The year 2011 may be the year that the final “Harry Potter” film is released, but the blockbuster franchise will live on for decades to come. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2,” which arrives in cinemas on July 15, features the epic battle between young wizard Harry Potter (played by Daniel Radcliffe) and his chief nemesis Lord Voldemort (played by Ralph Fiennes).
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1” (released on DVD and Blu-ray on April 15, 2011) ended with a cliffhanger. To promote the movie’s DVD/Blu-ray release, several stars of the film gathered for press conferences at Discovery Times Square in New York City, where “Harry Potter: The Exhibition” is on display from April 5 to September 5, 2011.
On hand at the press conference were Robbie Coltrane (who plays Rubeus Hagrid), Warwick Davis (who had the roles of Professor Flitwick and Griphook), Helen McCrory (Narcissa Malfoy), Freddie Stroma (Cormac McLaggen), Natalia Tena (Nymphadora Tonks), David Thewlis (Remus Lupin), Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) and producer David Barron. They discussed their favorite things about “Harry Potter: The Exhibit”; why Radcliffe is much funnier behind the scenes than he appears on screen; and what it was like to have “Harry Potter” characters from the past return for the final film.
Robbie, you had a rather tough childhood. Was school hard for you? And what kind of books or movies did you like in your childhood?
Coltrane: It was kind of a very tough Scottish public schooling … I used to watch films. It was always my obsessions: the movies.
Were any particular movies your favorite?
Coltrane: Anything with [Marlon] Brando in it. “On the Waterfront.” I don’t think there were [a lot of] people obsessed with movies when I was a boy, actually. When I first got my equity card, my union card, you could go to the matinee in the afternoon. It was a joy.
To anyone who has seen the “Harry Potter: The Exhibition,” what did you think about the exhibition? And is there anything from the exhibition that would you like to take home if you could?
Lynch: It was really cool. Me, I want to take home Dobby. I love Dobby. I don’t know if I want him staring at me, because he’s got really big eyes, but he’s cute.
Tena: I want to take home my wand, obviously …
Thewlis: I have not seen [the exhibition].
Davis: There are so many fantastic things in the exhibition, it would be hard to choose. I love the Quidditch section, just looking at the props. Of course, we’ve been looking at these items for years, but when you see something like this [exhibition], it makes you realize how important they are now.
And they do seem as if they are real, in the sense that … that they are for a real sport in days gone by. They look really authentic in the way that they are presented here in the exhibition. I was just as amazed as well about the atmosphere they created here. It’s not just the props and cases. You feel like you’re walking into the world of Harry Potter. It’s very, very interesting.
Barron: There’s detail there that we didn’t even see. It’s just part of the fabric of the sets. The art department, they just turn these things out. We had Quidditch World Cup crate, and if you opened it up, there might be information inside. Unfortunately, no one in the film ever actually opened it up. There was an awful lot of detail. Even we don’t see everything all the time.
Coltrane: I always wanted Hagrid’s hut … I remember going on the set that day and feeling a bit …
Barron: “Is that my house?”
Coltrane: There are several different sizes and all sorts of different effects. Every time I touched a prop inside the hut, the prop makers had to make one that was three-quarter-sized, so I felt enormous running around the hut. “I think I’ll lean against this metal jug.”
“Not the metal jugs! Don’t touch the metal jugs!”
Evanna, a lot of fans thought that Luna Lovegood and Neville Longbottom would end up together as a couple. What do you think?
Lynch: I always thought that would have been a sweet story as well … She was really happy, and Neville as well. He was probably a bit more insecure. You see him stand up to Harry and Ron and Hermione. Yeah, [Luna and Neville] would have been interesting together. There were sort of a few hints of it in the film. We were happy about that.
But then again, Luna got married to Rolf Scamander, Newt Scamander’s grandson. I think that’s nice as well. He’s a naturalist. Luna, I feel like she’s someone that whomever she should be with, they would have [similar] ideas, and it’s not all romantic. I was watching some documentaries, those animal ones, and there are some people who are so obsessed with [nature]. They seem to forget everything else. I think that’s what Luna is.
Helen, how did being a mother in real life translate into the protective nature of Narcissa Malfoy?
