Interview with James and Oliver Phelps

An interview with actors James and Oliver Phelps
Conducted 11/11/11 at 11:30 a.m. EST by Eric Scull

MN: Oliver, we spoke with you recently on our podcast (MuggleCast) and you had mentioned you were excited to see the Bears game, in London. Did you end up going to that?

Oliver: Yeah we went to Wembley. It was pretty surreal because we were in the regular seats. And my brother got a message on Twitter from someone from Sky Sports, saying “do you want to do an interview pitch-side?” So we ended up watching the first quarter at the side of the pitch. And then, the very nice people at Virgin Atlantic let us go to their box to watch the rest of the game.

MN: I live in Chicago, so I’ve caught a few games…

Oliver: I suppose it’s been three years since our first Bears game?

James: 2008-2009… it was cold. Really cold. Apparently they just got their first snowfall today or yesterday.

MN: Yes… I was on the plane in Chicago and I read on Twitter that it was snowing (as I was leaving) and thought, “Floridahhh!” Coming here was that much better.

James and Oliver: (laugh)

MN: We actually asked our readership, we wanted to do something special and have them ask the questions. But I saw you guys were on the Today Show this morning?

Oliver: Yeah. Kind of… yeah.

James: (Laughs)

MN: I read your tweet as well.

Oliver: It was a shame because we thought we were going to be on there for a bit because we wanted to talk about the DVD and stuff, but… they had other ideas.

MN: Well, so let’s talk about the DVD. What are some of your favorites…

James: Blu-ray.

MN: The Blu-ray? I mean the Maximum Movie Mode is… fantastic.

Oliver: Oh, completely, yeah.

James: I think because… I want to say it’s one of the first 3D… well, it’s on all of the formats going currently. It’s on 3D, Blu-ray, DVD, digital download. And you can use it in like a cloud. In the cloud format.

MN: It’s in the cloud. It’s floating somewhere…

Oliver: I’m still trying to figure that out, by the way.

James: It’s quite a cool thing. I think what’s cool about the ‘Potter’ special features is that they actually put just as much effort into that as they do the movies. There’s clips that we shot with it, like the pop-up kind of things where we’re talking…

Oliver: Ages ago, yeah.

James: And we discovered some things. And we were scrutinizing it… well, we saw that before we even saw the movie. So we saw a couple of scenes, and it was like “I really want to see the film now!”

MN: Well they have you on the Hogwarts courtyard, too, for the Maximum Movie Mode. Where it’s this huge courtyard and the camera kind of zooms in… a lot of green screen, I guess.

Oliver: No, not really.

James: I want to be right in saying that the courtyard set is like a permanent fixture, because it was so big?

MN: Oh, the set?

James: Yeah.

MN: Well, about that set. I was just speaking with Warwick about that. It’s my favorite scene in the film, Voldemort… his triumph. His, fake…

Oliver: He thinks he’s done it.

MN: Yeah. But he hasn’t quite. What were some of your favorite scenes for the final film?

Oliver: When we were filming that whole sequence it just sent shivers down my spine watching Ralph Fiennes actually doing all that. Because there were little kids who were on the set visits who had to leave because he was that scary. And he was scaring me at the time. It was a cold winter, and we were all like, “Gosh. There’s this bald-headed guy screaming at us and he’s looking pretty evil.” So stuff like that was amazing to film. To really see a guy at the top of his game doing a scene like that was incredible.

James: For me… there are so many things about the last film.

MN: There are a lot of scenes, too. They’re cramming…

James: Cramming it all in. I think the battle sequence again is my favorite because it’s just, like.. bam-bam-bam-bam…

MN: …and ninety minutes long?

James: Yeah, exactly. And that’s kind of what you want. I didn’t want it to be… not that it would have actually happened, but you’ve got seven films building up to this thing and then if it were really down… it could have completely killed the series. But that didn’t happen and David did such a great job putting it together and everything. But the battle sequence, especially when you’re watching it on the screen. And at the premiere, everyone gets into it. So there’s a lot of cheers going up and all that kind of thing.

MN: So just a few fan questions here. First one’s actually a little bit sad because you guys are parting… or maybe not? From Melissa. “Will you both continue acting, and will you both continue acting together?”

