Several actors and one actress from the Harry Potter movies have been awarded one of the five levels of knighthood. Actors receive the Order of the British Empire for “services to drama.” The orders begin at MBE (Member of the British Empire) and progress upward to OBE (Order of the British Empire), CBE (Commander of the British Empire) KBE (Knight of the British Empire or DBE- Dame Knight of the British Empire) and GBE (Grand Knight of the British Empire). In alphabetical order, actors from Harry Potter who have been awarded on the prestigious medals are:
Kenneth Brannaugh: Professor Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Declined the prestigious CBE. Kenneth Brannaugh is an undeniable tour de force. Currently playing Det. Kurt Wallender in the Masterpiece Contemporary Mystery series Wallender, Brannaugh is a Shakespearean actor and director at heart. Brannaugh has played Benedict (Much Ado About Nothing), Henry V, Berowne in Love’s Labor’s Lost and Hamlet to name a few.
Jim Broadbent (Professor Horace Slughorn, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1 & 2) declined OBE in 2002. Jim Broadbent is probably better known to American audiences as Bridget Jones’s father, Madame Gasket in Disney’s Robots, Professor Kirke in The Chronicles of Narnia saga and Fenoglio in Inkheart. Jim Broadbent plays the fatuous and rather avuncular characters to perfection.
Sir Michael Gambon (Head Master Albus Dumbledore): Sir Michael Gambon is a relative newcomer to American audiences. With his deep, raspy voice, Michael Gambon was the quintessential actor to play crabbed, lascivious nouveau riche Sir William McCordle in Robert Altman/Bob Balaban Gosford Park. Gosford Park featured several of Gambon’s Harry Potter co-stars: Dame Maggie Smith (Lady Constance Trentham in Gosford Park), Geraldine Somerville (Lily Potter in Harry Potter and Lady Stockbridge in Gosford Park) and Sophie Thompson who plays Dorothy the dependable, subservient maid in Gosford Park and who will portray Mafalda Hopkirk in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. While there was some controversy about Gambon’s ability to fill Richard Harris’ wizard’s robes (I would have preferred Sir Peter O’Toole as Dumbledore), Sir Michael gives us a gritty, less ethereal Dumbledore that works very well for the later stories.
Harry Potter author JK Rowlings has been awarded the OBE for services to literature. We cannot call her Dame Rowlings, yet because one must attain KBE status to be called Sir or Dame. However JK Rowlings more than deserves her OBE and may yet receive the KBE.
Dame Maggie Smith (Prof. Minerva Mcgonagall) DBE Dame Maggie Smith: Professor Minerva Mcgonagall. From her youth playing Shakespeare’s Titania in a Midsummer Night’s Dream, to wonderfully urbane Miss Jean Brody, to uptight spinsters in Ladies in Lavender and Death on the Nile to imperious Aunt Polly in David Copperfield (with young Daniel Radcliffe) to an emphysema-ridden Louisiana booze hag in Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Dame Maggie Smith can’t go wrong on stage.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is styled on the OBE award as well as the French Order of Merit and the Catholic Church’s Order of Malta.