McCrory: I’d just like to say this: There’s no similarity between Narcissa and me. Before the social workers come along … It does help, because if you imagine yourself in any situation where your son or your child would be in danger, your protective quality and your protective characteristic will come out enormously … It’s not just “I’m protecting m son,” and it’s really, really obvious, but it’s also the challenge — I haven’t seen [“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2” yet, so I don’t know how it can be portrayed — to protect your son but without anybody really noticing.
My children are very, very young: 3 and 4 [years old] … “Yes, of mommy can fly, darling!” They don’t know we’re actors. They haven’t seen “Harry Potter,” but I’m definitely going to bring it out of the closet as soon as any difficulty arises. I’ll stand there in a large white wig and a wand. So yes, as an actress, any kind of experience helps you.
David Thewlis, before you were part of the “Harry Potter” franchise, you played some pretty dark characters, such as thugs and criminals. Do people treat you differently now that you’re in one of the most beloved family-film franchises of all time? Do people see you as “nicer” now?
Thewlis: Drug addicts are very disappointed with me. I’m not sure I ever played one drug addict, actually, but I know what you mean. Obviously, being in “Harry Potter” brings you to a much wider audience. It’s nice to be famous for children rather than for drug addicts. Murderers, serial killers and pedophiles — I’ve all played those.
I’ve actually done quite a few children’s [movies and TV shows]. I did “Black Beauty” and “Dinotopia” and “Dragonheart.” It’s nice to be recognized by children. I get lovely fan mail.
What was your favorite experience working with Daniel Radcliffe?
Coltrane: Well, my favorite thing was his terrible jokes. He went through a period where [we thought] he was going to become a stand-up comedian. He’d tell me jokes that my father told me about 50 years ago. He’d be terribly funny and so earnest and determined to get it right. He said, “You’ll love this one. You’ll love this one.”
McCrory: He’s also got a great knowledge of music. So two Christmases ago, I really decided, “I’ve got to stop listening to the Stones and Dylan, and try and lurch myself into the 21st century.” And [Daniel Radcliffe] was fantastic, and [he] read lists and lists of brilliant albums, all of which my husband owns now, because I got them as Christmas presents …
Barron: Generally speaking, I obviously wasn’t on set with [Daniel Radcliffe] every day, so I can’t relate a single incident to relate this conversation, but he’s just fun and funny. And he’s so interested in everything and everybody. And he’s really brilliant.
He’s a leader of the set, because he’s really motivated to make anybody who’s new — whether it’s crew or cast — feel comfortable. The cast was a family that developed over the years. He’s a really, really impressive young man, but he’s also very funny and loves to joke around and have a laugh.
McCrory: So let’s stop making things up now [in the media].
Stroma: I completely agree with David [Barron]. I came on late in the films. I came in for my first-ever costume fitting, and [Daniel Radcliffe] introduced himself to me. And then I saw him again three weeks later, and he straight came up to me and said, “Hi, Freddie. How are you doing?” He completely remembered my name. He meets hundreds of people all the time, constantly, and he will still remember your name. It’s really quite amazing.
Thewlis: I remember when we were in the scene where he changes into eight different Harrys. And the first AD [assistant director] snapped at him about something. Something wasn’t going right.
And about 30 minutes later, [the first AD] apologized and said, “Sorry, Dan. It’s been a bit of a long week, so I really apologize.” And Daniel came straight back and said, “It’s been a long adolescence, mate.”
Barron: It’s funny that you should mention that. That sequence is documented on the DVD.
Davis: As everyone said, his enthusiasm and energy is boundless and really is infectious when you’re on the set, which is useful when you’re under four hours’ worth of prosthetic makeup. You need somebody who can give you bit of a boost and just increase your energy.
Just remembering back, having worked with him on all of the films, Dan was very, very young — 9 or 10 when we started. I think I was taller than Dan when we started. We were filming a sequence in Gringotts Bank, and we get to the counter, and [director] Chris Columbus was particularly keen for Dan to be a bit shocked when he first sees the goblin teller leaning over the desk counter.
