Here you will find all of the exclusive MuggleNet interviews, including those with actors, producers, members of the fandom, and Emerson’s interview with J.K. Rowling herself!
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Director and Screenwriter of 'Auror's Tale' - May 14, 2012
Director and Screenwriter of 'Auror's Tale' - May 14, 2012
Leo Kei Angelos (LA)
Cassandra Johnstone (CJ)
Keith Hawk (KH)
KH: I am talking with Leo Kei Angelos, the director for the new fandom made film Auror’s Tale, along with the screenwriter and longtime friend, Cassandra Johnstone. So tell me guys, how did this project come about? Was it a recent desire or has this been in the works for a while now?
LA: Yeah, I’ve been wanting to do this for a really long time now and I met Cassie this year and it was the right fit, so we were able to start brainstorming and put this project together.
KH: So is this Red Phoenix Pictures your production company, Leo?
LA: Yes… It’s my production company and we shoot commercials and industrial videos and fashion videos, and I’ve been working in the movie industry for a couple of years now. And I love shooting action, I love telling stories, and I love the Harry Potter series. After the final movie came out, after the series was over, I really wanted to help find a way to continue the story in my own vision. So that’s what I’m doing with this.
KH: How did you meet up with Cassie?
LA: I went to the New York Harry Potter meetup group that Jonathon Rosenthal runs and that’s how we met.
KH: Yes, I know the group very well. Cassie, you have been writing for years and putting together shows in Chicago, is that correct?
CJ: Yes, I’ve got a theatre company in Chicago for – yeah, quite a few years now. So I’ve been writing for that, directing for that. Writing has always been my passion so this is really exciting for me.
KH: So when did you start writing this project?
CJ: Recently. We just started in March and I wrote through all of April and here we are. So I’m still writing on it, I’ll be writing all year. But – yeah.
LA: You want to tell them the progress of where we are with the series?
CJ: As in where…
LA: Well, we just finished writing the first episode, working on the second and the third one. Something I want to stress, because I don’t think I mentioned it at all, is that the teaser is not really footage from the actual show and it’s not really story that’s from the actual show. It’s just something we shot as an example, like a test, like an exercise in the styles of filmmaking that the Harry Potter movies are doing.
KH: Okay, so what will you actually film though, I mean… the teaser is actually your work on this, correct?
LA: Oh yes, definitely.
KH: Okay, so we are going to actually see this form of a movie from you, right?
LA: Exactly. Yes, I made it to show people what we’re capable of, what can be possible. But it’s not actual stuff taken from the show. I mean, some of the stuff that we shot could be incorporated into the show.
LA: But we intend to film the first episode at the end of May.
LA: Yup. End of this month. So now that a teaser is out, we’re focused one hundred percent on pre-production for the actual first episode, so we’re really excited.
KH: So the first episode for the Auror’s Tale is scheduled to be released this summer, correct?
KH: How often do you think each episode will last? I know each of the individual episodes will be 7-10 minutes in length…
KH: But how long do you think the whole series will go, in other words, how long between the release of each of the episodes?
LA: They will become a feature film in the end. Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you were asking about the duration in between each episode. I want to shoot an episode per month if possible. I think we’ll get faster as we move along, because we would have collected more assets and locations and we’ll be able to shoot – like props and costumes. We would be able to shoot several episodes at a time as opposed to the first episode. We only can film in one episode in the beginning and it’ll probably be another month and a half before we shoot the next one. So as we move further along, the time period between each episode will come closer together. So ideally, I’d love to release one episode per month. That would be ideal. That would be a lot of fun.
KH: So that will take us up until early next year when we will actually have the entire thing finished.
LA: Exactly. So by this time next year, the web series would have turned into a finished feature film, a feature fan movie.
KH: So from my understanding, once each episode of the entire film is released, it’ll be placed into a full length DVD. So will you be using the proceeds of the DVD sales as a charitable project?
LA: I haven’t really discussed that yet with Jen Levine who’s helping out with the marketing aspects, but that’s what I’m thinking. I mean, we’re not looking to make any money whatsoever from the production. It’s purely a fan-based work. We’re not trying to sell or make money whatsoever. It’s just because we love the series and it’s for exposure. So if we do – I mean, I was ready to give out the DVDs to anyone who asked for it. [laughs] But if we do have to cover the cost of manufacturing the DVD and ask for a price, then any extra money would go to charity.
KH: Great. Now will the actors that you had filmed for the teaser feature be the actors that are seen in the actual project?
LA: Yes! They’re all in the project.
KH: So tell us what Auror’s Tale is all about.
CJ: Okay. Well, it’s about the sort of first year or so on the job of our newest recruit to the force, which is Lokai Hawthorne, and he gets himself into a bit of a tangle because he realizes, maybe a little too late, that one of his good friends from school that has actually become involved with the vicious street gang, the Hellhounds, who are sort of black market mercenaries of New York and are plotting to sort of commandeer the entire city by way of a very strange and terrible magical monopoly.[laughs] So it’s his struggle with this – there was sort of a young woman featured in the trailer and that is sort of the gang member that he sort of becomes involved with, but just they get into this sort of web together and…
LA: [laughs] A strange relationship.
CJ: [laughs] Yeah, a strange relationship. They get into this web and they have to sort of navigate their relationship and their circumstances. So it is a bit of a Romeo and Juliet thing but hopefully a little more twisted and edgy. [laughs]
LA: [laughs] Yeah, when I first had the idea it was basically Mr. and Mrs. Smith with magic in the universe of Harry Potter. And basically it’s like a spy movie, like new recruits with mad fight skills that are on the run from everybody because of the choices they make. And yeah, it’s set in America and it’s several years after the events of the last movie. So the school that they all went to is Salem Academy in New England, and basically I wanted to tell a story of what would happen if like a Gryffindor student and a Slytherin student got together in Hogwarts, in school, but then after school one became a Death Eater. But that’s really far-fetched so I applied it to our time period, our setting, with a complete new cast of characters. One thing that’s very important to me is I want to stay faithful to the ideas and the themes presented in the books, like the morals and the stories and the characters. I don’t want to mess with any of that. I don’t want to change people’s perceptions or people’s views of their favorite characters and settings and locations, even in fan fiction.
CJ: So we’re not dealing with any canonical characters from the series.
LA: Yeah, exactly.
CJ: So it’s all fresh and it’s all new and it’s set obviously in New York.
LA: However, there might be…
CJ: [laughs] Yeah.
LA: …[laughs] a few surprises.
CJ: There might be a few little Easter Eggs for the fans.
LA: Yeah, real-life paintings and magazines, newspapers, of a couple of – we have several very good lookalike actors…
CJ: [laughs] Yeah.
LA: …[laughs] for some of the famous, well-known wizards…
CJ: Yeah, tid-bits.
LA: …in the UK Potter universe.
KH: Yeah, I can’t imagine who that would be [Sarcastic] laughs.
CJ: No, there’s no Bellatrix even though I do favor her.
LA: It’s already after – it’s several years after the Battle of Hogwarts, so it would not be…
KH: I’ve seen Cassie as not only Bellatrix, but Tom Riddle, Narcissa Malfoy, and others…
CJ: [laughs] No, we won’t be meeting her, I’ll tell you that. But we do have some – yeah, we have a very talented cast and we’re so excited to share them with you. I want to really stay true to the tone of the books but we are pushing it, too, a little bit. I guess edgier and darker but still there will be the whimsy of the books that everybody loves, too. So we will try to stay faithful to the tone but obviously put our own spin on it. As sort of older fans of the books, we’re going to write where we’re at right now.
KH: So it’s going to be a modern tale?
LA: Exactly. Yeah, what’s really important to me is that – for me, I was eleven when I read the first book and Harry was eleven in that book, and it’s like the Star Wars of my generation if I was to tell people. And for me it defines my transition, the books, from a kid to an adult. So now that the book is over and that we’re adults and we’re working and trying to make it in the world after school and after all that is over, I want the stories in this series to reflect those struggles, to reflect the more grey world of a more grown up person, as opposed to a black and white world of Harry that Harry had to deal with. A little bit more taxing and like drama and a lot of that drama, the action, happens in the Auror’s office. It’s a little bit like a cop show, like a police drama, that way.
KH: Now the Department of Magical Law Enforcement [DMLE] that you have set in New York City, is that primarily the same type of function as what we know of from the Ministry of Magic in the Harry Potter series?
CJ: Yes, and obviously the Aurors are sort of the special force, so they’re dealing with the most intense cases. They’re doing more undercover work than your average witch or wizard would. So they do function essentially in the same way as the British Ministry’s Aurors, for sure.
KH: Tell me who else is involved in the project? I know that Jonathon Rosenthal is involved [leader of the New York City HP Meetup group (TGTSNBN)] in the Production Studio, as well as Angelo Lopez and Christopher Lopez, but what other names can you throw out there that will be involved in this film?
LA: I mean, that’s the main production team right now.
KH: Do you have someone lined up to play the role of Hawthorne?
LA: That’s about it. I’m directing and… yes, I am playing Hawthorne.
KH: Oh okay, good… I thought that was you in the teaser trailer…
LA: [laughs] Yeah, it was me in the trailer.
KH: Is there anything else you would like to share with our audience?
LA: I can’t think of any right now, but if you have any more questions…
KH: Okay, well I will tell everyone here that you can follow Auror’s Tale on their website at: http://aurorstale.com, Twitter at http://twitter.com/aurorstale, Facebook at http://facebook.com/aurorstale, and Tumblr at http://aurorstale.tumblr.com. I have to say, I am anxious to hear about how this is progressing and looking forward to when these are released for the fans to see…
LA: Yeah, I do have something to bring up if we have time for it. Yeah, I definitely want the fans to be very involved throughout the process of production because it is for the fans and we are a part of that community. So we will be starting a Kickstarter project to raise some funds, some budget for it, [laughs] because we shot the teaser on a really, really minimal budget. Like basically everyone just showed up to help with one camera and just running around stealing shots, getting shots. The nighttime shots were lit with my carlights. So yeah, we worked really hard just to get that piece. And just doing the teaser really helped because I remember first day of shooting the teaser, we had the cast show up at the location – that showed up just to check it out and we stole a couple of shots. Just good filmmaking. And then just me and a bunch of friends, and that was the first day. And then by the last day we had a full crew with camera people and underwater camera housing to shoot in the swimming pool for the Auror training sequence at the beginning of the trailer. And that happens because I was able to show the rough cut of the teaser as I worked on it, to really convince people that this was worth getting onboard with. And it really worked and people started getting interested and seeing how good the footage looked, and it started helping us. So things will get bigger and better by that process, and that’s like a smaller scale of what we’re going to be doing with the whole series. So I’d like to share behind-the-scenes footage and material, and probably tutorials on effects and stuff like that. And we’ll be starting a Kickstarter and we just hope that people get onboard and help us out and share the fun of making this production. I mean, there’s going to be lots of great rewards on the Kickstarter program and people – I’d love to work with the fan community, and if people would like to be in it or can make props or music or costumes, and they want to join in the fun, just send us an email. I’m totally open to that.
KH: I did hear about this Kickstarter program, but I wasn’t sure if it was confidential or not, so when are you doing this Kickstarter program?
LA: That’s the confidential part. [laughs] No, we’ve just got to figure that out. We have to figure that out at this point.
KH: So all of the logistics still have to be worked out.
CJ: But it’s coming quite soon.
LA: Yeah, soon.
KH: Go ahead, Cassie…
CJ: Oh no, just that it’s coming quite soon.
KH: So once the Kickstarter program starts, then fans can begin to either get involved or help out the project through donations as well as some other avenues, correct?
LA: Yes, that’s correct. I mean, as far as all the creative avenues go right now, if people want to email us we’re always open.
KH: And you are filming everything in New York?
LA: Yes, but not – I mean, I’m not tied down to New York. I travel to New England to shoot, to Connecticut, Massachusetts, to shoot all the time. So anywhere nearby, anywhere that’s easy. I love the city. I love the look that the city brings.
KH: And that’s the natural home for the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, so that is where the story has to take place, right?
LA: Yes. I think it’s a great place for wizards and witches to hide in plain sight among Muggles, and I think it makes for a really interesting playground for the characters.
KH: So just one last question, are you going to be shooting any film up in Salem to represent the Salem’s Academy of Magic?
LA: I’m not sure yet. I don’t know yet. I know several castle-like, privatized schools that could work. There will be Salem flashback scenes – I’m glad you asked because part of the idea is that the world is so grim and bleak now that when you’ve grown up and it’s working in this hostile environment. But I want to show the Salem flashback scenes to show the innocence and nostalgia of being in wizarding school just like Hogwarts, and it’s our way of returning to that universe that we love so much from the books and the movies, like returning to the school days of Hogwarts. So I don’t really have a place set in stone for the Salem Academy yet. So if anyone has ideas, I’m open.
CJ: And we love Salem, so… [laughs]
LA: [laughs] Yeah, we love Salem. We go there all the time for Halloween. It’s a fantastic town.
KH: So we are referring to the Salem where Pereus and Draco and Joshua [friends of the TGTSNBN group] are from right?
CJ: Oh yes, of course. Is there any other Salem? Yes.
LA: Yeah, I remember. J.K. Rowling…
CJ: Thank you!
LA: There actually hasn’t been a Salem Academy.
KH: Okay, great… thank you for your time, guys, and good luck with the film. We will be looking forward to seeing it.
LA: All right. Thank you so much.
CJ: Thank you.
Oliver Hollingdale, director of 'Battle of Hogwarts' - June 27, 2012
Oliver Hollingdale, director of 'Battle of Hogwarts' - June 27, 2012
Keith Hawk (KH)
Oliver Hollingdale (OH)
KH: MuggleNet.com is with Oliver Hollingdale, director of the fandom-made film, Battle of Hogwarts. Welcome, Oliver. How are you?
OH: I’m very well, thank you.
KH: Good. Now, where are you at, Oliver?
OH: I live in England. [laughs]
KH: Yes! Where? [laughs]
OH: The birthplace of the wizarding world, as it were.
KH: That sounds good. Now, tell us a little bit about yourself.
OH: Well, I’m a film director. I recently, just a few days ago, graduated at University of Brighton in film. Yeah, I just make films all the time, really enjoy it, and hopefully one day will make a career out of it. Fingers crossed.
KH: Good. Now, is this your first Harry Potter fandom video?
OH: Actually, no. About three and a half years ago, we actually did a fan film, Harry Potter. Yeah, it was – I have to say, it was quite bad though, but at the time it was really good. Got some awards for it. But looking back now, it’s cringeworthy.[laughs]
KH: Well, technology has changed, of course.
OH: Yeah, of course. And you improve, and get better and better. I’m sure all the directors have this problem. They look back at this masterpiece film and think, “Oh no.” [laughs]
KH: Tell me a little bit about Sunnymeade Films. That’s the name brand of the product, right?
OH: Yeah. As I said, we got – Sunnymeade Films is something I started and we have a handful of people who enjoy what they are doing. And it’s very hard, especially, with zero budget. Filmmaking, it’s very hard to have a good solid team to work with, because so many unreliable people who say, “Oh yeah, this is brilliant. Let’s do this, let’s do this,” and then halfway through something, they either lose interest or they get swept off somewhere and then you’re left in the dark.
OH: So yeah, so it’s just – Sunnymeade Films is just trying to form partnerships with people who are interested and love what they are doing.
KH: Now, how long has the Battle of Hogwarts film actually been taking place? First of all, let’s talk about the film itself. When does it actually take place? Is it the actual Battle of Hogwarts?
OH: Yeah, it takes place at the Battle of Hogwarts, yeah. I mean, everyone I’m sure is familiar with the books, the final book, and the final film. Yeah, as you said, everyone is familiar with that, so I mean, we’re not going to – how the film starts is it starts off with kind of like a few minute montage of students waiting eagerly, forming the shield over the castle, it breaking, all the Death Eaters flying, all that kind of stuff. So we’re not really delving too much on that because, I mean, they spend two and a half hours showing that so we don’t want to replicate it. So we just show kind of a montage up to the credits saying “Battle of Hogwarts” and then it will go to the early morning, following day, and it’s just chaos. There’s students running around everywhere and it’s just focusing on other students around the castle, their little story and their journey and their individual battles.
KH: Now, would you say this is more of a documentary or more of an action film?
OH: More action. It’s focusing on different characters. I kind of think – well, we want to kind of put our own spin onto things, so we don’t want to copy the Harry Potterfilms identical. We want to have our own kind of interpretation into it. But I think if you want to slot it somewhere into Deathly Hallows: Part 2, I would say when the point Harry dies – well, think he dies – and then that whole long process, they carry his body up to the castle and by then it’s in the early hours of the morning. So that happens elsewhere in the castle because it’s such a huge place. There would be numerous battles and other things going on elsewhere. So yeah.
KH: Okay. So basically, it’s everything but the trio’s stories.
KH: So it’s the background of all the other students.
KH: And maybe some adults, too? Or some of the Order?
OH: Yeah. One of them is, I guess – I’m sure if I try to think, “Well, okay -” if I was like – I try to think away from what happened in the film. I think, okay, if there was going to be a battle, I’m sure there will be students trying to flee, trying to run away, get to the Forbidden Forest, trying to hide. I would like to think that maybe some parents and elder students, teachers, would come and help, and stuff like that. So in what we’re doing – I mean, because it’s right slap bang in the middle of the battle, so dialogue-wise – I mean, there’s not much in it. It’s just straight into it, get full underway. And you’ll see students with a group, and than chaos happens and then they’ll disappear, and then other people would appear. It’s just event after event. And I mean, what we also kind of agree on – because we’re all Harry Potterfanatics, what we kind of agree on is the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 film was really good. I mean, we really liked it. But it kind of missed key moments which were really good in the books. I mean, the emotional side kind of got left out, I felt. I don’t know where they might have went a bit wrong. Maybe in the pacing of the film. I mean, in the film, you just see Lupin and Tonks just lying there, and it’s like, “Oh great, just a few second shot of them and they’re dead.”
OH: There’s none of that kind of build-up of music. We want to make a really powerful impact. And we’ve got a fantastic composer, I could give you a link to him, so some of his work and samples. His name is Cyle Hendricks and he’s doing music forBattle of Hogwarts, and he’s creating some awesome stuff. You set it there and it’s just so powerful, and you listen to it on a 5-point system and it’s just amazing.
KH: Now, is he also the one who did the soundtrack for the new trailer?
OH: Yeah, the promotional trailer which I can give you a link to that as well – yeah, I thought it would be quite good to integrate some of his work into the trailer.
KH: Sure. So now, how long is the film exactly?
OH: I’ve done a cut together now. I mean, there’s still lots of visual effects that I need to work on – because I’m doing the visual effects as well, so a lot of work to do. It’s probably going to be about – I think about thirteen minutes, I reckon. Something like that. It’s not terribly long.
OH: I mean, like the guys with Auror’s Tale – as I said, they’re really good and I know they’re getting lots of hype and interest. And I can see why, because the Harry Potter films are done. We’re getting some really great interest in Battle of Hogwartswhich is fantastic. Really pleased about that. But again, it’s going to be a one-off thing.
OH: But Auror’s Tale, it’s in America, it’s going to be different, it’s their kind of take on it. They can create new characters and they can reinvest in all this kind of story. I mean, have you seen the Hunger Games? [laughs]
KH: Of course.
OH: What did you think of it?
KH: Great movie.
OH: Yeah, I really liked it. I kind of wish it was a little bit more violent at parts.[laughs]
KH: Yeah, well then you lose that PG-13 rating.
OH: Yeah, of course.
OH: Yeah, I totally understand that, because they want to market to as wide an audience as possible.
OH: So I do understand that. I’m kind of hoping there’s a directors cut which gets released. [laughs]
OH: But yeah, they’ve done loads of fan films on Hunger Games, which is really good and – because it takes place in America. So I mean, if we did a Hunger Games in England, we’ll probably get a lot of interest in that because it will be different. How would it be there? How it would be different? What are the laws like? Is it similar to how it is in dystopian America? So that’s the mentality, I think, that’s going on with Auror’s Tale.
KH: Yeah, the Auror’s Tale is done by a couple of friends of mine up in the New York area.
KH: And yeah, they’re putting together a series of films and they’re doing a really good job. And this is what’s really cool about the Harry Potter fandom, is that it’s not just one group. There’s a whole bunch of groups that are doing different things to show their love for the series. And with you doing The Battle of Hogwarts here, you’re just showing another aspect of the film.
OH: Yeah, of course.
KH: There was another video documentary that came out recently, called The Battle of Hogwarts as well.
KH: But that was a documentary of fourteen years later.
OH: Yeah, that was really good.
