The DVD for the 7th Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (rated PG-13), is coming out on April 15, and we have a brand new interview from a press conference with a bunch of Harry Potter-type people, actors and crew from the movie. Get yourself a snack and settle in because it’s a nice LOOONG interview. Not only that, but this is just the first half of it! I’ll give you Part 2 soon! So to begin, here is a cheat sheet of all the people you are about to hear from. Enjoy!
- David Heyman (Producer)
- Michael Gambon (Dumbledore)
- Mark Williams (Arthur Weasley)
- James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley)
- Domhnall Gleeson (Bill Weasley)
- Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley)
Q: What were your feelings on set knowing this would be the last time you would all gather together as an ensemble?
David Heyman: The last day of shooting was a really emotional day and there were lots of tears shed. And at the end, everybody was balling. We were all blubbering messes. For me it was very sad because we have become a family. New members come and the family grows. So it’s really sad. We aren’t coming back and doing this again. At the same time, after 14 years, I’m really excited to be doing something else and looking forward to new adventures.
Q: For the Weasleys, can you talk a little bit about becoming a family on screen?
James Phelps: I know it’s really a cliché and everyone may think we’re told to say it, but we do feel like a family when we’re shooting. When we’re shooting in the Burrows especially. It is really such a big laugh. We just have such a good time. When we’re doing night shoots, and normally night shoots are not the most fun thing to do, but we just had such a laugh. And it’s been like that through the whole ten years. We’re very lucky to have been such a cool knit group of people. Other members of the cast are maybe a bit jealous that. . .
Mark Williams: We spent a lot of time together. A great deal of time together. It was so funny when they were little, like when Bonnie [who plays Ginny] arrived and she was just bouncing off the walls. I don’t know if you remember it. As a sort of acting parent, as a pretend parent, it’s been a lot of fun. By the end of it, I think I was the only father left alive, wasn’t I?
Q: For those of you with relatives in the film, what was that like working with your siblings and father.
Oliver Phelps: It is pretty cool, especially the first day of filming, I was very nervous, so to have my brother there was quite nice, ’cause you could at least talk to somebody. And it’s just grown more and more from that. And it’s nice to share this with a family member.
Domhnall Gleeson: It was lovely. Everyone was so welcoming. I arrived for the 2nd to last film, and it was like being welcomed into a family. And I had worked with my dad before [Brendan Gleeson, who plays Mad-Eye Moody], but it just makes it extra fun. It’s just such an amazing place to be, the sets are incredible, everybody’s really, really nice, and then to be able to share that with a family member is great, and to announce his death in the film is also really sweet.
Q: Can you comment on this epic battle at Hogwarts, what that was actually like?
James Phelps: It was just fantastic, especially because, for example, the Great Hall, we’ve been in that set for 10 years, and then to see it as the battle sequences go on, it’s not quite a warm safe place anymore, and that just shows how great the sets are, because it looks so amazing. And they built a huge battlement outside, as well, and I know that for the guys who shot that, that was something very special.
David Heyman: Stuart Craig, our Production Designer, he’s been nominated for Academy Awards I think 10 times and won it 3 times, and he’s just a genius. And what was strange for me, was, we were in the courtyard and throughout the school. And to see this place, that really was for the longest time the safe place – it was the home that Harry never had – and to see it destroyed in the way that it is in this film was really strange and quite haunting. We don’t shoot in sequence, so there were some bits where we destroyed it, and then we put it back together again, then we had to destroy it again, and that was quite weird too. It was really strange to see the place blown to bits.
Q: How cool and at the same time strange is it, that these sets and props that were part of your lives for 10 plus years are now already museum pieces in a traveling exhibition?
Oliver Phelps: Well, we take all these things for granted when we’re there, like when we’re putting on the uniforms. When you first put it on, it’s like, “This is cool.” But then after 10 years, you’re kind of used to it. But then to see people, like when we were in the exhibition in Toronto, everyone was so keen to see Fred And George’s tailored suits and their wands and everything. The wands especially, we just take them for granted ’cause we’ve got them all the time when we’re shooting. So it’s amazing to see everyone’s fascination with these things that we’ve been surrounded with so long.
Bonnie: It’s just one step closer for children’s imagination to be put in front of them. And I think that’s really exciting. It’s hard to connect with a screen in front of it, but for all the visitors who come here, that is what we wore.
David: They can see that Hogwarts really did exist.
Q: Are there elements of the set that we don’t ever get to see in the movies?
David Heyman: One of the things you’ll see in the exhibition is the attention to detail. And you get a sense of it when you watch the films, but there is much more detail than you see in the films. When you go into the Gryffindor Common Room, there is notice board with class schedules, meeting groups, little jokes on them. Out here in the exhibition, one of the things I like is this thing that Lockhart made his students do, which is, “Questions About Lockhart.” So he made his students answer questions about himself. And those are things you never see really in the film, but the detail is there. The actors should talk about it, but it really makes the whole world feel more real and more substantial.
Oliver Phelps: I can remember when we were filming The Goblet of Fire, the Quidditch World Cup, and the actual programs, you could read each page of the program. I mean, it didn’t make much sense, but there were timetables about when the matches were and who was playing who, when and what. . . And stuff like that you wouldn’t see on camera, unless you actually turned around and held it up, but to get into a character perspective, it was really useful.
Q: Did any of you take home props?
Michael Gambon: We tried to.
David: Alan Rickman [who plays Snape] stole more props than anybody ever. But to his credit, he does give them to charity, so that’s why he did it.
Oliver: Literally, the last few days of filming, you come off set with a wand, and Gary would be there waiting, so you weren’t going anywhere.
Michael Gambon: I’m so used to wearing old beards and wigs and all that stuff, I just walked straight through. I’m very used to it.
