To mark the DVD and Blu-ray release of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2, we spoke to Julie Walters, Bonnie Wright, James and Oliver Phelps, Warwick Davis, Natalia Tena and Tom Felton about their memories of filming, whether Draco’s really a Gryffindor at heart, the perils of a birdseed bosom, and Alan Rickman’s singing.
What memories in particular stand out for you all from your first and last days on set?
Bonnie Wright: Mine were actually on the same set, on Platform 9 ¾. What was weird was that I was the nine year old young girl on the platform the first day and then I was playing the mother of the young girl at the end. It was a kind of creepy.
Julie Walters: A perfect circle! Mine started on Platform 9 ¾ as well and then I was thinking, “Oh, I’ve never done a big film like this before”, you know, in all mine I’d been nobodies, sort of kick-bollock-and-scramble sorts of films so that was a very new experience. Because there’s no rehearsal you think, “How am I going to play it? Is it right?” and all of that. Then of course the last one was just in the Great Hall towards the end, after the battle.
After your great moment as Mrs Weasley…
JW: Yes, that was after killing [adopts camp name-dropping voice] Helena, it was after that. I felt so much more at home by the end and I felt really sad about leaving it really, even though I’ve only got small bits in it. It was still part of our lives.
Oliver Phelps: Ours was in Goathland on the train in Yorkshire which was for the last scene of the first film, which was a revelation for me because I was like “Oh, so they don’t film them in sequence” which I hadn’t realised.
JW: Weren’t you on platform 9 ¾ too?
James Phelps: Not for our first day, no, this was about three months before. Then the last day we were shooting on one of the stages in the turrets. The weirdest thing was actually leaving the hotel for good. That was when I became the most emotional. The hotel was our second home. It was a perfect summer’s day.
OP: I remember arriving for the first day in the middle of the Yorkshire moors in Goathland in this tiny little village and the guy who greeted us was Michael Stevenson [second assistant director on the first three Harry Potter films] who’s like a legend in the industry, but we didn’t know that at the time.
He was just standing outside with an umbrella and it was absolutely hammering it down, and I remember looking back seeing this car driving us there and he wasn’t sure how he was getting back, he’s probably still there now driving around Yorkshire!
That was my first impression of the actual film industry, then our final day was shooting the battlements and when we left, the bulldozers were waiting to start taking it down.
Warwick, Tom and Natalia, how about you?
Warwick Davis: My last day was the last day, the official one. I was doing a shot for second unit in the vault as Griphook and I finished and thought, well, that’s me done, but I’ll go to first unit and just say goodbye. Dan, Rupert and Emma were doing a shot where they’re diving over the camera in slow-motion, it was for, you know, when they leave the ministry and they escape by diving into the fireplace.
Then it was called a wrap for the very final time, and it was a bit of a weird moment, nobody really knew what to do. There was no more motivation, because every day obviously when you’d finish there was another day to go but everyone was like, oh.
Tom Felton: It was anti-climactic wasn’t it, on the last day?
WD: Nobody cheered, it was like, right…
TF: That’s your lot everyone, thanks very much, see you.
WD: There were some tears and stuff. It was the end but it wasn’t like a full stop, it was like a comma. The films were done, but were other things to do next.
TF: I had a couple of last days actually, one last day was the Platform 9 ¾ stuff that we did 19 years on with all the make-up, which was very bizarre because it was almost ten years to the month, I think, that we were there as 11-year-olds being put on the train, and now we’re all grown up. But it was a nice way of us to say goodbye to everyone, to Dan and Rupert and Emma.
My actual last day was just a very quick pick-up shot for second unit, a night shot for Dom Fysh, who was the first AD on the second unit, and he gave us a very brief speech and I saluted and off I went before I started blubbing like a five-year-old girl.
Natalia Tena: My first time on set I wasn’t actually filming because I was a new character. They didn’t want to get anything wrong so there was months of going in every day, make-up, hair, make-up, hair and saying to the producer, “No, that’s not quite right”. It was a long process to get right, Luna [Evanna Lynch] had to go through it as well. They didn’t want to make any little mistakes or to anger any of the fans. So I went round the set [mimes jaw dropping] and I couldn’t get over the size of it, it was that sort of [sharp intake of breath], so I wasn’t filming on that day but just on the side lines.
