As I have said before, I really like the Harry Potter films – see the tag ‘Harry Potter‘ if you don’t believe me – and have subsequently watched them many times. The side effect of this is that, instead of six degrees of Kevin Bacon, all films I watch now can have a Harry Potter Factor based on how many actors in the film have also been in the Harry Potter movies. This is helped by the fact that the adult actors in the Harry Potter movies are generally very good and are in demand.
For example, I have just watched Alice in Wonderland by Tim Burton (which will be discussed at some stage): it has a particularly high Harry Potter Factor of 6 – Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange), Alan Rickman (Prof. Snape), Timothy Spall (Wormtail), Frances de la Tour (Madame Maxine), Imelda Staunton (Prof. Umbridge), Paul Whitehouse (Sir Cadogan – he is seen in the paintings in the background in Prisoner of Azkaban).
I watched Green Zone the other night (also to be discussed eventually), which has a Harry Potter Factor of 2: Brendan Gleeson (Mad-Eye Moody), Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy). I have seen The Book Of Eli, which has a Harry Potter Factor of 3: Gary Oldman (Sirius Black), Michael Gambon (Prof. Dumbledore), and Frances de la Tour again. Going backwards, films can have retroactive Harry Potter Factors:
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street has a Harry Potter Factor of 3 (Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman and Timothy Spall all together again in a Tim Burton film)
In Bruges has a Harry Potter Factor of 3 (Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes [Voldemort], Clémence Poésy [Fleur Delacour])
A Cock And Bull Story has a Harry Potter Factor of 3 (Mark Williams [Mr Weasley], Ian Hart [Prof. Quirrell], Shirley Henderson [Moaning Myrtle])
Love Actually has a Harry Potter Factor of 2 (Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson [Prof. Trelawney])
Much Ado About Nothing has a Harry Potter Factor of 3 (Emma Thompson, Imelda Staunton, Kenneth Brannagh [Prof. Lockhart])
I think you get the idea …
As the stats show, it does help if the film or cast is largely British; in fact, it comes as a bit of a shock (to me) when a film with a mostly British cast doesn’t have a high Harry Potter Factor. For example, I was watching Stardust on television the other night, which is developing into a very rewatchable film, when I realised that it only had a Harry Potter Factor of 1: Mark Williams. I had to go through the cast list on IMDb to check, but I was right. It just didn’t seem possible that such a low score could occur. Still, it must be possible to make films these days without actors who haven’t been in Harry Potter films, I guess; I just can’t imagine how they do it …