KH: And they talked to the people that participated in the battle. So this is nice, you get to see a bunch of different fandom projects coming together, and I’m looking forward to seeing what you have here. When do you think The Battle of Hogwartswill be out?
OH: Ooh. Well, I just recently – well, yesterday – sent the cut to our composer and he’s going to just work on it for the next week and a half, just put all the themes together and stuff. And I’m going to be working simultaneously, putting all the visual effects on, because there’s quite a lot of stuff that needs doing. I would say maybe in about three weeks time, I reckon. I think that’s an optimistic release, I think.
KH: So less than a month?
OH: Yeah, less than a month.
KH: So sometime in July, we should have Battle of Hogwarts documentary.
KH: Great. Now, are you going to be able to promote this anywhere at any conventions? Like, LeakyCon is coming in August. Are you going to be trying to get into there to show it?
OH: Are you aware of Ascendio?
KH: Yup. I’m going there.
OH: Yeah, I think it’s being screened there.
OH: So yeah, so we’ll be sending a copy there and it will be screened there. I mean, because this has been done with complete zero budget, there’s been no money at all… [laughs]
OH: …spent on Battle of Hogwarts. So I hope people will be kind of excited that, “Wow, they spent no money on this.”
KH: So are you putting it together on a DVD or something for sale? Or what are you going to be doing to make the money back?
OH: We don’t know yet. I mean, it’s quite hard to – because we’ve had a little bit of a discussion with our team and stuff. It’s quite hard to make profit, because it’s existing content from – I don’t know about the copyright issues and stuff.
OH: It’s maybe something I might have to research into. I mean, I know the Auror’s Tale – because they’ve done a Kickstarter and they’re getting money through that. I talked to – Leo, I think?
KH: Yeah, Leo Kei.
OH: Leo. Yeah, I had a talk to him and he said I think the proceedings and whatever money is going to go to charity at the end.
KH: Right. Yeah, they’re just using the money from the Kickstarter to all the film costs and film production.
KH: Location costs – because New York is not cheap to film in.
OH: Oh yeah. No, definitely.
KH: And then once they get that done, they’re going to be putting everything out on DVD after the full episodes are completed. And they will be doing that for charity.
OH: Yeah, which I think – that is really good because as I said, I think – again, they’re probably overcome with their copyright issue, that they think, well there’s existing material that we’re adapting and using stuff, and like that. So we can’t really make money out of it. But there are people out there who are willing to spend money on it, which then obviously can go back to charity and there’s all these nice stuff that come out with it.
OH: So yeah, so it’s really good.
OH: So yeah, so we’ll have to see. We’ll have to see. [laughs]
KH: I will! Make sure I get an idea of where it’s going to be at Ascendio, because I do want to help you promote that.
OH: Okay, that’s brilliant.
KH: And we look forward to seeing it.
KH: All right, Oliver. Well, thanks for your time today.
OH: Thank you very much. Thank you.
Miriam Margolyes on Dickens' Women - November 30, 2012
Miriam Margolyes on Dickens' Women - November 30, 2012
An interview with actress Miriam Margolyes, who portrayed Professor Pomona Spout in the Harry Potter films
Conducted 11/30/12 at 11:00am CST by Eric Scull
During the performance run of Dickens’ Women in Vancouver, British Columbia, we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to engage Madame Margolyes in a phone interview.
MM: Good morning.
ES: This is Eric Scull with MuggleNet, how are you today?
MM: Good, good yeah fine so far.
ES: The whole day is ahead of us, I guess.
MM: Yes it is. It is indeed. And um, quite an interesting one for me because I’m going to see the Cirque du Soleil before I do my show. Because the company manager of that was my stage manager for Dickens’ Women when I went around India about 20 years ago.
ES: Was that in 1989?
MM: It would’ve been a bit later than that. I can’t remember exactly but, a bit later than that.
ES: So the show you’re doing now is a revival of the one you wrote in the 80′s?
MM: Yes, yes it is a revival. Because, I haven’t done it for a while, so I guess it is a revival.
ES: So you’ve decided to do it again after some time off…
MM: Oh, yes. It’s my passion! Absolute passion. Yes, it is a revival. That is what it is. It is a show that I actually last did five – no, six years ago in Australia. But before that I hadn’t done it for many, many years. But it’s been revived a couple of times…
ES: Have people’s views of the characters changed? Literature being very… transformative, has it changed since you first put it on?
MM: A little bit, I think. You know, as you get older, your work hopefully improves and gets deeper. And people who’ve seen it this time around say it is very different. That it’s deeper and more profound, so I hope that’s good. My view of the characters, I feel more sympathy for Miss Havisham than I ever used to. I think she’s become my favorite.
ES: What made you choose each of the characters that you do portray in Dickens’ Women?
MM: I chose them with two ideas in mind, really. One was simply, because I wanted to act them, and I knew that I could. And second because I wanted to show a parallel between the women in his life, the real women, and the women that he depicted in his books. There was a link between them and I wanted to show that. And that is really what the show is. The show is his life story.
ES: That’s quite fascinating.
MM: Have you ever read a Dickens book?
ES: I must admit that I have not read a Dickens book – the questions I have today were sourced from some of our other staffers who had, and they were very passionate about it, but I have not… slightly embarassing!
MM: Don’t be embarassed, because he’s not – perhaps – in touch with this generation, as you are. But I want you to remember that he was a journalist, like you. And if you remember that, you might be more interested to pick up one of his books and have a go. You don’t have to read everything – skipping is not an executable offense, you can skip – but if you don’t read him, you’re missing the greatest prose writer who ever lived. And for a journalist I feel that’s a pity.
ES: You’ve certainly stated the case clearly. And speaking, again, of the characters, you’ve played Dickens characters on film and TV before – Mrs. Corney, Flora Finching and even Catherine Dickens in the biographical work… are you reprising any of those roles for this show?
MM: Flora Finching is in this show, Mrs. Dickens is in the show.
MM: So in that sense, yes, your word – very American – “reprise” – I am reprising them!
ES: I have a couple of questions now that are more analytical about Dickens’ specific works, these come from our friend and collaborator, John Granger.
MM: Go ahead!
ES: Dickens is consumed by orphans – outside of Sketches by Boz and Pickwick, all of his books feature children without one or more parents struggling to find their way in the world. This orphan ‘trick,’ if you will, is obviously effective in winning the hearts of readers (and is even present in J.K. Rowling) but I suspect Dickens was not just calculating to win the hearts of his female readers. Was this his own cry for feminine, maternal attention?
MM: Oh absolutely. There’s absolutely no doubt about that whatsoever.
ES: I see.
MM: And, you see, if Dickens had been born after Freud, and if he had read Freud, he would not have been able to write. Because so much of his interior life is in his work that he would have felt transparent. And what my show tries to do is to make him transparent. And he wouldn’t have liked that.
ES: They do say that writing is a bearing of the soul…
MM: All art is, in some way, revealing of the person who is the artist. Maybe in different ways. Dickens did it by putting his soul into different characters in different books. Not all the time – because he had a great imagination. He created over two thousand characters.
ES: That’s amazing.
MM: It is amazing. And not all of them had a slice of Mr. Dickens in them, but many of them did. And particularly, because he felt that he had been badly treated as a child, he made children very important in his books.
ES: I think that was a great service to children, who afterwards could be seen as strong like the characters that he wrote.
MM: Yes. Well, he was really the first writer who made the child the hero of the book. And that would’ve been Oliver Twist.
ES: Well actually, now, I have seen a version of the musical production, Oliver!, performed.
MM: Are you an American?
ES: Yes, I am…
MM: Well a problem with America, I feel, is that there is an anti-intellectual strand in American life, and it’s very damaging to the ordinary American person. They talk about “pointy-headed intellectuals” and, instead of revering wisdom, they deride it. This is a most terrible aspect of America and what is holding it back in the world. You don’t get that in China or India…
ES: Do you anticipate that your show will be received differently when you come to Chicago, than say when you perform it internationally or even in Vancouver?
MM: Well, the thing is about Chicago, that is one of the places where intellect and achievement is revered. So I don’t expect to get a “stupid” audience in Chicago, no, I don’t. I think it will be an educated audience – and a theater audience, you know, I always think of Chicago as a theater city, one of the great theater cities of the world. And what they will come to see is, well, not just about Mr. Dickens (because not many people know much about Dickens and few people care) but what they will want to see is an actress in her prime, giving the best performances of her life. And that they will want to see.
ES: I wanted to talk about Ellen Ternan…
ES: …Dickens’ ‘Invisible Woman’ and mistress, the young actress for whom he all but abandoned his wife and their many children…
MM: Indeed, and all of this comes into my show…
ES: She didn’t take the stage in his life until 1857. Do the great works that follow this time in his writing – Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, and Our Mutual Friend – have shadows in character and plot of his secret love?
MM: I would say so. Definitely. And that’s one of the things that I talk about in my show. Because, my show is not a play – and it’s quite difficult to describe. It’s like, well, if I say it’s an animated lecture, that doesn’t nearly give you the thrill of it. Because let me tell you that every night, every night in Vancouver and everywhere else, the audience leaps to their feet at the end of the show… so they are witnessing something rather extraordinary and they know it. And I know it too – I know it’s my swan song. I won’t do it again. And my performances in Chicago will be the last performances of something that means a very great deal to me, so it’s extremely charged.
ES: That sounds absolutely wonderful.
MM: Well, I hope and believe it will be. Because I believe that the Chicago audience is a fitting audience for me to say goodbye. And I believe they will relish it. You see, people don’t need to know anything about Dickens at all, or to even have read a Dickens book…
ES: What a relief! (laugh)
MM: They don’t need to know who he is, they just come for a night of theater. And they’ll get it.
ES: I had a question about A Christmas Carol. Because that – it’s got to be his most well-known, or maybe his most-adapted?
MM: Hmm, I’m not quite sure, that could be Oliver Twist…
ES: In Christmas Carol, it’s got a lot of men. And is almost entirely about men on the surface. Scrooge, and the nephew, Tiny Tim as well. When you’re doing a show calledDickens’ Women are you still able to use that story in your work?
MM: There is a reference. There is a reference to A Christmas Carol. Christmas Carolwas one of Dickens’ Christmas books. And it’s not one of his great novels. It’s very, very good. And it’s a morality tale, because he was a great moralist. You always know in a Dickens’ book who’s supposed to be good and who’s supposed to be bad, it’s very clear, unlike life unfortunately. I think we are a little bit hung up on Christmas Carol, especially Americans, because they are somewhat sentimental and they love the idea of Christmas. I, being Jewish, am not interested in Christmas in the least… but I do think it’s a terrific story, and one that is tremendously accessible to a modern audience. They get it right away. And they don’t always get Dickens at first, but he’s much easier to reach inChristmas Carol. It’s an “easy” book… and it was meant to be! It was meant to be an entertainment, and it is. But Great Expectations, Bleak House, Little Dorrit, Our Mutual Friend, they are not entertainments. They are entertaining, but they are very great art as well.
ES: We’ve been talking for a bit about Dickens, now, another author who is credited with writing strong, memorable female characters is, in fact, J.K. Rowling. Could you compare the characters in the two works?
MM: Yes, well, I’m a little inhibited. As you are, talking about Dickens, I am inhibited about talking about J.K. Rowling because I never read one of her books.
MM: I know they are incredibly popular, and I had the honor to play Professor Pomona Sprout in two of the films that were adapted from her books, but I haven’t really read one. So it’s difficult for me to opine on J.K. Rowling. I think she is a fearless writer, and I think she has done the world a great service in making Harry Potter the book that everybody had to read. And kids read for the first time in their lives, they put down a screen and picked up a book. And thank God for J.K. Rowling. But I can’t really discuss much about her, except to offer her my grateful admiration.
ES: I must say I’m proud to have been one of those children for whom that was the first book that I really read.
MM: Well what a wonderful thing she has done for you!
ES: I hope to follow-up and to read a Dickens book…
MM: Well, it would do you good! (laughs)
ES: At MuggleNet, we have, over the years been able to interview some of the other actors and actresses who’ve been a part of the films.
ES: There is one question we always try to ask everyone, and feel free not to answer, but… were there any pieces of the set that you were able to take home with you, or keep for yourself?
MM: Any pieces, do you mean physical things?
MM: Oh! I kept a pair of the Pomona socks.
ES: The socks?
ES: What was it about the socks?
MM: They were warm.
ES: Do you know what they were made of?
MM: I don’t, actually. I suppose possibly cotton or wool – I’m not quite sure. I’m not very good with materials. But I kept a pair of socks.
ES: That’s wonderful.
ES: I want to thank you for your time…
MM: Not at all, it was a great pleasure talking to you and I think that – the world of Harry Potter, which is what I’m a tiny part of – is a very important world because it is opening people to the world of the imagination. And that is something that I believe is so stunted these days, that anything we can do to revive the imagination is terribly important. And you’re part of that, so I’m grateful to you, too.
ES: I look very forward to seeing your show in Chicago!
ES: I hope that you enjoy the Cirque du Soleil…
MM: Oh I’m sure I will! It’ll be fun. And my imagination will be stimulated, and this is what we want. And if you want to pick up a Dickens book, pick up Great Expectations or – what’s the other one that kids like – oh, Oliver Twist.
ES: I’m happy to have that recommendation.
MM: And read it aloud! Read it aloud to yourself.
MM: That’s how most Victorians experienced Dickens. They were read-to by the master of the house after supper on Sunday. With all the staff standing up behind while the family sat down.
ES: That’s such good imagery.
MM: Well, you see, I’ve stimulated your imagination!
Vicky Gillings, Head of Communications for Lumos - September 27, 2013
Vicky Gillings, Head of Communications for Lumos - September 27, 2013
At the recent LeakyCon London, J.K. Rowling’s charity Lumos presented the above video concerning the global issue of institutions. After the screening, Vicky Gillings, Head of Communications for Lumos, talked in more detail about the charity’s plans as a whole and how people can get involved in their work.
Since LeakyCon, MuggleNet has had the chance to speak with Vicky in person and get the – more detailed – scoop on what Lumos is currently up to.
Hi, Vicky. Thanks for speaking with us. Let’s start about the beginning – tell us a little more about Lumos. When was it founded? What is J.K. Rowling’s involvement with the charity?
Lumos is a charity that was set up by J.K. Rowling in 2007 and came into being after she was alerted to the plight of the millions of children living in institutions around the world through a Sunday Times article.
The article showed a picture of a young boy with physical and behavioural disabilities who was being kept in a caged bed as a way to “contain” his behavior in a so called “orphanage” in the Czech Republic. She was so moved by this that she began researching into this problem and wanted to do something to help those children who had been separated from their families, isolated from the community, and abandoned by a care system that was supposed to help them.
This article shed light on the continuing practice around the world, but particularly in Central and Eastern Europe, of placing children in institutions, not because they were all orphans – indeed the majority of children in orphanages are not orphans – but because their families were too poor to look after them, especially if they had a disability, and in some cases if they were from an ethnic minority.
Lumos works to end the systematic institutionalization of children, and it does this by working with national governments and the local authorities to close institutions, build up community-based services that help keep children with their families, and help children become reunited with their families. Lumos trains staff from the old institutions to work in the new services and supports the creation of foster care and adoption services and an education system that is inclusive for those with disabilities. We also work on an individual basis with the children, making assessments and recommendations for their needs.
J.K. Rowling is the Founder of Lumos and the Chair of the Board, so she is closely involved with the work of the charity.
The Lumos video seemed to go down well! How did you find your first experience of LeakyCon?
I’m glad you say that about the film. Describing the situation for those eight million children living in institutions around the world is quite difficult – it’s so hard to imagine their lives and the harmful effects of being without a family.
There is a wealth of evidence that shows that the children living in “orphanages,” where they are denied a family life and the individual care, love, and attention, do not thrive. Indeed, the effects of being in an institution can damage children physically, psychologically, and emotionally. Further research has shown that children growing up in orphanages have very poor life chances and are much more likely to end up trafficked, in prostitution, with a criminal record, and many more times likely to take their own lives. In light of this, we wanted a film that would convey the seriousness of the problem for those children but also explain that the solution (deinstitutionalization), while complex, is one that Lumos can deliver. I think it’s really important that we see the problem through a child’s perspective and how it must feel for them, and in this short film we see it through the eyes of “Maria.” I think that J.K. Rowling’s narration is so powerful and really engaging, it makes you want to listen.
In terms of LeakyCon overall, I really enjoyed it! I have presented at many corporate types of conferences in the past, but nothing could quite prepare me for LeakyCon. It felt more like a gig rather than a conference, and everyone there was so enthusiastic and energised. You could almost reach out and touch the energy in the room. It was a great experience.
J.K. Rowling recently tweeted about one of your petitions. How has the response been to this so far?
The response has been fantastic so far. Over 6,700 people have now signed the petition, which was set up to change the way that European Union money – public money – was being spent in propping up the outdated systems that resulted in children going into institutions. The petition was calling for the use of funds to be directed toward developing community-based services that help keep families together, support services such as community centers, and specialist help for children with disabilities and complex needs. We fully expect to see some new regulations being passed in the European Commission soon, which will make a huge difference at an international level in terms of reducing the number of children in institutions in Europe – watch this space!
Funds raised from the sales of The Tales of Beedle the Bard are said to go toward Lumos. How is this money used?
Lumos is extremely grateful [for] the generous support of our Founder, and yes, all the proceeds of the sale of Beedle the Bard meet Lumos’s operating costs. What this means is that the money we raise through fundraising goes directly to the projects where we work in Moldova, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and Ukraine – we call this our 100% pledge.
Lumos works in these countries by demonstrating, to the national and local authorities, the benefits and results of investing in changing the system that drives children into institutions. Our projects are varied, but all contribute to getting children out of institutions and back to either their family, a foster family, or within family-based care. Among many other things, we have closed three institutions in the last two years in Moldova alone; set up a number of small group homes for children who, for a range of reasons, cannot go into a traditional family home; and supported the development of inclusive education programs, which mean that children with disabilities can go to a mainstream school, much like they do in the UK and most other developed countries. We have provided emergency feeding programs for hundreds of children who were at danger of death as a result of being in institutions, and we have trained many care workers, policy makers, and education providers to better support disadvantaged children and meet their individual needs. The work Lumos does not only benefits children we are helping today but is [also] about investing in changing the system that means children in the future will not go into an institution in the first place.
What is coming up for Lumos in the rest of this year and beyond?
Lumos wants to help more children, which is why we are raising awareness of our work and building our fundraising activities so [that] we can expand our activities next year. Lumos has a model which we know works to end the systematic institutionalisation of children, and we have a vision of a world that sees every child growing up in a family or within family-based care. By 2030 we want to resign this practice of institutionalisation to the history books – and with eight million children around the world estimated to live in so called “orphanages,” we have our work cut out.
And finally, how can fans of J.K. Rowling get involved and help with the work Lumos is doing?
Fans can get involved in a variety of ways. Fundraising is a great way to get involved, and the only limiting factor to the fundraising ideas is our own imagination! One fan recently walked from King’s Cross in London, where the Hogwarts train leaves from, to Edinburgh, which I thought was really inspiring and also really hard work. But what a challenge! Fans can also join us on Twitter and Facebook and help spread the word about the work we do and help give a voice of those disadvantaged children who can’t speak up for themselves.
If attending LeakyCon taught me anything, it was that the Harry Potter fans are really energized and motivated to change what’s wrong with the world. If they choose to support Lumos, not only are they supporting J.K. Rowling’s charity, [but] they are [also] contributing to ending one form of child abuse in our lifetime and being the light in the darkness for others less fortunate. I think that is definitely something worth being a part of.
For more information, visit their website here.
StarKid's Joe Moses - June 21, 2013
StarKid's Joe Moses - June 21, 2013
Transcribed by Katie Kerekes, Aimee Schechter, Laura Sheppard, Felicia Grady, and Jean Bachen
Kat Miller: We’re going to talk about Joe Moses One-Man Showses today.
Joe Moses: Awesome.
Kat: Very exciting. The tour is coming up.
Kat: Tell us a little bit about what you’re doing this time around.
Joe: Well, this… I’m actually really excited for the show. I think it’s some of the best material we’ve had so far. And it’s a combination of parodies of some of mine and your favorite fandoms. Some ones you’ve seen before – the characters, it’s new sketches, but some characters you’ve seen before. Some completely new ones that I think are going to be very much enjoyed. And then there’s always a big element of improvisation that we do with the “Joe Moses Supposes” questions with the audience. There’s a lot of original comedy sketches, sort of just premise sketches. And this show is probably the most musical show we’ve ever done, and certainly the most interactive. Because not only are we interacting with the “Joe Moses Supposes” thing, but near the end of the show there’s a big musical number, and we’re actually going to bring up a member of the audience to be a part of that. [laughs]
Kat: Wow, that’s crazy.