Oliver: Yeah, kind of both, really. We’d like to continue as individuals but also not write-off doing stuff together again. Because it was one thing, originally, we said “alright, we’ll do something different, separate now.” But speaking to some of the older guys on the cast, they said, “oh, no. You want to use that if you can. That’s unique. That’s your unique aspect. What other people don’t have, so you should use that. You can.” So there’s no reason why we wouldn’t be doing stuff together. Again, it’s a good thing about being in such a good unit as the ‘Potter’ crew and everyone. Because we can learn from them, they tell us advice.

MN: Very cool. From Maria: “Are you both on Pottermore?”

Oliver: I haven’t, no. Everyone’s talking.. it’s one of those things where it’s like, “I’ll get round to it. I’ll get round to it.” And I haven’t. But it sounds pretty good. I’m intrigued to see what house I get sorted into, eventually… but I’ve had it done like at the Exhibition. That was in Chicago, and I was Gryffindor there. But originally I was in Ravenclaw. And I said, “No no. Do it again.”

MN: It’s still testing right now, so they’re just improving it.

James: It should be out pretty soon, I think.

MN: You’ve been to the park a few times before now…

Oliver: This is our fifth time here.

MN: Fifth time? Wow.

James: It’s a shame we don’t have, like, a membership. It’s great to be here, and it’s really weird going around the Wizarding World when it’s busy. Because when we first came here, the first two times we came here it was empty. There was no-one allowed in.

MN: Was it not open?

James: It wasn’t open at all.

Oliver: It was like “Richie Rich” though. Riding the roller coaster, we’d say, “and… again.” It was ridiculous! If you’re a thrill-seeker, it’s exactly what you want. All the staff was still there, they were working and getting.. prepped for it. But I want to say, there were six of us? Running around… (laughs)

MN: I remember seeing those videos, promotions, it looked like so much fun to come to the park. And then when we got to come here it was amazing.

James: It was amazing. Especially on opening day, I’ve never seen anything like that.

MN: They have Harry Potter conventions here all the time, now, every summer.

James: It’s almost like a pilgrimage.

MN: It is, though!

James: Even though we’ve never filmed here for any of the films. People think, “Ah, we’ve gotta go there. It’s all going on there.”

MN: It’s partially more accessible for Americans as well.

James: Exactly, yeah.

MN: I was actually just demoing the LEGO video-game. I got to see the Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes in the game.

Oliver: Yeah.

James: I bet the games are hilarious, the LEGO…

MN: It was very interactive, very wonderful. Was it overwhelming at times to be part of that on the films, where there were just props… the detail is quite staggering, even for us to see in the Exhibition. It’s always so… did you ever get just blown away by that?

Oliver: Yeah. You can’t take it for granted – I think you would eventually take it for granted how much stuff is there, but the detail is so much that you appreciate the amount of work that people go to to make it.. if it’s going to be released then it’ll be the top end of the standard. So like you said, like the Exhibition when you see… I mean, the credits for the movie are eighteen minutes long. And that’s something like, fifty names per second or something, too? So as actors, we have the easiest job. We turn up the latest, go home the earliest, whereas the guys on the crew are there from 4-5 in the morning to 8-9 at night? So they have all the hard work and I think, like with the Exhibition and things like this you see the amount of detail that goes into the work.

MN: The Exhibition’s opening in Australia next?

Oliver: Yeah, that’s where we’re off too next.

James: We’re very excited to go to there.

Oliver: It is literally a round-the-world trip these last few weeks. It’s quite a lot of air-miles. But it should be good fun.

MN: Crazy. Let’s see… From Rajitha: “If J.K. Rowling wrote another Potter book, would you want to be a part of it?”

Oliver: I would, yeah. It would be great. I don’t know if James would be…

James: Don’t know if I’ll be able to… If I did…

MN: Oh… Maybe a prequel.

James: Yeah! That’ll do.

MN: And, from Marcie: “If there were another Potter book, what would you want it to be about?” As fans of the books. Would it be… the past?

Oliver: Maybe… with the past, it may be a little difficult to keep that… suspense, because people may know what’s going to happen. You already know what it leads to. But I’ve really no idea. She’s got such a unique imagination, she could pretty much do anything and it would be great.

James: I don’t know. I think what’s made this kind of unique is that it’s not like they’re flogging it until it can’t make any more money – both the studio and… the whole blanket, has just said “we’re going to go out on top, that’s it. We don’t want to go down-hill.” So I think that just leaving it as it is, I think, is kind of the best testament to it.