Lord Voldemort is one of the most famous characters in the Harry Potter books and movies, but the slithering villain has been portrayed by a succession of varied faces on the big screen — here’s every Voldemort actor thus far. Initially spoken of in hushed tones only, Harry Potter introduces the legend of Voldemort in its very first book, depicting a dark, fearsome wizard who terrorized the magic world, only to be defeated while attempting to kill a young Harry Potter.
After his clash with the most dangerous baby of all time, Voldemort lost his physical form and spends the first few Harry Potter books attempting a revival. Only in Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire does Voldemort regain his true form, and this frequent face-switching necessitated a multitude of actors when adapting Harry Potter for film.
One or two Voldemort actors are widely known household names. Others may be recognizable to fans of a certain era. Some perhaps flew under the radar completely. Here are all the Voldemort actors in the Harry Potter movie series.
How Many Actors Played Lord Voldemort
A grand total of five fiendish film faces have brought Voldemort to life on the big screen — in live-action terms, at least. Following the fallen wizard from early childhood to his eventual death, the Harry Potter movies required 5 Voldemort actors of varying ages to physically depict the Dark Lord. The remaining two names on this list lent their vocal talents to He Who Shall Not Be Named — one in a Harry Potter movie installment, the other in a very different venture — but were allowed to keep their noses intact by remaining off-screen.
In the first Harry Potter movie, Lord Voldemort is merely an enigmatic old threat lingering in the background, but when the history of Daniel Radcliffe’s character is explored via flashbacks, the dark wizard makes a brief debut, breaking into the Potters’ home and skulking into Baby Harry’s room. The audience’s next glimpse of Lord Voldemort comes during Harry’s first year at Hogwarts, and is the digitized face of veteran British actor Richard Bremmer in Harry Potter and the Philosopher/Sorcerer’s Stone‘s final battle.
Not necessarily a familiar name to many, Bremmer has appeared in movies such as Shanghai Nights, To Kill A King and The 13th Warrior. In a curious twist of Harry Potter Voldemort actors, he also enjoyed a minor role in Onegin — a 1999 romance starring none other than Ralph Fiennes.
Bremmer’s Harry Potter career might’ve been brief — and his face may have been obscured by early-2000s CGI — but the footage was reused in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, allowing the original Voldemort actor to bookend the entire Harry Potter franchise.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets delves deeper into Voldemort’s childhood history by exploring his former identity as Tom Riddle and his days as a Hogwarts student, building towards the moment Harry Potter begins his journey to kill the Dark Lord by unknowingly destroying part of the villain’s soul. These scenes required a younger Voldemort actor to replace the middle-aged Bremmer, and British talent Christian Coulson was ultimately cast, receiving the honor of being the first non-digitized face to portray Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter franchise.
Playing the ethereal apparition of a 16-year old Tom Riddle, Coulson made a considerable impression as the mysterious brooding teenager — despite already being in his mid-twenties while filming Harry Potter. Coulson has since cropped up in the likes of Nashville and Gossip Girl.
Of all the Voldemort actors to don the pale makeup and non-existent nose, British actor Ralph Fiennes is the thespian most widely associated with the role. First appearing in 2005’s The Goblet of Fire, Fiennes would go on to make the villainous gig his own, appearing in each of the remaining Harry Potter films in varying capacities. Older transformations and youthful incarnations aside, Fiennes’ face is the Voldemort actor fans remember — the definitive image of a present-timeline, resurrected Harry Potter villain.
Needless to say, the critically-acclaimed actor was a resounding success as He Who Shall Not Be Named, managing to eke every last drop of venomous, sinister personality from Harry Potter‘s original book series, and giving younger fans nightmares for years to come. Harry Potter fans needn’t look far to see what else Fiennes has been up to. The actor recently made his final flourish as M in the James Bond franchise, starred in Kingsman prequel The King’s Man, and was nominated for a small army of awards thanks to 2014’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. Still, Fiennes’ filmography isn’t without its blemishes — he also appeared in Holmes & Watson.
