The Stunning Transformation Of Bonnie Wright

Actor Bonnie Wright will forever be remembered for her charming portrayal of Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter movie series, a role she landed when she was just nine years old. From the release of Sorcerer’s Stone in 2001, to 2011’s Deathly Hallows — Part 2, the British actor spent a decade of her life growing up on the big screen. Like Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, Wright was one of few actors to appear in all eight Harry Potter movies in the series.

But she’s not the same little redheaded sister watching her brothers head off to Hogwarts anymore. In 2011, Interview claimed the youngest Weasley’s “transformation … rivals only Emma Watson’s as the most surprising,” dubbing her an “eloquent young woman whose career is sure to last long beyond the Potter franchise.” While Wright has expanded her repertoire beyond Ginny Weasley, she holds only good feelings towards the series that launched her into stardom, frequently attending fan conventions representing her character. “It’s always super fun to see young children who can’t see beyond the character,” she told ReviewSTL.com in 2018. “It’s nice that the sort of magic of the character is still alive, and there isn’t an actor. To them you are the character, and I find that quite fun.”

Now she’s an experienced actor and director, but we’d be remiss to gloss over her adorable start. This is the stunning transformation of Bonnie Wright.

Bonnie Wright was born to a family of jewellers

Bonnie Wright grew up in London with her parents Sheila Teague and Gary Wright, the owners of jewelry company Wright & Teague. The couple “met whilst studying together at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London,” according to Benchpeg, and their handmade pieces are internationally renowned. “The family obsession has always been art rather than acting,” Bonnie told the Evening Standard in 2009. “We were always being taken round galleries on holiday.”

It was actually Bonnie’s older brother, Lewis Wright, who inspired her start in acting. “He’d read the first two Harry Potter books and really enjoyed them,” she told the Evening Standard. “He said I reminded him of Ginny.” It just so happens that author J.K. Rowling had a “strict ‘British actors only’ rule,” according to Comedy Central, and Bonnie’s mother sent in her photos as part of a nationwide casting call. As she recalled to the Evening Standard, they didn’t expect much, until one day her parents got word that she had been invited to audition for producer David Heyman.

Bonnie Wright got her start in film at a young age

After Bonnie Wright scored an audition for Ginny Weasley, she told the Evening Standard in 2011 she quickly read the first Harry Potter book and fell in love, but after a “kind of strange” audition for David Heyman, she didn’t want to get her hopes up. Though Wright had little acting experience outside of school performances, her parents eventually received word that Wright had scored the role. “They were just silent for ages, as if they were about to announce they were getting a divorce,” she recalled to the Evening Standard. “When they finally told me, I remember screaming out of the window all the way up the motorway. I was ecstatic.”

Wright only had one scene in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, meaning she only had to spend “three or four days” on set. Because her family lived in London, Wright was always “able to go home to [her] own bed and see [her] friends at the weekend,” but her family did not quite foresee the scope of the blockbuster franchise. “I think if my parents had realized how big it would end up, they’d have worried about how I was going to balance filming with family life and school,” she admitted to the Standard.

The Harry Potter books enchanted Bonnie Wright

The first Harry Potter film was a massive hit. According to Box Office Mojo, it has grossed over $974 million globally, and it wasted no time in setting the table for the series to get even bigger. In 2002’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Bonnie Wright’s Ginny Weasley finally arrives at Hogwarts, landing in the same house as Harry Potter and her brother Ron Weasley, and her involvement with a dark diary puts a damper on her first year—and the wizarding school at large. Although the second entry required Wright to take on a lot more responsibility as an actor, she adjusted to her newfound fame gracefully. “I have had a few people recognize me in public,” Wright told BBC ahead of Chamber of Secrets‘ release. “I can still walk across the street and not be noticed. If I was Daniel Radcliffe, I think I would find it much harder to deal with.”

As Pottermania began to pick up steam, Wright hopped on board herself. “I became very much an avid reader of the books, much like everyone else,” she told ReviewSTL.com. “Reading them the day [they] came out, and making sure I went and got my copy that day. And reading it as fast as I could, before friends spoiled it for me and told me what happened.” Considering J.K. Rowling’s books only continued to get juicier—and denser in page length—we don’t blame her!

