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Behind the scenes: Professor Flitwick

The drastic makeover of our favourite pint-sized professor has been much discussed by fans. Here, Warwick Davis explains the reasoning behind the transformation.

Flitwick teaches his first year Charms class Wingardium Leviosa
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Extracted from Harry Potter: The Character Vault by Jody Revenson
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In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Warwick Davis portrays Charms Professor Filius Flitwick as wizened, silver-bearded, bald, and academically gowned. The next time Davis portrays Flitwick on-screen, in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the teacher is a mustachioed, black-haired younger man attired in a tailed tuxedo.

‘The change between Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban is the question I get asked the most by fans,’ Davis declares. It came about when his character simply didn’t make it into the script for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Producer David Heyman called the actor to apologize and then asked if he was interested in playing another role—that of the Frog Choir conductor. Davis, director Alfonso Cuarón, and special creature effects designer Nick Dudman devised the formal, operatically themed look.

Flitwick conducts the school choir.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

When Davis returned to play Flitwick in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, director Mike Newell wanted the look kept, and so in addition to Charms, Flitwick became what Davis calls the ‘professor of magical music.’

The original Flitwick makeup took four hours; the new version took only two and a half. ‘And I think a lot of people on the set don’t know what I really look like,’ Davis says with a laugh, ‘because I arrive a few hours before everyone else and go home later, after the makeup’s removed.’ The younger Flitwick’s makeup consists of a prosthetic forehead that wraps around to the back under a hair piece. Davis also wears fake ears, a fake nose, and false teeth. ‘I love the teeth, and want my own set so I can do toothpaste commercials,’ he teases.

An illustration of Flitwick
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

The younger, fitter look inspired Davis to suggest a bit of business for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. ‘At the end of the Yule Ball, my character introduces a rock band. So, stupidly, on a Friday evening, I said to Mike, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if, after he introduces them, Flitwick dives off the stage and crowd-surfs?’ We all had a laugh and I went home.’ On Monday, Davis suddenly found himself in consultation with stunt coordinator Greg Powell.

It turns out Newell and Powell had gone to a club over the weekend, seen what Davis had mentioned, and decided to make it a reality. ‘And I said, “Pardon?” But I didn’t have the heart to tell them I was joking.’ So the stunt went off, with Flitwick being passed over the student’s heads. ‘And at one point, if you look very closely,’ Davis advises, ‘you can actually see my false teeth fly out of my mouth and come back in again!’

Harry Potter: The Character Vault book cover

Extracted from
'Harry Potter: The Character Vault'