David: You had a bag to protect your beard, didn’t you?
Michael Gambon: In case I got food down my beard at lunch break, they put a cover over it. I would feed chips into the beard to annoy the make-up.
Q: What were your thoughts when you read the 7th book, like was there any scene where you thought, “I have to film this. . .”
Mark Williams: It wasn’t very nice for me having to deal with the death of Fred. And I think both of us found that a bit tricky ’cause we spent quite a lot of time in and around that area for about two days, and that was a bit unpleasant.
Oliver: Yeah, it was.
Mark: You just got to lie there! Didn’t you go to sleep?
Oliver: Yeah, I was so in character. . . It was quite strange to read it. And then when we came to film that sequence in Part 1 when George gets his ear lopped off and everything that was really cool because I had never even had a scratch filming the films.
Domhnall Gleeson: I didn’t know I was going to be in the movie, so the first thing I did was call my dad [who plays Mad-Eye Moody] and said, “Dad, you’re dead by page 20.”
David Heyman: But it was sort of an amazing thing that we were making the movies concurrently with the books. Hogwarts, for example, has changed over the course of the films as we discovered what we had to do. We were making the films and we didn’t know what was happening. On the 5th film, the 7th [book] wasn’t already out. When we were developing the script, we’d left Kreacher out. And we sent the script to Jo [Rowling], because Jo reads all the scripts, and she called me and said, “You know David, you might want to put him back in. He’s got a role to play later on.”
Q: How has this journey impacted you personally? How have you grown?
James Phelps: I’ve grown about a foot. (laughs) It was the first movie Oliver and I had ever been in, so it was a complete learning experience, as well as a great experience for any actor anyway. So, we were learning, even how film is put in the camera and loaded, and all these different terms, and how hair dye works.
Oliver: And also, because we were playing these characters at such an age where you’re starting to find out who you are as a person yourself. Maybe that’s seeped into my personality as well like the jokey side of my character, and that.
Bonnie: Well, I think also, for me, I was always very interested in everything that was going on, not only the acting side of things. I was quite a curious person, so was I always looking around all different departments.
Mark Williams: Nosey.
Bonnie: Yeah, nosey. . .
Mark Williams: But I have to say, about all of you, you did all work incredibly hard. I mean, it’s been an extraordinary education, but it was something that none of you ever shirked, or there was never any sense that you weren’t 100% committed to it. And that for the older actors has been a really positive and enlightening thing as well. Maximum respect for “the kids,” as they were called. . . Do you remember when Dan and Rupert were little, and they used to have this bit after lunch, where they just couldn’t do anything really. It reminded me of being at school after dinner, when you got all giggly and tired, you know. And the director would be trying to get them together and be like, “Come on, guys, come on. . . Action!” And you’d sit there for about an hour and then they’d get it together. . .
Michael Gambon: I think it was film 6, when it was just me and Harry for almost two months. Just us two in the whole of that studio, and I had a wonderful time. It got quite close.
Q: How was your first day on set?
Michael Gambon: I was just petrified when I came in to take over [after the original Dumbledore, Richard Harris, died]. . .But you just fight your way through it and be brave for a week until you settle in.
Domhnall: I nearly wet myself. I didn’t, but. . .I was really, really nervous. But it was really lovely. Everybody was incredibly welcoming. And you can tell the new guy on set, well, if it’s me, ’cause he’s got a wand in the corner going like, “Pew!” doing the sound effects. . .It was amazing though.
James: I can remember our first day. We learned that’s it’s not all shot in order, so our first scene was the last scene of the first movie. But I can remember being more nervous than I have ever been and probably ever will be. And we were in this little place called Goethland, in the middle of Yorkshire, like on Sunday morning, the sheep walk down the middle of the street kind of thing. I can just remember being like, nervous.
Bonnie: I remember starting on platform nine and three quarters, in the first film, and it was freezing winter. And I remember actually being the age of nine and three quarters on platform nine and three quarters. And I remember being absolutely freezing from nerves and clutching hot water bottles between every take. And I just didn’t know what any word meant. You know, “action, cut and rolling and speed,” all those words. . .I was just like, “What is going on?” I was so confused. In the film you have yet to see, we jump forward in time and we have Lily Potter, [Harry and Ginny's daughter], and she was the same age as me when I started and we were on platform nine and three quarters, so it was very surreal going around in that whole cycle, that I started at that age and she started at that age, yet I was playing her mother. It was very bizarre.
Q: Is there something in the Harry Potter fan universe that’s been a pleasant surprise, like college kids playing Quidditch? Is there something that popped out where you go, “Well, that’s a pretty good idea.”
Oliver: We actually learned about that yesterday, the Quidditch thing. Members of NYU were all there, and we were like, “Well, how do you play it?” And the question there turned around totally, but they were all really into it. I think that just shows the whole scope of it. Although you can’t play Quidditch conventionally, they’ll come up with their own way of doing it, which is very unique really, very unique.
Bonnie: I think also another thing is the logging of the character birthdays on some websites. They’ll send like fan mail saying happy birthday, but to Ginny, not to me and it’s quite interesting. I think it’s just so amazing that everyone has always given so much positive response and I’ve never really had any negativity towards it.
Mark Williams: But you’re not a “baddie.”
James: We went to a press junket in Paris with Tom Felton [who plays Draco Malfoy]. And there’s this little lad, who could have only been like 8 or 9, and he was really happy talking to Oliver and myself, and then he saw Tom, and Tom is one of the nicest kids you’ll ever meet. Tom went up and said, “Hi, how’s it going?” And this boy just ran away.
Aww! That makes me want to laugh and cry ant the same time! Judging from past interviews, Tom Felton does seem really nice in real life. OK, that’s all for now, but this interview is not over yet. Click here for the continuation. . .
Images courtesy of Warner Bros.