Harry Potter's Great British Thespians

harry potter thesps Alan Rickman Maggie Smith Richard Griffiths Fiona Shaw Kenneth Branagh Michael Gambon Emma Thompson Gary Oldman Ralph Fiennes Imelda Staunton Jim Broadbent
Warner Bros.

Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall, 1-8
Professor McG. is the Hogwarts deputy headmistress and professor of Transfiguration — and, as head of Gryffindor House, den mother to Harry, Ron and Hermione. For a half-century Dame Maggie, 75, has been one of Britain's warmest, most glittering theatrical lights. In the '60s she played Desdemona to Laurence Olivier's Othello and won her first Academy Award (Best Actress, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie). In 1978 she picked up another Oscar for California Suite (Best Supporting Actress). Imperious but fair, Minerva has a flutey, undercutting good humor. In the first Potter film, after Harry and Ron have improbably aced a Transfiguration test, she proclaims: "Five points will be awarded to each of you — for sheer dumb luck."

Get the Latest Photos from Time.com
Get TIME photos and pictures of the week delivered directly to your inbox.