A new book, Harry Potter: Page to Screen, tells the story of the how the cult novels were turned into eight blockbuster movies. Here are some of our favourite facts from the book:
Director Mike Newell broke a rib fighting Oliver Phelps (who plays George Weasley) whilst trying to demonstrate how the twins should fight in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Newell reveals the result was that “I’d made a complete arsehole out of myself in front of four hundred children.”
During the filming of The Chamber of Secrets, Emma Watson had a huge crush on Tom Felton (who played Draco Malfoy.) “He must have known” she comments. “Poor Emma,” confirms Felton, “Of course I knew; it was obvious.”
When describing Robert Pattinson (who played Cedric Diggory and would of course go on to achieve mega-stardom as Edward Cullen in the Twilight series) Newell recalls him having “that sort of posh doom about him.”
When Watson made her grand debut, in a spectacular ball gown at the fourth film’s Yule Ball, she was so nervous she fell down the stairs on the first take.
On the night Daniel Radcliffe received the news he had been cast in the role that would change his life, his parents let him stay up and watch Fawlty Towers. “That was my treat” he said “Fawlty Towers is a good reward.”
Oliver and James Phelps (who play the Weasley Twins), are naturally brunettes. They originally auditioned, aged 14, in order to get a day off school.
During the scene in which Ron and Harry first meet, in a train carriage on the Hogwarts Express, Radcliffe and Grint had such a fit of the giggles that they had to shoot the scene separately.
Gary Oldman notes that playing Sirius Black was one of his most daunting roles to date. This was largely due to the fact that, to a certain extent, Oldman was playing himself: “This is pretty much the way I look”.
During the filming of Half-Blood Prince, James Phelps not only played Fred Weasley but became an assistant director on the film. Fellow actor Matt Lewis said: “I kept making him get me cups of tea.”
Whilst discussing a scene in which Dumbledore comments on a photograph of a woman, and reminisces about a girl he once knew, JK Rowling bent over and whispered to producer David Barron; “He wouldn’t say that. He’s gay.” Rowling then sent Michael Gambon (who replaced Harris as Dumbledore) a card, saying “Sorry for outing you.”
Secrets of the sets
Platform 93/4 was actually shot between platforms 4 and 5 in Kings Cross Station.
By the end of filming the second film, sixteen versions of the flying Ford Anglia had been built yet few remain intact.
The young Voldemort, seen for the first time in Half Blood Prince, is played by Ralph Fiennes’ own nephew, Hero Fiennes Tiffin.
Emma Watson gave set-designer Stephanie McMillan advice on how Hermione’s bedroom, eventually seen in The Deathly Hallows, should look: “Why are there not more books? I asked. There need to be books everywhere!”
Design and visual effects
Helena Boneham Carter adores her character’s costume and believes that Bellatrix Lestrange’s breasts should “almost have their own film credit.”
The book shows a sketch of Hogwarts that JK Rowling drew for production designer Stuart Craig on their first meeting. It is in blue biro, with a scribbled forest and a rather comical squid in the great lake.
Whilst animating Hagrid’s three-headed dog Fluffy, the CGI team created distinct personalities for each head. “One was alert, one was smart, and one was sleepy”, says visual effects supervisor Robert Legato. “The animators named each of them, to keep things clear.”
The cast remember the late Richard Harris (Professor Dumbledore in the first two films)
Daniel Radcliffe notes how Harris was fooled by the very lifelike animatronic Fawkes the Phoenix, mistaking it for a real bird.
When producer David Heyman visited Harris for the last time in hospital, he recalls the late actor’s unwavering humour. “Don’t you dare recast me” he said.