“Who Is James Payton?” Documentary Puts Frank Longbottom Actor in Center Stage

While we can properly learn about the heartbreaking story of Neville Longbottom’s brave parents in the book version of Harry Potter and Order of the Phoenix, we only get a brief scene and a glance at the brave original Order members on a faded photograph in the film adaptation. It may surprise you that there is a new documentary out there that centers entirely around the actor behind Frank Longbottom. It is true that James Payton is not a household name like Dame Maggie Smith or Daniel Radcliffe, but Who Is James Payton? is a standout feature that is quietly comical without sugarcoating the realities of the acting industry.

Payton has spent much of his career playing minor roles and memorable cameos sometimes in some of the most popular blockbusters of the day (aside from Frank Longbottom, he is also quite known for his Adolf Hitler in Captain America: The First Avenger). At last, he got a lead role in this documentary! Better late than never.

 

 

There are plenty of working actors who remain largely unknown. So why make a documentary about Payton in particular? Director Oliver Guy-Watkins was inspired to shine a light on fame and success, how they are related, and what they mean at all. He wanted to show Payton as an artist who is successful enough to be a career actor but who hasn’t had a big break with which he could have achieved the kind of security that leading roles bring:

‘Who Is James Payton?’ is a documentary feature that follows an actor called James Payton who gained some kind of cult status for his roles in some major productions like ‘Harry Potter’ and a couple of Marvel films as well. But he still has to fight to maintain his career. He’s still relatively unknown. I don’t think the phrase ‘jobbing actor’ is correct, but it’s someone who is still going from job to job to job. So yeah, probably, ‘jobbing actor’ in that sense is correct.

 

 

 

A happy real-life twist spiced up the bittersweet documentary mid-filming, Guy-Watkins remembered:

We followed James for a year. He went to a number of conventions, where he would have queues of two hours long to sign his autograph. And then he’d go to another one the next week, which would be an empty sports hall somewhere. And then in the process, he got cast as Tony Blair in the Creation Stories film about Alan McGee directed by Nick Moran, who also appears in the film as a cameo.

Aside from Payton and Nick Moran (Scabior), other Harry Potter stars such as Chris Rankin (Percy Weasley) also pop up in the documentary, which is a real treat for fans, especially if you like going to conventions. It’s free to watch, and you get to have a behind-the-scenes look into a side of the film industry that you’ve never seen before. In true Longbottom fashion, this one is for the underdogs.

 

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Dora Bodrogi

I am a writer, a critic, a researcher, a traveler, and a Ravenclaw through and through. My main fields of interest are representation, gender, and LGBTQ fiction, history, and censorship. Incorrigible doodler and theatre kid.

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