6 Degrees of Harry Potter: Part II
Time to connect the dots once again. This is a little exercise I like to call 6 Degrees of Harry Potter. You’ll notice this is part II, you can find part I here. Last time we ended off with Dumbledore himself Michael Gambon so that’s as good a place as any to start.
I really wanted to start with his involvement in the BBC series The Singing Detective; which is a brilliant piece of writing. Gambon plays a cantankerous writer of crime fiction who has a horrific skin ailment and finds himself at the mercy of others while confined to a hospital bed. On the series, he starred opposite to Joanne Whalley who was in Willow and Gossip Girl among other things. This was a very tempting path to venture down, but then I recollected that Mr. Gambon also shared the screen with non other than the great Bill Murray in Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Murray channels his inner Jacques Cousteau to captain a vessel of oceanographers in search of the elusive Jaguar shark. The film showcases Anderson’s trademark set-pieces, quirky dialogue and some odd little stop motion sequences. Willem Dafoe plays Murray’s insecure second in command. He also has a small cameo as an electrician in Julian Schnabel’s Basquait.
I’m not a fan of Schnabel’s art whatsoever, but I like a few of his movies. Basquait tracks the short explosive career of graffiti art-star Jean Michel Basquait. (I am on the other hand, a big fan of Jean Michel’s art.) The New York art world during the eighties is the backdrop for this tragic true story. The atmosphere of the film is electric and the performances are compelling. David Bowie as Andy Warhol is priceless. Along with the thin white duke, the cast includes Jeffery Wright, Gary Oldman, Dennis Hopper and Benicio Del Toro.
Del Toro also plays the drug addled lawyer Dr. Gonzo in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas alongside Johnny Depp as Hunter S. Thompson. Depp developed a tight bond and friendship with Thompson while preparing for this role. He lived with him at his house – Owl Farm for several weeks trying to better understand the writer. After days of hard living, Depp would retire to the guest bedroom to read and have a smoke before sleep. On one occasion, Hunter popped his head in to say good night and casually commented that Depp may want to extinguish his smoke. Turns out, the end table he had been using all along was actually a barrel full of gunpowder. The film never really captures the mad genius of the book or its author but Terry Gilliam does a decent enough job.
Crazy is also an underlying theme in Gilliam’s The Fisher King. It is a delightful little gem of a film that plays to everybody’s strengths. Robin Williams plays a broken man after the death of his wife and Jeff Bridges plays a shock-DJ down on his luck that feels compelled to help him.
Jeff Bridges is also of course The Big Lebowski. A film that truly gets funnier every time you watch it. The follow up to the critical darling Fargo; it didn’t make a huge splash on its release but has since gone on to achieve cult status. There is even a shop that is all things Lebowski called the Little Lebowski located in Greenwich Village NYC. The film has it all: bowling, kidnapping, the Coen brothers, whale sounds, conceptual art, German nihilists, a Busby Berkeley dream sequence, a Vietnam vet, a rug that really tied the room together, Jesus and Steve Buscemi.
Steve Buscemi plays Nucky Thompson on the HBO drama Boardwalk Empire. He is a ruthless gangster at the top of a bootlegging empire during prohibition in Alantic City. Martin Scorsese and Mark Whalberg share producing credits. Nucky’s wife is played by Kelly Macdonald who also played the ghost of Helena Ravenclaw in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II.
And so goes another 6 degrees of Harry Potter.