Dame Maggie Smith Reflects on Acting in “Harry Potter” and More
From playing Professor McGonagall in the Potter movies to the Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey, Dame Maggie Smith is widely recognized for an incredible career in theater, film, and television.
Reflecting back on one of her most iconic roles in film, Smith found the filming process of Potter to be difficult since she was expected to look “bright eyed and bushy tailed” after spending weeks in a snowed-in trailer. Although she had Professor McGonagall’s famous hat to wear, she eventually became sick of it on her head.
It just made you think, ‘what’s the point?’
It is not surprising, then, that Smith is not a fan of the attention she receives thanks to her magical counterpart!
Despite her flair for acting, Smith believes that enjoyment of the acting process, particularly in film, depends on a range of factors, including the types of director and co-actors to work with.
Sometimes it can be joyous, and other times it can be like torment – and you think ‘what on earth am I doing? Let me out of here.’
Although she was exposed to the acting world since the 1950s, as a child, Smith never went to the theater and displayed little awareness of acting as a career. However, she came to appreciate the art of acting while at school out of encouragement from a teacher and from her own pure fascination.
I don’t know where it came from. Maybe my brothers? They always made me laugh. They used to do amateur dramatics with Ronnie Barker (one-half British comedy duo, the Two Ronnies), and they did a production of Hobson’s Choice, and I remember listening to the lines that my brothers were trying to learn and thinking ‘what’s the problem?’ because I learnt them all so swiftly.
To make matters more interesting, it appears that Smith never attended drama school yet, she hopes to check it out sometime to “find out what they’re being taught” since she believes “it would be a good thing to know.”
And just like most aspiring actors, she is no stranger to embarrassment when it comes to watching herself act, which sees her prefer acting on stage as opposed to the screen.
At least in the theatre you can go – ‘oh, I’ll give it another go tomorrow night’ – but it’s forever [on screen]. You always think – ‘why on earth did I do it like that?’ And there’s no going back.
We don’t know about you, but we find it heartwarming that our favorite Hogwarts professor has dealt with nerves, just like the rest of us!
To find out more about Dame Maggie Smith’s acting career and opinions, including her favorite film she worked on, read the full interview here. Of all the iconic roles she has played, which one is your favorite?