Laura Reilly: [laughs] Yeah. So for something… it seems like there are pretty high production level that went into this. How many people do you have working behind this? Is it you doing the majority of the production of it, or do you have people assisting you?
Joe: For the most part, it’s me. Which is kind of why I put out the Tumblr post that was like, “I need your help!” because it really is only possible with the help and support of our fans, particularly in spreading the word about the show. You know, bringing their friends along and stuff like that. But I do have help. My brother Sam is sort of acting as the producer for the show, and he’s been helping me out with a lot of the behind-the-scenes production work. Of course I have my wonderful agent Pat Brady, who helps me with everything but particularly the Los Angeles based stuff. And then all along, Curt and Tessa help as much as they can. But I’d say the majority of the workload falls on me. Which is fun, but also stressful. [laughs]
Laura: Now, how have you made these connections with people? Like you said, Tessa Netting, and I know you’ve had Grace Helbig in the past, and I see you have Jackie Emerson coming in. How do these people become involved in your projects?
Joe: Oh, it’s crazy. It’s from all over different places. Tessa was introduced to me by Pat Brady because she was a new client with the agency right around the time I was. Curt I met through Darren and the Glee connection. And Jackie I met through LeakyCon, through Melissa Anelli at LeakyCon just bringing people together. And that’s actually how I met Evanna Lynch as well, was through LeakyCon. So it’s just… and it’s all different things. You never really know how you’re going to meet somebody. I ended up meeting Grace Helbig through the People’s Improv Theater, where we were both doing shows at the same time. So from all over, really. It comes from all different sources. But sort of the beauty of this modern age of Internet and connectivity is that you are able to connect with them, and then you can sort of look each other up and go, “Oh cool, I like what you do,” and they go, “That’s cool, I like what you do too.” [laughs] And then you just work together.
Laura: That’s really awesome. So you currently have plans for New York, Massachusetts, Chicago, Ann Arbor, and LA. Are there plans to extend to other locations?
Joe: Absolutely. Yeah, we’re working right now on going to Texas. Texas would be great because it’s Curt’s hometown, Dallas, my hometown, Houston… I’m sort of a hybrid between Michigan and Texas, and it’s where I grew up. So my hometown of Houston, and then Austin is of course the University of Texas, one of the coolest art towns in the United States. So if we could do three dates… right now I have Austin listed as the one that we’re focusing on the most, and that’s definitely true. But if we get down to Texas and we have the time, it’d be great to come to the other ones as well. And then of course Orlando is on the docket, San Francisco is easy because our cast is Los Angeles based. And then the big jump would be across the pond, see if we can make it over there and do some shows. It would be a dream come true for me.
Kat: I’m sure that they would love to see you as well. So…
Joe: I would love to see them. I’ve never performed overseas, and I’m so excited for that possibility. Especially because it’s a pretty untapped market, so to speak. We’ve haven’t done… I’ve never performed over there. I’ve never actually officially been in London for an event. I’ve only gone for fun. So that would be super cool. Paris as well. And back to Germany for RingCon, which we did last year and was amazing.
Laura: So how does doing the Joe Moses One-Man Showses compare to performing at places… you’ve been to LeakyCon, Infinitus… I think you were at Ascendio?
Laura: Yeah. So how does… I know you have a Joe Moses One-Man Showses coming up in Portland.
Laura: So how does performing for those crowds differ?
Joe: Oh, very much so. Yes. It’s also like… these conventions are fan conventions. That’s sort of the premise of them. So I really stick more to the fan-related material for these conventions, more parodies. And stuff that maybe people have heard about or seen online, but they’ve never gotten to see live. And also, the cast changes so much because there are so many different people that are already at the convention where it’s pretty easy just to say, “Hey, can you take an hour and do a show while you’re at the convention?” And they all go, “Sure!” which is awesome, but it also is very limited rehearsal time [laughs]…
Laura: [laughs] Yeah.
Joe: …because we only get to the convention… and it’s so busy. So many things going on at once.
Joe: So it…
Laura: Which is why I can imagine A Very Potter Senior Year was particularly a feat since you guys all…
Joe: That was insane! Especially since I did a show the day before on my own… well, with a lot of the cast from A Very Potter Senior Year. [laughs] So everyone was pulling double and triple duty, so it’s an insane time. I love these conventions because they’re like working vacations. I get to go to a convention, I get to travel somewhere I might not have gone otherwise, I get to hang out with my friends, which is amazing, and I get to work, which I love working. Which I guess is strange but I’ve got an awesome job, so…
Kat: I love my job too, so I understand.
Joe: [laughs] Yeah.
Kat: I do.
Joe: And so it’s… but it is crazy time crunch. But then, you know… I feel like when… [laughs] this might be wrong because I’ve never actually just attended a con as an attendee, but I feel like con attendees go there, they have a whirlwind time, and by the end of it, although it’s – quote, unquote – “a vacation,” they’re exhausted…
Joe: …because they’ve been doing so much stuff. And it’s the same for me. I go there, and it’s kind of like a vacation because I get to go to Orlando Florida or Portland or Germany or something, and it is cool, but then by the end I’m like, “I’ve been out of town on working vacation, but I’m beat. I could sleep for days.”
Laura: Yeah. [laughs] So speaking of A Very Potter Senior Year, with that wrapping up… I mean, you’re famous for… well, original fame for the Potion Master…
Laura: …performance, now with Senior Year wrapping, is the Potion Master… is it being… do you want to start fazing that out, do you want to do other stuff, or will we still see you don the wig at cons and stuff?
Joe: Well, definitely at cons. I don the wig because the people that are there know that character, and it’s a good place to break that character out because he’s familiar yet unexpected, it’s a lot of improvisation, so it works well with time constraints, and it’s just fun. So cons are still a great time to use the Potion Master. He will live on. I’ve shot half of Potion Master’s Corner Season Two already, and I’m looking…
Laura: Oh, fantastic! [laughs]
Joe: So that is a thing. Hopefully sooner rather than later, but you know how life goes sometimes. [laughs] It gets kind of… stuff gets in the way. But in the show itself, in the Joe Moses Showses, it’s just sort of… it’s not really intentional, but just sort of as we’ve moved along, there’s more and more things I want to include. So there’s not… the Potion Master will certainly be there…
Joe: …but he’s not as much of a part of it as he was at the beginning, whereas at the beginning he was like half the show.
Joe: So it’s not so much of that anymore.
Laura: So you had done an interview with the New York Times, and it mentioned that you were a bartender in your, quote, “real life” and that you didn’t have… that your fame was very online based.
Laura: Since you’re doing these live Joe Moses One-Man Showses, do you feel that fame shifting? Are you getting recognized more in person since moving past online?
Joe: No, it’s still pretty contextual. If I’m in an area that’s Harry Potter, Who fandom-related, stuff like that, then it’s more likely. Or definitely anything StarKid or Glee-related, it’s more likely in that regard. So it hasn’t really changed very much in terms of that. But the positive side is I’ve… since I devoted… I was working triple duty, kind of, when I was bartending and creating a show and taking classes and trying to do all that. And I managed to focus enough energy into the performance aspect, and a couple of good acting jobs came along that I was able to book that I’ve been able to transition away from bartending, which is awesome.
Joe: Sort of an actor’s dream, right? [laughs]
Joe: Where you don’t have to wear your black shirt to work.
Joe: So that’s pretty awesome. So that’s good, and that’s for now, you know?
Joe: If you’ve spoken to many people in this business, you know it’s big ups and big downs.
Joe: So I’m taking it one day at a time in that regard.
Kat: This is kind of a token interview question, but where would you like your career to go? Where would you like to be in five years? What’s your goal?
Joe: It’s to continue to work with my friends on the material that I create, but also expand and play with other people and their material. So if I had to pinpoint one person where I was like, “That’s the kind of career I like,” it’s… well, there’s a couple of examples. One good example is Hugh Laurie, from A Bit of Fry and Laurie, where he and Stephen Fry had an awesome sketch comedy show that got turned into a TV show early in their careers. And then from there, they both went on to work tremendously in other stuff while still maintaining a sort of active, individual creative life. So that’s great. Or somebody like Simon Pegg, who started out working with his friends on Spaced in English television, and then his movie, Shaun of the Dead, was such a big success that it sort of allowed him to continue creating his own material but also working on Star Trek, Mission Impossible, stuff like that. So my goal is basically to continue doing the things that I love, and still having that creative outlet but just on a much larger scale. Just taking what we have and… I really think if more people hear about it and see it, I think they’ll enjoy it. I think that’s the one goal I really have in the year or so going forward, is just to get it out there. I’ve spent the past two years working on it and refining my skills, and I’m ready to share what we have. [laughs]
Laura: Do you still consider yourself to be an active member of StarKid, like your involvement with Twisted, or are you focusing more on personal stuff like JMOMS?
Joe: Well, I definitely still consider myself a StarKid. I don’t think that’s something that’ll ever go away for me, just because they are such close friends, and it is where it all began. So as long as there’s a StarKid, I will be one. And if for whatever reason it doesn’t exist anymore, I’ll still call myself a StarKid because that’s where we all started. But stuff I’m doing now, like working on the Twisted musical, is awesome because I… it’s all my friends, and we get to work together, and it’s a lot of fun. Just by nature of location and vocation, I tend to focus more on my own projects. I live in Los Angeles and I’m trying to make these shows happen, so it just takes the most of my time. And as you know, StarKid projects, they’re not happening all the time. They sort of happen specifically for a month or so, and then it’s… then pretty much the actors’ work is done.
Laura: Mhm. So are you able to tell us… I know a lot of the details surrounding Twisted are pretty under lock. Are you able to tell us anything more about how that production is going?
Joe: Probably nothing you haven’t heard before.
Laura: [laughs] I figured.
Joe: But I will say that I’ve gotten to see the rehearsals, and I love it. I think it’s so funny. It had me… because it’s great to me… I’ve worked on a lot of StarKid shows where I’m involved in the process from day one, which is awesome. But then it sort of evolves and you’re working on it, and you forget how funny it is until you put it in front of an audience. And this is one where I’ve come in cold and gotten – I read the script, but I haven’t seen it acted out – to see the musical numbers and the jokes and stuff live in rehearsal with fresh eyes. And it really had me laughing, so I’m excited for it.
Kat: Now, I heard that there were some plans. You were trying to get down to Australia with JMOMS. How is that going?
Joe: That’s a… there’[re] a couple of steps we’ve got to take before we go there. [laughs]
Kat: What can fans do to help?
Joe: People have suggested venues and things like that. One of the big things that made me come to Boston so readily was the Boston StarKids put together a petition – an online petition – to see me come to Boston, and it had like 300 signatures in a week, and I was like, “Well, if there’[re] 300 people [who] want to see me in that short amount of time, I can get there.” So that put Boston near the top of my list. So just knowing that fans are there, sometimes good. Sometimes you have to be able to point to something. Online can be very tricky because you’re not sure if it’s 10,000 people who are pretty interested or if it’s like four people who are very vocal.
Kat: [laughs] Right.
Joe: So it’s really hard to gauge. [laughs] But also, just going into any foreign country is difficult for a performer without the right producer. So anyone who’s sort of a producer in Australia or somebody who runs a convention in Australia would be hepful in getting in touch with them, attempt to actually make it happen. Because I try to do most things mysef, but it just takes a lot more legwork in the beginning.
Laura: Are there any other personal projects that you have on the horizon, or are you just looking to build up JMOMS?
Joe: Oh, I can’t really talk about them all yet.
Laura: [laughs] Okay.
Joe: But JMOMS is a big one. Getting this tour together and seeing how many places we can go before the year is over is a big goal of mine. And just getting it out there to people. We have plans to livestream one of our performances in LA. I think that would be a big way to get the show out to people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to see it.
Laura: Mhm. Definitely.
Joe: At the beginning of July, Ann Arbor T-Shirt and I are partnering together to release [not only] a whole new run of merchandise but also a free version of the show I did in Los Angeles back in March. Just to get it out there. Just to put it online.
Laura: That’s great.
Joe: So that would be… yeah, that’s the stuff I’m all looking forward to. Basically my goal in the next couple of years is continue expanding this project and whatever project it may lead to. You never know what’s going to come up. The Star Trek thing was also something that just sort of came up through my agency, and I was lucky enough to get the part. So stuff like that happens from time to time, and that feels great. But really just getting the word out there about this and hopefully accessing a bunch of people [who] might not otherwise know about this show or might not even know about StarKid and help them spread the word.
Kat: Speaking of the people [who] might not know about this, I’ve seen some photos of you in a panda hat.
Laura: It seems to be the symbol. [laughs]
Kat: Yeah. What’s the deal with the hat?
Joe: What’s the deal with that? It started from a very young age. There’[re] some pictures of me on my Instagram and on the back of the JMOMS DVD of me in a homemade panda bear suit when I’m like four years old.
[Kat and Laura laugh]
Joe: And that was my mom’s doing. She created the whole costume, sewed it. So I’ve always loved panda bears. I took my allowance and donated it to the WWF – which is World Wildlife Fund, not the wrestling organization.
Kat: Good clarification there.
Joe: Whole different donation. So I’ve always loved panda bears. They send you a little thank you note and a picture of panda bears and stuff like that. So I’ve always loved panda bears, but when I went… the big turning point was in college. Between my junior and senior year[s], I went to China on a study abroad program, and I just roamed around. I took classes and roamed around China and saw so many different panda bears, and pandas are such a huge thing in China. Just the symbolic nature of [them], the physical having of panda bears all over the country. China is very proud of their panda bears, and I love them. So that was it. And while I was at the Beijing Zoo I bought this panda bear hat that I thought was just the coolest thing, so I started wearing it around because – I don’t know – I’m a weirdo.
Kat: Well, why not, right?
Joe: Yeah, you’ve got it. You might as well wear it. And it was a pretty unique panda bear hat that could only be bought from the Beijing Zoo, so that was kind of cool.
Kat: Have you received any weird panda gifts from fans? Is this something that they know about?
Joe: Oh, yeah. Constantly. It’s great. I have a full…
Laura: What’s the weirdest thing a fan has given you?
Joe: Panda related or otherwise?
Laura: Anything. [laughs]
Joe: Really hard to say. I can talk about some of the cool things that fans have given me. Weird ones you just try to ignore.
Joe: But some of the really cool things fans have given me: one person did an oil painting of the Starship premiere…
Joe: …and gave that to me. That was incredible. People have done really amazing drawings of me or our crew, and given those to us, and those are always so cool. My fans got together and gave me a Build-a-Bear Panda Spider-Man last year at LeakyCon. That was amazing. Somebody gave me a knitted Panda Spider-Man. I just have so many panda bears, it’s crazy.
Joe: And so everyone makes fun of me.
Kat: And Panda Spider-Man combinations, it seems like. [laughs]
Joe: Yes. Of course. Why not? I’m a huge Spidey fan as well. He’s my favorite superhero. And I make that pretty clear all around, [laughs] so people mash the two up and it’s pretty cute.
Kat: This question is from Eric Scull. He says, “What is your favorite Die Hard film?”
Joe: I’ve got to go with the first one. Alan Rickman, you can’t beat him.
Kat: He figured that’s what you were going to say. Okay.
Kat: He also asks – this is crazy, but – “What hair color would you want, if not the one you have?”
Joe: Hmm. I kind of would like to be a bleach blonde, like Tessa has now or like Riker has, but I think it would look horrible on me. I think I would look really bad because I’m kind of pale, so I can’t really do that. But yeah, if I had cool enough hair to do a bleach blonde that would be sweet. I could bleach…
Kat: How do you live in LA and be pale?
Joe: It takes a lot of work, let me tell you.
Kat: Oh, okay.
[Kat and Laura laugh]
Joe: Basically, it’s funny, you’d think… and I am more tan than I was in New York because I was definitely a ghost in New York. But most of my work on a day to day basis is not outdoors. So it is nice when I get a chance to get outside, but…
Laura: How are you liking living in LA versus New York?
Joe: I love New York and will always love New York because it’s just such a cool city and there’s always stuff going on, and I would love to live there again some day, maybe while I was working, doing a Broadway show or something, or any kind of work. It’s just an awesome city. It’s also very tough on you, especially when you don’t have any money.
Laura: [laughs] Yeah.
Joe: It’s really, really rough on you. It makes you better, though, I think. It’s sort of like a crucible aspect. You go into the fire and come out stronger. So New York is kind of like that. But LA is very enjoyable. The weather is nice. I know a ton of people there. There’s a lot more work. I’ve got wonderful agents here. So it’s… [laughs] LA’s pretty sweet.
Kat: So we’re going to wrap this up, but can you tell fans where they can buy tickets for your show?
Joe: Absolutely. So the big thing I point to is… I have a video out on the top of my YouTube channel, which is thejoemoses, and it’s called “The Joe Moses Showses World Tour!”. In the description of that video, I have links to every ticketing website for venues that have been announced. So as of… in about an hour and a half, I’m going to release the Chicago one, but right now Boston and New York are available. And the reason that I try to put it there is each venue has their own website. So I can’t just be like, “Go to Ticketmaster and search Joe Moses.” You have to actually go to the venue’s website. Or follow my Twitter or Tumblr. I always post stuff on there. But basically, in that YouTube video, there’s all of the links for ticketing.
Kat: Great. Well, thank you, Joe. It’s been nice talking to you.
Joe: Yeah, absolutely.
David Yates at 'Harry Potter Home Entertainment Celebration'
David Yates at 'Harry Potter Home Entertainment Celebration'
An interview with director David Yates
Conducted 11/11/11 at 11:50am EST by Eric Scull
MN: We last caught up with you on the day of the U.S. premiere of Deathly Hallows, Part 2, at the WB offices in New York. How have you been since then?
DY: Good. Unwinding. Trying to, sort of, let go of everything. It’s very hard, it’s weird…
MN: Letting go?
DY: Yeah, letting go. Just… it was so intense making the movies. Really intense. And, actually, after finishing them we were all pretty knackered. So everybody… it’s been two-and-a-half months or so of just resting, reading scripts for the next thing, and chilling out… traveling as well. I went to Bali in Indonesia with my wife, and we went to Singapore and to Thailand and to Italy and Venice. So we’ve done a lot of traveling. And the amazing thing is, wherever we go, Harry Potter is never very far away. The number of people… everywhere we’ve been, it’s unbelievable. It can be Bali, it can be Italy, it can be wherever. And people always say, “my daughter’s into Harry Potter… can you just, sign this?” Or… they’re just aware of the kind of power of Potter. And the reach of it. And it’s very humbling, you know, to know that you’ve been just a tiny part of that whole thing. And that it’s reached so many people around the planet. It’s amazing. Amazing.
MN: So we’re celebrating “The end…” The end. The home video celebration, the last…
DY: Yeah. This is the end! The end! Is coming.
MN: It’s a series that, on the whole, has been ending for roughly four years now. Since the last book…
DY: That’s true.
MN: We think it will continue. The fans are so passionate, and there’s been this tremendous response. Now having a Blu-ray set of all the films at home right now is going to be…
MN: Fantastic, and sad at the same time. I know there are a few features on the blu-ray that talk about “The end.”
DY: There’s some nice little pieces, I think. I saw a couple of them and thought they were really good.
MN: Talking about “Deathly Hallows, Part 2″ – there are some rumors that it’s up for an Oscar. Or that there’s a real serious move for Oscar consideration.
DY: We’re starting a campaign to try and push it, and Warner Bros. is doing a really great job at that. We’re going to do some junkets and some press stuff to help that process. I think the film deserves a bit of Oscar attention – the visual effects, Stuart’s [Craig] design, Alexandre’s [Desplat] music, David Heyman and David Barron as producers have done this extraordinary job.
David Heyman, in particular, has made eight of the most successful movies of all time with this enormous, popular reach. And critically, the films have always been given a reasonably good ride. We got a great response to the last one – I think, one of the best reviewed movies of the year.
So you kind of say, “Come on, guys, it’s time to step up to the plate!” And acknowledge that there is a lot of good work from a lot of good people that has gone into this movie and these movies. I hope the Davids… that sort of 10, 15 years of incredible input and output is somehow acknowledged.
MN: We saw the BAFTA awards ceremony recently, the award that “Potter” picked up. Harry Potter’s gotten plenty of attention over there, but as for the Oscar….
DY: We’ve always been sort of ignored slightly, and we’re all totally cool about it, equally. Let me say that. It’s very important. But we’re going to go all out and try and get some Oscar buzz. We’re very zen-like in our attitude towards the Oscars. Having been overlooked so many times before, we kind of fully expect to be overlooked again. But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to go without a fight.
