That Time Harry Potter’s Tom Felton Mistook Gary Oldman For The Cleaning Staff

Over the course of 10 years and eight movies the Harry Potter franchise found a role, big or small, for basically every living British actor. It’s a who’s who of the greats, but apparently, many of the biggest names to appear were so unassuming on the set that it would be easy to not realize they were massive stars. Tom Felton admits in his new book that’s exactly what happened when he first saw Gary Oldman on the set of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, when the young Draco thought the actor was a janitor.

In an excerpt from his new book Beyond the Wand: The Magic and Mayhem of Growing Up a Wizard published by Insider, Tom Felton reveals that when he saw Gary Oldman on set, he apparently didn’t strike him as being one of the actors, and Felton assumed the fact he’d seen the man around frequently meant he was part of the cleaning staff. Felton explained…

I was on set one day when I saw another slightly scruffy older bloke wearing an old pair of jeans and a T-shirt. I’d occasionally seen him around and I thought he was one of the cleaning staff. What can I say? He just had that look… He seemed to be showing family and friends around. Bit weird, for one of the cleaning staff. I had a horrible feeling I might have made a faux pas, so when he'd left I asked someone, 'Who is that?'

Gary Oldman played Sirius Black in the third Harry Potter film, and returned for appearances in the next two films as well. Oldman was one of the bigger names to have appeared in the franchise. Daniel Radcliffe admitted that Oldman was the star he was most nervous about meeting while making the films.   

Felton had apparently been so sure the man was a cleaner that he made a passing comment to him about the cleanliness of the floors. He says Oldman looked at him confused and didn’t say anything. Needless to say, that when Tom Felton realized his mistake, he felt pretty silly, but he apparently did his best to play the whole thing off. He continues… 

I cringed with embarrassment when I realized I'd mistaken him for the cleaner. I wanted to apologize — not that he'd really have given a monkey's — but in the end I took the easier route of totally ignoring my mistake and pretending I'd known who he was all along. In my defense, for such a big star, he was hardly starry at all. He was unassuming and down-to-earth, likely to be seen making a cup of tea for everyone, rather than playing the room.

To be fair to Tom Felton, not recognizing Gary Oldman in person probably isn’t that shocking. Oldman is one of those actors that tends to transform himself so much in a role that he can be literally unrecognizable. It would be easy to watch Gary Oldman in several of his most popular roles and not actually know what the man looks like when he’s not on screen. Still, pro tip for the future, unless you see somebody actually mopping the floor, maybe don’t assume they’re the janitor.  

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.