Behind the scenes: Argus Filch

Being compared to Hogwarts’ irascible caretaker Argus Filch could hardly be considered high praise. But according to actor David Bradley’s children, he was a natural fit for the part.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Extracted from Harry Potter: The Character Vault by Jody Revenson

After they read the first few Harry Potter novels, actor David Bradley asked his children which part they thought he should play in the films if he could. ‘They said I was a natural for Filch,’ he recalls with a smile, ‘and I thought, is that how my kids see me? This horrible, greasy, odious, vicious man? Isn’t that nice.’ To their delight, Bradley was asked to audition for the role, and ‘they were on the ceiling when my agent called and said I was cast.’

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Before filming started, Bradley had meetings with the costume and makeup departments, who dressed him as, he describes, ‘A cross between a medieval pickpocket and someone from the Wild West. There was quite a bit of greasy leather and odd bits of fake animals skin in that saggy overcoat.’ Filch’s look is completed with straggly hair extensions, stubble, and a set of repulsive false teeth. Jany Temime adjusted Filch’s costume slightly, lessening the oily, ragged look of his vests and tailcoats, and incorporating more of a caretaker’s uniform with a colour palette that stayed mostly in the brown and grey range. As the films progressed, Filch continued to clean up, even wearing a proper black formal suit at the Yule Ball in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and long quilted armor-like padding in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 during battle scenes.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

Over the course of the films, Bradley found it easy to become one with the character. ‘Once I get into those big, dirty boots and old overcoat, and slide on the teeth, I slip into him and have great fun. I’m not saying I like him. I like him as a character but I wouldn’t go out for a coffee with him.’

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter: The Character Vault book cover

Extracted from
'Harry Potter: The Character Vault'