It's officially official: Bill Nighy will play Minister for Magic Rufus Scrimgeour in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I and II, the British actor told us exclusively.
"I shoot it when we get back from this trip," Nighy (the Underworld and Pirates of the Caribbean movies) said in an interview in New York, where he was promoting G-Force. "I go home and I shoot, and I am Rufus Scrimgeour. I am a wizard. I am the Minister for Magic, and I am very pleased, because I thought I was going to remain the only English actor who wasn't in Harry Potter, but apparently that's not true." (Spoilers ahead!)
Scrimgeour was actually introduced in the sixth of J.K. Rowling's best-selling books, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, but the creative team behind the movies elected to wait until the two-part movie finale (based on the seventh book) to bring him onto the scene.
A long-time fighter against dark wizards, Scrimgeour assumes the Minister title from Cornelius Fudge, makes strides in the battle against Voldemort and the Death Eaters but also indulges in his predecessor's knack of allowing appearances to overshadow actual results.
"Scrimgeour is a rather tragic figure, without giving too much away," Nighy said. "But there's no giving too much away, because everybody's read the books. So he's a kind of tragic figure. You have that element. And he knows what's coming. So that's a very moving thing to play. He's also very powerful, and he's had a very complicated progress to the top. And he has an interesting relationship with Harry [Daniel Radcliffe], because Harry views him initially with complete contempt, but then it's softened by subsequent events."
Nighy smiled when asked if there's a particular scene he's eager to realize before the camera.
"Well, there's one where he comes and delivers Dumbledore's [Michael Gambon] legacy to the three children," Nighy replied, referring to Harry, Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint, with whom Nighy worked on the upcoming action-comedy Wild Target). "He gives them all of the things that Dumbledore has left them, and that's when it's first indicated that he may not be around for much longer. So it's quite an affecting scene."
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is now playing. The Deathly Hallows is currently in production, and the first part debuts Nov. 19, 2010.