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Behind the scenes: Nymphadora Tonks

Vibrant-haired, witty and perpetually clumsy, Nymphadora Tonks was a breath of fresh air in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. But finding the right look for a character who can change her appearance at will was not entirely straightforward…

Illustration of Tonks from the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Extracted from Harry Potter: The Character Vault
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Natalia Tena admits that her first audition for the role of Nymphadora Tonks in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was pretty much a disaster. 'I hadn’t seen any of the films. I hadn’t read any of the books. I didn’t know what a Muggle was. I walked into the room and tripped over a chair, and for some reason, I was quite loud.' Later that day, her agent called and told her, 'Nat, it really was awful, but for some reason they want to see you again.' After a long audition process, during which Tena read the books and movies that had come out, she landed the part. 'I really did love stories with witches. Until I was six, I believed three witches had left me on the doorstep. On my eighteenth birthday, my mother gave me a broom, so perhaps this was meant to be.' Director David Yates gave Tena an important note to follow: 'Find that twinkle.'

Tonks full body shot from the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Tonks’s wardrobe also developed after a long process. Her first look was what Tena describes as 'weird eighties punk glamour night,' with pointy high heel shoes, striped tights, and a pink tutu. Jany Temime felt that though the character was a bit more rebellious and light-hearted than others, she wanted her to appear strong. A pair of boots was swapped in, along with a long coat, hooded sweatshirt, fingerless gloves, and ripped tights, and Tena saw her character emerge. 'The boots made her sturdy,' Tena explains, 'but they also trip her up. She’s trying to act like an adult, but keeps screwing up and falling.' A long red coat with military tailoring was worn for the climatic scenes at the Ministry between Death Eaters and the Order of the Phoenix. 'She’s ready for battle,' says Tena, 'but she still looks cool.' Tonks’s hair, pink in the books, was coloured purple in order not to conflict with the pink associated with Dolores Umbridge. It turns red, in anger, and at the end of the battle scene, briefly white.

Tonks in the Ministry of Magic from the Order of the Phoenix.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Tonks’s flashy warrior togs are a direct contrast to the plain, drab clothes of her future husband, Remus Lupin. But as the Dark forces grow in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Tonks becomes more serious. Her hair is now brown with a subtle purple rinse, and her clothes show more maturity. 'Dark times, dark hair,' Tena suggests. For Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Tena is seen in her own hair instead of the purple wig, and her outfits are created with softer textures and muted colours, although the palette stayed the same. 'She’s in love, and a bit more girly. But she does bring that adult aspect, she has to. She’s still wearing those boots. There’s just less twinkle.' For Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and Part 2, Jany Temime designed maternity clothes for Tonks for the Weasley wedding, dressing her in a floating silk fabric.

Tonks turning around with her wand from the Deathly Hallows
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1

Harry Potter: The Character Vault book cover

Extracted from
'Harry Potter: The Character Vault'