My last day, no one knew it was my last day, not the director. I had been reaching out with Thewlis [David] and it was like, oh okay, is that done? Okay bye. I had no idea it was my last day, I didn’t know it was my last day so I just said “Bye”.
Tom, can I ask you about one particular moment in the final film when Draco crosses the battlements to join the Death Eaters and he hesitates before he goes. What’s your interpretation of that? Is Draco really a Gryffindor at heart?
TF: [laughs] No. Hate to burst that bubble but I don’t think so. I think the nice thing about the book is that she left it to interpretation, it’s not really answered I don’t think, why any of the softer side of the Malfoys do what they do. I like to think of it as because of his mum. I think David Yates explained it as when you hear your Dad’s voice, you’re not really interested, but when you hear your Mum’s you can’t help but go. He’s very close to his mother and very like his mother.
The hug was a weird thing [to Warwick] did you remember that? Voldemort sort of…[mimes an awkward hug].
WD: That was a very cool hug, the way he did it, I noticed it.
TF: He only did it once out of the 50 times we did it, and show that to a UK audience and it’s seen as pure menace, like, what’s he going to do, is he going to [mimes violent stabbing] but in America it was hilarious, like it was a huge joke.
WD: The way his body language was, he did it in a really odd way. The thing about Ralph [Fiennes] was that he never did the same thing twice for a take. As an actor, I tend to try and almost mirror image because I know they’ve got to edit it, but he has the confidence to just… he’d even dance sometimes. You never knew what he was going to do, it was amazing.
TF: Sometimes he’d be halfway through a take and in his head he would just start from the beginning again.
Go on then, which is the question you all get asked the most about your time on Potter?
JW: For me, it’s probably the costume and the padding, or sometimes people assume I’m not wearing padding which is quite upsetting. A couple of films ago Dan said, “Oh, do you wear padding?” I usually bring it up in interviews myself because I think it’s funny, the fact that I had bird seed to pad out the bosoms, which was a bit scary when filming at Kings Cross because of all those pigeons.
JP: We either get, “Did you ever swap characters?” In America, it’s always like [in a Californian accent] “So, wouldn’t it be weird if you, like, swapped roles?” and we’re like, “Not really” [laughs].
BW: One thing I always wanted to know is how they chose who would play Fred and who would play George…
OP: We never worked that out.
JP: We’d had about six auditions and I’d pretty much always read Fred and Oliver read George.
OP: But we got there and still didn’t know who was who, and they were like, “You’re kidding right?”, and we said no, so the casting director went off and popped her head in a meeting between David Heyman, Chris Columbus and JK Rowling and whispered for a bit, then came back and said “Right, James you’re Fred, and Oliver, you’re George.”
JP: I like to think they sat around a boardroom like this and it was like a huge meeting.
With you and Mark involved of course…
JW: Well yes, of course, because we had them baptised.
Have you shared the films with your kids, Warwick?
WD: Absolutely, they were in the last film as well. Annabel was about three when I started on these films and Harrison was born in 2003, so he’s grown up while I’ve been doing this.
Which bit were they in?
WD: In Gringott’s bank, you see a couple of little tiny goblins in the establishing shot of Gringott’s pulling a little cart, they’re the tiniest goblins. Harrison was the shortest goblin with the biggest shoes, literally, if you stood the shoe on end, it was nearly as tall as him, poor guy, I don’t know how he walked. He had skis on!
The Great Hall to them is a bit like Dad’s office really. Annabel had her 13th birthday on set because I had to work. So the producer said to bring Annabel down, we’ll make it special because the Great Hall was filled with people. It was the scene where Snape has just taken over Hogwarts as headmaster and Harry comes back and has a confrontation, so quite a lot of the key cast were in and they all bought out a birthday cake for Annabel and everyone sang Happy Birthday.
Even Alan Rickman?
WD: Seeing Alan singing Happy Birthday was quite an unusual thing to see.
TF: That’s a very special thing.
It is that. And with that image in our minds, Julie Walters, James and Oliver Phelps, Bonnie Wright, Warwick Davis, Natalia Tena and Tom Felton, thank you very much.