You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Shaw shifts from theatre to Potter

Irish actress defines versatility

To theater fans, Irish actress Fiona Shaw embodies the magic of the stage. But to most Americans, Shaw’s role as Aunt Petunia in the “Harry Potter” films embodies the dreary, nonmagical Muggles of that franchise.

Nevertheless, Shaw, who is being honored at this year’s U.S.-Ireland Alliance Oscar Wilde event, doesn’t mind.

“It’s a fantastic privilege being a part of something that’s so seminal for so many children,” Shaw says. “But I know in New York that’s not what I’m known for entirely.”

After graduating from London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in the early ’80s, Shaw quickly won critical acclaim onstage.

“I think I’ve had the best, the most enjoyable theater career of anyone I know. I’ve played everyone from Hedda Gabler to Electra to ‘Happy Days’ to Richard II,” Shaw says of her 25-year career.

At the same time, as an Irish actress in London, Shaw admits that she has remained a sort of “outsider.”

“Irishness has always given me a viewpoint on the English,” she says. “As a young actress, I was often cast as the young English heroine, because I could play the moral center of the role yet also have a strange, slightly eccentric take on it.”

Because of that, this year’s Oscar Wilde Award, honoring Shaw’s contribution to the Irish in film, holds a special meaning.

“I’m delighted to be honored and to be included with that particular, extraordinary generation that has flourished from Ireland,” Shaw says.

She started her film career with Irish filmmaker Jim Sheridan’s “My Left Foot” and has appeared in Neil Jordan’s “The Butcher Boy” as well as the “Potter” films. Now, she is about to start filming Terrence Malick’s “Tree of Life.”

“I wouldn’t want to say more (about the movie) than Terry would want me to say about it,” Shaw says. “It’s an amazing lineup with Brad Pitt and Sean Penn. But I would scrub Terry Malick’s floors, so it doesn’t really matter what the film is about. I knew the experience of making it would be exciting.”

More Film

  • Bradley Cooper Robert De Niro

    Bradley Cooper on His Secret Pact With Lady Gaga for 'A Star is Born'

    To theater fans, Irish actress Fiona Shaw embodies the magic of the stage. But to most Americans, Shaw’s role as Aunt Petunia in the “Harry Potter” films embodies the dreary, nonmagical Muggles of that franchise. Nevertheless, Shaw, who is being honored at this year’s U.S.-Ireland Alliance Oscar Wilde event, doesn’t mind. “It’s a fantastic privilege […]

  • The seagull

    Tribeca Film Review: 'The Seagull'

    To theater fans, Irish actress Fiona Shaw embodies the magic of the stage. But to most Americans, Shaw’s role as Aunt Petunia in the “Harry Potter” films embodies the dreary, nonmagical Muggles of that franchise. Nevertheless, Shaw, who is being honored at this year’s U.S.-Ireland Alliance Oscar Wilde event, doesn’t mind. “It’s a fantastic privilege […]

  • Verne TroyerStarkey Hearing Foundation Awards Gala,

    Verne Troyer, Mini-Me in 'Austin Powers,' Dies at 49

    To theater fans, Irish actress Fiona Shaw embodies the magic of the stage. But to most Americans, Shaw’s role as Aunt Petunia in the “Harry Potter” films embodies the dreary, nonmagical Muggles of that franchise. Nevertheless, Shaw, who is being honored at this year’s U.S.-Ireland Alliance Oscar Wilde event, doesn’t mind. “It’s a fantastic privilege […]

  • 'Greatest Showman' Tops Disc Sales Charts

    'Greatest Showman' Tops Disc Sales Charts as 'Last Jedi' Slips to No. 2

    To theater fans, Irish actress Fiona Shaw embodies the magic of the stage. But to most Americans, Shaw’s role as Aunt Petunia in the “Harry Potter” films embodies the dreary, nonmagical Muggles of that franchise. Nevertheless, Shaw, who is being honored at this year’s U.S.-Ireland Alliance Oscar Wilde event, doesn’t mind. “It’s a fantastic privilege […]

  • Stockholm review

    Tribeca Film Review: Ethan Hawke in 'Stockholm'

    To theater fans, Irish actress Fiona Shaw embodies the magic of the stage. But to most Americans, Shaw’s role as Aunt Petunia in the “Harry Potter” films embodies the dreary, nonmagical Muggles of that franchise. Nevertheless, Shaw, who is being honored at this year’s U.S.-Ireland Alliance Oscar Wilde event, doesn’t mind. “It’s a fantastic privilege […]

  • READY PLAYER ONE

    Steven Spielberg's 'Ready Player One' Crosses $500 Million Worldwide

    To theater fans, Irish actress Fiona Shaw embodies the magic of the stage. But to most Americans, Shaw’s role as Aunt Petunia in the “Harry Potter” films embodies the dreary, nonmagical Muggles of that franchise. Nevertheless, Shaw, who is being honored at this year’s U.S.-Ireland Alliance Oscar Wilde event, doesn’t mind. “It’s a fantastic privilege […]

  • Hans Zimmer90th Annual Academy Awards, Roaming

    Hans Zimmer to Receive Steiner Award at Hollywood in Vienna Gala

    To theater fans, Irish actress Fiona Shaw embodies the magic of the stage. But to most Americans, Shaw’s role as Aunt Petunia in the “Harry Potter” films embodies the dreary, nonmagical Muggles of that franchise. Nevertheless, Shaw, who is being honored at this year’s U.S.-Ireland Alliance Oscar Wilde event, doesn’t mind. “It’s a fantastic privilege […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content