MN: That’s too sad; I don’t think you’ll go out without a fight. Anything you guys have for us, we’ll forward on.
DY: That would be cool! You can be our guerilla campaign. We need to ring you guys in to help with the cause!
And I’m cautiously optimistic that a lot of the visual effects and the design and the music and the costumes… we’ll see. Well, we’ll do our best.
MN: Speaking of that. I know we’ve met briefly at the Potter pre-screenings in Chicago. (Historically, they’re in Chicago.)
MN: I know afterwards there was always a session, like a focus-group session that you did with members of the audience having just seen the film. How was the feedback that you got from those sessions on your films, and how did it affect the end product of the film? I understood the film screened each time to be a very early draft…
DY: On the first three that I did, the audience focus group was always really useful. I would say seven times out of ten, they would highlight things that you already were aware of. That you knew you were gonna fix. And in a way, there’s this reverse thing that when you’re making the movie, you know you’re not going to take it to Chicago perfect. You’ve got a few rough edges, and you wanna just “test” those rough edges.
But there are two or three things that always come up, that you go, “ah. That’s really useful. That’s really consistent, that’s really helpful, thank you very much. We’ll take that on board and we’ll go away and we’ll work with that.” And the last movie, on Hallows, Part 2, generally people were really, really enthusiastic. It was the best response we ever had. And…
We always hit a kind of… “It’s very good, thank you” kind of box. Rather than an “It’s brilliant!” box. With audiences. It was always either “good” or “very good, thank you very much.” It was never, “Aww! it’s brilliant!” And then we would go away and work to try and get it better.
But Hallows, Part 2 had a really good response. Straight from the open and we were really encouraged by that by the focus group.
MN: I think it’s with the battle scenes, that run for ninety minutes in the film; it’s pleasing everybody. You’re pleasing the action-lovers, but the little moments, too, that are in there. You’re pleasing everyone.
DY: That’s good. The irony is that the battle sequences don’t really go on for that long. We kind of figured it out. We sort of… it’s more your perception of… pursuit.
MN: Speaking of the battle, and the character moments… were there any that were lost in the final film?
DY: We kept most of them. We did keep most of them. We actually thought we might need more at one point… there was a point when I was editing and I said to Mark [Day], the editor, “I think we might need… maybe we need more blowing up of stuff. Maybe we need a few more…” We did talk about whether or not we wanted to see Tonks and Lupin fight to the death. Which would’ve been great. Absolutely great. And then we actually thought, “Okay. How do we pick it up? We can get David [Thewlis] back, we can get Nat [Tena] back. We can build a bit of battlement.” And at one point that was on the cards. But then, because of this 3-D conversion, we suddenly realized that we were actually not going to have the time to do it. Because we could shoot it, but we couldn’t have the visual effects and the 3-D conversion done in time. But we had serious conversations about it.
MN: That makes sense, that everything is on a schedule… I can only imagine how intense and perplexing the schedule must be for ANY of these films. Not even with the dual shoot happening… any of these films.
DY: I had a wonderful team. I had a wonderful team, though and they were fantastic. Jamie Christopher, my first assistant. And Tim Lewis, there’s a whole bunch of people. And in my house I’ve got this wonderful picture of Jamie and he’s standing there, scratching his head with this huge mountain of schedules next to him and books. And it was very, very complicated. But we were very lucky with Potter because of the support of the fans and the fact that the films are so successful. We have generous budgets and generous schedules. So we were able to take the time that we needed to make the movies.
MN: Finally, this is one home video release that we are here to celebrate…
MN: There apparently will be another. On this home video release, there’s an advertisement for “Harry Potter: The Definitive Collection.”
DY: Aha. Yes…
MN: 2012 release date… ish… very vague details. Can you share any details about that release?
DY: Not much, other than that everything that the Warner back-catalogue has in terms of extras and documentaries… will go into it… It will be full-on.
MN: Including bloopers?
DY: We’ve got some great bloopers. They’ve got some great bloopers. I can’t wait for [fans] to see some bloopers, they’re terrific. We’ve got a really good bloopers real, actually, which I was hoping would make it into this home video release, but clearly it hasn’t.
MN: There are still some good features on this video release. And the film looks fantastic in 1080p definition…
DY: It’s good, isn’t it? I love that picture quality and the sound is amazing.
Phelps twins at 'Harry Potter Home Entertainment Celebration'
Phelps twins at 'Harry Potter Home Entertainment Celebration'
An interview with actors James and Oliver Phelps
Conducted 11/11/11 at 11:30am 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.
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…
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?
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.
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: Ohh…….. 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.
Warwick Davis at 'Harry Potter Home Entertainment Celebration'
Warwick Davis at 'Harry Potter Home Entertainment Celebration'
An interview with actor Warwick Davis
Conducted 11/11/11 at 11:15am EST by Eric Scull
MN: Already there are pictures surfacing on Twitter of you… it looks like you’re rehearsing something in the Wizarding World?
WD: Oh really? Wow, it gets out there doesn’t it? Who are these spies?! Yes indeed. We’re preparing for the celebrations tomorrow evening (Saturday and Sunday) really to mark the release of Deathly Hallows – Part 2 on Blu-ray and DVD. But we’re also doing it to celebrate 10 years of Harry Potter. We celebrate the anniversary of the first film on the 18th of November. So I’ve been preparing my frog choir. Which, it’s always nice to be asked to come and do this. And the Wizarding World do make rather a spectacular event that it’s lovely to be a part of.
MN: Have you been here, and in the park for very long?
WD: I’ve been here for a few days now. Myself and my family have been doing the whole of the Islands of Adventure including the Wizarding World. It’s a little difficult for me in the Wizarding World, to be honest. It’s always so busy and, once I get spotted, I can’t get anywhere! But we’ve done the rest of the Universal Parks and most of central Florida.
MN: People have been celebrating the end of Harry Potter for roughly four years now. Ever since the last book, it’s all come to a slow close. Can Harry Potter ever end, and is this the end?
WD: I mean, if you look at something like Star Wars, some of the films have already celebrated 30 years, and 2013 is the anniversary of Return of the Jedi. That’s thirty years, where we’re just coming up to 10 with Harry Potter. It’s such a generational thing as well, you know. It’s something that people who have grown up with it now will go on to have kids and then be able to say, “This is what I grew up watching or reading.” They hand it on to the next generation of youngsters. And I think Harry Potter will continue to be around for many decades to come, I’m sure. It’s a classic piece of literature and I certainly think that, as filmmakers, we’ve created some classic films that have tried to better themselves every time. And they’re entertaining, very watchable movies, aren’t they?
MN: How does it feel to be such a part of many iconic films, large series like Star Wars and Harry Potter…?
WD: I’m really lucky if I look back over my career to think of the things I’ve been in, where I started. If you start in a film like Return of the Jedi, it’s difficult to follow that. But then I’ve been so lucky to go on and be part of these amazing franchises and the Harry Potter series just was so great. And when we started on the first film, I was delighted to be cast as Professor Flitwick and the Goblin bank teller. But then, at that point we didn’t know that we were going to go on to make any more movies. I don’t think there were any more books at that point. And then when another book came we thought, “Oh, we could do this as a movie.” But we never took it for granted. As an actor, A) you wondered whether or not they were going to make a movie, but secondly B) whether your character would indeed make the transition from book to screenplay. Some of the characters didn’t. So it was nice to be part of every one of the eight films.
MN: That they always did find a role for you.
WD: Yeah. And it’s just so nice, was such a nice group to work with. And a lovely team and I’m so proud to be a part of it. And when you come to somewhere like the Wizarding World for this celebration, you realize the impact that the films have made. As an actor you don’t always appreciate that. You do at the premieres, but when you come here you realize that people come from all over the world to come and visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and celebrate their love of the films and books and characters. It’s terrific. And it’s exciting when you go into the shops and you find, Professor Flitwick’s wand now, is part of the things that you can buy…
MN: They’ve got his wand in the shop?
WD: Well they haven’t got them here, yet! I was a bit disappointed. I’ve seen them in England, but they haven’t made it over here yet. I thought Ollivander’s here would be stocked up, but… when they DO stock them here I’m gonna make sure they put them on the lower shelves. The last thing you want is Professor Flitwick’s wand on a high shelf.
MN: That would be cruel!
WD: It’s not gonna happen. I’m gonna make sure they stock it nice and low.
MN: So Flitwick and Griphook, speaking of the two “main” characters you play on Potter.
MN: Different characters…
MN: How are they similar and how are they not?
WD: Well, the only similarity between them is that they share my physical structure. I made a conscious effort, obviously to play them very differently. They’re very different types of characters, one is a goblin and one is part of the faculty at Hogwarts…
MN: Was it fun getting to diversify?
WD: Yeah it was lovely; what a lovely opportunity. Fortunately because of the four-hour makeup process, for each character, I didn’t have to step out of one and step into the other character’s shoes within the same day. But sometimes the schedule was that I was Flitwick one day and Griphook the next. And that’s a fascinating thing to be able to do. But they are both very different. I consciously… Griphook has a very different walk, a different stance, he talks very differently. Obviously the rhythms of the dialogue are different anyway, but then the voice… everything is different. And I get a great compliment from people when they watch the movie and say, “Oh I didn’t realize you were Griphook as well.” That, to me, is job done, as it were.
Griphook was a great character to play. All through the movies I’ve played Professor Flitwick and other goblins, but they’ve been in the films and often been part of the light relief, and comic moments. Which it’s lovely to have, but finally, with Deathly Hallows – Part 2, Griphook for me was a chance to really have a character who makes a difference to the story and the plot. He has some bearing on what our heroes do. The character has a journey, an A to B point – B being DEAD… should be an “A to D” point, actually. A to dead…
But it is really rewarding and David Yates was excited that I was going to be playing the character, and we both had a lot of fun bringing him to screen. From the first scene with Harry, through to the sneaking into Gringotts and all that stuff. It was great to film, and just a great experience to be working closely with David on all of that.
MN: It’s quite a big part of the book as well. The break-in at Gringotts bank? That’s what’s sacred!
WD: It’s exciting isn’t it, that bit? And it was great to film it all. Just for me. I’m a fan of the books and stuff. What was exciting about working on these films was getting to DO the things you read about. I’m sure all the fans out there who’ve read the books and stuff. They dream of going to Hogwarts. And that’s a lovely experience that I’ve had throughout the ten years…. But then, on top of that, something like, to get to go under the Invisibility Cloak. For me, that was like, “This is exciting! I’m now under an Invisibility Cloak.” To get to witness that moment where Voldemort says, “Harry Potter is dead,” in the courtyard at Hogwarts. To me, I was standing there, thinking, “Wow, this is a bit like Forrest Gump, where he’s at those moments in history that we’ve all read about… and he’s there.” It’s this moment that’s sort of iconic and you’ve read about, and I’m standing there seeing it happen. It was ever-so-odd, it was definitely a Forrest Gump moment.
MN: About that scene being filmed, on the Maximum Movie Mode of the latest film; Maximum Movie Mode is a great presentation, too…
WD: Oh, yeah.
MN: They were talking about Ralph Fiennes and how – on those days of filming the courtyard scene – he was putting people on edge. Obviously he looks, like Voldemort, but that he could look at… anybody. At any time.
WD: Every take was different with Ralph. It was fascinating to watch him as an actor. He’d be out there, and it was a very cold British day. It really was exactly right for the mood of the film. And he never did the same thing twice during a take, so you were always on edge. Who he was going to look at, what he was going to do. It was pretty dramatic being there, and even though it’s a huge open space (and there are obviously cameras around and stuff) I was totally drawn in by it. And then when you see it on the screen, it’s really very moving and very frightening at the same time as well. He’s an amazing actor.
Although, however amazing he is, he’s not completely flawless! I remember filming in Malfoy Manor (when Griphook is dead, and is laying in the blood). There was a lot of blood there… I thought, “This is a Harry Potter movie!” It felt like we were making a slasher/horror. I think I laid there in blood for five hours one day, dead.
But as I’m laying there, I’m looking through a crack in my eye, watching the scene unfold. I’m thinking, “Wow this is amazing, isn’t it?” It’s a scene of destruction, with the Goblins that have been slaughtered by Voldemort. And I can see Ralph walking through them, doing his line. And during one particular take, I was watching and he started strolling through, very dramatic, and all of a sudden he slipped. It was just like somebody slipping on a banana skin, because he doesn’t wear shoes and then… slipping on all the blood, it just killed it for me. It was very funny.
MN: Also on the DVD, there’s this feature “The Goblins of Gringotts.”
WD: That’s a good feature. I’m glad you mentioned that. It’s a good feature. It’s fun. They shot that, obviously, while we were making the films… it’s very good insight into what goes into this. I think, when you watch the sequence in the film, you don’t realize the sheer scale of it. And the amount of man-hours that have gone into not only preparing the make-ups; casting the make-ups; painting them all; they had to have several sets of these make-ups. You don’t realize. And that’s a great example of the detail that was present in all of the sequences in all of the movies. There was no detail too small.
And that’s why I think it’s terrific that they’re indoors at the Warner Bros. Studios, London. For people to actually be able to come in and be able to experience the making of Harry Potter and tour the sets, and really get up-close with the work you often don’t see in the screen. But that’s a great feature on the DVD, actually. My favorite, obviously, because I’m in it – a lot. (Laughs)
Arthur Parsons, Game Director of 'LEGO Harry Potter'
Arthur Parsons, Game Director of 'LEGO Harry Potter'
Conducted 11/11/11 at 10:20am EST by Eric Scull
MN: I’m here with Arthur Parsons, he’s the Game Director at TT Games. So Arthur, the game you’ve directed most recently, then, is LEGO Harry Potter?
AP: Yeah. LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7. I also was game director on Years 1-4, so I worked on back-to-back Harry Potter games which was brilliant.
MN: There was nothing in between for you; it was from one LEGO Harry Potter to the other?
AP: Yeah, we finished LEGO Harry Potter, Years 1-4 sort of, May/June last year, and me and the team rolled straight on to Years 5-7. So we’ve had a really good, long time to make a brilliant sequel.
MN: How has the first game succeeded? What were some of the fan reactions? You were working on the sequel while the first game was taking off?
AP: The great thing about Years 1-4 was that we did something new with it, where we wanted the player to experience being a wizard, going to Hogwarts, going to lessons, learning spells, and just that whole “magical environment.” Going around Hogwarts was so cool and such a big change from previous LEGO games, where you had lists of levels and you could go.
Fans of Harry Potter loved the game, because it was all about Harry Potter. Fans of the LEGO series loved the game because it was something new. It had a completely different feel than, say, Batman, or Star Wars, or Indy. So it was successful because it was new, and kind of “shook up” the LEGO series with this cool, new feel. You could explore, you could wander into rooms. You could just go to lessons. It’s not an RPG, but you felt like you were Harry and you didn’t know how to do magic. And as you progressed in the game, you learned new magic, new spells, new abilities.
So we really built on that for Years 5-7 to really take it to that next level. People have been to Hogwarts and experienced it, now they needed something new and fresh and exciting. That’s where Years 5-7 comes in.
MN: In the first game, I loved flying on brooms and having those unique, character touches to the brooms in the first game. Are there still brooms in the sequel?
AP: Yeah, we’ve got brooms; we’ve also got thestrals so you can fly around on those. And again, we’ve given every character a unique feel. So whether you’re playing as Ginny Weasley, or Arthur, or Tonks, or Bellatrix, every character feels unique. And every character has unique elements. Tonks, for example, if you stand there doing nothing, she gets really angry and her hair changes color. And then it changes back. Because it’s small stuff that’s in the fiction.
I know the films, I know the books, I’m a massive Harry Potter fan and so are most of the guys on my team. So we want Harry Potter fans to see all the attention to detail. Ginny Weasley has a pygmy puff, Ron now has Pigwidgeon as a pet. Lucius has a pet peacock. All of the little things that people won’t expect. And every time you play a character, it feels like there’s an extra surprise in there.
MN: Can you play as the peacock?
AP: Yeah, absolutely. It’s cool! You’re Lucius and you’re running around, you go *click-click-click.* You get your pet out, and this bonkers peacock comes out and you can run around as a peacock. It’s so cool.
MN: So let’s talk about the characters, then. There were a MASSIVE collection of characters in the first game. Have you improved upon it? Are the old ones back?
AP: What we did was, we love bettering ourselves in the LEGO series. So in the first game, there were 167 free-play characters. Now, some of those were “Gryffindor Boy” or “Ravenclaw Girl.”
MN: Some of those were my favorites.
AP: Yeah, they’re pretty cool, but Years 5-7 has amazing characters. This time around, on the console versions, we have 200 free-play characters. All of them are great characters, so whether it is Bellatrix or Professor Slughorn or Umbridge or Blaise Zabini all the characters are there…
And the cool thing is, they all do cool stuff. With Profesor Slughorn, you can turn into an armchair. And there’s… there’s no need for it, but because he does it in the fiction, it’s like, we thought we’d do it in the game. So 200 characters, and it was a bit of a job getting it to fit on a disc, but every character that a Harry Potter fan would want to play is in there. Even characters like the Grey Lady. You don’t expect to be able to play them, but they are there. And we have just crammed everything into it.
MN: Obviously you guys reference the Potter books a ton.
MN: I think because a lot of us are very visual, since the movies have come out, the games seem to follow the movies but yet there’s so much from the books in the games. With Years 5-7, in Harry Potter, is there sort of a fourth year in that because of the movie split with the final film? Or how did that affect content or the direction of the game?
AP: What we wanted to do… The first game was massive; it was a really big game. On the films, clearly, Deathly Hallows is split into two. So what we’ve done, again, internally it was like “Years 5-8″ – obviously there’s not an eighth year at Hogwarts – but there are six, strong story events for Year 7 (Deathly Hallows – Part 1) and then there are another six for Year 8 (Deathly Hallows Part 2). So the game is actually bigger than the first game….
But there are still 24 story events in there, and there are something like 16 lessons and then all of the exterior areas whether it’s the forest when you’re camping in the tent, whether it’s London, King’s Cross, Godric’s Hollow… a HUGE amount of real estate in this game. And from a direction point of view, we wanted to make sure that, like you say, “visually” we know people relate to the films, but from our perspective, we’re not just aiming the game at kids 6-12. They’re going to know the films. But we also have to cater to the fans, and the fans know the books like incredible detail.
So for us, we’re dealing with kids, fans of the LEGO series, but also we are scouring the books for every little detail, so that we manage to get stuff in there for fiction fans. Because these are the guys that, as they’re playing it, they’ll see something (and it may be the tiniest thing we’ve added) but they’ll be like “That’s so cool.” or “Yeah I remember that from the book!” Or, “I can’t believe they’ve added this in.” And so we try to meld the two together.
MN: That was my reaction playing the first game: “I cannot believe somebody else has read the same book as me, and thought to turn it into a game!” Because it’s that recognition that rarely comes from games. A deeper perspective, a “we get you.” I think that’s something with the interactivity because with LEGO it’s fun, and inviting, and people are going to be surprised when that stuff pops up.
AP: We would hope so. If Harry Potter fans like the game, it’s a job well-done. We will be happy if fans of the fiction say, “this is a great game. This really does justice to a great series of books.”
MN: What year, 5-7 (or 5-8), was the most challenging to produce? Or the most difficult? Most areas to go to?
AP: I think Deathly Hallows – Part 1 was the trickiest, because there’s no Hogwarts. It’s Harry, Ron and Hermione (when Ron’s there), but they’re on the run, and they’re not in Hogwarts. So we had to think, “How are we going to tackle this?”
What we’ve actually done, and it’s really cool, is that we have an exterior forest area that unlocks throughout the course of Deathly Hallows – Part 1. The tent moves around the area, you can go into the tent, and it’s a cool area. You can do the Harry/Hermione dance, which is ace. But in order to make sure people can go to Hogwarts (because we still want people to be able to go and do free-play stuff) if you go into the tent at any point in Deathly Hallows – Part 1, you can go to the table and there is the Marauder’s Map. Open up the Marauder’s Map, and the camera zooms into the map, and comes out in Hogwarts. And you’re playing as Ginny, and Neville, and Seamus, and Dean Thomas.
MN: I really just got chills.
AP: (laughs) Well, Harry, Ron and Hermione can’t go to Hogwarts. But everyone else can! So we let you go and play Hogwarts as though you were the rest of the cool crew. And at any point you can pop back and just progress the story. So that was quite a challenge to link that up, as well as being able to go back to London, go to the cafe and fight Dolohov, and explore around. We’re all very proud of the fact that we were able to tie that in and make it still feel like the rest of the game. But there were a lot of sleepless nights, scratching our heads… and we’ve managed to get it right, thankfully.
