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Behind the scenes: Professor Quirrell

From p-p-poor st-stuttering P-Professor Quirrell to the man with two faces, this particular professor served us up our first ever, truly shocking twist in the Harry Potter series. So how did Ian Hart go about portraying Hogwarts’ first bad guy? Well, it would help if he’d started with the right book...

Quirrell teaching in his classroom with a lizard
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Extracted from Harry Potter: The Character Vault
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Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone costume designer Judianna Makovsky’s concept for all the Hogwarts professors was to evoke formal British school attire, which incorporates suits and ties under the teachers’ robes.

For Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor Quirrell’s outfit, Makovsky was tasked to add a turban, which Quirrell, played by Ian Hart, wears to hide the fact that he is sharing his body with the disembodied form of Lord Voldemort.

A full body shot of Quirrell
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

‘The book was specific that he wore a turban,’ says Makovsky, ‘but I was concerned that the turban didn’t look too exotic or out of place.’ She moved away from using Middle Eastern or Indian-style turbans, which are traditionally closer to the head in back and raised to a more pointed form.

Instead, Makovsky chose a design from the Renaissance, as the wrappings are larger and less constricting so it wouldn’t seem obvious that Quirrell was hiding something. In order to downplay the character, who is purposely trying not to be conspicuous, she chose flat blacks and browns for his suits, which suggested a shy person and an impoverished status.

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Actor Ian Hart received a funny shock when he went to research the character before meeting with the producers and casting director of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. ‘I’d never read any of the books, so I went to a local bookshop,’ he explains, ‘and they gave me the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.’ Professor Quirrell, of course, doesn’t make it past the first book. ‘I was looking through it, thinking “Where’s my character? It can’t be that big a part, as I can’t find it!”’

Harry Potter: The Character Vault book cover

Extracted from
'Harry Potter: The Character Vault'