Extracted from Harry Potter: The Character Vault by Jody Revenson
Actor Kenneth Branagh happily offers an analysis of the character he plays in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Professor Gilderoy Lockhart. ‘He’s wonderfully cowardly, fantastically unreliable, totally out for number one, ruthlessly ambitious, and desperate to be loved. Whatever you’ve done, he can do better. He lives for trumping people. It’s not possible for him to be in a room and be in second place. He is also a great showman. An entrance into a classroom is another performance. He has one eye on the audience; he has one eye on the mirror. He’s just a wonderfully puffed up character and these are all qualities that are good fun to play.’
Lockhart’s attention to how he appears is reflected in his wardrobe, of course. For that, ‘We looked at reference of old movie actors and cinema idols from the twenties through to the fifties,’ says Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets associate costume designer Michael O’Connor. ‘Anyone who’s read the book knows that Gilderoy is a very vain man,’ adds Chamber of Secrets costume designer Lindy Hemming, ‘and has created this fabulous persona for himself. He wants to create a large and glorious impression, and sweeps about in gowns that are colourful.’ However, director Chris Columbus had a strong view that there were to be no strong or bright colours used for the costumes that would distract from the actor’s performance.
‘Lockhart was known for wearing lilac and pink and powder blue and these pastels weren’t within the colour scheme of the Harry Potter films,’ explains Hemming. Multiple screen tests allowed the filmmakers to find greyish blues, golden mustards, and brownish pinks that would fit the overall palette of the film but still make Lockhart look brighter than the characters around him. He wore lush-looking fabrics — gold-embroidered velvets, silk damasks, brocades, and moirés—and sported an extensive collection of matching capes and cravats. Branagh’s makeup included a set of perfect, sparkling false teeth, and wigs that needed to look like wigs, as Lockhart is seen packing away a hairpiece in his attempt to flee Hogwarts. He was also outfitted in an array of exotic outfits to create the book covers for his many best-selling books and framed photos strewn about his classroom.