MN: So Voldemort – obviously a big difference from the first game. Now, he’s everywhere. He’s back, fully formed.
MN: And I saw the advertisement that appears on the Blu-Ray, where he’s looking in the mirror, and Bellatrix catches him…
AP: Yeah, the “Game Face Trailer.”
MN: That’s hilarious. Absolutely hilarious. Is he scary? Is he still a villain in this game? How did you manage, because he’s a very dark character in the books, how did you handle the transfer from the books to the game?
AP: There are some really quite spooky moments in the game, so even just at the end of Year Five, when you have the showdown in the Ministry. Voldemort there, he has this really evil face. And the cut-scene team did a fantastic job of bringing him to life. So we kind of mix him with the more serious side, but also with a little bit of a goofy side as well. Because at the end of the day it’s fun, we want it to be fun and funny. But we kind of melded the two together.
There are some fabulous shots where you’re interacting with Voldemort. We have a lot more interaction with him, and obviously with the other bad guys, through years 5-7. So we’ve tried to really create a menacing character, without losing the fun and humor. I think, as people progress through the game, they’ll really enjoy every time they come across him. And even the Dark Mark, in Years 5-7, is so menacing, so spooky. You’ve got the cool, Voldemort smokey monster in the game, in the section by the lake where they crack open the locket. When I first saw what the art guys did for that, I was blown away. This is far more advanced than the LEGO game. It’s proper spooky and sinister. And then you’ve got Harry and Hermione coming out of the smoke and you’re just like, “whoa!” And then of course we do a LEGO thing and you’ve got to create a crazy fan to blow Voldemort away.
MN: Wow, I love that. How does Malfoy Manor look? Is that a playable area?
AP: Definitely. Right at the end of Year 7, we have a story event set there. You’re running around the forest, and you get caught by the Snatchers. And then they take you back to Malfoy Manor. Harry gets the Stinging Jynx on his head, so his head turns into this big red block of LEGO, which is really funny. And then you get taken down to the cellar by Peter Pettigrew. And you’re there, you get to play as Luna and Ollivander and Harry and Ron, but you’ve got no wands. So you’re exploring the cellar, and eventually Dobby arrives and knocks Peter Pettigrew out. You go up to the main area of Malfoy Manor and you get to duel. And it’s so cool, because we’ve really tried to keep to the fiction, but at the same time have a great deal of fun with it. It’s really, really funny.
MN: Gringotts, in the first game, was sort of only a power-up area. How is it, going back to it to break in? How did you mend the area between the two games?
AP: Because we wanted it to feel new and fresh, Diagon Alley was completely rebuilt this time around. So we’ve turned it around, 180 degrees, so you’re looking up towards Fred and George’s joke shop. In year Five, there’s no joke shop, there’s just all scaffolding and stuff. Then in Year Six onwards, the joke shop’s open and you can do go in and cool stuff in there.
So with Gringotts, by switching it around and having the camera at the other end, the player isn’t really “aware” of Gringotts. And then when you get to the start of Deathly Hallows, Part 2 and break into Gringotts, you get to go down… cool mine cart section, you get to break into Bellatrix’s vault. You then get to go and ride on the dragon, blasting all the Ministry guards, and we’ve just tried to do the fiction justice the best way we can. And at the same time, it’s so funny. You’re racing around, and you’re having fun at the same time as seeing all of these key plot points. And playing it as a Harry fan, when we finished it, I just said “This is right! This is as it should be.” And hopefully everyone will see that.
MN: LEGO has also done a game, LEGO Indiana Jones: The Adventure Continues…
MN: Will there be an extended, another Harry game? Or with The Clone Wars for Star Wars… will there be another Harry game, after this?
AP: I… I really don’t know. At the minute, we are so fully focused on (now we’ve done the game) getting the game out, so that everyone can enjoy it. We’re not looking any further ahead than right now. We want everyone to go out, play the game, really enjoy the game, and we’re going to have a massive holiday because we’re all really tired!
MN: Wrapping up… you’re obviously a big Harry Potter fan. Have you signed up for Pottermore at all?
AP: I’ll be honest with you… I missed the deadline! The early deadline. Because I was in work, 15 hours a day, all the guys on the team… we didn’t have weekends off, we were so focused on the game that we just missed everything. So now that we’ve got a bit of quiet time, I’m sure we’re all going to be signing up and just… interacting like every other Harry Potter fan. And trying to catch up with the world as well! You know, everything that’s going on.
AP: We’ve been locked away in the office.
MN: That’s good to hear for us, I think, because in the end it’s that there’s that much more attention…
AP: Yeah, that we cared. Absolutely!
MN: And then, on Twitter I’ve seen your avatar image… were you Luna for Halloween?
AP: (Laughs) Uh, that was just a joke in the office… someone came to Wizarding World on holiday and brought me back some spectrespecs. Because we’ve got spectrespecs in the game. I had to put them on. And we have a blonde wig, it’s like this sort of – whoever makes a boo-boo at work, they have to wear a blonde wig and a dunce cap…
MN: The plot thickens!
AP: So I dressed up as Luna. But, why not? It’s a bit of fun, isn’t it?
MN: It is. Thank you for your time!
AP: It’s been a pleasure.
MN: Let’s try the game!MuggleNet’s Review of LEGO HP: Years 5-7
Oliver Phelps - July 2011
Oliver Phelps - July 2011
Interview conducted by MuggleCast host Micah Tannenbaum. You can listen to Oliver on MuggleCast Episode #235 with producer David Heyman.
Micah: Okay, we’re now joined by Oliver Phelps who plays George Weasley in the Potter films. Hey Oliver, how are you doing?
Oliver Phelps: Yeah, awesome, thank you.
Micah: All right, I wanted to start off by asking you: If you could describe a little bit, what was it like arriving at Trafalgar Square a few weeks ago? Were you ready for that crowd?
Oliver: Kind of in a sense that we’d been told how big it was going to be. I knew that it was going to be a big thing because the map they showed us was an A to Z map which was like a big street map, really. But I think I was just blown away by the amount of people who were there. I think James and I were outside pushing the three hour mark, trying to meet everyone who had been waiting for hours and hours and days, even. So it was pretty insane but really, really cool to be part of.
Micah: And no rain, right?
Oliver: Yeah, that was it. It was really weird because earlier in the day, James and I went out to an interview. We went to a magic shop down the road in London, not far from Trafalgar Square, and it was really coming down hard and we thought, “Okay, it’s going to be raining all day.” And yeah, thankfully someone was spying up on us upstairs, as it were, and it was really nice and sunny, which was brilliant.
Micah: Cool. Now, what’s it like looking back over the last ten or so years, and now knowing that there’s no next movie to go to? It seems like there was a pretty set structure that you guys had where it was moving on to the next film to the next film, but now, there’s no Movie 9 to go to.
Oliver: No, I think it’s one of those things where – I mean, I really – I accepted a long time ago that we were doing the last movie, as it were. But it was quite odd at the premiere, seeing a load of people for the last time, that we’re all going to be in the same room, say, for a while, I would have thought. But it was good fun and it’s kind of one of those things where – what next? But at the same time, what better way to end the series and not go on to a number nine, because…
Oliver: …the films are the biggest, it’s the biggest movie ever, and that’s pretty cool.
Micah: Now, what’s the experience been like going through it with your brother, always having somebody there who you’re going through this with?
Oliver: It’s been – I mean, it was all really new for a long time, that’s how we perceived the acting world to be, and to have James there with me was cool because – especially going in something when you’re not from an acting background at all, to have someone there who you know, who you get on with, was really good to be able to share that with him and obviously we related always in that to our family when we’re back home – is quite handy because one of the things – I forget something and they all jump in.
Micah: Yeah. Now, as far as Deathly Hallows – Part 2, it shattered a lot of records both here in the US and abroad. What are your thoughts on how well Part 2 is doing at the box office?
Oliver: Yeah, I think it’s awesome and when we are making the movies, obviously we don’t judge how many people are going to be going to see these things, but I think that that was – I mean, my Twitter page was going wild…
Oliver: …on it every night. [laughs] Some people can’t know how – I think – I mean, I’m not exaggerating, it was over a thousand messages within about three hours or so of it opening in the States and everything. It was just insane. But that’s so cool to say I’m part of history, as it were, I’m in now. It’s going to take a pretty big chasm of time I think. That top spot as you say, breaking all the records worldwide, it’s – yeah, it’s pretty mind-blowing, really, because as you say, you don’t know how many people are going to be watching these things until you see it’s all over the news.
Micah: Yeah, I think it actually – it just passed Star Wars as the highest grossing franchise of all time, so – I mean, that’s just…
Oliver: Yeah, that’s pretty – especially because Star Wars has got probably twenty, thirty years on…
Micah: [laughs] Yeah.
Oliver: [laughs] Yeah, it’s mind-blowing, really. I think when James and I became part of it is because we chanced and went for an open audition, what, eleven years ago now? And we kind of just went on a whim. So I think if you were to tell me eleven years ago, “Oh and by the way, yeah, it will be bigger than Star Wars,” I’d probably laugh at you.
Micah: That’s a pretty good whim.
Oliver: Yeah, yeah, it was. I mean, it was – I mean, I’d read the first three books because the fourth one had just come out when we went to the audition, so I was familiar with the characters, as it were. But it was – yeah, it was kind of a – oh, you’re going to have to miss a day of school then. Oh no…
Oliver: …what can you do? So – [laughs] yeah. So massive, massive – it took a back burner for today, so to speak, and yeah, it worked out to be in our favor.
Micah: Yeah, definitely. Can you talk about the shift that – I mean, you guys have always been sort of involved on the comedy side of the films and it got a lot more serious in this film, particularly for you guys and having to film Fred’s death. What was that like?
Oliver: Yeah, it was a huge shift as opposed to what we had done in any other film before that. I mean, even in Part 1 it gets quite serious because Fred and George do have quite a bit of banter with each other. But yeah, to portray the same characters in a totally different light was pretty interesting, and not many actors get to be able to do that. But it wasn’t a scene I’d like to do too often because it was quite – very emotional because the way David gets you to – like trying to get you to react is to relate it to a certain part in your life to bring it real, which I’m all for because you really get the real emotional side of it. But it was quite draining seeing my own brother laid out on the floor all pale and not moving. It was quite an emotional couple of – I think we only took about five takes because it was so…
Oliver: It was – yeah, it was quite weird because I thought at first it would be a closed set, which means that no one is on set except the director, the cameraman, and the people in the scene, and then I walked into the Great Hall and – you see in the film, the whole hall was just filled with people. So yeah, that was a bit odd because I’m not really a crying type of guy, and to do that in front of a couple of hundred people was different, to say the least. [laughs]
Micah: Yeah. No, I would imagine it’s a pretty difficult scene to be able to shoot. But I guess kind of flipping it around, what was your favorite part of Deathly Hallows – Part 2?
Oliver: My favorite – what do you mean, to film or to watch?
Micah: Ahhh, both.
Oliver: Both. Well, I think to film, it would be – there’s the scene when Voldemort comes into Hogwarts and when we were filming that, it was quite a chilly day – and I think it was just before Christmas, yeah, so it was quite crisp in the air, as it were. And yeah, we were just standing there and the performance, what Ralph Fiennes gives, is just the ultimate villain, and you see how evil this bloke is and it sent shivers down my spine just filming it, so to do that was such a cool scene. And to watch – I mean, I quite like the scene when Matt Lewis, Neville, gets to chop off Nagini’s head.
Oliver: It was quite a cool scene.
Micah: Yeah, it was really cool.
Oliver: I think Matt is going to be talking about that for years.
Micah: Did you see that in 3D where the head sort of flies off at you?
Oliver: Yeah, yeah, it was awesome. I mean, the first time I saw the film, we were in Madrid on the promotional circuit, as it were, and there was only eight of us in this screening room for it, and it was this high definition 3D projector thing. And yeah, and to see it in that I thought, “Wow, it adds a totally different dimension to the school as well, engage a good size and scope of the whole thing.”
Micah: Yeah. Now, have there been any scenes over the years involving the Weasley twins that you would have liked to make the films but they didn’t? And it can either be maybe something that was deleted or something that you read in the books that you thought was really cool.
Oliver: Yeah. I mean, there’s a few, obviously, we would’ve liked to have them in. I think the swamp scene in The Goblet of Fire would have been cool, but that was never even in the original script, so – obviously timing purposes, but something like that would have been cool. Or maybe to have Peeves throughout the series would have added to the Fred and George thing, but it worked quite well without that. And scenes we filmed that didn’t make it – I can’t really remember too much, to be honest with you. You actually forget the scenes, when you filmed them, and then those are not in the film.
Oliver: [laughs] I’m not too sure on that, to be honest.
Micah: No problem. What has the fondest memory been at Leavesden over the last ten years? I mean, I guess you have a decade’s worth of memories there.
Oliver: Yeah, you really do. There’s a lot of people who come and go as well throughout the whole thing. I mean, one of my fondest memories was the Yule Ball scene in The Goblet of Fire, walking onto that set, because there was so much going on. There was – although The Weird Sisters didn’t make the final cut because there was some – there was a band called The Weird Sisters or something and it all got a bit political, so unfortunately that didn’t actually make it, but it was like a proper concert. One day when they were filming and they didn’t tell us anything that was going to happen, so there was all these pyrotechnics going off in the background…
Oliver: …and it was so cool. And it was just before Christmas as well, so everybody was getting into the festive spirit, actually.
Micah: That’s cool. I have a couple of Twitter questions here, that people sent in, and the first one here is from Bethany McCoy. She wanted to know:
“How did you guys decide who was going to play Fred and who was going to play George?
Oliver: We didn’t have the decision, it was quite funny. When we got to the first read-through – basically all the cast sit down in a big room and read through the script so they can gauge timings on it and everything. And we got there, and we didn’t know who was going to be Fred and who was going to be George. So Janet Hirshenson, who was the head casting director, was there and we said, “Do you know who’s playing who?” She said, “You’re kidding, right?” and I said, “No.” So we had to trot off and go speak to Chris Columbus, David Heyman – and J.K. Rowling was sitting there, and she came up and said, “Ahh, James, you’re Fred. Oliver, you’re George.” So we’d like to think that there was a lot of thought and…
Oliver: …real thinking about what was going to happen, [laughs] but it may have just been, “Oh yeah, you can be George.” So I’ll never know that question, but I probably don’t want to know the answer, to be honest.
Micah: David Givon says:
“What was your favorite prank that Fred and George played throughout the series?”
Oliver: I think there’s the scene in The Half-Blood Prince – was it The Half-Blood Prince? No, not at all. The Order of the Phoenix when you see them testing out the Skiving Snackboxes, and there’s this one lad sitting there and he gets the mumps, and his jaw just swells up and drops down. That was really funny.
Micah: [laughs] Payola says:
“If Fred hadn’t died, where would you have seen him and George nineteen years later?”
Oliver: Nineteen years – I think they’d probably have a chain of Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. Yeah, they’d probably be up there, a franchise in itself, I think. But yeah, I’m not too sure what their personal stance is. They’re probably married with kids who are causing just as much trouble as they do.
Micah: [laughs] Now, did you get a chance to take anything, any props, from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes?
Oliver: There was only – I mean, you’re not supposed to, but I think everyone was having a go that day…
Oliver: …so I thought, “Oh, I’d be quick.”
Micah: Hypothetically speaking. [laughs]
Oliver: Hypothetically, it would be – yeah, there’s a bag, what they sell in – or what they put all the products in when they sell them, and I would have taken one of those, so to speak. It looked really cool to have and it’s quite different. It’s not like the normal part of props. So yeah, I’d have that and have that framed on my wall because that was only Fred and George’s thing.
Micah: Nice. And Tom asked – this is a bit of a different question. You’re a big sports fan. Do you follow anything here in the United States?
Oliver: Yeah, the NFL would be the main thing I watch over there. Obviously with the lockout, I’m not sure if we’re going to see it. So I’ve been to the last two NFL games in London.
Micah: Oh wow.
Oliver: Yeah, I never really got into it because we were in Chicago for the world exhibit, and they were opening it there and the guy said to us in the warm-ups, “What do you want to do?” So I said, “Oh, I’d quite like to see the Bears play. They’re playing tonight.” So we were fortunate enough – I felt really – I felt like I was taking it from someone who really deserved it, but we went to – we were actually able to go on the field before the game and everything, and I got really into that then. But it’s more of a tactical game so I think if you don’t understand it, it could seem quite boring. But yeah, I really got into it, so ever since then I’ve been watching it all the time and yeah, my team is the Bears. They’re actually playing in London this year, so hopefully I’ll be able to get down there and see them kick stuff.
Micah: Yeah. Yeah, I think the lockout is actually supposed to hopefully resolve itself in some capacity today, so hopefully…
Oliver: Oh right. Oh cool. Yeah, because the news here is a bit hit and miss at times in between, really, over here, so sometimes you hear that they’ve – that something’s happening and other times you don’t, so – oh, that would be awesome if it does.
Micah: Yeah, absolutely. All right, the last few questions I have here are kind of like really quick questions. What was your favorite book in the series?
Oliver: The Goblet of Fire.
Micah: What is the favorite scene that you filmed as George?
Oliver: The ear scene in Part 1 when they bring him in and he’s all a bloody mess.
Micah: The holey scene.
Oliver: Yeah, the holey scene.
Micah: [laughs] Favorite character?
Oliver: Probably Voldemort, to be honest. As I say, you got the ultimate villain. I don’t think there’s ever been a villain in film or literature where he just doesn’t seem to have any leeway, like you see him in Part 2 where he just kills this bloke who questions him once, because – yeah, I can’t remember why now. He says, “Don’t you think you should give the kids some more time?” and that’s the end of him.
Micah: [laughs] Favorite creature?
Micah: Favorite spell?
Oliver: Probably Expecto Patronum just because – I was able to do it in the film, but I never saw what the Patronus was for George. I would have been intrigued by that.
Micah: What do you think it would be?
Oliver: Probably something like a monkey.
Oliver: Like a cheeky monkey or something like that, always up to mischief. You don’t know what it’s ever going to be doing.
Micah: And if you could have one of the Deathly Hallows, which one would it be?
Oliver: What would it be? Probably the Elder Wand just because it could come in handy when you’re doing jobs around the house, like I’ve just come back from the promo tour last week and I still have all my stuff to do, like cleaning and everything, so I think the Elder Wand would come in handy for that.
Micah: Yeah. All right…
Oliver: Yeah, it could just get all my stuff, and wash it and everything.
Micah: Yeah, you were traveling around quite a bit, right? It seemed as if you were all over the world.
Oliver: Yeah, yeah, we really enjoy doing the promo things because it’s a good way to go and meet all the fan base. As I say, you don’t understand how many people have seen it when you’re filming, so to be able to go and watch it, and meet people – I mean, we went to Helsinki, the noise out there was insane. It was so loud. And then – yeah, we do. So in the space of about two weeks, we went to Florida, to the Wizarding World in Orlando at the Universal Resort. Then we went to Madrid, Amsterdam, Rome, London for the main premiere, Dublin, Helsinki, Paris, and then Hong Kong.
Oliver: So it was quite a fun trip, but we have [unintelligible], so you got to make the most of these things while you can.
Micah: So you racked up a few miles there.
Oliver: A few. Yeah, I did join a few…
Oliver: …loyalty clubs, shall we say, so I may cash those in one day.
Oliver: It’s one of those things you think, “Oh, do I really want to do this?” I mean, we were always very fortunate with the way we travel. It’s not like we’re doing it in a shoebox. They would put us at the front of the plane, so to speak, so we have some nice leg room. I mean, I’m quite tall. I’m six foot three, so I’m really glad with the leg room that we get.
Micah: Yeah. No, I’m about six foot, so I understand where you’re coming from.
Oliver: Yeah, especially on the long-haul trips.
Micah: Yeah. And just quickly, speaking of the Wizarding World, I mean, what’s it been like going there after having spent so much time on set?
Oliver: It’s absolutely amazing to see that they’ve been able to do that in a totally different environment, really. I mean, it’s not like a film set where you’ve got time to set things up and it’s all – everything needs to be built and really well out there, and I think that’s the cool thing about it because when they told us originally that they’re building a theme park at Universal for Harry Potter, it’s like, oh right, okay. Yeah, it’s just going to be a roller coaster and I’ll stick a Harry Potter sticker on the side of it, that type of thing.
