Of all of Lord Voldemort’s minions, Bellatrix Lestrange may be the most dangerous. After the Malfoys, she is also one of the most famous. Throughout the books, she serves as a truly sinister antagonist to Harry Potter and his allies. The movies would continue popularizing Lestrange through Helena Bonham Carter's absolutely disturbing performance. So what do we know about Lestrange? Is there anything that the movies or even the books never touched upon? Find out more about this villain with this list.
Naming fictional characters can be difficult. It's hard to walk the line between believability and creativity. J.K. Rowling, though, is an absolute master of that particular skill. Her character names are often interesting and fun, while also hiding a significant amount of meaning underneath the surface. Bellatrix Lestrange is a perfect example.
The meaning behind the name "Bellatrix," translated from Latin, means "war-like." And, of course, Lestrange speaks for itself.
Due to the meaning behind her name, actress Helena Bonham Carter was inspired to suggest a warlike appearance for Bellatrix, as Bonham Carter was given the chance to influence how Bellatrix would look in the film series. An example of one of her suggestions was Bellatrix wearing her distinctive leather corset.
Bellatrix was born to Cygnus Black III and Druella Black, the eldest girl of three sisters, the other two being Andromeda and Narcissa.
In the world of the Harry Potter franchise, there is a list of pure-blood wizarding families known as the "Sacred Twenty-Eight." These 28 families all managed to remain completely pure-blood into the 1930s (or else they’d disown those relatives who disobeyed). Bellatrix is a member of the Sacred Twenty-Eight on both sides of her family, and even under married name (Lestrange) she is a pure-blood as well.
We all know how seriously Voldemort took pure blood.
According to Sirius Black, Bellatrix was part of a gang during her studies at Hogwarts that later joined the ranks of the Death Eaters. Among the others in that gang were other future Eaters, like Evan Rosier and Severus Snape.
While Bellatrix and her sister, Narcissa, married into other pure-blood families, their other sister, Andromeda, married a Muggle-born wizard named Ted Tonks. Sirius would declare that Andromeda was disowned for doing so, and Bellatrix would later claim that she (along with the rest of her family) hadn’t even spoken to or seen Andromeda since she’d gotten married.
That is one incredibly strict and unloving family.
J.K. Rowling frequently acknowledges that Bellatrix is the most skilled fighter of her kind. She defeats highly trained Aurors like Kingsley Shacklebolt and Nymphadora Tonks in combat. Even during the Battle of Hogwarts, she is able to fight off Hermione, Ginny Weasley, and Luna Lovegood simultaneously.
According to J.K. Rowling, the marriage between Bellatrix and Rodolphus Lestrange was “loveless,” as Bellatrix only felt any true devotion to Voldemort. Bellatrix had only gotten married out of a sense of duty to marry well.
Ouch. Sorry Rodolphus. Turns out that Voldemort isn't just an absolutely evil, genocidal maniac... he's also a bit of a homewrecker.
Despite her having attended school with Severus Snape, Bellatrix grew to hate and distrust Snape as being unworthy of Voldemort’s trust. She despised him for defecting to the enemy when Voldemort disappeared. She also considered Snape’s half-blood status to be a sign of his inferiority, and his inability to have dealth with Harry Potter in all the years that he was a teacher at Hogwarts proves his weakness and lack of devotion to the Eaters’ cause.
And in the end, we suppose, she was right all along. Snape did turn out to be on the other side all along. Good news for the good guys that Beletrix never managed to convince Voldemort to give up on Severus.
Bellatrix’s mother, Druella, was originally born into the Rosier family. Druella shares her surname with Evan Rosier, another man in Voldemort’s service who was offed by the legendary Auror Mad-Eye Moody the year before Voldemort disappeared. It’s never made clear what Rosier’s relationship is to Bellatrix’s mother.
But it’s safe to say that the Eaters were a tight-knit family.
Perhaps because of the need to give Bellatrix more screen time, she is shown to be part of the mission to assassinate Albus Dumbledore in the sixth film—despite the fact that she did not take part in that journey in the book.
It’s been noted that Bellatrix’s name shares a lot in common with the character of Beatrice Adele Lestrange. Beatrice is a “witch-like detective” who appears in a book series (which includes 65 books!) created by Gladys Mitchell. It would be interesting to find out whether Rowling intended the name to be an homage to Mrs. Mitchell, or if the similarity is only a coincidence.
