Bellatrix Lestrange has always been a Harry Potter fan fascination, from her romantic obsession with the Dark Lord to her complicated family history. She's a terrifying, powerful, and unhinged villain.
Bellatrix was Voldemort's right hand woman and most dedicated follower. She's had some of the most important scenes in the books, from famous kills and ruthless battle tactics to her memorable demise. Helena Bonham Carter, the go-to actress for macabre, gothic characters, gave an excellent turn as Bellatrix in the eight Harry Potter movies.
Bellatrix contains multitudes, and there are plenty of facts and tidbits of trivia you didn't know about her. Some of these might surprise fans who haven't read the books, and some will be new to even the biggest Potterheads. For more interesting facts about Harry Potter characters, check out some things you didn’t know about Grindelwald.
Here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Bellatrix Lestrange:
15 SHE MAIDEN NAME WAS "BELLATRIX BLACK"
Bellatrix Lestrange was born Bellatrix Black. Her father and mother were Cygnus Black III and Druella Black (née Rosier). Her sisters are Narcissa Malfoy (Lucius Malfoy's wife and Draco Malfoy's mother) and Andromeda Tonks-- mother of Nymphadora Tonks, who married Remus Lupin. Sirius Black is Bellatrix' paternal first cousin, and so is his brother, the former Death Eater Regulus Black. Bellatrix took the name Lestrange when she married Rodolphus Lestrange (likely a descendent of Leda Lestrange from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them)
Obviously, she doesn't get along with Andromeda Tonks or Sirius Black. Bellatrix stopped talking to Andromeda when she married the Muggle-born wizard Ted Tonks, and the Black family as a whole disowned Andromeda. Bellatrix hates Sirius because he ran away from home and is a "blood traitor", since he doesn't hate non-pure-bloods. Both Andromeda and Sirius were burned off the Black family tree tapestry at their ancestral home at 12 Grimmauld Place. Bellatrix ends up killing her niece Nymphadora Tonks and cousin Sirius Black.
14 CHLOË GRACE MORETZ WAS BELLATRIX FOR HALLOWEEN
Bellatrix Lestrange has a celebrity fan in actress Chloë Grace Moretz. Moretz was Bellatrix for Halloween in 2012. She Instagrammed her costume, captioning the photo "#Halloween #Beatrix [sic] #HelenaBonomCarter [sic] #HarryPotter." Okay, so she misspelled Helena Bonham Carter and referred to Bellatrix as "Beatrix", ut that doesn't make her costume any less great. She's channeling Helena Bonham Carter's look from the films with her black leather corset. Her black highlights are a nod to Bellatrix's black hair, and her hairdo is suitably messy. She has a perfectly evil expression on her face.
We know Moretz is a Harry Potter fan. She attended the World Premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 in London in 2010. She also got to go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, Hollywood before it even opened and Instagrammed the occasion, captioning her photo "I got into hogwarts guys."
13 SHE WAS SENT TO AZKABAN FOR TORTURING FRANK AND ALICE LONGBOTTOM
At the end of the First Wizarding War, Bellatrix Lestrange was sentenced to life imprisonment in Azkaban for torturing the Aurors Frank and Alice Longbottom, Neville Longbottom's parents. Her partners in crime were Rodolphus Lestrange, Rabastan Lestrange, and Barty Crouch Jr. The three were looking for information on Lord Voldemort, and tortured Frank and Alice, who were members of the Order of the Phoenix, until they went insane. This happened when Neville was only a baby. Frank and Alice were placed in the Janus Thickey Ward for irrevocable spell damage at St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries.
In an interview with NBC in 2007, J.K. Rowling stated that they would never recover. "I know people really wanted some hope for that, and I can quite see why because, in a way, what happens to Neville's parents is even worse than what happened to Harry's parents. The damage that is done, in some cases with very dark magic, is done permanently," she said.
Clearly, whatever Bellatrix did to them was powerful. Of course, Bellatrix didn't serve her life sentence. She escaped in the 1996 mass break out along with nine other Death Eaters.
12 HER FIRST NAME HAS TWO SIGNIFICANT MEANINGS
J.K. Rowling is known for imbuing her character names with secret meanings, and Bellatrix Lestrange is no exception. The name Bellatrix is Latin for "female warrior." This certainly makes sense: Bellatrix is a powerful and terrifying witch as well as a Death Eater. She's Voldemort's most devout follower, and her dedication to him borders on obsession.
Bellatrix is also the name of a star in the constellation Orion. Orion is named after a hunter in Greek mythology, depicted with a large club. Orion is believed to have died either by the sting of a scorpion or by the hand of Artemis. Bellatrix is also called the Amazon star. It is one of Orion's seven brightest stars. In fact, it's the twenty-seventh brightest star in the night sky. Bellatrix Lestrange is powerful woman much like the Amazons, as well as intelligent.
She's also not the only J.K. Rowling character to share her name with a star. Sirius Black is named after Sirius, the Dog Star.