Oliver: And it’s totally all about Harry Potter. I mean, we’ve been fortunate to go there three – four times now, even. And the guys at Universal really know their stuff and – we went back there last month, it was the first time that we had seen – like, with people in there, and it’s just been so cool. They said it was a quiet day, God knows what the busy days are like. So within a month, they passed a million people on the ride, and within I think eleven months, over seven million people had gone on the Forbidden Journey ride. So it’s doing well, I think.
Micah: Yeah, what did you think of the Forbidden Journey?
Oliver: Yeah, it was awesome. I’ve never seen technology like that. It was fantastic. I remember when we did a little cameo at the end when we’re just standing waving in the Great Hall.
Oliver: And again, they were using these huge cameras to get the whole realistic thing of it, and the thing with the ride is that you don’t really know where you’re going to be seeing it or anything like that, but it’s just a fun, fast-moving ride, which is really cool. And I think the best way to describe it to people who haven’t been on it is it’s almost like an arm for what they used to make cars. It’s probably the best way to describe it, the robotic arm type of thing, and you’re on a seat in that, and it’s taking you all around Hogwarts and everywhere.
Micah: Yeah, yeah, they flip you a million and one different directions, too. You never know what’s coming next.
Oliver: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, exactly. So it’s – and it’s a really cool part when the Dementors come near you and you see your face in the…
Oliver: …clouds and everything. It’s pretty cool.
Micah: Yeah, that was really cool. Yeah. Well, before I let you go, I just wanted to ask, do you have any future projects that are coming up?
Oliver: Yeah, there’s a few things certainly in the pipeline at the moment. Both James and myself are looking to do stuff separately. I think that’s the important thing, or how we see it, is to define ourselves and [unintelligible], which we’re happy to do and we like doing it, but it will just be good for our own self-esteem, I think, to be able to go out there and do something different apart from each other. So there’s one thing that I’m still waiting to hear on, that’s looking quite promising, which is a film. And there’s another thing which is I’ve been asked to do a film called Latin Quarter, but I’m not too sure when that starts filming, it keeps getting pushed back, but – yeah, hopefully that will be sometime in the near future.
Micah: Cool. Well, really appreciate you taking the time to come on the podcast with us.
Oliver: Awesome. No problem. Well, thanks for all the support over the years.
Lily Zalon, Author and Creator of 'Dear Mr. Potter'
Lily Zalon, Author and Creator of 'Dear Mr. Potter'
Keith Hawk, MuggleNet (KH): I am here with Lily Zalon, the author of Dear Mr. Potter, a sixteen year-old from Connecticut. Lily congratulations!
Lily Zalon (LZ): Thank you.
KH: Dear Mr. Potter is truly a remarkable project, it’s going to a fantastic charity cause as you are giving everything to the Harry Potter Alliance is that correct?
KH: Now you are making an extraordinary contribution to the Potter fandom with Dear Mr. Potter, have you been exposed to the fandom outside of the online community yet? Have you gone to any of the conventions or the theme park or anything?
LZ: I’ve been to the theme park, and I went to about four hours of LeakyCon in Boston. I also went to the Premiere, the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 premiere where I saw you, and was terrified by your trivia knowledge. I’ve gone to Wizard Wrock concerts, I went to New York’s Wizard Wrock Festival, and I went to the Quidditch World Cup, but I’ve never actually been to a convention.
KH: So you are going to LeakyCon.
LZ: Yes I am. I am excited!
KH: I bet you are excited. Now what are you going to be doing at LeakyCon? Anything for the book?
LZ: Yes, first of all we are going to be selling the book. We are going to be selling it directly at the Harry Potter Alliance’s vendor table, which is cool. And we’re doing a o program, which involves a couple of things. There is an aspect of it that people who don’t actually come to the program can do. What we’re going to be doing, although we haven’t actually talked about this yet, is that the envelope that we feature on the cover has been modified and we made it a blank envelope with the Dear Mr. Potter in the top left corner, and we are going to be handing them out by the hundreds, if not the thousands, to LeakyCon attendees and having them write their own Dear Mr. Potter letters on these envelopes, that is like the envelope on the cover of the book, and we’re going to be displaying them all and showing the best of them at our program. But we are going to have ALL of them displayed somewhere at LeakyCon, we just haven’t figured out the logistics of where it will be at. But we are going to have them all displayed and show everybody’s stories, and I’m sure some people will draw stuff, and it will all be very interesting and very cool. So it’ll be like a mini, less professional version of the book.
KH: That’s awesome!
LZ: And then we will also be doing a program, which will feature a bunch of things. I’ll be talking about the project a lot, I’ll be taking questions, I’ll be reading some of the really touching stories, and putting a video together, and then we will be showing the best of those envelopes. So that’s going to be our program, but I’ll also be enjoying the convention for myself too. So it’ll be fun.
KH: The conventions are amazing to go to, they are a lot of fun, there is a great spirit at a convention, so I’m sure you will have a blast.
KH: Now there is a bit of a connection between yourself and MuggleNet: of course MuggleNet was started by Emerson Spartz when he was just twelve years old and home-schooled and looking for something to do with Harry Potter, and here you are, a young fan of the series that has created something significant for the fandom. Can you take us back to the beginning of this project and tell us how it all began for you?
LZ: Well I’ve always been somebody who gets random ideas and then tries to start them, and most of the time they don’t work out. It was March 2010, and I sort of had this idea, and I’ve been dealing with some stuff that Harry Potter helped me through, some personal stuff. And then I’ve been dealing with a lot of people that…I mean I am very open about my Harry Potter obsession at school, and people sort of make fun of me for it, which I can take and laugh about it, it doesn’t bother me that much. But I sort of needed that whole feeling of needing something, because I was not involved in the fandom as much as I was as I got older, and I sort of departed from the fandom a bit.
So I had the idea and began it as a blog on Tumblr, and somehow it got really really popular, which was incredible, and it sort of evolved. it was always intended to be a book, but it was going to be…well, at one point, there was a question that maybe we should print these out and make them spiral bound ourselves and we will make like a hundred books and sell them for ten dollars, and give a thousand bucks to the HPA. And obviously it evolved from that, where now we have a professional shipper, but it was always with the intention of being a book and collecting stories from Harry Potter fans and giving all of the money to the HPA, and non-profit, and enjoy it as a community and as a manifestation of what the fandom meant on a specific and more emotional level than what has been shown before.
KH: Why did you choose the Harry Potter Alliance?
LZ: Well it was sort of the default option. We weighed the idea of a couple of charities that we were considering: Lumos, J.K. Rowlings charity, and Book Aid. But in the end the Harry Potter Alliance was the obvious choice because they do stuff for literacy, they do stuff for LGBT equality which is something I am very devoted to, and they are doing it all in the name of Harry Potter so it just didn’t seem like there was a better choice than the HPA.
KH: Getting published is definitely not an easy feat, so tell us the steps you had to take, and when did you decide to go self-published?
LZ: Well, we never really considered going to an actual publisher because it was so complicated, and we knew that we wanted, I wanted to do it non-profit. I say “we” because there is a group of like 25 staff members that are helping me now, so I have sort of gotten into that habit. But, I knew that I wanted to do it non-profit, and I knew that if I were to take it to Scholastic or somewhere, they would not be able to do it non-profit, and if they did it they wouldn’t be able to give the money to the HPA, which is what I really wanted, because I wanted the book to be about the fandom and the fan community, and an alternative charity really would not have been able to meet that need as close to heart as the HPA can and is. So we never really considered going to a publisher, just because it was so complicated. But it sort of evolved from going to hand-make this book, which was the original plan. You know Apple has this studio where you can design a book, and then you send it off to Apple and they print it for you and you get a dollar profit per book is what it would have ended up being. And my dad works directly with printing factories through his job, so we finally started weighing that option, the idea of actually doing it through a printing company. And we figure out that that was really the best way to go because it would produce the most profit and it would be the easiest and we could get the best looking book, so we self-published, and that’s how that happened.
KH: That’s great! Is there anything in particular that you hope the fans get out of the book?
LZ: I hope that they get out of it what I got out of it, because I’ve been living it more directly than I think any of the people who have been following the blog. You know, my staff members have been getting it, but really I’ve been directly involved in this and its been really incredible to see how Harry Potter has really changed and impacted so many people. And it has sort of inspired me, I think my inspiration was partially drawn from how incredible and inspiring all of the stories I received were. I think that if the stories that I had gotten weren’t as good as they were, I would never have continued the project because I just would not have been inspired enough by it. So I hope that they get that out of it. I mean some of these stories are absolutely heartbreaking, but really its just a really clear description of what the fandom and what the series has meant to so many people and I realized that through the project and I hope that the people who read the book and the people who read the blog can get the same thing out of it.
KH: Now you received a lot of high-profile letters: MuggleNet’s own Andrew Sims and Eric Scull have written in, Leaky Cauldron’s Melissa Anelli sent you some stuff, and of course fan favorite Evanna Lynch, but is there one letter that has stood out to you personally?
LZ: Yes, and I’ve used this letter so many times when talking to people, and when discussing the book. It was from a 15-year-old girl, she is probably older now, named Lydia who sent in a letter about how she had never been interested in Harry Potter, but her little brother was passionate about the series and was always carrying it around, and then her little brother actually died, and she remained connected to him by reading the Harry Potter series, and by finding in it what she loved in him, and that was the first letter that made me cry and it still remains to me the letter that stands out the most in the book. So it would have to be that one, definitely.
KH: That’s really powerful.
KH: Now you shared with me a few of the letters, including Evanna’s and I have to tell you withut a doubt, Evanna is amazing, she is such a perfectionist and I love that about her, how she writes and how she wrote to Luna and I think the fans are really going to enjoy it. Have you had the opportunity to personally thank Evanna for this letter?
LZ: We have tweeted back and forth, and she is following me on twitter but that’s the extent of our relationship with each other. She knows who I am and we have had friendly tweets, but that’s the extent of it. But through the way that we publicized the letter I hope she ralizes how grateful I am, and I can’t wait to thank her in person at LeakyCon.
KH: That’s incredible, that going to be a great moment for you.
LZ: Yeah! I am terrified, absolutely incredibly nervous.
KH: Well you shouldn’t be terrified, she truly is just one of us.
LZ: And I think the letter showed that, I think she is just from reading her letter. Clearly she is one of us and clearly she has been touched as much as we have by the series.
KH: Absolutely. Now I understand you have Rupert Grint signing a few copies to be given off in a raffle style from the pre-orders that have been taken, how did you manage to accomplish this?
LZ: Well we contacted pretty much every actor in the Harry Potter series trying to get them to write letters for us. And the only people we heard back from was Evanna obviously we had through the HPA, but then Rupert Grint’s agent also told us that they were very interested in the project and that they would love to help. And Rupert Grint was actually hoping to write a letter for the book and filming interrupted that. And it was so nice for him to even consider that because obviously he is incredibly busy with all of the hype going on in his new movie. But they said that Rupert would be happy to sign copies of the book for us to raffle off and that he was sorry that he couldn’t write a letter but they would be very glad to do this for us. So we got that through his agent, which was wonderful. And actually one of my staff members, who is a former MuggleNet staff member, K’lyssa Selmon, works for RupertGrint dot net is how we got the connection to his agent in the first place.
KH: Good, so MuggleNet helped out there too.
LZ: Yes, MuggleNet is the best!
KH: Now is this book going to only be available in print form, or are you doing anything to get an e-book type of format out of it?
LZ: We haven’t even considered it. I’m not saying that it definitely won’t happen, but I wouldn’t expect it in the near future. It’s such a visually gorgeous book, we had a professional graphic designer do it, and it’s so visually gorgeous that it’s sort of important to me to preserve that and I worry that an e-book won’t be able to do that as well, so that’s not at the top of the agenda but it’s definitely a possibility, a slim possibility but it’s something that I might look into later.
KH: Is this going to be available to fans outside of the United States?
LZ: Yes, it’s available for pre-order internationally. And the letters are international as well as they come from people all over the world.
KH: Do you know how many countries you recieved letters from?
LZ: Received letters from was more than 50 different countries, and I think out of the letters in the book, there are letters from more than 25 different countries.
KH: Now the book is going to be released on July 1st, is that correct?
LZ: Yes it is, we start shipping them out then.
KH: Tell the fans how they can get their own copy of this book.
LZ: To get a copy of the book if you are not going to LeakyCon, although we really encourage pre-ordering because the price is going to go from $15.00 to $20.00 after July 1st, and this isn’t really publicized yet but it is going to raise just so we can get a lot of money for the HPA. It’s thehpalliance dot org slash dearmrpotter, that’s the URL. And if you’re not willing to pre-order it, which I think is a good idea because I think it’ll be cheaper and you’ll get a chance to win the Rupert Grint signed copies and the personalized Hogwarts letters, they’ll be for sale at that URL after July 1st and also at LeakyCon.
KH: Do you have a goal set for how many copies you are hoping to sell?
LZ: We’ve printed 5,000 and we sold a little more than 2,100 right now but we are hoping to sell the full 5,000.
KH: I hope you get a lot more than that.
LZ: That would be incredible. We will definitely be able to reprint if we sell more than that, but the goal is to get that. That’ll get us a good chunk for the HPA.
KH: Lily, once again on behalf of MuggleNet, I’d like to say that we are extremely proud to have you as part of the Harry Potter fandom, I cannot wait to see the huge success that Dear Mr. Potter will be for the Harry Potter Alliance and for you. And I guess I am going to see you at the Premier, right?
LZ: Yes, absolutely.
KH: Great, well thank you Lily.
LZ: Thank you very much.
Be sure to get your copy of Dear Mr. Potter TODAY!
Daniel Radcliffe on 'How to Success in Business Without Really Trying'
Daniel Radcliffe on 'How to Success in Business Without Really Trying'
Conducted February 4, 2011 by Eric Scull, before Daniel’s run in How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying.
MuggleNet (MN): So Dan, are you excited? In just a couple of months, your next Broadway show opens!
Dan Radcliffe (DR): I know! To be honest, I know everyone thinks about the opening night, but as far as I’m concerned, previews start this month. So that’s the main source of both terror and excitement in my life at the moment. The great thing is that we’ve got a really good show starting to come together. The choreography is just insanity…
What’s great is that even the dancers are excited. A lot of these guys, Rob [Ashford, director] has worked with before. So he now has a group of dancers that he knows he can throw pretty much anything at, and they’ll be able to do it. Some of them were talking to me the other day, going “even for Rob, this stuff is crazier and more physical than we have ever seen him do before.” So there’s the dancing, the choreography, and the numbers themselves which are kind of amazing. And the scenes are really, really funny. It’s a very funny show.
Also, there are people like John Larroquette, Rob Bartlett and Michael Park being brilliantly funny, all of the time. Being witty. That’s the thing: it’s played real, is what’s beautiful about it. It’s just the funniest stuff. So I think we’re all very excited, as well as being scared and all of that nervousness that obviously goes on. But I think we’re all just excited to show people the show.
MN: We can’t wait to see it. Now, the show originated on Broadway in 1961, made its West End debut in 1963, and was revived on Broadway in 1995, over 30 years later. That was 16 years ago. How has the show been updated to suit today’s business and economic structure, or how has it not?
DR: To be honest, I think it’s more “not” than “has.” There hasn’t really been any change made. You know, when something wins the Pulitzer prize, it’s sort of odd to go “how do we re-write this?” So the show is very much, rather it is Loesser and Burrows’ original show.
I mean, there are references that I didn’t advocate change to, but I certainly went, “No one’s going to get that.” At one point there is a reference to Judith Anderson, which I did not get. And which I’m not sure many people my age would get. But also, it’s not a problem because as it was pointed out to me, it’s a show of that period. So it’s a show with relevance to this period but the relevance is already there. We don’t have to adjust it, or update it to make it more ‘hip’. Because 90% of the show is pretty timeless.
Especially with (somebody we’ve been talking about a lot is) Mark Zuckerberg. And it’s the idea of a kid, or a young person, not being held back by their youth and realizing that they are smarter than everybody else in the room. It’s about somebody who just has that ability to think on another plain than everyone else and is therefore able to navigate through the world with a lot more ease and skill. And that’s Finch. So that’s very much what we’re sort of pitching Finch as, as a sort of 1960 Mark Zuckerberg.
MN: That’s wonderful. How did you get involved with this project? I believe it was first reported in late 2009 that you had done a read-through.
DR: Yes. And that was, it would have been… When we started Equus in September of 2008 in New York, and were in previews, Neil Meron and Craig Zadan [Producers of How to...] came and saw us. And they came back stage afterward, and they were very complimentary and they said to me, “so you can sing?” And for a moment I paused and thought, “What are they talking about?” And of course I realized that I sing the Milky Bar Theme Tune, in Equus. I wasn’t aware that this was a qualification to do a Broadway musical…
MN: …your audition…
DR: …yeah, exactly! And they said, “We’d love to do something with you then.” They’d obviously enjoyed my performance in the show that night, and the fact that I could apparently sing didn’t hurt.
Now by that point I’d been having singing lessons for… a year-and-a-half, maybe? But, you know, just for my own fun really and also after the sense that one day I would like to do a musical. I had absolutely no thought that it would be this early in my career. I thought it would be something I would like to do having grown up with them, and listening to them.
Although, when people come back stage at a musical they are more or less obliged to say nice things to the people they’re visiting… So you don’t take it too much to heart. But a couple of days later they were emailing, and saying “We really want to work on it. We really want to find the right thing. We’ll send you any ideas we have.” And so, like any good producer should be, they were very, very persistent.
Eventually they came to us [Radcliffe and his agent] with “How to Succeed” – it didn’t take them very long to think of it – and then they set up a meeting with Rob Ashford, whom I immediately warmed to, both as a man and a director. We are both of the same opinion that life is too short to work with unpleasant people; hence, there is nobody in the company that I would not happily spend an hour trapped in the lift with. So it just went from there.
And Rob, when I had a meeting with him, I said to him, “look. Acting? Fine. Singing, fine. Dancing? – not gonna happen…”
MN: Haha. Well, fortunately Finch isn’t doing everything everybody else has to do, right? The production numbers… well, he does do “Brotherhood of Man” at the end, which is amazing, but the other numbers like “A Secretary is Not a Toy,” you’re fortunately spared from!
Dan: I know! But this is the thing. A lot of the numbers… when I said that to Rob he said, “you know. We’ve got at least a year at this point. So why don’t you really go away, and work?” So I did.
Every day off I had from Potter I would do at least three hours of dance. And when Potter finished in-between doing Potter and The Woman in Black [not yet released] I was doing nine hours of dance a week.
There are a few numbers… obviously “Brotherhood” is the big one, for me. But stuff like, “The Company Way” and “Grand Old Ivy” and “Rosemary” – you know – the dancing is… I’m going to be doing it. And hopefully I will surprise a few people; though nobody more than myself, I assure you.
MN: So there are two love interests for Finch in this play. Or, it could be said that there are. You know? There’s Rosemary…
DR: If you’re going to say what I think you’re going to say, then I am of exactly the same opinion.
MN: Oh! …that it’s pretty cool?
DR: Rosemary and Mr. Biggley.
MN: Oh. Hedy! I was going to say Hedy [La Rue, Mr. Biggley's secretary].
DR: Oh, Hedy! Okay. You see, I’ve always seen it as a love story, a love triangle much like – I remember Ricky Gervais describing “Spinal Tap” as a love story. And I thought that was brilliant. And I think that the love for Finch in this is half with Rosemary and half with Biggley, and the idea of being the president or being in the position of authority at the company.
So he’s half in love with a girl and a life and he realizes that in a moment of, well, as you say when he’s kissing Hedy. And that is the moment when he realizes he’s in love with Rosemary… but also he’s in love with the idea of being a business man. And in a way it is a love triangle because his attention is being split between the two. Rosemary is a slightly unexpected, and not entirely convenient, obstacle.
She’s not a… welcomed obstacle, because he’s looking at her going “I really do have feelings for you.” But rather than being, as most people would be particularly at that stage in their life, kind of overjoyed and in those first young moments of passion, he’s just thinking “this is going to get in the way of my going to the top of this company.” So he sees her, really, as a bit of an obstacle to begin with…
MN: Speaking of that, there is a song that was in the original production of How to Succeed… that was cut from the ’95 Broadway production. It was called “Cinderella, Darling” and Act Two opened with it. Do you know if that’s in this production?
DR: It is very much in this production, and it’s a brilliant number.
DR: That was what I found to be interesting about the 1995 production, also. It became very much about… I think it took the view that the original production was sexist? Or that the original story was in some way sexist. But it made the whole thing more about female empowerment. Which is why “Brotherhood of Man” [finale song] became “Brother and Sisterhood of Man.” And, you know, the original was in no way sexist. It was a comment on sexism. And “Cinderella Darling,” I think, is one of the best numbers in the show. And, again, a big choreography number. Simple, but those girls are working very very hard in that number.
