Harry Potter Highlighted One Of John Hurt's Biggest Problems With British Cinema

English actor John Hurt had an illustrious acting career. In addition to four BAFTA wins, including a lifetime achievement award, he was nominated for two Academy Awards for his contributions to the films "Midnight Express" and "The Elephant Man." Although Hurt was introduced to a younger audience with his role as the elderly wand-maker Mr. Ollivander in the "Harry Potter" franchise, the actor is one of Britain's finest talents. In a career spanning half a century, Hurt witnessed the transformation of cinema — and particularly the evolution of British cinema, which was close to his heart.

The late actor, who starred in three "Harry Potter" films, sat down with Rotten Tomatoes before filming the fantasy adventure franchise's concluding movie. The performer explained how "Harry Potter" had highlighted his biggest concern over British Cinema and the industry's consistent ignorance toward middle-budget films.

'Our film business is in the independent world'

In a 2009 interview with movie and television review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, Hurt explained how big-budgeted films such as "Harry Potter" had caused British filmmakers to neglect smaller, independent films. Hurt was convinced the future of British cinema firmly belonged in the independent film genre, and the actor was surprised by the lack of importance shown to it.

Hurt stated that it was a "big loss" for Britain to have a massive-scale studio movie filmed there, given its lack of representation of British filmmaking culture. The performer, who died in 2017, was convinced that while it was important for British multinational film and television studios such as Pinewood and Shepperton to pay heed to big franchise movies, the real film business stood in "the independent world."

"I only wish that our government would take a bit more notice, because that's where we need the help. We need the help because we need to get it going on a basis that has a bit more continuity for everyone concerned, from technicians to directors to performers and so on. And, indeed, to audiences, because you can't have an audience engage with culture if it's not educated in it. It's important that we educate people."

Hurt was concerned about the Harry Potter franchise's exorbitant expenses

Hurt made the valid point that "Harry Potter" was an American franchise (the movie rights are owned by Warner Bros. Pictures), despite having a British cast and crew. The actor expressed how the film industry has been overlooking the potential of middle-budget films and was leaning into big-budgeted movies because of the business they brought in.

"When we did have a stronger industry — and not just a business — we did have room for middle-budget films. They've gone out of the window, as they've done in America as well, but a $20m picture would be wonderful to make every now and then. We could do a lot for that."

Hurt was concerned about the increasing expenditure of the "Harry Potter" franchise and described how, for instance, extra costumes caused a "vacuous waste of money." Hurt appreciated his experiences as a performer in "Harry Potter" and "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," but he's not proud of the unwarranted expenses generated by them. "I enjoy the experiences — you can have fun — but I don't enjoy seeing that waste. I don't like that at all," said the actor. 

"Ultimately the film industry has always pushed out its biggies, and I don't have a problem with that. I just wish that we'd spend more time nurturing the smaller ones," he concluded.

John Hurt had a long and established career in film and television, and continued to work as an actor until his death in January 2017. His last movie role was in filmmaker Eric Styles' "That Good Night," in which he played Ralph, a terminally ill playwright.