Playing Lord Voldemort became a family affair in The Half-Blood Prince, when Ralph Fiennes’ nephew was cast to play the 11-year old version of Harry Potter‘s future mass murderer. Hero Fiennes-Tiffin can be seen when Dumbledore and Harry begin diving into memories, seeking a way to end the growing threat of Voldemort once and for all. David Yates (Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince director) has admitted Hero Fiennes-Tiffin’s resemblance to Ralph was an important factor, but also insisted Hero excelled during auditions, managing to exude Voldemort’s darkness better than the other young candidates.
And it’s difficult to argue with Yates’ assessment. Despite an outwardly innocent appearance, Hero Fiennes-Tiffin has the “creepy child” trope nailed down, and the audience readily accepts this young child will one day torment the wizarding world. An 18-year old version of Voldemort came close to appearing in The Half Blood Prince, with Michael Berendt cast as the adolescent evil-doer and ready to film, but these scenes were cut from the final script. An older Hero Fiennes-Tiffin recently starred in romance movie, After.
Casting for the multitude of flashbacks in Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince onward, a mid-teens Voldemort actor was required. Christian Coulson was considered for a reprisal but, having already been much older than Hogwarts-era Voldemort the first time around, the 30-year-old was ruled out of contention by David Yates. Several names were put forward for the part, but British actor and drama student Frank Dillane was eventually cast, having only appeared as an extra in previous projects.
The son of Stannis Baratheon himself (Game of Thrones actor, Stephen Dillane), Frank offered a more unhinged performance as Tom Riddle/Voldemort — a youngster beginning to embrace his dastardly instincts and forge a path towards wrongdoing. Outside of Harry Potter, Frank Dillane will be most familiar as Nick Clark from Fear The Walking Dead. One of the spinoff’s original cast members, Nick met an untimely death in the AMC zombie show’s fourth season.
Voldemort didn’t feature exclusively via flashbacks in Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone. The villain survived his brush with that pesky Harry Potter and eventually came to graft himself onto the head of an unassuming Professor Quirrell – a naive student he met by chance and successfully corrupted. While Voldemort spends most of his Harry Potter debut beneath a turban, the climactic scene sees Quirrell reveal his true nature, and Voldemort’s face is uncovered in all its horror.
Professor Quirrell is played by British actor Ian Hart, who actually pulled double duty as a Harry Potter Voldemort actor, also serving as the voice behind Voldemort’s CGI face. As a testament to Hart’s performance, this duality is not at all obvious in the finished film. Since his stint in the wizarding world, Hart has continued to rack up television and film credits, making appearances in Agents of SHIELD, Finding Neverland and Boardwalk Empire.
Not a name usually associated with Harry Potter‘s list of Voldemort actors, British comedian Eddie Izzard lent his voice to the wicked wizard in 2017’s The LEGO Batman Movie. Despite having precious little to do with DC’s Dark Knight, Voldemort makes an appearance in the LEGO spinoff venture alongside a host of familiar (mini)figures from pop culture, and it’s Izzard providing his familiar tones to the plastic version of Harry Potter‘s big bad.
Despite landing nowhere near the canon of Harry Potter‘s universe, Eddie Izzard as Voldemort certainly piqued fan interest, with the comedian’s unique performance style and unmistakable vocals making him an ideal alternative to Ralph Fiennes. Perhaps when the inevitable Harry Potter reboot comes to pass, Izzard will be put forth as the next actor to play Lord Voldemort in live-action.
Why Lord Voldemort’s Actor Was Changed
There are two main reasons Harry Potter‘s Voldemort actor changes so often: his many transformations and the story’s twisting narrative. As mentioned previously, Voldemort doesn’t stabilize into his Ralph Fiennes form until the final act of Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire, which means the likes of Ian Hart and Richard Brenner were required to portray proto-Voldemort’s various pre-resurrection forms. Voldemort’s backstory is also told in stop-start fashion throughout the Harry Potter books, skipping from childhood, to adolescence, to young adulthood. Actors getting older was already a problem for the Harry Potter movies, but Voldemort was one of few characters the franchise could get away with recasting each time since Tom Riddle would always age a few years between each flashback.
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