And [Chris Columbus] whispered to me before Dan’s closeup, “As Dan approaches the bench, can you make some sort of scary noise to make him jump, so he’s shocked?” I said, “Oh, that will be fine” … So the cameras roll, Chris yelled, “Action!” Dan walks up, and I [made a scary noise], and Daniel stood there for a second and just burst out laughing. It had the opposite effect than we desired. But he’s just a brilliant, brilliant lad to work with. Just to have gotten through all these films and been so consistent is just quite an achievement.
McCrory: And it’s really nice to say it genuinely, because so often with so many films, people are like, “What are they like to work with?” [And you respond], “Extraordinary individual,” with some subtext in there. The hell is you have to work with these people, and then you have to lie about how enjoyable it is to work with these people. So it’s actually nice not to have to lie at all. He genuinely really is a gentleman.
Coltrane: There was never anything child actor-ish about him in any of the films …
Barron: It’s the whole of the supporting cast, too. There’s not anybody you wish wasn’t there, really. It was just extraordinary. We were very lucky.
Is it possible to have a re-release of “Harry Potter” films in theaters with deleted scenes or never-seen footage?
Barron: I think anything is possible. You’d have to talk to Warner Bros. about the specifics of that, but I have to say there aren’t that many deleted scenes. If you go over the history of all eight films, I think you might find a disappointedly small number of deleted scenes. We’ve been quite economic about using what we shot. There are one or two moments …
Coltrane: [He says jokingly] You’re talking about the Hagrid nude scenes.
Barron: [He laughs.] Yeah. There isn’t that much material to do a longer-form presentation [of the “Harry Potter” movies], but I’m sure at some point, more will surface this there already.
How do you usually react when you see one of your “Harry Potter” movies on TV?
Thewlis: I was on the plane over here, and the guys on my left were watching the movie [“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1”], not realizing that I was right next to him, Natalia was right behind him, and Robbie was two rows behind him. Nat was sleeping, actually, and Robbie was nearly sleeping. I thought it would be great if we all just came up and scared them. So it’s all very strange.
Davis: I mean, we do like to watch ourselves, whether or not we like to admit that publicly.
Tena: I don’t [like to watch myself on screen]. Definitely not.
Davis: But as Dave [Thewlis] was saying, you wouldn’t want to be seen watching yourself. I flick through the movies. I’d like to see them again … but yeah, it’s good to see the movies on TV. It actually brings it home to you sometimes as well, because you’re living your life at a fast pace and are involved in lots of different projects. And for a second, it makes you stop and feel quite proud. It’s become a phenomenon, hasn’t it? It’s now a part of popular culture, and it’s great to be a part of it.
Do you have any favorite memories of any “Harry Potter” premieres that you’ve attended so far?
Davis: They just get bigger every time. I’m going to have to take a bicycle to the next one to just ride around the carpet, which gets longer and longer at every premiere. But still, the people come out.
Barron: That’s the amazing, extraordinary thing … especially in England, where it always rains. It’s as if Voldemort and the Dementors are in the skyline somewhere. The heavens open, and everyone jus gets completely soaked. And yet, there are 6,000 or 7,000 people who had been there all night. It’s quite humbling, really.
Coltrane: When we were at Radio City [Music Hall in New York City], I got out of the car, and there was this huge screaming, like the Beatles or something. I’m looking around thinking, “Did George Clooney turn up?” They [the fans] just so love the films. They’re just so involved in the whole business of it. They know every single character, all their relationships. It’s a whole world. It’s just quite extraordinary.
McCrory: It’s as you said. It’s a happy, joyful enthusiasm. To me, being on the red carpet — I remember when I was pregnant — it can feel quite violent … It’s not nice. It’s like being screamed at. But actually, what’s really nice about the “Harry Potter” fans, if the people actually know I’m in it, there’s a very happy atmosphere. People are quite jolly. They’re willing to be in the rain and they’re smiling.
Lynch: I think that’s what so nice about all these premieres. We go to Japan and all these places. They can’t speak our language, and you don’t know what they’re saying, but just say “Harry Potter,” and faces light up. People love it. The support is the same everywhere we go. You go to the premiere and there are people you recognize, like, “Oh, you were here for the last five years.” It’s cool.
