Return to Hogwarts, the HBO Max Maggie Smith Harry Potter Reunion special made its debut on the streaming platform at the stroke of midnight on the first of the year 2022.
Fans of the Harry Potter film series were ecstatic to see many of the series’ most popular performers reunited on screen, beginning with “The Golden Trio” (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson) and including actors whom all fans know and adore.
The special also featured Tom Felton, who crushed hearts as Draco Malfoy, and Ralph Fiennes, who embodies the enemy Lord Voldemort to a T. Both of these actors were featured in the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child special.
A number of other performers, such as Jason Isaacs, Imelda Staunton, Gary Oldman, Bonnie Wright, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Alfred Enoch, Matthew Lewis, Mark Williams, and Evanna Lynch, are examples of others who have made a comeback.
During the reunion, tributes were paid to cast members who had passed away before the group could get together to celebrate the show’s 20th anniversary.
Where Was Dame Maggie Smith Harry Potter Reunion?
Acting Titan Dame Maggie Smith, who had appeared in all eight movies of the series as Professor Minerva McGonagall, Head of Gyr, and Transfiguration Tutor, was conspicuously absent. Smith played McGonagall in all of the films.
Smith did not make any appearances in the special, either in person or online, with the exception of some brief archival videos.
In spite of the fact that she was not the only star cast member who was absent, the fact that she played such an important part in the story made her absence particularly notable.
Despite the fact that neither she nor her representatives have issued a statement to explain her absence, a significant number of followers are of the belief that the 87-year-old was taking precautions to avoid contracting the COVID-19 outbreak that has been sweeping the United Kingdom.
Michael Gambon, who replaced Richard Harris as Dumbledore after his death, and Julie Walters were also noticeably absent from the event (Molly Weasley).
There has been speculation that Gambon’s absence is connected to the report that the actor had begun to have significant memory loss as he aged, which made it difficult for him to learn scripts.
After receiving a cancer diagnosis in the year 2020, Walters made the decision to retire from acting and skip the reunion while he was still in remission.
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It should not come as a surprise that Dame Maggie Smith, one of the oldest performers, chose to stay home and focus on maintaining her health rather than putting herself through the strain of traveling during an active pandemic.
The Rise of Dame Maggie Smith
Smith, who was only seventeen years old when she began her prodigious career, was a member of the Oxford University Dramatic Society in 1952 when she made her debut as Viola in the Oxford Playhouse rendition of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.
After Smith realized how much she enjoyed performing on stage, she went on to play a number of infamous characters in films such as Cinderella (1952), Rokery Nooks (1953), Cakes and Ale (1953), and The Government (1953). (1954).
Smith made her debut on Broadway in 1956 in the production of New Faces of ’56 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York City. She played numerous roles in the production. Between the months of June and December 1956, she appeared on the show.
Dame Maggie Smith rose to notoriety in the West End and on Broadway after being persuaded to work in the National Theatre by Laurence Olivier. She received a variety of honors and stellar acclaim for her performance throughout the 1960s for her work in both of these theatres.
Smith’s performance as Lettice in the 1987 production of Lettice and Lovage earned her the first Olivier Award nomination of her career.
It looked as though the heavens had opened up for the stage actor when the playwright Peter Shaffer disclosed that he had written the character with her in mind and that he had penned the play.
There is only one Maggie Smith, but audiences get at least three of her in Lettice and Lovage, the Peter Shaffer comedy that has brought this spellbinding actress back to Broadway after an indecently long absence and that has the shrewd sense to keep her glued to center stage. This review from The New York Times best summarised the situation.
She subsequently received the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance as the character after the play was transferred to Broadway in the year 1990.
The same year also marked Smith’s formal elevation to the position of Dame.
Foray Into Film
Smith made her debut in the film industry in an uncredited role. After electing to concentrate on her stage career, she did so because she lacked confidence in her abilities as a film actress.
Her debut role was in the movie “Nowhere to Go,” for which she was nominated for the first of a total of eighteen British Academy Film Awards.
The character of Desdemona, which Dame Smith had previously performed on stage, was the one for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for the first time for her supporting performance in Laurence Olivier’s production of Othello.
She co-starred with Olivier in the lead role, which was controversial due to Olivier’s insistence on using blackface. She also co-starred with Derek Jacobi and Michael Gambon, who would later star in Harry Potter.
Smith’s performance as the title character in the film adaptation of Muriel Spark’s novel The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie earned her the Oscar for Best Actress in 1969, securing her place as one of the most successful actresses in the history of the Academy Awards.
The Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play went to Vanessa Redgrave, who also created the role on stage.
Smith’s performance has been singled out on multiple occasions, and film reviewer Greg Ferrara has described it as “one of the best film performances in the history of British film.”
He went on to say that it was “as intriguing today as it was upon its premiere,” and that the two primary performances in the film, given by Maggie Smith and Pamela Franklin, were “both rousing and enthralling.” The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is the absolute pinnacle of literary achievement.
In 1978, the Dame earned her second Academy Award for her performance in California Suite, in which she co-starred with Michael Caine.
She is the only person in the history of the Academy Awards to win an award for playing a fictional nominee, beating out Janet Gaynor and Judy Garland, who were both nominated for the original and remade versions of A Star Is Born. She is the only person in history to win an Oscar for playing a fictional nominee.
Professor Minerva McGonagall
In 2001, Smith became a part of the cast of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and she remained in that position until the conclusion of the Harry Potter film series eight years later.
Her performance throughout the series as a motherly figure to the young wizard gained her acclaim, and fans have never stopped wanting to see more of the transfiguration professor.
She and Daniel Radcliffe, who had already worked together in the David Copperfield adaption that was filmed for the BBC the year before, were reunited for the first Harry Potter picture.
In addition to McGonagall, Smith was singled out for her outstanding performance in 2011’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. These reviews were extremely positive.
A Dame Playing A Countess
In the period drama “Downton Abbey,” in which Smith starred from 2010 through 2015, she played the role of Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham.
Following the show’s meteoric rise to the status of a cultural phenomenon, Maggie Smith was swiftly singled out as one of its most outstanding performers.
As a result of the role, she won a Golden Globe in addition to three Emmy Awards, elevating her to the status of a strong icon across all three artistic media.