If Harry Potter Was an 80s Teen Flick

We're all familiar with the pop culture juggernaut that is Harry Potter.  But what if it wasn't a literary phenomenon, leading to a $7 billion blockbuster film franchise?  What if it was just a modestly budgeted, offbeat teen comedy from the 80s?  Who would be our wizarding heroes then?

First thing's first: we need our main trio.


Played by: John Cusack

What's He Been In: Say Anything, Better Off Dead, One Crazy Summer, The Sure Thing

Why He's the Man for the Job:  John Cusack specializes in being the humble, modest hero who manages to overcome the odds and chalk up a win for the good guys.  Most importantly, he maintains an offbeat sort of likeability that prevents him from being just another cardboard goodie.  Also, he's got a deadpan sense of humor, which Harry shows from time to time (when his loved ones aren't being horribly murdered around him).


Played By: Keith Coogan

What He's Been In: Adventures in Babysitting, Hiding Out, Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead (1991)

Why He's the Man for the Job: Who you gonna call when you need an awkward, gingery sidekick with an inferiority complex and a penchant for ugly sweaters?  Keith Coogan.  Despite his flaws, he's got a strong moral compass, is incredibly loyal, and oftentimes is quite capable of the occasional surprisingly heroic gesture.  And if you know what's good for you, do not pick on his woman.  In Adventures in Babysitting, this plucky suburban kid was ready and willing to rumble with anyone who even looked at Elisabeth Shue funny.  Kid took a knife for her (albeit in the foot, and it only needed one stitch, but that's beside the point).


Played by: Ione Skye

What She's Been In: Say Anything

Why She's the Woman for the Job:  In Say Anything, she showed us a vibrant young woman who was graduating from high school, but felt like an outsider because of her time spent with her nose buried in a book.  She's the fiercely intelligent girl that some people have trouble relating to because of her label as a "brainiac"...despite the fact that she also happens to be a knockout.  Now I know that in the books, Hermione was never intended to grow up into an extraordinary beauty, but hey, you cast Emma Watson, now you're stuck with a pretty Hermione.


Played by: Molly Ringwald

What She's Been In: Every John Hughes Movie Ever Made (including but not limited to: The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles)

Why She's the Woman for the Job:  Molly Ringwald is almost universally known for playing a feisty redhead from the wrong side of the tracks who all the boys are in love with.  Yup.  Don't even have to think about that one.


Played by: Matthew Broderick + Robert  Downey Jr

What They've Been In:
Matthew - WarGames, Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Robert - Chances Are, Johnny Be Good, Weird Science

Why They're the Men for the Job:  Both of these guys have the same devil-may-care attitude that is absolutely essential for our favorite set of underachieving pranksters.  Would Fred or George hijack a parade with their own rendition of Twist and Shout?  I'm almost sorry that wasn't a deleted scene on one of the HP DVD releases.  The point is, they've got the comic timing, confidence, and chutzpah it takes for these most celebrated of ginger twins.


Played by: Anthony Michael Hall

What He's Been In: The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, National Lampoon's Vacation

Why He's the Man for the Job:  I guess just because his own personal trajectory mirrors that of Neville Longbottom.  Yeah, he starts off as a weak, awkward nerd...but then he hits puberty and becomes a total badass.


Played by: Rob Lowe

What He's Been In: St Elmo's Fire, The Outsiders, About Last Night...

Why He's the Man for the Job: Honestly?  Because he's dreamy.  If Rob Lowe went to Hogwarts, I really think he would have been that athletic, popular guy that every girl was in love with.  I can see him taking Cho Chang out on the lake in a rowboat with his saxophone.  "Do you believe in premarital sax?"


Played by: The Hot French Girl from Better Off Dead

What She's Been In: Umm...Better Off Dead?

Why She's the Woman for the Job: Because she's attractive and does a French accent.  I didn't go further than that.


Played by: Billy Zabka


What He's Been In: The Karate Kid, Just One of the Guys

Why He's the Man for the Job:  Are you kidding me?  In the 80s, when you wanted a blond, ultra competitive, borderline pyscho bully, Zabka was your go-to guy.  Sure, cliche jerks are a dime a dozen, but Zabka always brought a little something extra to the table.  Like, yeah, he picked on the weaker kids, but you just knew he did it because his dad didn't hug him enough.  There was some vulnerability there.  Just like Draco.


Played by: James Spader

What He's Been In: Pretty in Pink, Less Than Zero, Wall Street

Why He's the Man for the Job:  Nothing says douchey elitist asshole like James Spader.  I mean, he brings classism to an entirely different level.  If he happened to be a wizard, I'm sure he would look down on all of the people that weren't wizards.  Definitely.


Played by: Ally Sheedy

What She's Been In: The Breakfast Club, WarGames, Short Circuit

Why She's the Woman for the Job:  Sure, she's played a bunch of different characters, but she's best known as the Basketcase in The Breakfast Club.  Who's a weird girl who says crazy shit and uses her own dandruff to create snow on a drawing but is still inexplicably really kind of loveable.  Give her a wand and a lion headdress and she is Luna Lovegood.


Played by: Jeffrey Jones

What He's Been In: Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Why He's the Man for the Job:  Um, they're both school administrators from hell who like to ruin everyone's good time?


Played by: Emilio Estevez

"Win!  Win!  Win!  Your intensity's for shit!"
What He's Been In: The Breakfast Club, St Elmo's Fire, The Outsiders

Why He's the Man for the Job:  Emilio's mostly known nowadays for being Charlie Sheen's mentally stable brother, but back in the day he was a pretty reliable actor when you needed a teen jock.  What really cemented my decision to cast him as the lovable obsessive was a combination of him in The Mighty Ducks, and his speech in The Breakfast Club where he whines about how his dad pushed him too hard in sports.  Would Oliver Wood have taped some dude's butt cheeks together?  I don't know.  But if they lost him the Quidditch Cup...well, I don't think there's too many things Oliver wouldn't do.


