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SYFY WIRE obituary

'Harry Potter': Leslie Phillips, voice of the iconic Sorting Hat in fantasy film series, dies at 98

Phillips' other screen credits included Tomb Raider and Doctor Who.

By Josh Weiss
Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone; Leslie Phillips

Leslie Phillips, the British screen legend who voiced the Sorting Hat in the first two Harry Potter films, has passed away at the age of 98 following a lengthy illness. The anthropomorphic head piece that sorts incoming Hogwarts students into the school's four famous houses appeared prominently in Sorcerer's Stone (2001) and Chamber of Secrets (2022) — both of which were helmed by director Chris Columbus.

“I've lost a wonderful husband and the public has lost a truly great showman," Phillips' wife, Zara, said in a statement to The Sun Tuesday. "He was quite simply a national treasure. People loved him. He was mobbed everywhere he went. When we married, he cheekily introduced me to the Press as royalty, insisting I was the new Zara Phillips and that I was related to the Queen."

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"We are incredibly sad to hear of the passing of the wonderful Leslie Phillips who voiced the Sorting Hat with such inimitable wit and style in the Harry Potter films," added the official Twitter account of the Potter franchise.

The actor's career dated all the way back to the late 1930s and included over 200 roles in dozens upon dozens of projects spanning film, television, and the stage (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Doctor Who: Medicinal Purposes are just two small examples). Wizarding World fans, however, will forever associate the man with the sagely voice of the tattered magical hat that took Harry's own desires into consideration and placed the boy wizard into Gryffindor — where dwell the brave at heart.

"They all have their various sort of moments," Phillips remarked in 2013. "It's great to do films, theater, and television." Over the decades, the actor became associated with a number of catchphrases, a phenomenon he once cheekily described as "a punishment in a way." 

His final role will be in the upcoming mystery film, Darkheart Manor. "I don’t think actors do retire. They’re like old soldiers, they fade away," Phillips explained to Den of Geek in 2007. "Something happens, the phone doesn’t ring, or they become ill. Something like that. But I’ve only heard of about two actors who actually retired. And they both came back again, and then retired again!"

Fans can relive the magic of Phillips' Sorting Hat performance with all eight Harry Potter films on Peacock.