Yeah, it’s one of my favorite numbers in the show and Mary Faber who plays Smitty, who sort of fronts it, is wonderful.
MN: Wonderful. And how about “I Believe in You”?
DR: Funnily enough, it’s a song that I’ve worked on a lot and it’s a song that I’ve worked on with David Chase [Music Director] a lot, and me and Rob have talked about it a lot, but we haven’t actually staged it yet.
I know that Rob knows exactly what he is going to do with it, but because it is not a huge amount of dance for me and it’s more kind of staging sort of stuff. The guys in the background are doing a lot, however.
MN: They don’t like Finch very much.
DR: They don’t. It’s like the senators plotting to kill Julius Caesar. That’s the analogy Rob keeps drawing.
MN: Do you know how to knit, for the show? [At one point, Finch displays knitting skills to impress his boss, who also knits.]
DR: You know what? Stephen Malone who is our rehearsal pianist and is helping out quite a bit – as well as doing this, he has also in the past taught six and seven-year-olds to knit. So if he can teach them, I am convinced that he has to be able to teach me. And also Megan Sikora who is one of our female ensemble and is playing Miss Krumholtz, she knits. So between the two of them, I hope to be able to know how to knit. John Larroquette does a very, very funny ‘pretending-to-know how to knit’, but nor does he actually know how to knit. So I think we’ll have to have lessons at some point. I’m going to concentrate on the dancing first, and hope the knitting can be learned a little later!
MN: So as a final question here for you, Dan, it is something we were compelled (forgive us) to ask. How exactly does one go about succeeding in Business?
DR: Um, well… you know…. if you’re like Finch, you have to, kind of… *laughs* be ambitious enough to…. sort of… tear stripes off of the competition and sort of walk over everybody. But do it with a smile. I think that’s probably the key. *Laughs*
If you can, sort of… if you can charm your way to the top that’s what Finch does but I would not say that Finch is an example to follow, necessarily. Because it relies on being smarter than everybody else around you and I am not smarter than everybody else around me. So I think, for me, if I were to try and succeed in business I would have to be very polite to everybody and quietly get along with my work. That would be my idea.
Dinah Bucholz, Author of 'The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook'
Dinah Bucholz, Author of 'The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook'
- Part 1
- Part 2
September 27, 2010 Philadelphia, PA USA
Keith Hawk, MuggleNet (KH): I’m sitting with Dinah Bucholz of Philadelphia and she has just released her new book titled ‘The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook’. First Dinah, I’d like to welcome you tonight, and thank you for joining us here on MuggleNet, and congratulations on your book.
Dinah Bucholz (DB): Well thank you very much, I’m delighted to be here.
KH: Tell us when was the idea first originated and how did it evolve since that first origination?
DB: Well, it sounds a little crazy to say this but it just popped into my head one day. I just had a flash of inspiration. I even remember exactly where I was. I was returning home from errands, I was turning from Route 1 onto Woodward Street (Northeast Philadelphia, PA) when all of a sudden, the words ‘Harry Potter Cookbook’ actually flashed into my head. And I think that it must have been in my subconscious because we do have some literary cookbooks at home. We have ‘The Little House Cookbook’ which is based on the series, ‘The Little House on the Prairie’ series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. And we have an ‘American Girls Cookbook’.
It must have been, somehow that connection must have been made in my brain. That’s the only explanation I can give for the fact that this just popped into my head one day.
I was always interested in the food in Harry Potter just out of curiosity, you know, I always felt you can’t read Harry Potter without getting hungry there is such good food described in there and the feast sounds amazing. But I had no idea what the food was; I was wondering what in the world is ‘Treacle Tart’? It sounds so good or what is ‘Knickerbocker Glory’? What are these things? And I did try ‘Treacle Tart’ once because I happened to see it in a cookbook that I just happened to have in my house, but that was before I conceived the idea to write the cookbook. When that thought popped into my head, the first thing I did was rush straight home put my baby to bed, she was just about to have her nap anyway and I grabbed the very first Harry Potter book and started flipping through the pages and jotting down the foods and as soon as my husband came home from work I said, ‘I have such a great idea for a book, it’s such a great idea for a book’. And when I told him he said, ‘That is a really good idea!’ And he was very enthusiastic. But it was, um, it was not as easy to find an agent as I thought. I went through all the books, I wrote down all the foods, and I started putting together a proposal and I sent it out to lots of agents and I got lots and lots of rejections: one after the other. And Finally, George Beahm who wrote ‘Muggles and Magic’ I think it’s called, and he wrote another one on Harry Potter, I can’t remember what it is called. (‘Fact, Fiction and Folklore in the Harry Potter Series’). So my husband suggested that I ask him how he did it because the little feedback I was getting was basically referring to copyright. The very few agents, who actually did tell me why they were rejecting my idea, said they were worried about copyright.
So I sent him (George Beahm) an email and he was very kind to respond right away and he provided lots and lots of information, and I was still getting lots of rejections. Finally he said, ‘You have nothing to lose, just write a letter to J.K. Rowling’s lawyer’ and find out if you can do this, and that’s what I did.
KH: Did you actually hear back from them?
DB: I did hear back from them, and I never thought I would. But six weeks later I had an email in my inbox from J.K. Rowling’s law firm and I was so scared to open that email. I was shaking. But I opened that email and basically, the email just told me that there is no copyright problems with the sample material I sent them. I just have to put the word ‘Unofficial’ in the title and they want to review the entire manuscript before publication. And with that letter I was able to snag an agent. That was Mary Sue Seymour of the Seymour Agency.
KH: Now I imagine with J.K. Rowling, she has some copyrights on some of the items that are in there, such as ‘Butterbeer’, ‘Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans’, etc. etc. So how did you overcome those or did you have to exclude those from the book.
DB: I had to exclude those recipes from the book. There is no recipe for ‘Butterbeer’, there is no recipe for different flavor Jelly Beans, anyway, it would be impossible. That would require specialized equipment and to replicate different flavors, you really need chemists or chemical engineers (or whatever they are called) who actually experiment with different flavors and flavor combinations. They use natural flavors that are really different chemical combinations that are not available to a home cook. So that would have been impossible to try to attempt anyway. But there is no recipe for ‘Butterbeer’, there is no recipe for ‘Sugar Quill’ or, um, I’m trying to remember what other magical foods are in the books.
But there are some recipes that I didn’t include, just because it’s too simple to make: you don’t need a cookbook, like ‘Chocolate Frogs’. You buy a chocolate frog mold, melt chocolate and poor it in. But that’s the one disappointing thing that readers have told me: There’s no recipe for ‘Butterbeer’ in there, but they didn’t even let me use the word Muggle in the title of the book or in the subtitle. The original subtitle was supposed to be: ’150 recipes for Muggles and Wizards’. And they didn’t let us use that. So since they didn’t even let us use the word ‘Muggles’, I didn’t think there was any chance they would let me use food that J.K. Rowling invented.
KH: That is now a copy-written word by J.K. Rowling. ‘Muggles’ is now in the ‘Oxford English Dictionary’ by her.
DB: Oh is that right?…I did not even know that.
DB: Well that is interesting. There is a previous word for Muggle that means something else, like from the 1920′s, but I can’t remember what it means. I think it means something like ‘Common’ or something like that. But, her use of that word, (that she invented for non-magic people) that is her own made up word.
KH: Now you said that you had tried the Treacle Tart before and that was one of the inspirations for it. I recently did try that myself with my daughter, and it was pretty successful. It was pretty sweet and it definitely was unique to cook. But I did have a problem finding one of the ingredients, Treacle, here in the states.
DB: The Golden Syrup?
KH: No, the Golden Syrup I found was ‘Lyles Golden Syrup’ but the Treacle, which was more of a Molasses type…
DB: Dark Treacle?
KH: Yes. Where would you recommend people who are in the states here to go and get some items that are traditional UK fare?
DB: I found the Black Treacle together with the Golden Syrup on the same shelf. So I don’t know what to say. I think that a well-stocked supermarket that carries the Golden Syrup would probably have Black Treacle. Specialty food stores, I can’t say for sure, but I imagine that stores in Manhattan, for example, with famous stores like ‘Zabar’s’ and ‘Fairways’ would probably have it. But, you can use Blackstrap Molasses instead of the Black Treacle or some very dark Molasses. It taste almost identical.
KH: Yeah, I used Blackstrap Molasses for mine.
DB: It also smells tremendous and it has a strong, strong sulfur Smell.
KH: Would you consider a majority of the recipes in the book to be centered for children or more for adults?
DB: That’s a really good question. My goal was to create recipes that were as authentically British as possible, or as true to the original dish as possible. So I did not consider how easy it would be for children to make the recipes, so it really is kind of a toss-up. Some recipes are easy for kids to make, some recipes are not. Some recipes should not be made without adult supervision. Like I put this in the ‘Helpful Hints Section’ in the book. The recipes that call for boiling sugar should not be attempted without an adult supervising, as this would be dangerous. Molten sugar is very, very, very hot. Deep-frying recipes also should not be attempted without an adult. Unless you’re talking about a 17-year-old, or even a 15-year-old that is experienced in the kitchen.
But, some recipes are complex in the sense that there are a lot of steps but each step is easy. Like the ‘Chocolate Gateau’: it calls for you having to bake the cake, then you have to make the custard, then you have to make the glaze, and then you have to assemble it.
Every recipe that has those kinds of steps in it can be made easier: You can use a cake mix for the cake; you can use instant pudding for the custard. If the recipes calls for…like, a friend of mine asked me for a recipe about ‘Pumpkin Pasties’…she said, ‘I don’t want to go through the bother of making that dough.’ So I said, ‘you can just buy pre-rolled, frozen pie dough.’ You can get that. You can get any recipe that calls for puffed pastry; you can just buy the frozen puff pastry. You don’t have to make it from scratch. I never make puffed pastry from scratch, I only did it for the cookbook. I do make my own pie dough. Pie dough is fairly easy but, since it’s an extra step and you want to save yourself the bother, just go ahead and buy the frozen pie dough.
September 27, 2010 Philadelphia, PA USA
KH: Now you mentioned that your not traditional English cooking, so where did you learn how to do traditional English and Scottish fare like this? Did you have some help from a professional chef or did you just try to sample it all on your own until you got it right?
DB: I had no help at all. I have absolutely no culinary training. I’m just a home cook who really loves to cook, especially to bake. I love to make desserts, and cakes, and pies and different things like that. Everything I learned, I learned out of books. It took me a long time to master piecrust and I learned just by reading out of books. But, when I started doing my research for this book, basically the way I did it, I just did a lot of research.
I read British cookbooks, I went to British websites, and I have a huge food encyclopedia. So when I developed a recipe for this book, let’s take treacle tart: I looked at a whole bunch of different recipes of Treacle Tart in different British cookbooks and on different British websites. And then, I got an idea of what the basic ingredients are in Treacle Tart and the basic method of making it, and then I cobbled together my own recipe. What I then did, is test the recipe that I cobbled together and taste it. And if it didn’t taste right, I’d retest it.
Treacle Tart was easy for me because it’s basically a very simple recipe. It’s a tart dough with a filling that’s similar to shoe-fly pie filling, which is breadcrumbs and molasses. But, I had absolutely no experience in things like fudge and toffee. That took a lot of experimentation, and I must have made about 20 batches of the fudge before I got it right. My kids loved it, they loved the glupe. You can’t go wrong; in terms of flavor you can’t go wrong with melted butter and sugar. But the toffee was very challenging till I got it to that…when you chewed it, it didn’t stick to your teeth too much. It’s still a little sticky, but it did take a lot of trial and error…A LOT! But I learned a tremendous amount from that experience.
KH: Wonderful. Now looking at your book, and I really enjoyed your book, there’s like you said 150 recipes. All of the recipes start out with an explanation of where they are featured at in the Harry Potter series itself. And then you also have this little blurb as to the history of the food, where it came from, or where the name came from, how it originated, something like that for each one. Which of these recipes did you find the most enjoyable to learn about?
DB: Well I think my favorite story is about carrots, believe it or not. I discovered so many odd facts about food during my research. One of the things I discovered about carrots, I don’t even remember now if I included it in the fun facts, but I think it is there. My favorite fact about the carrots was that during World War II, the British fighter pilots were using radar technology to track German fighter jets. They wanted to hide this technology from the Germans so they kind of let it leak that the reason they had such super night vision was from eating a lot of carrots. But the Germans actually bought the story because it fit in with their old wives tales that carrots are good for your eyes. Well, they are good for your eyes and they are good for night vision but they won’t give you radar vision. And you’ll still have to wear your glasses.
KH: That’s a wonderful story. Which of the recipes do you think, Dinah, would be the best for a family to create? What was the most fun for your kids to participate with?
DB: My kids mostly participated with by tasting the food. I did a lot of the recipe testing when they were not home because it was a little stressful to do. It was very intense, I had to test a lot of recipes a day to meet my deadline. So I did most of my testing when they were in school. On days off, my husband was off from work that day, like a Sunday for example, he often took them out on a trip so that I could work. So they really enjoyed the food, they loved the ice cream, they loved the fudge and the toffee, you know all the sweet stuff. I can’t say they were crazy about the stews and the soups.
KH: The Bouillabaisse Soup?
DB: The Bouillabaisse Soup, I actually did not test. That was given out to…I contracted that out to Chris Koch, a professional chef. Because it’s a shellfish stew and we’re Orthodox Jews and we don’t eat shellfish. It’s part of our cultural diet.
KH: So in order to keep Kosher, you had to subcontract some of the items out to try and test it, and have them, you know, get it down to the perfected level of recipe that you were happy with, is that correct?
DB: Yes. Chris Koch took care of all the recipes that have pork, which is forbidden for Jews to eat, and like I said shellfish, bacon..all of those recipes. We also don’t mix milk and meat products, but what I was able to do was to test the meat recipe that called for milk; I was able to test it using substitutions. And I put that up on my website because a lot of people do have milk allergies or do keep a Kosher diet. They can find out how to use substitutions for those recipes on my website.
KH: And that’s really good, because a lot of people who can’t find some of the traditional items that are used in these European fares (some of the French items and some of the English items), so they do need to have a substitute as to what they can use to put into their recipe as well.
DB: Well yes, ingredients like ‘Golden Syrup’, I always write that you can always use corn syrup instead, or a molasses, or a maple syrup depending on the recipe. They do have different flavors, but they kind of behave the same way in a recipe. And they can be used as a substitution. So I tried as much as I can to do that because I wanted the recipes to be accessible so that any home cook could pretty much find the ingredients in their pantry or just run around the corner to the local supermarket and get it. There are some ingredients that do call for ingredients that are hard to find, that you have to get online; especially the candied recipes like the nougat. I tried really hard to make it without wafer paper or rice paper, but it is so so sticky, it will stick to anything. The only way to get it out of the pan and to slice it, is to coat it on top and bottom with the paper. And that was something I had to order online.
Citric Acid was another ingredient that is kind of hard to find in your local supermarket, so I had to order that online as well. But there are very few recipes like that in the book.
KH: Well you certainly do have a lot to choose from in the book. Some of your recipes on the website have alcohol in them and they are not in the books, you separated them from the website and the book. What was the reason behind that one?
DB: The original recipes that I tested appeared like that. You know, they all had alcohol in them. Everything was fine, everything was hunky dory, and then, as we got through several rounds of editing, my editor told me that I had to modify the recipes because now they found out that they will be shelving…the bookstores will be shelving ‘The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook’ with the children’s books. And it’s a problem because if children are making it, it shouldn’t have alcohol in it. And Barnes and Noble and Borders are pretty strict about what they would allow to have in a cookbook for children. And so, I had to modify the recipes. I was so disappointed because it’s not authentic. Christmas Pudding is just not authentic if it doesn’t have Brandy in it. But, I really didn’t have much choice, so I modified the recipes and I just posted on my website the original. I was allowed for some recipes to include a side bar explaining how to make the recipe if you’re an adult and you want to have it in the traditional way, but I wasn’t allowed to do that with all of the recipes.
KH: And your website is at www.unofficialharrypottercookbook.com where you can find these recipes, is that correct?
DB: That is correct yes!
KH: Now what is your next project? Do you have another book lined up for yourself?
DB: I don’t have it quite lined up. I am working on another literary cookbook. I did get a new agent for that and we’re working on the proposal right now. So I don’t have a publisher yet, so I don’t want to say too much about it until I actually have a contract.
KH: Well congratulations!
DB: Thank You!
KH: Now your book is available at Barnes and Nobel and at Borders, where else can people get the book?
DB: It’s available at all of the online booksellers, and all the major bookstores.
KH: And also available through your website?
DB: Oh yes, thank you. It is available through my website, yes. Yes, you can just click on the ‘Buy The Book’ link and you can order it through my website, sure.
KH: Great! Now, do you have any book signings lined up for yourself?
DB: I do. I have so far one (1) book signing in December. Everything is just starting now. The events are just starting, and my calendar is slowly filling up now. One book signing, in December, in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. I have a food demo in Paramus, New Jersey in November. And I’m just trying to remember…another interview in October and I plan to set up some more book signings as I go along. But I haven’t really gotten around to doing that.
KH: Well now November is a full calendar because, as you know, we do have the Harry Potter movie coming out.
DB: Oh yes!
KH: Are you ready to see that?
DB: I cannot wait. I am so looking forward.
KH: They’ve had some really good food in those feasts in the movies, and I imagine that you have a lot of those recipes down.
DB: Oh yes! Those tables loaded with food, you just want to reach out into the screen and take a bite.
KH: Well it’s interesting because reading your book, like I said it to you earlier, I really had no idea what ‘Spotted Dick’, and ‘Chocolate Gateau’ was when Ron mentions it to Hermione and he’s teasing her, I had no idea what that was, so it was interesting to read what that actually is.
DB: Well, you know I felt the same way when I saw ‘Treacle Tart’, I just had no idea what that was. I’ve had sort of an idea of what the ‘Chocolate Gateau’ was, because I remember from French class that ‘gateau’ means cake in French. But I didn’t know why that would be different from cake, you know. So that was interesting for me to find out what the difference is. And there really isn’t much of a difference. There is a minor distinction that pastry chefs in England make between gateau and cake, but the average doesn’t even know. But it was fascinating for me to learn what the foods were. I had no idea what they were and I was oh so curious because they sounded so good.
KH: Well it really is a wonderful book, you did a great job. I’ve read almost all of it, and I’m anxious to try some of these with my kids. So thank you very much with spending some time with me today.
DB: Thank you for interviewing me and enjoy the food.
KH: On behalf of MuggleNet and MuggleCast we want to thank you and good luck with the book. I’m sure it’s going to be a great success.
DB: Thank you.
'Half-Blood Prince' London VIP Launch Party Fan Interviews
'Half-Blood Prince' London VIP Launch Party Fan Interviews
London VIP launch Party Interviews, thoughts on the series and books By Helen of MuggleNet.com Interview with Melissa, UK
1. How long have you been a Harry Potter fan?
2. How long have you been queuing?
3. Do you know any spoilers?
4. Who’s your favourite character?
5. What ship do you support?
Harry/Ginny and Ron/Hermione
6. What’s your favourite book?
Prisoner of Azkaban and Order of the Phoenix Interview with Stevie, UK 1. How long have you been a Harry Potter fan?
2. How long have you been queuing?
Since 6:30 am
3. Do you know any spoilers?
4. Who’s your favourite character?
5. What ship do you support?
Harry/Ginny and Ron/Hermione
6. What’s your favourite book?
Goblet of Fire Interview with Roy, Holland 1. How long have you been a Harry Potter fan?
2 and a 1/2 years
2. How long have you been queuing?
Since 11:30 am
3. Do you know any spoilers?
4. Who’s your favourite character?
5. What ship do you support?
Harry/Ginny and Ron/Hermione
6. What’s your favourite book?
Prisoner of Azkaban Interview with Joyce, Holland 1. How long have you been a Harry Potter fan?
Since Goblet of Fire
2. How long have you been queuing?
3. Do you know any spoilers?
4. Who’s your favourite character?
Snape, Malfoy and McGonagall
5. What ship do you support?
Not involved, like the idea of Ron/Hermione together
6. What’s your favourite book?
Order of the Phoenix Interview with Ryan, USA 1. How long have you been a Harry Potter fan?
2. How long have you been queuing?
3. Do you know any spoilers?
4. Who’s your favourite character?
5. What ship do you support?
6. What’s your favourite book?
Goblet of Fire Interview with Meredith, USA 1. How long have you been a Harry Potter fan?
