Top of the Fops

Total Film, November 2002
*Thanks, Catherine

Kenneth Branagh on bringing Hogwarts' self-adoring, spell-bungling Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher, Gilderoy Lockhart, to preening life ...

TF:  How would you describe Gilderoy Lockhart?

KB:   Lockhart is the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, an apparently fantastically successful wizard and writer whose books are now being used as textbooks at Hogwarts. He is a narcissus, a gadfly, very full of himself and faintly idiotic. But he can also be rather touching at times. he is certainly a strange peacock of a man.

TF:   That hair, those clothes ... Seems you've captured the poncy fop JK Rowling defines in her book.

KB:   JK Rowling describes Lockhart in a much more impressionistic way than many of the other characters. She talks of his "flowing golden locks", which we've tried to to match with an excessive hairdo. She also talks of his dandyish quality, which Chris Columbus was keen to exploit. Lockhart's character is a chance to splash some colour into the movie.

TF:   Were you trying to emulate anyone in particular?

KB:   We played with a variety of classical looks - from a 1930s country house guest to a New Romantic poet in his apartments wearing a red gown. There is a flourish to everything Lockhart wears - frills, waves, satin.

TF:   How was it working with the kids?

KB:   I didn't know what to imagine. I thought it must be odd for these kids to be that age and to be in one of the most successful films of all time. They might easily have turned into monsters, but they've turned out to be one of the chief joys.

TF:   How will Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets be different from the first film?

KB:   It's darker. Although Gilderoy Lockhart brings a strong comic energy. It's good to see the kids growing up before your eyes - it adds a different texture and makes the story grittier, tougher and leaner.

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