I actually have a funny story, kind of. I was in London for the London premiere. It wasn’t at the London premiere but I was just walking along the streets, and I saw a sticker of myself [as Luna Lovegood] on the pavement, just there. I walked past it, and then I walked back to it. It was there for a few days … So every day I’d walk past myself on the pavement.
Davis: You know you’ve made it when you’re stuck on the pavement.
Thewlis: Or it could be the other end of your career when you’re stuck on the pavement.
Natalia, your Nymphadora Tonks character has a unique sense of fashion style. Did you have any input in what you would wear?
Tena: A little bit. I think we all did. The first time I went in, it takes ages, because they’re really trying to find the look, so I had different types of hair, really short and bright. And you eventually have to go through and eventually get it. It’s a combination. I mean, they’ve already got those ideas. And they show it to you. “Yeah, wicked. That’s good. Banging. Great.” It’s definitely a team effort.
Did you ever get so caught up in the “Harry Potter” movie sets that you forgot about the real world?
Coltrane: Particularly in the Great Hall, you forgot it was a set after a while.
Lynch: Don’t look up. Don’t look at all the wires.
Thewlis: It’s very true. You get physically familiar with the sets. It’s like being in your house. It’s very odd, because I’ve never done anything that was 10 years of work. I think that they’re unique for that reason, because most movies that you do, they tear the sets down as soon as they’re finished with it. And very little was demolished [from the “Harry Potter” movie sets] because we didn’t even know what Jo [“Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling] was writing next. So I guess nothing was taken down immediately.
Barron: No, we’d leave everything up that we could leave up. And the things we did take down, we … took a kit of parts and [packed up] in a corner. Like the cauldron might not be in a film for three or four films, but it was there and available to be re-instated. So everything was kept …
Thewlis: Did you ever ask Jo what she was writing so you could see what to keep on the sets?
Barron: It was never really necessary. We kept everything, pretty much. There are some sets — I can’t think what now— where you knew, just by nature of the story, that they were one-offs and they were places you would never go back to. But with anything there were any doubts about, we were never informed before anybody else what was coming up in the books before they had ever been published.
She’d feed [“Harry Potter” screenwriter] Steve Kloves sometimes snippets of information. She obviously didn’t trust us to not be in a pub on a Friday night and say, “Oh, you’ll never guess what!” [He laughs.] So she kept it to herself. We didn’t ever know, really, what was coming up.
For the fifth film, we took a creature out, and she read the script. We worked on the script in development with Steve Kloves, and we took it to Jo to read for her seal of approval before we started filming. And she rang up and said, “I see you’ve taken a creature out.” “Actually, there wasn’t enough time to explore his story and whatever. We delivered the information in a different way.” And she said, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” And that was all we knew. So we just kept everything.
Freddie, in “Deathly Hallows – Part 2,” will we get to se you as more than just a stuck-up character?
Stroma: I’m not featured too much in it, but I think there is a sense in the last movie of everyone coming together for a big cause. And if anything, Cormac kind of highlights that if there is a side to Gryffindor, it’s that arrogance you can get from being in Gryffindor. But in the end, you’ve got everyone battling against Voldemort. But there’s a sense of that, but otherwise there’s not too much [change in Cormac’s personality].
Without getting into any spoilers, can you talk about what it was like to have supporting characters return from past “Harry Potter” movies for the final “Harry Potter” movie?
Barron: We thought it was important to bring back as many people as we possibly could, because it’s the end of an era, really. It’s the final film, but it’s also the also the end of this part of the unique phenomenon of the “Harry Potter” franchise. So there are people who come back who you might not have seen for several films. They often have cameo appearances, but we just wanted to mark the occasion with as many of the cast as we possibly could.
Lynch: It shows how the wizarding world working together. It’s not these individual scenes. It’s not everyone having a big moment. But everyone’s there at the same time. They’re all battling. It shows that they let go of all of their things that they had — tensions between them — and they’re just fighting for good. And I think that’s what it is in the book. Yeah, it’s really spectacular.
Natalia, how was it filming Nymphadora Tonks’ death scene in “Deathly Hallows – Part 2″?
Tena: I remember it was cold, but I don’t know how much I can say without getting into loads of trouble. So I’m just going to say it was cold.
[END OF SPOILER ALERT]
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