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Timothy Spall Discusses The Last Bus, Alan Rickman, Harry Potter, And Spencer – Exclusive Interview

In the “Harry Potter” books, Peter [Pettigrew’s] death scene is such an interesting pseudo redemption arc because he owed Harry his life, but the magical hand that Voldemort gifted him views his life debt as weak, and Peter strangles himself to death against his will, which is a poetic end to a character who basically killed his best friends. What are your thoughts on this ending compared to the one that Peter gets in the film? Do you wish you could have explored the book’s more nuanced ending for Peter, or do you like the film’s comedic end for that character?

Well, funny you should say that because there [was] a big debate about whether the hand strangling itself was going to be pretty close to “Monty Python.” Do you know what I mean? Or something out of a… Where you read it narratively, and you have all that poetic underpainting that you are talking about there, [it’s] very difficult to show that, somebody with a rogue hand [killing themselves without looking like] Inspector Clouseau.

One of the things I always liked about Peter Pettigrew is that he is reprehensible, and he is a weak, cowardly, devious character, but there’s also a little [bit] of possible redemption about him. Anybody who is driven to do things through weakness is not doing it through pure evil — they’re doing it through self-survival. I think he is very much from that area, bullied and called the fat kid and the “so [and so]” kid and a lump of a boy. [He’s] always the butt of the jokes of the rest of them and ultimately ends up being one of the most powerful, albeit via his nefarious deeds. 

His comeuppance is poetic, but it’s also one that’s [comically] tragic … I always had the image of Fritz Lang’s “M” with Peter Lorre, the mass murder, when [for] such an evil character, you cannot help but feel pity for him, his ultimate demise.

There’s history of the evil, so-called evil [people] are often people who are weak or driven by something that’s really some injustice, some indignity in them that creates this action that makes … It ultimately is a very, very unpleasant way of self-survival, and you choose to use the evil route to survive rather than be kind and get smashed. It’s a lesson for life, really, and understanding and ultimate compassion. Maybe we can eradicate it through understanding it. Bit of a cry for understanding from [an] entertainment [point of view], but there we are. There’s always a deeper question, even in the lightest question.

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