x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Harry Potter and life after Hogwarts

Production on the final Harry Potter movie will soon finish, bringing to an end one of the most successful movie franchises of all time. But what about life post-Harry for the child stars?

Now millionaires, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, look to a bright future.
Now millionaires, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, look to a bright future.

It has taken almost a decade, and made worldwide stars of its three main actors, but in just two short weeks production on the eighth - and final - Harry Potter movie will finish, bringing to an end one of the most successful movie franchises of all time. Plucked from obscurity, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson (who play Harry, Ron and Hermione respectively) have become three of the richest, most successful child actors in history. But what about life post-Harry?

We all know the film and television industry is a cut-throat business, with many a child star failing to emerge from the shadows of whatever it was that first brought them fame, but can the three (now adult) performers evade what has befallen so many of their contemporaries? Radcliffe (who had already established himself as a bit-part actor before landing the plum role of Harry Potter) looks set to return to the stage after starring in a highly-acclaimed revival of Equus in 2007, and with a Broadway show, How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Radcliffe has worked continually throughout the filming of the Harry Potter series, with cameos in several highly regarded TV shows, as well as a supporting role in the 2007 film, December Boys. Future films include a starring role in the biopic of the photojournalist Dan Eldon, called The Journey is the Destination.

As for Watson, the young beauty has established herself as a successful model, becoming the face of Burberry, the British fashion house, back in 2009. In addition, the multitalented starlet most recently collaborated with People Tree, the Fair Trade fashion chain, to create a range of clothes for its spring/summer collection. As far as her film career goes, however, it would seem she has decided to put her education first, choosing to continue her studies at the prestigious Brown University in the United States.

And last but not least we have Rupert Grint, whom we have come to love as Harry's adorable and trusty best friend, Ron Weasley. Having only starred in a couple of school productions prior to landing the role of Ron, Grint has had considerably less success outside the Harry Potter series, compared with his fellow stars. But whatever happens to the careers of the Harry Potter trio, their amassed fortunes (each of the young actors has made millions of pounds from the films) will ensure them a comfortable and - one would hope - happy life. But, unlike the happy endings employed by so many movies, there have been just as many child actors who have fallen by the wayside after finding success with a long-running TV or film series.

The problems that afflicted the cast of Diff'rent Strokes exemplify the pitfalls of post-child star life. All three young actors of the hit US sitcom, which ran from 1978 to 1986, suffered greatly after the show ended. Dana Plato, who played Kimberley Drummond, failed to establish herself as a serious actress in the years that followed. Turning to drugs, the former girl-next-door died from an overdose in 1999, aged just 34. As for her co-stars, Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges, life after Diff'rent Strokes proved to be just as difficult to adjust to. Coleman, who popularised the phrase "What'choo talkin' 'bout, Willis" in his role as Arnold Jackson, also failed to capitalise on his success after the show ended. Filing for bankruptcy in 1999 (despite earning a reported $100,000 per episode in the show's heyday) Coleman soon found himself on the wrong side of the law, with numerous arrests for violent assaults and domestic disturbances. The troubled actor, whose child-like appearance and stunted height were the result of a congenital kidney disease, also suffered from health problems his entire life, and died on May 28 after being admitted to hospital in Utah following a fall at home.

But Radcliffe, Grint and Watson should not worry too much, as the life of a teenage star in a lengthy and successful franchise doesn't always have to end in doom and gloom. Take, for example, the Disney starlets Hilary Duff and Miley Cyrus, who starred in the insanely popular shows Lizzie McGuire and Hannah Montana respectively. Insipid and vacuous she may be, but there is no doubt that Cyrus has a healthy career ahead of her, having sold an incredible 15 million records worldwide. Granted, her foray into the film world has yet to yield any positive results (her role in The Last Song was heavily criticised), but it doesn't look like the Miley juggernaut is showing any signs of slowing down yet.

As for Duff, the actress has carved herself a career as a writer, having signed a deal with the publishing house Simon & Schuster Books, to release a series of novels aimed at young adults. Fame, as we know, is fickle, and the transition from teenage sensation to bona fide star is not a sure thing. As for the stars of Harry Potter? We'll have to just wait and see.