Bonnie Wright was bitten by the acting bug

After her first Harry Potter films, Bonnie Wright began to expand her résumé outside of the wizarding world. She played a young version of Sarah Robinson in Hallmark’s 2004 television film Stranded, a more adult take on Swiss Family Robinson. Variety noted that the young cast’s performances displayed “a maturity of skill beyond that of the average TV teen.” Her next big role was as a young Agatha Christie in 2004’s Agatha Christie: A Life in Pictures. She appeared in the third Harry Potter film that same year, and while she had fallen in love with the entertainment industry, she was also quickly learning how to appreciate being a normal teen during her off-time. “You’ve got to realize that so much of your life is also just being the same as anyone else,” she told Marie Claire in 2011. “You’ve got to be driven to have that balance rather than getting lost in the work world.”

Being in-front of the camera wasn’t the only thing Wright was interested in either. In 2007, she explained to Hampshire Chronicle that growing up on a set provided a unique kind of firsthand education. “When you’re on set, I find it interesting to talk to different people, the camera department, ask, ‘Oh what’s that,’ or ‘What does that do,’ and they’re all really open about talking to you,” she told the outlet. Only makes sense considering she’s a Gryffindor!

Bonnie Wright's role in Harry Potter continued to grow

Bonnie Wright proved herself as a more than capable actor in 2005’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and 2007’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix as Ginny Weasley matured into a spunky and strong young woman. Not only did the fifth film find her character helping lead Hogwarts’ rebellious crew Dumbledore’s Army, but she also joined the Quidditch team. As Mirror noted in their review of her performance, Wright made “the most subtle and memorable impact… her time is to come.”

As she told Hampshire Chronicle, the film marked a coming-of-age moment for her character. “The main thing that [director David Yates and I] talked about was how Ginny has become more confident and more feisty,” she told the outlet. “She’s not just this little girl anymore.” She might have grown up alongside her character, but Wright has admitted it’s a little weird watching her adolescence play out through the series. “I haven’t actually watched [the earlier films] for so long,” she said. “It is yourself but it almost isn’t because when I look back, I think is that me? I’m so tiny!” 

The later Harry Potter films marked a huge turn for Bonnie Wright's character

If Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was the start to Bonnie Wright’s fire, 2009’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was a full-on explosion. Variety wrote that her portrayal of Ginny “intrigues as the sort of initial plain Jane who keeps growing on you.” The sixth film also found the tension between Wright’s character and Harry Potter escalating to a long overdue moment that was very important to the series: their first kiss. “I do remember like friends reading [the book] or like being further ahead in that moment and being like, ‘Oh my god have you got to page 362?’ or whatever page it was,” Wright recalled to Insider. “And then obviously they got to the moment where [Harry and Ginny] kissed so I was like, ‘Oh.'”

It was a pivotal moment and Wright certainly felt the pressure going into it. “There’s such a huge following to the books so there’s also that expectation or kind of that excitement towards this moment and it’s all about getting it right,” Wright explained to Insider. “You have to do these very intimate scenes in quite a functional environment,” she said, adding that it was “strange” kissing Daniel Radcliffe as he had become “kind of like a brother.”

Bonnie Wright nabbed a nom for her work in Harry Potter

It was the end of an era for Bonnie Wright and the Harry Potter cast when the franchise’s final two entries were released in 2010 and 2011. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows — Part 2 went out with a bang, grossing over $1.3 billion worldwide, per Box Office Mojo. It was a bittersweet moment for Wright, who told Marie Claire that the cast would “never be able to recreate that certain group and certain environment again.” Still, the young actor, who was nominated for Best Female Newcomer at the 2012 Jameson Empire Awards, felt it was time for change. “It’s been a really long and amazing journey with the characters, yet there comes a point where there’s only so much you can put into something,” she told Marie Claire.

Although Wright appears in the final scene as an adult Ginny Potter, née Weasley, with her children at Platform Nine and Three Quarters (if that’s a spoiler, where have you been since 2007?) it was the Battle of Hogwarts scene that was most impactful. “It was a pretty challenging few weeks,” she told fans at Dallas Comic Con in 2015. “All of us had like cuts and bruises and scars and so dirty, yet the friendships and camaraderie between us made it so enjoyable … It just strengthened and made me realize what a family that I’d become a part of.”

