Jamie Parker Talks “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”: “It’s an unusual project. It’s a global audience.”
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child opens on Broadway today, and Variety’s theater editor Gordon Cox has sat down with Jamie Parker (Harry Potter) for the Stagecraft podcast. You can listen to the podcast here or read below for our highlights.
Cox began his interview by asking Parker what he has learned since Cursed Child opened in London in 2016. In his response, Parker quoted Potter alumnus Sir Michael Gambon (Albus Dumbledore) to convey his thoughts.
It’s a play that, in Michael Gambon’s words, has legs… which means that you don’t have to be generating something out of nothing. It has its own momentum.
Moving on to what he has learned about his character, Parker reflected on how his understanding of Harry has deepened since he debuted the role at the Palace Theatre in London.
I look back to a year ago or 18 months ago and I think there was so much that I didn’t understand about the play, or hadn’t realized, connections I hadn’t made. I felt like I was doing a very simplistic reading.
He went on to add that “if you are not slightly embarrassed by the person you were last year, then you’re not growing at all,” before telling listeners that he doesn’t look to Daniel Radcliffe’s portrayal of Harry for inspiration.
Daniel is giving his own entirely empathetic interpretation of the source material, and it would be incomplete, and so inaccurate of me, to take the movies as the source material, so I’m not consciously trying to emulate or imitate Daniel Radcliffe’s performance.
Parker also talked about how he came to the role of Harry, saying that he received a phone call in late 2015, which asked if he would be interested in a Harry Potter West End play. He then revealed to Cox that he wasn’t initially sure which part he was being considered for. Having not yet read all seven books, he was unaware that the characters return to platform nine and three-quarters as adults.
I’d read the first book, I’d seen the first three movies, but I wasn’t at the party. So I didn’t understand the question particularly.
Never fear, Potterheads, Parker is now on his “fifth or sixth” reread of the series! Just like us, he finds new details in the stories every time he goes back to them.
I realized only two or three weeks ago, listening to the audiobooks as I was cycling through the city, and heard a line in Goblet of Fire that’s echoed in the play, and I went, how have I only noticed that now?
Throughout the podcast, Parker and Cox talked about the nature of the audiences that come to see Cursed Child. When pressed about the differences between London and New York theatergoers, Parker described Broadway audiences as “bouncier” than their West End counterparts. He then went to say that audiences for Cursed Child are different from those of other plays because “it’s an unusual project. It’s a global audience.”
Parker finished the interview by telling listeners why they should see the play, emphasizing that movies can’t compare with the atmosphere of theater – particularly with a cast of such well-known characters. To prove this point (without spoilers!) Parker shared an example of an audience reaction to a character during his London run.
In London, I did once see a woman get up and run at one [character] entrance, and she was [sitting] in the center aisle and she just got up and ran.
We can’t wait for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child to open on Broadway! Do you have tickets to see the play?