11 HELEN MCCRORY WAS ORIGINALLY CAST AS BELLATRIX
Helena Bonham Carter may seem like the obvious choice to play Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter movies, but she wasn't the first choice; that was Helen McCrory. She was cast in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix but had to unexpectedly drop out right before filming started because of her pregnancy. And so, happily, the role went to Helena Bonham Carter. McCrory got another chance to be in the franchise: she was cast as Narcissa Malfoy, Bellatrix's sister and Draco Malfoy's mother, from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince onward.
Helena Bonham Carter spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the shake-up in 2010, saying "So they came to me,” says Bonham Carter. “And I loved it. I love magic, I love witches, I love the whole [Harry Potter] world. I was all too happy to play a witch."
Outside of the Harry Potter franchise, McCrory is known for her work in films and TV shows like Skyfall, Peaky Blinders, and Penny Dreadful.
10 HELENA BONHAM CARTER SAID BELLATRIX HAS SADISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER
Part of Helena Bonham Carter's interpretation of the character is that Bellatrix has sadistic personality disorder. Sadism means getting pleasure from other people's pain, and includes the use of emotional cruelty, using fear to manipulate others, and a preoccupation with violence. People who have sadistic personality disorder display aggression and cruel behavior. That all definitely sounds like Bellatrix. She murdered Dobby, Nymphadora Tonks, and Sirius Black. She tortured Frank and Alice Longbottom to the point of insanity, and their son Neville and Hermione Granger as well.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly in 2007, she said of Bellatrix "She’s very sick. She’s got problems. I think she’s been in prison a bit too long. But I suspect even before prison she had problems. She’s a racist, obsessed with blood purity. Like Adolf. And she’s in love with Voldemort, really."
Sadistic personality disorder has been removed from the DSM (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and not considered legitimate anymore, but certainly works for actorly motivation.
9 IT WAS RUMORED THAT ELIZABETH HURLEY WOULD PLAY BELLATRIX
According to rumors, Elizabeth Hurley was going to play Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. However, Warner Brothers, the film studio behind the Harry Potter movies, said that there was "no truth whatsoever" to reports stating that she had been cast.
The British actress and model did seem qualified for the role. She's known for her work in the Austin Powers movies as Vanessa Kensington, and for playing Diana Payne on Gossip Girl. She currently plays Queen Helena on The Royals, E!'s drama about a fictional British royal family.
She also has experience with genre films and shows. She guest starred on the sci-fi series The Tomorrow People and appeared in the 2011 TV movie Wonder Woman. She's been in horror movies like Beyond Bedlam and Rowing with the Wind and even played the Devil in Bedazzled.
Helena Bonham Carter eventually won the role after Helen McCrory backed out and became the Bellatrix Lestrange that Harry Potter fans know and love.
8 J.K. ROWLING ALWAYS KNEW THAT MOLLY WEASLEY WOULD KILL HER
Harry Potter fans know that Molly Weasley was the one who finally killed Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Molly engaged Bellatrix in a duel after she threatened Molly's daughter Ginny, famously screaming, "NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!" She cast a lethal spell at Bellatrix and that was the end of LeStrange.
In a talk at Carnegie Hall, J.K. Rowling revealed that she always knew Molly would be the one to kill Bellatrix because, "The first reason was I always saw Molly as a very good witch but someone whose light is necessarily hidden under a bushel… I wanted Molly to have her moment and to show that because a woman who had dedicated herself to her family does not mean that she doesn’t have a lot of other talents. Second reason: It was the meeting of two kinds of — if you call what Bellatrix feels for Voldemort love, I guess we’ll call it love, she has a kind of obsession with him … and I wanted to match that kind of obsession with maternal love… the power that you give someone by loving them… There was something very satisfying about putting those two women together."
7 MOLLY'S INSULT TO HER WAS A HUGE DEAL
Molly's famous cry to Bellatrix before killing her stands out in the minds of everyone who's read the book or seen the movie, but adding that curse word was actually a huge deal. After all, the Harry Potter series are supposed to be appropriate for children.
In his August 2007 article for Entertainment Weekly reflecting on the end of the Harry Potter books, author Stephen King analyzes this sentence: "The clearest sign of how adult the books had become by the conclusion arrives — and splendidly — in Deathly Hallows, when Mrs. Weasley sees the odious Bellatrix Lestrange trying to finish off Ginny with a Killing Curse. 'NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!' she cries. It’s the most shocking bitch in recent fiction; since there’s virtually no cursing (of the linguistic kind, anyway) in the Potter books, this one hits home with almost fatal force. It is totally correct in its context — perfect, really — but it is also a quintessentially adult response to a child’s peril."
6 SHE NEVER LOVED HER HUSBAND, RODOLPHUS
Bellatrix was married to Rodolphus Lestrange, but the marriage was loveless on her part. The two met at Hogwarts, and her parents arranged a marriage of convenience. Rodolphus was a pure-blood, like their family, and it was very important to the Blacks to preserve their pure-blood heritage. He's also rich and a Slytherin. Her sister Narcissa also married a pure-blood, Lucius Malfoy, but she loved him and had a son with him: Draco Malfoy.