Played by: Pat Morita

What He's Been In: The Karate Kid, The Karate Kid II, The Karate Kid III, The Next Karate Kid

Why He's the Man for the Job:  Come on, like there's even a counterargument for casting Mr Miyagi as Professor Dumbledore.  I mean, you take Mr Miyagi, Dumbledore, and Gandalf, and you've pretty much got the Top Three Wisest Old Men Ever.


Played by: Michael J Fox

What He's Been In: Teen Wolf, Back to the Future

Why He's the Man for the Job:  Hear me out on this one.  In Harry Potter, Remus and his wolfishness are used to access complex emotions about being an outsider and creates a social commentary about racism and "otherness".  That's in Harry Potter.  But if Remus was in a lightweight teen comedy...well, he would be playing basketball and pounding back brew.  Speaking of...why does being a werewolf automatically make you good at basketball?  Does no one else notice that Michael J Fox is 5'5", tops, and physically incapable of dunking?  Sorry...that's just always bothered me.


Played by: C. Thomas Howell

What He's Been In: Soul Man

Why He's the Man for the Job: I'm sorry, OK?  I couldn't resist.  How many actual black people do you think there were in 80s teen comedies, anyway?


Played by: Curtis Armstrong

What He's Been In:  Revenge of the Nerds, Better Off Dead, Risky Business, One Crazy Summer

Why He's the Man for the Job:  Bear with me on this one.  He's the hairy, slightly shady older guy who lives just off campus but befriends all the students.  He's a good friend, but most of the time you find yourself bailing him out, like when he decides to breed an illegal dragon or hide a giant in the woods.  Tell me he was not born to play this role!


Played by: Paul Gleason

What He's Been In: The Breakfast Club

Why He's the Man for the Job:  This guy is a hard ass.  He will belittle you in front of your peers, and clearly has no problems with putting you in detention for the rest of your natural life.  He doesn't give a shit about anything you say, and despite the fact that he chose education as a profession, seems to hate everything about it, especially the students.  Sound familiar?


Played by: Judd Nelson

What He's Been In: The Breakfast Club, St Elmo's Fire

Why He's the Man for the Job:  He's a bad ass troublemaker.  He's a loner, Dottie, a rebel.  He doesn't get along with his parents.  He's too cool for school.  And he hates the guy I picked to be Snape.  Therefore: Bender=Black.


Played by: Winona Ryder

What She's Been In:  Beetlejuice, Heathers

Why She's the Woman for the Job:  Because she has a history of playing emotionally disturbed characters.  In Beetlejuice, her BFFs are a pair of ghosts.  In Heathers, her hobbies include croquet and murder.  She was just kind of creepy in the 80s, but in an attractive and intriguing kind of way.  Sort of like Helena Bonham everything she's ever done.

So that's what I've got.  Agree?  Disagree?  Any characters you'd like to add?

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Rags said...

This is awesome!

Unknown said...

This list is absolutely BRILLIANT. Couldn't agree more with your choices. This made my day!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Audrey on a Mission said...

LOL I know, but I couldn't think of anyone for Voldy. I thought about it for a while and thought it would be better to just leave him out rather than throw somebody in there who didn't make sense.

Chairman said...

Voldemort=David Bowie

Anonymous said...

Mmmmmm...Rob Lowe back in the day...Mmmmmm....

Anonymous said...

Mmmmmm...James Spader back in the day...Mmmmmm...

Audrey on a Mission said...

Chairman, that's a really good idea! Now I want to watch Labyrinth.

Anonymous said...

why isn't john candy playing rubeus hagrid?

Carrie said...

LOVE this!!

Anonymous said...

oh my gosh. David Bowie would be PERFECT

BL1Y said...

For Voldemort I'd go with Sting.

Ever seen Dune? There you go.

Anonymous said...

Billy Corgan as Voldemort

Anonymous said...

Winona Ryders character enjoyed croquet not crochet...

alouette said...


Fleur Delacour = Emmanuelle Beart, from "Date with an Angel"

Audrey on a Mission said...

Ooh I've never seen that one but I googled her and she is very Fleur-like. :)

Ryan Fisher said...

I doubt I could thank you enough for this list...I'm fairly sure at some lonely point in my life I will try to edit some footage together to bring this to life in the shodiest way possible :p

Blue Mark said...

Macaulay Culkin as Voldemort, if he was just a little more likable he be a great Draco Malfoy.

Anonymous said...

whos voldemort?

Anonymous said...

Probably shouldn't put Jefferey Jones around kids... you know... because of the whole child sex offender thing.

roberto said...

Voldemort could be David Bowie (Labyrinth)

Anonymous said...

Snape could be John Saxon. He always played the cool bad ass.

Colin said...

This is GREAT!!!

Elfwyn said...

Totally agree with Colin! Really enjoyed this!

sean said...

Fantastic Idea!!! Some different choices:

FRED AND GEORGE WEASLEY: Corey Feldman and Corey Haims

RON: Eric Stoltz or Michael J Fox

HERIONE: Lori Loughlin or maybe Daphne Zuniga

PROF. REMUS: Christopher Lloyd

Anonymous said...

nice idea.. thanks for sharing.

FinallyCoffeeBreak Blog said...

Good day! It was so nice to visit your personal blog and to read this blog entry. I also wanted to ask you something that is connected with your blog. What is your attitude towards guest blogging?

Johnnie Campbell said...

This is so convincing that now I actually wish they had made HP back in the 80s (when I was a teen) because whoever made out this list is a genius! Each and every one of these people could've played these characters better than the ones who done it originally.

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