Although there is a third option: that Rowling accidentally gave her character a name reminiscent of the older heroine. It's something that happens to all sorts of creative professionals.
When it comes to offing beloved characters, Bellatrix is responsible for two of the saddest send-offs in the Harry Potter series. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, she kills her cousin, Sirius Black, in front of his own godson. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, she throws the knife that fatally hits Dobby, the loyal house-elf.
As if she needed to be more hateable.
Bellatrix was one of the few Eaters who did not go into hiding or renounce their status as an Eater after Voldemort fell. She, along with her husband, brother-in-law, and Barty Crouch Jr., sought out Voldemort to bring him back to power. Which means... at least she was loyal? Hate Bellatrix for literally everything else about her, but at least the woman is committed to the (incredibly awful) cause she has chosen.
Never mind, take back everything I just said about her loyalty being a positive. Bellatrix was absolutely awful in every day. In order to find Voldemort, Bellatrix and the rest of her associates captured and hurt Neville’s parents, the Aurors Frank and Alice Longbottom. The Longbottoms were rendered permanently unstable from this, and poor little Neville was left to grow up in the care of his strict and over-bearing Grandmother.
There is one, small victory to the story though: in the end, Bellatrix and the rest of her gang were detained and sentenced to imprisonment in Azkaban, as punishment for their treatment of the Longbottoms.
While it isn’t addressed in the movies, the Polyjuice Potion changes in taste and appearance based on the individual person. Since it helps someone take on the appearance and essence of another person, the potion reflects said person. Therefore, when Hermione has to change into Bellatrix, she complains that the potion tastes “revolting.”
Who would have thought? A potion that reflects the essence of a cruel and masochistic narcist turns out to taste like garbage. Total surprise.
In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Hermione Granger impersonates Bellatrix Lestrange with Polyjuice Potion to break into Gringotts. Since Helena Bonham Carter had to be onscreen playing Hermione-as-Bellatrix for that scene, she invited Emma Watson (Hermione) to her home during production to best figure out how Watson played the witch.
Mocked by Voldemort for Nymphadora Tonks’ marriage to the werewolf Remus Lupin, Bellatrix swears to harm her half-blood niece for committing such a betrayal against her pure-blood ancestry. Since Bellatrix's fellow Eater, Antonin Dolohov, offed Lupin, this leaves their child, Teddy Lupin, an orphan.
Bellatrix Lestrange was the first female Death Eater introduced in the Harry Potter series, books or movies. The only other confirmed female one is Alecto Carrow.
One aspect of Bellatrix’s impressive magical abilities is her skill with Occlumency, the skill of closing one’s mind to avoid people accessing one’s thoughts or feelings.
She's so skilled, that apparently she's trusted to share the talent with others. It’s noted in the sixth book by Snape that Draco Malfoy has been trained in Occlumency by Bellatrix. The training is so successful and thorough that Malfoy is able to keep Snape completely out of his mind.
A rumor was started that Elizabeth Hurley was cast in the role of Bellatrix Lestrange. However, this rumor was declared to have had “no truth whatsoever” by Warner Bros.
Bellatrix’s actress, Helena Bonham Carter, is no stranger to playing villainous roles. She went on to play the Queen of Hearts in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland series. Interestingly, she shares that role with Miranda Richardson, who played Rita Skeeter in the Harry Potter series and the Queen of Hearts in the 1999 version of Alice in Wonderland.
Bellatrix is often described as the most loyal and devoted follower of Lord Voldemort. Whenever Bellatrix and Lord Voldemort appear onscreen together in the Harry Potter films, she always gravitates to stand to his right, which is a play on the expression "right-hand (wo)man."
Perhaps not surprisingly, one of Bellatrix’s most-used spells in the series is the Cruciatus Curse, which gruesomely harms its victims. Among the many people on whom she’s used it are Frank and Alice Longbottom, Neville's parents.
The constant inter-marrying of the pure-blood wizarding families means that Bellatrix has a lot of distant relatives within said families. As Sirius pointed out, Bellatrix is distantly related to both Molly Weasley and Arthur Weasley, though both of them are considered blood traitors for their tolerant view of Muggles.
In the book Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry and his friends visit St. Mungo’s Hospital and encounter Neville Longbottom and his grandmother in a ward visiting Neville’s parents, who were tormented into insanity by Bellatrix. The scene was originally meant to be in the film adaptation as well, but it was cut for budgetary reasons, robbing us of what is undoubtedly one of the saddest moments in the entire series.