Rodolphus became a Death Eater like his wife and they at least worked together in service of Lord Voldemort, but she never expresses any affection for him and barely mentions him. He and Bellatrix were part of the group that tortured Frank and Alice Longbottom together and went to Azkaban for it. They never had any children together, a sign that the marriage was a farce. Voldemort was the sole object of Bellatrix's obsession and romantic love.
5 SHE ALWAYS APPEARS ON VOLDEMORT'S RIGHT IN DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2
Bellatrix is Voldemort's right hand woman, and that was cleverly communicated in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 with the choice to always show Bellatrix on his right side. In every shot in which Voldemort (played by Ralph Fiennes) and Bellatrix appear together, she always positions herself on his right. This is also traditionally the position of a leader's most loyal and trusted follower. Having them appear next to each other also cements the closeness of their relationship.
One example is the scene in the Forbidden Forest in which Bellatrix tries to help Voldemort get up, only to be pushed away by him. She's on his right when she tries to help him up, and when she's pushed away, she gets up and returns to his right. It's a fascinating and subtle filmmaking decision, one that makes you immediately want to rewatch the film (while you're at it, why not rewatch all of the Harry Potter movies?).
4 BELLATRIX CARVING "MUDBLOOD" INTO HERMIONE'S ARM WASN'T SCRIPTED
In the scene in which Bellatrix tortures Hermione and interrogates her about Godric Gryffindor's sword, she carves "mudblood" into Hermione's arm with a knife. Bellatrix comes from a proud pure-blood family that hates all non-pure-bloods. This is a way for her to taunt and shame Hermione for her muggle-born heritage.
This moment wasn't in the script. Rather, it was devised by Helena Bonham Carter and Emma Watson (who plays Hermione) in the spur of the moment. The carving of "mudblood" is the final step in Bellatrix's torture, and it's what gets to Hermione the most. In the film, we see her lying on the floor. When she looks at her arm with a drop of blood trickling down, she starts to cry.
Filming Hermione's torture was so intense for the two actresses involved that Helena Bonham Carter approached Emma Watson after it to make sure their relationship was still okay.
3 SHE WAS AN OCCLUMENS
Occlumency is the art of magically closing your mind against Legilimency, or mind-reading. It's a rare and difficult skill. Snape calls it "An obscure branch of magic, but a highly useful one" in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Other Occlumens include Dumbledore, Narcissa Malfoy, Voldemort, and Gellert Grindelwald.
In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Bellatrix teaches her nephew Draco Malfoy Occlumency after he receives orders from Voldemort to kill Albus Dumbledore so that he can keep it a secret. She trains him in using non-verbal spells and the Unforgivable Curses as well. She was a great teacher: Draco successfully prevents Snape from learning his thoughts.
In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Snape teaches Harry Occlumency, and we learn that in consists of making your mind blank so as to hide all thoughts from an Legilimens. One can also suppress only some thoughts, leaving others so that the Legilimens doesn't suspect the use of Occlumency.
2 HER WAND IS KNOWN TO BE UNYIELDING
Wands with dragon heartstring produce the most flamboyant spells and easily are turned to the Dark Arts. Bellatrix lost her wand in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in the fight at Malfoy Manor when Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Dobby escaped with it. Harry shows it to Mr. Ollivander, who remembers every wand he's ever sold, and the wandmaker identifies it as Bellatrix's, calling it "unyielding." That's certainly true: Bellatrix used the wand to torture Alice and Frank Longbottom and kill Sirius.
Hermione reluctantly used the wand after Bellatrix lost it because her own had been confiscated by Snatchers after Harry accidentally broke the Taboo curse by saying Voldemort's name and they were exposed. Hermione doesn't like using the wand because of the evil associated with it. However, it came in handy when she impersonated Bellatrix using a Polyjuice Potion. Bellatrix was then forced to get a second wand, which we don't know much about.
1 IN "CURSED CHILD", SHE AND VOLDEMORT HAD A DAUGHTER
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child dropped a major revelation: Bellatrix and Voldemort have a secret illegitimate daughter together. That means Bellatrix cheated on her husband Rodolphus. Delphini (also known as Delphi) was conceived sometime after the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, but before Bellatrix and Voldemort's death at the Battle of Hogwarts. She was born at Malfoy Manor. Delphini is a half-blood, since Bellatrix is a pure-blood and Voldemort is a half-blood. And she was an orphan, just like her father.
Bellatrix was probably ecstatic about having a child with Voldemort, since she was in love with him. Voldemort, however, doesn't feel the need for love and doesn't like to be emotionally attached to anyone. Delphini was raised by Euphemia Rowle. Rodolphus is the one who informed her of her heritage.
Esther Smith played Delphini in the original 2016 West End production. In the play, she meets Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy.
Do you have any little known facts to share about Harry Potter's maddest and baddest witch? Drop them in the comments!