J.K. Rowling has revealed many Harry Potter tidbits on Twitter, a recent standout being that Dean Thomas was originally named Gary. It was shocking to many, including actor Alfred Enoch, who played the football-fanatic Gryffindor in the film adaptations and heard the news for the first time on EW’s Binge podcast.
“It was going to be what? Gary? Wow, that is nuts,” Enoch tells hosts Marc Snetiker and C. Molly Smith in week 6 of the podcast, which also dives into the 10 best couples — and love triangles — of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. “It’s like anything, can you imagine if like, it wasn’t going to be Harry Potter; it was going to be Brian. Great name, but difficult to process at this late state of the game.”
It’s difficult, sure, but does Dean feel like a Gary? “Wow, Gary? No, I can’t work with Gary,” he says, still processing himself. “That’s a trip in my head. There we go, obviously again [Rowling] made the right choice. I respect the hell out of that. That’s great.”
Gary Dean is one of the Gryffindor guys and as such, is beloved by many. “In the books, he was a very real part of it to me because he’s from a Muggle family — or so he thinks — and he goes into this world and he likes football — he supports West Ham,” Enoch says of Dean’s role in the group. “Obviously, Harry is our touchstone character, but he’s got a whole different thing going on. I always felt Dean was quite funny, he’s like an ordinary guy. He’s not an ordinary guy, there’s lots to him, but he’s come from the Muggle world and it’s like ‘Oh, this is cool.’ He wasn’t locked in a cupboard all his life.”
He continues on how wondrous it must have been for Dean, Harry, and any of the characters unfamiliar with magic to enter that world, and bear witness to Quidditch in particular. “Can you imagine, spend your life watching football and then there’s basically this better version where people fly around on brooms and three things are going on at once? It’s like, ‘Wow.’ I always liked him very much for that. I always thought, he’ll be alright. Not that he had it together, but well yeah, he had it together. He went out with Ginny. I think he seems cool, popular, him and Seamus get on very well, and he seems to be having a nice, normal — the enjoyable version of a childhood at Hogwarts, not the Harry Potter nightmare experience.”
It should be noted, though, that Dean has some layers too. He grew believing, for example, that his parents were Muggles, but it turns out his biological father was a wizard, who was in hiding and never told Dean’s mother of his magical status. “I was cheering for all of this to come out. I was like, ‘What a great story!’ But that was one of the difficulties of the films, and this is something people — initially at least, before the films became canonical, for want of a better word, in their own right; or before the films became legit, which seems like an odd thing to say, but at least in the eyes of fans — the first couple times people were like, ‘Where’s Peeves? How could they cut out this? How could they cut out that? How could they cut out the other?’”
Understandably, things have to get cut, and unfortunately, Dean’s backstory fell victim to that. “There’s so much to put in, but obviously you can’t, so stories like that don’t get to be explored,” Enoch explains.
For more from Enoch’s interview — including reflections on the early days of Harry Potter and what came of him and Seamus Finnigan — subscribe and listen to the podcast. Send your questions and comments on Twitter to @marcsnetiker and @cmollysmith, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. EW’s Binge is produced by EW’s Cristina Everett and edited by Will Malnati of At Will Radio.