An actor who appeared in the Harry Potter film series as a child has told the High Court an agent’s deal signed by his parents was “forced on us” without legal advice.
Devon Murray, aged 27, who played Seamus Finnigan in the franchise about young wizards, denied suggestions that he only told his family’s lawyers this week about his dissatisfaction with the service provided by Neil Brooks, trading as Neil Brooks Management.
Mr Mur ray was being cross-examined in an action by Mr Brooks for recovery of €286,000 commission fees allegedly due by the Murrays, who deny Mr Brooks’ claims.
The Murrays claim they sacked Mr Brooks while Mr Mur ray was working on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third film in the series, arising from an incident in which Mr Murray, then aged 13, was photographed smoking on the London set.
Mr Brooks told the court he was in South Africa at the time helping his seriously ill sister. The incident, and the subsequent negative publicity, was the responsibility of Mr Murray’s guardian, he said.
Mr Brooks was being cross-examined by Fidelma Murray, Mr Murray’s mother, because, last Tuesday, solicitors for the family were permitted to stop representing them because they could not get proper instructions and funds for barristers.
Mrs Murray said they had no money for solicitors. Mr Murray told the court he had a bond with Mr Brooks in the early days but by the third film, there had been difficulties.
In 2003, the Murrays signed a new agreement where Mr Brooks’ 12.5% fee was to be increased to 15% on the basis that Mr Murray would get higher payment from Warner Brothers, the company behind the franchise. Mr Brooks said Mr Murray’s fees went up from £20,000 and £30,000 for the first two films to £50,000 and £65,000 for the third and fourth films.
Mr Murray told the court he found out all other actors got the same pay as part of a general across-the-board payment for the actors in his particular category, including those with no agent.
He said he had been receiving fees for “residuals” — money from DVD and other box office sales — but they had dwindled to around £1,000 per month. He had rented out his house and moved back in with his parents in Celbridge, Kildare.
Ms Murray, in reply to a question from the judge about where all the money from residuals in early days had gone, said he had “gone drinking, taken out girls, and bought cars because that is what teenage boys do”.
Mr Justice Michael Moriarty said he will rule on the matter today.
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