "Harry Potter" films. After the fantasy series ended, however, he mostly stepped out of the public eye — although his IMDb page shows that he has picked up a few bit parts in the interim. His Instagram feed features "mainly just photos of food and Scotland," per his bio. True to his word, said photos include freshly-rolled cookie dough, fried rabbit, and snow in Glasgow. Biggerstaff is significantly more active on Twitter, where he is very politically outspoken, frequently criticizing politicians and chiming in on world events. 

The low-key actor is also in a relationship. In 2020, Biggerstaff's girlfriend, Aylish McFarlane, revealed that she was dating her "childhood crush" on TikTok, sending fans into a frenzy as they recognized him as a former "Harry Potter" star (via The Scottish Sun).

Chris Rankin still loves all things 'Harry Potter'

According to his personal website, Chris Rankin landed his most famous role when he "sent off a letter asking for an audition to play Percy Weasley in 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone'" at the age of 16. Although he's no longer very active in front of the camera, he describes himself as a "performer, a director, a producer and creative," who frequents fan events to speak about his time on the "Harry Potter" set. 

According to WalesOnline, "about half" of Rankin's time is spent on "conventions and Comicons," while the rest of his time is spent as a pantomime actor or on his "career behind the camera which has seen him work on everything from 'Downton Abbey' to Monmouth-filmed 'Atlantis.'" However, Rankin has also kept busy with various charitable causes — he is a self-described activist for LGBTQ+ rights, runs a Welsh community theater charity, and donates to an adoption charity. At the time of this writing, he lives in the small Welsh town of Newport with his partner, Nessa. 

In 2019, Rankin opened up to WalesOnline about the life-changing role his "Harry Potter" gig has played in his life — he even wrote his university dissertation on the series. "Percy was quite a nice part because it's a small enough that it doesn't completely consume your life," he explained, before adding, "I mean it does because it's Warner Bros and 'Harry Potter' and it's still here now and still going, so it has consumed my life, but in the best way possible."