The world of directing called to Bonnie Wright

In 2012, Bonnie Wright graduated with a degree in filmmaking from London College of Communications at the University of Arts London. “I always wanted to go to art school and it’s one of the big art schools of London, so that was a dream completed,” she told Interview in 2011 ahead of her graduation. Although her degree solidified the deal, Wright had really spent her entire acting career getting a masterclass in direction. “Ten years of being on a film set was the beginning of my education in directing,” she explained to fans at Dallas Comic Con in 2015. “I did go to film school but it was probably the best film school, as well.”

Her biggest takeaway from the Harry Potter directors? “That language you have between a director and actor,” she told fans. “You’re wanting your actor to embody the role that the writer has done and you want them to have their creative freedom yet you also want your vision to come alive as you see it.” Her skills were put to the test with her debut short film Separate We Come, Separate We Go when she directed Potter co-star David Thewlis, who played Remus Lupin. Although Wright was “really nervous to direct him,” the short was a hit, premiering at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012.

Another Harry Potter alum joined forces with Bonnie Wright

After graduating from college, Bonnie Wright launched her own production company Bon Bon Lumiere, bouncing between short films like Know Thyself and Fade to Gold—a short documentary following her parents’ jewelry company Wright & Teague—as well as a music video. She didn’t stop acting either, appearing in films like The Sea, Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg?, and 2013’s After the Dark with fellow Harry Potter alum Freddie Stroma. “It’s quite a psychological thriller; we flick back from this imaginary world and into the classroom,” Wright told Interview of the film. “It’s very sort of analytical, about ideas and friends against friends, so it should be interesting.” The Village Voice called After the Dark “a shaggy dog story but an intriguing and frequently beautiful one,” adding that Wright should have had a larger role.

While she’s taken a larger interest in working behind the camera, Wright told Marie Claire that she’s focused on picking the “right” roles. “Right now, my hunger and drive is to really play as many diverse roles as possible,” she told the outlet in 2011. “I think when you’re with a character for ten years, it’s an awfully long time.”

Bonnie Wright has continued to work as a video director

In 2018, Bonnie Wright directed Sophie Lowe’s “Taught You How to Feel” music video, as well as a visual for Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson’s single “Iguana Bird.” She told Paper that the latter video was inspired by “that feeling when you’re fresh out of a break up and you force yourself out of the house … as a way to numb the heartache.” Creating that vulnerable moment goes with Wright’s mission statement as a director, which is “to make films which make the most fleeting moments and intimately felt emotions universal rather than lonely.”

For the actor-turned-director, the best part has to be the creative control. “Being able to produce my own work has given me the freedom to express and process my ideas and feelings,” she told Paper. “I love directing because I get to part of every element of filmmaking and I have been fortunate to collaborate with such a wide variety of my contemporaries from London to Los Angeles.” As of this writing, she is preparing her first feature-length movie Unearthed, an “action kind of horror” film with environmentalist themes, according to Insider.

Bonnie Wright will always be a part of the wizarding world

With about two decades in the entertainment industry behind her, Bonnie Wright remains close to her Harry Potter days—both literally and figuratively. She’s made appearances at Universal Studios to visit the theme parks and later lended her voice to the audiobook version of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, narrating “Babbitty Rabbitty and her Crackling Stump” for charity. She also remains close to her co-stars, telling Insider in 2020, “I spent a very huge part of my formative years and life [with them] so it’s nice that we still have each other.” Like her character, Wright has grown into a beautiful and strong woman who isn’t afraid to call the shots. “I was such a tomboy as a girl, growing up, so I loved the idea that … you don’t have to be girly to be a girl,” Wright said of her character, telling Pottermore that she approached Ginny as a “warrior.”

The future is still looking bright for Wright, who told Insider in 2020 that she had come to a realization that she preferred being behind the camera. “I was just always really interested in the bigger picture,” she explained. Evidently, that bigger picture includes a magical transformation. 

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