In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, there is a scene where Harry and his friends are ambushed the home of Ron Weasley by Bellatrix and other Death Eaters. This scene never happened in the books, as fans have pointed out, and it was meant to be an onscreen example of the various terror attacks that are discussed by characters in the book.
During her brief battle with Harry Potter after she ended Sirius Black, Bellatrix unwittingly teaches Harry how to properly use Unforgivable Curses. In his rage, Harry attempts to use the Cruciatus Curse in revenge for Sirius’ passing, but the effect is minimal. Bellatrix then taunts him by explaining that he needs to “mean them.”
There’s been a lot of speculation on Bellatrix’ devotion to Lord Voldemort, but as far as Helena Bonham Carter is concerned, she is completely head-over-heels for Voldemort, not least because she, like Voldemort, is “obsessed with blood purity” and has “got problems.”
In the books, Bellatrix is described as having sleek black hair with heavily lidded eyes. Ironically, she would go on to be played by the wide-eyed Helena Bonham Carter with a wild and curly hairstyle.
As a member of the Black family, Bellatrix is given a first name that has its origins in the stars. In her case, the name "Bellatrix" is shared with a star in the constellation Orion (which not so coincidentally was the name of Sirius Black’s father).
Interestingly, a rather well-known love triangle is hidden within the casting of the Harry Potter film series. Bellatrix is played by Helena Bonham Carter, who had previously had an affair with Kenneth Branagh, who played Gilderoy Lockhart in the second Harry Potter film. This affair led to the end of Branagh’s marriage to Emma Thompson, who also appeared in the film series as Sybill Trelawney.
According to the books, Bellatrix’s wand measures 12 and 3-quarter inches, is made of walnut, and contains dragon heartstring. Hard to imagine how one goes about getting the heartstring to make that wand!
According to wandlore, witches and wizards with dragon heartstring wands are able to learn spells faster than those who have different wand cores. Unfortunately, this comes with the cost of those wizards with dragon heartstring wands also being more likely to turn to the Dark Arts, as Bellatrix certainly proves. Other people in the Harry Potter franchise to have dragon heartstring wands are Hermione Granger, Gilderoy Lockhart, and Peter Pettigrew.
Bellatrix’s ultimate fate in the story comes during the Battle of Hogwarts after a fierce duel with Molly Weasley. According to J.K. Rowling, she always intended for Molly to end Bellatrix, giving two reasons for her choice. Firstly, Molly doing this to Bellatrix would show the victory of maternal and romantic love against obsessive love (i.e. Bellatrix’s feelings for Voldemort).
Secondly, it would show that just because Molly is a very family-focused woman doesn’t mean that she wouldn’t be able to hold her own in a fight.
Bellatrix’s married surname, Lestrange, has often been labelled as a play on "l’étrange." Translated from French, this means "the strange one," which could be a play on Bellatrix’s mental instability (though this is far more pronounced in the film series than the books). Interestingly, the French origins of the name Lestrange are a nice parallel to the name "Voldemort," which also has its origins in the French language.
According to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Bellatrix secretly had a daughter with Lord Voldemort during their time at Malfoy Manor. Whether you decide this is canon or not is your decision, to be honest, since it does seem rather uncharacteristic of Voldemort to care about anyone enough to procreate with them.
As it’s revealed in the books, as scary as Bellatrix is, she's terrified of one wizard: Dumbledore. She flees from him during the battle in the Department of Mysteries, recognizing him as her superior in magic.
Despite this hesitancy to openly confront Dumbledore, though, Bellatrix is the only person in the book series, apart from Voldemort, to successfully block one of Dumbledore’s attacks.
According to Helena Bonham Carter, her performance as the crazed Bellatrix was inspired by the savagery of children “before they get civilized.” No doubt parents reading this article are nodding their heads sagely in agreement.
As fans of Harry Potter will remember, the seventh book and the last movie in the series featured Bellatrix’s battle with Molly Weasley. The battle between them begins when Bellatrix attempts to kill Ginny, only for Molly to scream “Not my daughter you [w]itch!” Not only was this the first use of the word as a curse in the Harry Potter series, but novelist Stephen King later commented that it had been “the most shocking [use of the word] in recent fiction.”
Originally, the character of Bellatrix was meant to be played by actress Helen McCrory when she made her debut in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. However, McCrory became pregnant and had to drop out of the movie. However, she eventually returned to the film franchise when she was cast as Narcissa Malfoy, Bellatrix’s sister.
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