Every Harry Potter introduces a new Defense of the Dark Arts teacher, but Order of the Phoenix has a teacher who abolishes the whole class. Professor Umbridge tows the party line that everything is fine and the kids don't need to learn impractical defense spells. Obviously, this is not really in the children's best interest, but actress Imelda Staunton did not need to be sold on Umbridge's methods.
Imelda Staunton on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
"First of all, I’m not an actress who needs to really like their character in order to play them," she said. "[However], you’ve got to admire her tenacity, her ability to believe in herself and to do her job so well and to not let nothing stand in the way to do her job, never doubting what she’s doing."
She's also not one of those actors who has to act like she hates you if that's how the character feels. "The character works in the moment when you’re doing the scene. I think it’s important, when you’re not doing it, to have an ordinary relationship because I don’t want to carry it around. I don’t need to do that and I probably don’t know how to. I think it’s healthy to channel the work in the moment, in the scene, to leave it there and revisit it and leave it alone."
Being a British actor, doing a Harry Potter film was a coveted notch on the resume. "I didn’t hesitate. It was wonderful for an actor to be given a challenge and it was an enormous challenge. It was more than I anticipated actually. She wasn’t the nicest women in the world and to play this is just what I like."
It made Staunton a cool mom too. "I have a 13-year-old daughter. I have a daughter and a pulse of course. I’d seen the films. So, yes I was and was happy to be part of it. It was such a thrill. Working with actors who are going to be here when I’m not here and working with actors I’ve known since drama school."
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix opens to theatres on July 11th.