Jamie Parker (1997)
Acclaimed British actor, Jamie Parker (Loretto, 1991 – 1997) has been cast in the role of Harry Potter in the two-part Harry Potter and the Cursed Child which is now in previews at the Palace Theatre London, ahead of the official opening on 30 July 2016.
It is part of the entirely accurate creation myth of Harry Potter and the books that changed millions of childhoods that JK Rowling, a divorced single mother on state benefits, began writing her wizard saga in the coffee houses of Edinburgh. Did she ever, we might now wonder, look up from her labours to take note of a schoolboy on another table, the one with “rubbish hair” and round glasses?
That prototype Harry frequenting all the same cafés as she did — Nicolsons, the Elephant House, the Traverse Theatre bar — was Jamie Parker. We, and they, will never know if he sank somewhere into Rowling’s visual imagination. It hardly matters. Jamie Parker is Harry Potter now.
In the two-part sell-out West End play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, now in preview, the 36-year-old actor plays the 36-year-old Harry, a father of three and a civil servant in the ministry of magic. Daniel Radcliffe, Harry in the eight movies, is greatly relieved. “He can do all the Harry Potter questions now,” he has said.
Except Parker can’t. When the read-throughs began in east London in the late winter, the producers warned the cast to keep the play to themselves. Now preview audiences are issued with #keepthesecret badges. Journalists who blog or blurt risk never getting another free ticket in their lives.
Jamie Parker was asked if he wanted to read the script last autumn. Since it was by Jack Thorne (The Fades, This is England) he “obviously” said yes. He then met the director John Tiffany (Black Watch), whom he also had a “huge talent crush” on. He was checked out by Steven Hoggett, the play’s movement director, to make sure he did not have “two left feet”. He waited a bit and heard he had got the part in the interval of the dress run-through of Guys and Doll at the Savoy in December. He suspects he performed the second half with a “slightly shocked and stunned expression. I mean if you asked me 12 months ago if I would be doing this I would never have picked it out of the hat.”
Too old to catch the Potter phenomenon as a child, he had not read the books. Now he is on his third reading of the oeuvre, and still making notes.
Does he ring Rowling to explicate the finer points? “I’ve never had to yet but I am sure I could. We are index-linked now. She is not in every day, here but she’s not a remote figure in the slightest.”
The collaboration between Rowling, Tiffany and Thorne has resulted, he believes, in a piece of theatre “comfortable in its own skin as a medium. We’re not trying to do a movie on stage. We’re not doing a reading of a book. This is a piece of theatre, and we’re doing it with a wonderful joyous, grown-up, mature, fiercely intelligent, childishly imaginative and slightly geeky creative team.”
Jamie Parker : Further information;
Jamie Parker is currently playing Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls at the Savoy Theatre, a role he previously performed at Chichester Festival Theatre where he has also been seen in Drama, Holes in the Skin, Seagulls, The Coffee House, The Commuter and The Gondoliers. His other theatre credits include High Society at the Old Vic, Assassins and Proof for the Menier Chocolate Factory, Candida for the Theatre Royal Bath, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof for the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Henry V, Henry IV Parts One and Two, A New World and As You Like It for Shakespeare’s Globe, King James Bible, The Revenger’s Tragedy and The History Boys all for the National Theatre the latter also on Broadway, Racing Demon for Sheffield Crucible, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead for the Theatre Royal Haymarket and Chichester Festival Theatre, My Zinc Bed for the Royal & Derngate Theatre, Singer for the Tricycle Theatre, At the Exit for Chichester Edge, Between the Crosses for the Jermyn Street Theatre and The Sneeze and After the Dance for Oxford Stage Company.
His film credits include The Lady in the Van, Le Weekend, Valkyrie and The History Boys.
His television credits include Count Arthur Strong, Parade’s End, Silk, The Hour, Burn Up, Horne and Corden, Imagine Van Gogh, Silent Witness, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Maxwell, As If, Wire in the Blood, Lawless and Foyle’s War.