2. How long have you been queuing?
3. Do you know any spoilers?
4. Who’s your favourite character?
Snape, Dumbledore and McGonagall
5. What ship do you support?
6. What’s your favourite book?
Goblet of Fire Interview with Vera, Germany 1. How long have you been a Harry Potter fan?
2. How long have you been queuing?
3. Do you know any spoilers?
4. Who’s your favourite character?
5. What ship do you support?
6. What’s your favourite book?
Order of the Phoenix
J.K. Rowling 'Deathly Hallows' Webchat
J.K. Rowling 'Deathly Hallows' Webchat
J.K. Rowling Interview The Deathly Hallows Web Chat July 2007
J.K. Rowling: I’m here and I can’t wait! Bring on the questions!
Leaky Cauldron: What, if anything, did the wizarding world learn, and how did society change, as a direct result of the war with voldemort? (i.E., not as a result of harry, ron and hermione’s future careers.)
J.K. Rowling: The Ministry of Magic was de-corrupted, and with Kingsley at the helm the discrimination that was always latent there was eradicated.
J.K. Rowling: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny et al would of course play a significant part in the re-building of wizarding society through their future careers. Ryan Love: From your fans at thesnitch.Co.Uk. Weren’t we supposed to see ginny display powerful magical abilities in ‘deathly hallows’ and find out why it’s significant that she’s the seventh child? Was her main role in the books only to be harry’s love interest?
J.K. Rowling: Hi Ryan! Well, I think Ginny demonstrated powerful magic in the final battle, and that for a sixteen-year-old witch she acquitted herself pretty well. I don’t remember ever saying that her “seventh child” status would prove particularly
J.K. Rowling: important in the last book, though ‘ are you sure I said that?!
J.K. Rowling: No, the Malfoys weaseled their way out of trouble (again) due to the fact that they colluded (albeit out of self-interest) with Harry at the end of the battle. Georgina: Did lucius malfoy, and all the other escaped death eaters, go back to azkaban Elisabeth: In the chapter of kings cross, are they behind the veil or in some world between the real world and the veil?
J.K. Rowling: You can make up your own mind on this, but I think that Harry entered a kind of limbo between life and death. Renee: From reading about the original owners of the deathly hallows, the peverell brothers, I’m wondering if harry and voldermort are distantly related voldermorts grandfather ended up with the resurrection stone ring?
J.K. Rowling: Yes, Harry and Voldemort are distantly related through the Peverells.
J.K. Rowling: Of course, nearly all wizarding families are related if you trace them back through the centuries. As was made clear in ‘Deathly hallows’, Peverell blood would run through many wizarding families. Fomy: What did you feel when you finally wrote the kiss, awaited so much by the fans, of ron and hermione
J.K. Rowling: I loved writing it, and I loved the fact that Hermione took the initiative!
J.K. Rowling: Ron had finally got SPEW and earned himself a snog! Angela Morrissey: Why is it that albus dumbledore can see harry under his invisibility cloak at certain moments? (during the series is the cloak only infallible to those who do not own a deathly hallow).
J.K. Rowling: Dumbledore, who could perform magic without needing to say the incantation aloud, was using ‘homenum revelio’ -
J.K. Rowling: ‘ the human-presence-revealing spell Hermione makes use of in Deathly Hallows. Jamie Lewis: What ever happened to winky?
J.K. Rowling: She’s still at Hogwarts, and she was one of the oncoming house-elves who attacked the Death Eaters in the final battle. Katieleigh: Does hermione still continue to do work with spew and is life any better for house elves!
J.K. Rowling: Hermione began her post-Hogwarts career at the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures
J.K. Rowling: where she was instrumental in greatly improving life for house-elves and their ilk. She then moved (despite her jibe to Scrimgeour) to the Dept. of Magical Law Enforcement
J.K. Rowling: where she was a progressive voice who ensured the eradication of oppressive, pro-pureblood laws. Tineke: Did teddy grow up living with his grandmother?
J.K. Rowling: Yes, Teddy was raised by Andromeda.
J.K. Rowling: However, unlike Neville, who was also raised by his grandmother
J.K. Rowling: Teddy had his godfather, Harry, and all his father’s friends in the Order, to visit and stay with. Blodeuwedd: Hi jk, first of all thank you for all the books I have enjoyed each and every one of them could you tell us what professions harry, hermione, ron, ginny and luna go on to have did the trio do their final year at school and take their newts who became hea
J.K. Rowling: Harry did so (just because Voldemort was gone, it didn’t mean that there would not be other Dark witches and wizards in the coming years).
J.K. Rowling: Ron joined George at Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes, which became an enormous money-spinner..
J.K. Rowling: After a few years as a celebrated player for the Holyhead Harpies, Ginny retired to have her family and to become the Senior Quidditch correspondent at the Daily Prophet!
J.K. Rowling: Thank you! I’ve already answered about Hermione. Kingsley became permanent Minister for Magic, and naturally he wanted Harry to head up his new Auror department. Camille: What or who is peeves exactly, is he linked with the blood barons story?
J.K. Rowling: No, Peeves is not linked to the bloody Baron’s story.
J.K. Rowling: He is a spirit of chaos that entered the building long ago and has proved impossible to eradicate! Jessie: Were the deathly hallows based on any realworld myth or faerie tale
J.K. Rowling: Perhaps ‘the Pardoner’s Tale’, by Chaucer. Alicepie: What happend to luna, did she get married who to?
J.K. Rowling: She ended up marrying (rather later than Harry & co) a fellow naturalist and grandson of the great Newt Scamander (Rolf)! Rosi: What does in essence divided mean?
J.K. Rowling: Dumbledore suspected that the snake’s essence was divided ‘ that it contained part of Voldemort’s soul, and that was why it was so very adept at doing his bidding.
J.K. Rowling: This also explained why Harry, the last and unintended Horcrux, could see so clearly through the snake’s eyes, just as he regularly sees through Voldemort’s.
J.K. Rowling: Dumbledore is thinking aloud here, edging towards the truth with the help of the Pensieve. Superhans: What was duldeys worst memory?
J.K. Rowling: I think that when Dudley was attacked by the Dementors he saw himself, for the first time, as he really was. This was an extremely painful, but ultimately salutory lesson, and began the transformation in him.
Superhans: What was duldeys worst memory?
J.K. Rowling: I think that when Dudley was attacked by the Dementors he saw himself, for the first time, as he really was. This was an extremely painful, but ultimately salutory lesson, and began the transformation in him. Casey Kunze: Who killed remus and tonks I think if I knew this, I would get some closure over the very sad, but understandable, death of two of my favorite characters
J.K. Rowling: I’m so sorry! I met a couple on launch night who had come dressed as Lupin and Tonks, and I felt dreadfully guilty as I signed their books!
J.K. Rowling: Remus was killed by Dolohov and Tonks by Bellatrix.
Laura Trego: Was the absence of snapes portrait in the headmasters office in the last scene innocent or deliberate
J.K. Rowling: It was deliberate. Snape had effectively abandoned his post before dying, so he had not merited inclusion in these august circles.
J.K. Rowling: However, I like to think that Harry would be instrumental in ensuring that Snape’s portrait would appear there in due course.
Stephanie: If the wand chooses the wizard, then why do wands work when passed down from father to son eg neville had his fathers wand
J.K. Rowling: As established by Ollivander, a wizard can use almost any wand, it is simply that a wand that chooses him/her will work best. Where there is a family connection, a wand will work a little better than a wand chosen at random, I think. James Farrell: How did umbridge manage to conjure a patronus while wearing the locket when harry wasnt able to?
J.K. Rowling: Because she is a very nasty piece of work. She has an affinity for this horrible object, which would help rather than hinder her. Tineke: What happened to percy did he return to his job at the ministry
J.K. Rowling: Yes, the new improved Percy ended up as a high-ranking official under Kingsley. Su: How did neville get the gryfindor sword, is there a link to the hat?
J.K. Rowling: Yes, there is very definitely a link to the hat!
J.K. Rowling: Neville, most worthy Gryffindor, asked for help just as Harry did in the Chamber of secrets, and Gryffindor’s sword was transported into Gryffindor’s old hat
J.K. Rowling: ‘ the Sorting Hat was Gryffindor’s initially, as you know.
J.K. Rowling: Griphook was wrong ‘ Gryffindor did not ‘steal’ the sword, not unless you are a goblin fanatic and believe that all goblin-made objects really belong to the maker.
Steph: Will azkaban still use dementors?
J.K. Rowling: No, definitely not. Kingsley would see to that. The use of Dementors was always a mark of the underlying corruption of the Ministry, as Dumbledore constantly maintained.
Smallbutpowerful: On behalf of all harry potter fans who consider themselves to be hufflepuffs could you please describe the hufflepuff common room as it is the only common room harry hasn’t visited.
J.K. Rowling: The Hufflepuff common room is accessed through a portrait near the kitchens, as I am sure you have deduced.
J.K. Rowling: Sorry ‘ I should say ‘painting’ rather than portrait, because it is a still-life.
J.K. Rowling: It is a very cosy and welcoming place, as dissimilar as possible from Snape’s dungeon. Lots of yellow hangings, and fat armchairs, and little underground tunnels leading to the dormitories, all of which have perfectly round doors, like barrel tops. Camille: How is george getting along without his twin
J.K. Rowling: Well, I don’t think that George would ever get over losing Fred, which makes me feel so sad. However, he names his first child and son Fred, and he goes on to have a very successful career, helped by good old Ron. Jessica Lynn: Did hagrid have to be able to see thestrals in order to train them if so, whose death did hagrid witness
J.K. Rowling: Hagrid has seen many deaths in quite a long life, so yes, he can see Thestrals. Allie: What did dumbledore truly see in the mirror of erised
J.K. Rowling: He saw his family alive, whole and happy ‘ Ariana, Percival and Kendra all returned to him, and Aberforth reconciled to him. Snapedinhalf: You promised that someone will do magic late in life in book 7. I’ve now read it three times but cant work out who it might have been! Please help!!
J.K. Rowling: I’m sorry about this, but I changed my mind!
J.K. Rowling: My very earliest plan for the story involved somebody managing to get to Hogwarts when they had never done magic before, but I had changed my mind by the time I’d written the third book. Christiana: How did voldemort get his wand back after he was in was exile?
J.K. Rowling: Wormtail, desperate to curry favour, salvaged it from the place it had fallen and carried it to him. I admit that would have been a bit of a feat for a rat, but they are highly intelligent creatures! Amanda: Hiya, ive grown up with harry and the gang, did any of the characters change in any unexpected ways as they grew up
J.K. Rowling: They all became pretty much what I expected/planned them to become.
J.K. Rowling: Of course they changed as I wrote, but nobody surprised me very much! Ravleen: How much does the fact that voldemort was conceived under a love potion have to do with his nonability to understand love is it more symbolic
J.K. Rowling: It was a symbolic way of showing that he came from a loveless union ‘ but of course, everything would have changed if Merope had survived and raised him herself and loved him.
J.K. Rowling: The enchantment under which Tom Riddle fathered Voldemort is important because it shows coercion, and there can’t be many more prejudicial ways to enter the world than as the result of such a union. Lechicaneuronline: Do you think snape is a hero
J.K. Rowling: Yes, I do; though a very flawed hero. An anti-hero, perhaps. He is not a particularly likeable man in many ways. He remains rather cruel, a bully, riddled with bitterness and insecurity ‘ and yet he loved, and showed loyalty to that love
J.K. Rowling: and, ultimately, laid down his life because of it. That’s pretty heroic!
James Farrell: Voldemort never told anyone about his horcruxes, so how on earth did regulus black discover his secret
J.K. Rowling: Horcrux magic was not Voldemort’s own invention; as is established in the story, other wizards had done it, though never gone as far as to make six.
J.K. Rowling: Voldemort dropped oblique hints; in his arrogance, he did not believe anybody would be clever enough to understand them.
J.K. Rowling: (He does so in the graveyard of Little Hangleton, in front of Harry). He did this before Regulus and Regulus guessed, correctly, what it was that made Voldemort so convinced he could not die. Jaclyn: Did lily ever have feelings back for snape
J.K. Rowling: Yes. She might even have grown to love him romantically (she certainly loved him as a friend) if he had not loved Dark Magic so much, and been drawn to such loathesome people and acts. Boggo: Would you choose the hallow that is the cloak, like youre supposed to, and would you be tempted to use the others
J.K. Rowling: My temptation would be Harry’s, ie, the Stone. But I believe, as does Harry ultimately, that the greatest wisdom is in accepting that we must all die, and moving on.
Cornersoul: So what happens to all the dementors where will they go will they be destroyed if so, how
J.K. Rowling: You cannot destroy Dementors, though you can limit their numbers if you eradicate the conditions in which they multiply, ie, despair and degradation. As I’ve already said, though,
J.K. Rowling: the Ministry no longer used them to torment its opponents. Michael: Why didnt fawkes come back to help harry I would have thought that since harry was so loyal to dumbledore, fawkes would have been harrys new pet
J.K. Rowling: Something had to leave the school for good when Dumbledore died, and I decided that would be Fawkes. Dumbledore was a very great and irreplacable man, and the loss of Fawkes (and the fact that he was ‘non-transferable’!) expresses this symbolically Roseweasley: Why was colin creavey still a student at hogwarts when he was muggleborn surely he would have been locked up and interogated, not allowed back to school therefore, he shouldnt have died
J.K. Rowling: Colin wasn’t a student. He sneaked back with the rest of the DA, along with Fred, George and the rest. He ought not to have stayed behind when McGonagall told him to leave, but alas ‘ he did. Delailah: How does dumbledore understand parseltongue?
J.K. Rowling: Dumbledore understood Mermish, Gobbledegook and Parseltongue. The man was brilliant.
Jessie: Will lockhart ever recover?
J.K. Rowling: No. Nor would I want him to. He’s happy where he is, and I’m happier without him!
Annie: Does the wizarding world now know that snape was dumbledores man, or do they still think he did a bunk
J.K. Rowling: Harry would ensure that Snape’s heroism was known.
J.K. Rowling: Of course, that would not stop Rita Skeeter writing ‘Snape: Scoundrel or Saint?’
Vio91: Is teddy lupin a werewolf?
J.K. Rowling: No, he’s a Metamorphmagus like his mother
Nippy23: We see socks a lot throughout the series, such as dobby’s love for them and dumbledore’s claim to see them in the mirror of erised, what’s the reason behind all the socks
J.K. Rowling: Nothing deep and significant, I’m afraid. They’re just a comedy item.
Lady Bella: Whose murders did voldemor use to create each of the horcruxes
J.K. Rowling: The diary ‘ Moaning Myrtle. The cup ‘ Hepzibah Smith, the previous owner. The locket ‘ a Muggle tramp. Nagini ‘ Bertha Jorkins (Voldemort could use a wand once he regained a rudimentary body, as long as the victim was subdued).
J.K. Rowling: The diadem ‘ an Albanian peasant. The ring ‘ Tom Riddle Sr.
Sampotterish: Why did dumbledore want ron to keep his deluminator?
J.K. Rowling: Because he knew that Ron might need a little more guidance than the other two.
J.K. Rowling: Dumbledore understood Ron’s importance in the trio. He wasn’t the most skilled, or the most intelligent, but he held them together; his humour and his good heart were essential.
Carol: Do dementors have souls
J.K. Rowling: No, that’s what makes them frightening!
Jess Mac: What was the third smell that hermione smelt in the amortentia potion in hbp (ie the particular essence of ron)?
J.K. Rowling: I think it was his hair. Every individual has very distinctive-smelling hair, don’t you find?
Natalie: Are house divisions as prevalaent in harry’s children’s hogwarts as in the previous generations
J.K. Rowling: Slytherin has become diluted. It is no longer the pureblood bastion it once was. Nevertheless, its dark reputation lingers, hence Albus Potter’s fears.
Nithya: Lily detested mulciber,averyif snape really loved her,why didnt he sacrifice their company for her sake
J.K. Rowling: Well, that is Snape’s tragedy. Given his time over again he would not have become a Death Eater, but like many insecure, vulnerable people (like Wormtail) he craved membership of something big and powerful, something impressive.
J.K. Rowling: He wanted Lily and he wanted Mulciber too. He never really understood Lily’s aversion; he was so blinded by his attraction to the dark side he thought she would find him impressive if he became a real Death Eater.
Alborz: What does it mean to be the master of death?
J.K. Rowling: As Dumbledore explains, the real master of Death accepts that he must die, and that there are much worse things in the world of the living.
J.K. Rowling: It is not about striving for immortality, but about accepting mortality.
Barbara: I was very disappointed to see harry use crucio and seem to enjoy it his failure to perform that kind of curse in the past has been a credit to his character why the change, and did harry later regret having enjoyed deliberately causing pain?
J.K. Rowling: Harry is not, and never has been, a saint. Like Snape, he is flawed and mortal.
J.K. Rowling: Harry’s faults are primarily anger and occasional arrogance.
J.K. Rowling: On this occasion, he is very angry and acts accordingly. He is also in an extreme situation, and attempting to defend somebody very good against a violent and murderous opponent.
Nicole: What do you think is the funniest moment you have written in the series?
J.K. Rowling: It sounds very vain to answer this! My favourite in this book is probably that line of Ron’s ‘really captures the scope and tragedy of the thing, doesn’t it?’
Courtney: What child did harry give the marauders map to if any?
J.K. Rowling: I’ve got a feeling he didn’t give it to any of them, but that James sneaked it out of his father’s desk one day.
Karin: What did petunia wanted to say to hary at the end of the dursleys departing?
J.K. Rowling: I think that for one moment she trembled on the verge of wishing Harry luck; that she almost acknowledged that her loathing of his world, and of him, was born out of jealousy.
J.K. Rowling: But she couldn’t do it; years of pretending that ‘normal’ was best had hardened her too much.
Leaky Cauldron: Please pose and answer the question you’d most like to address about the series! (a ha, turned it back on you.)
J.K. Rowling: Oooo, you’re tough.
J.K. Rowling: I must admit, I always wondered why nobody ever asked me what Dumbledore’s wand was made of!
J.K. Rowling: And I couldn’t say that, even when asked ‘what do you wish you’d been asked’’ because it would have sign-posted just how significant that wand would become!
Nora: Is auntie muriels tiara important?
J.K. Rowling: No, sorry’ except to illustrate what an old bat she is.
Nigel: Can harry speak parseltongue when he is no longer a horcrux?
J.K. Rowling: No, he loses the ability, and is very glad to do so.
Nikki: How did sirius twoway mirror end up with aberforth or is it another twoway mirror?
J.K. Rowling: You see Aberforth meeting Mundungus in Hogsmeade. That was the occasion on which Dung, who had taken Sirius’s mirror from Grimmauld Place, sold it to Aberforth.
Tierney Roth: If moody got a magic eye, and wormtail got a magic hand, couldnt there be some way to form a magical ear, if only to cover up the hole and make george look more symmetrical
J.K. Rowling: Yes, he could wear a false ear (I’m starting to giggle at the thought. Perhaps he’s better off with the hole!)
Lucy: What is dumbledores boggart?
J.K. Rowling: The corpse of his sister
Pablo: What is toadface umbridge doing now?
J.K. Rowling: Glad to see you like her as much as I do!
J.K. Rowling: She was arrested, interrogated and imprisoned for crimes against Muggleborns.
Tina: Do the muggles notice that there arent any weird things going on now that voldemorts gone?
J.K. Rowling: Yes, the world seems a much sunnier place (literally ‘ with the Dementors gone the weather gets better!)
J.K. Rowling: We are having a heavily Dementor-influenced summer here in the UK.
Katie Mosher: How exactly do muggleborns receive magical ability?
J.K. Rowling: Muggle-borns will have a witch or wizard somewhere on their family tree, in some cases many, many generations back. The gene re-surfaces in some unexpected places.
Maggie: Is rita skeeter still reporting?
J.K. Rowling: Naturally, what could stop Rita? I imagine she immediately dashed off a biography of Harry after he defeated Voldemort. One quarter truth to three quarters rubbish.
Maggie Keir: Was hermione able to find her parents and undo the memory damage?
J.K. Rowling: Yes, she brought them home straight away.
Lola Victorpujebet: Was minerva in love with albus?
J.K. Rowling: No! Not everybody falls in love with everybody else’
Rachel Nell: Jkr, thank you for such amazing books! I would like to know how come noone seemed to know that lily and snape were friends in school they were obviously meeting for chats, etc didnt james know their past?
J.K. Rowling: Thank you for your thank you!
J.K. Rowling: Yes, it was known that they were friendly and then stopped being friends. Nothing more than that would be widely known.
J.K. Rowling: James always suspected Snape harboured deeper feelings for Lily, which was a factor in James’ behaviour to Snape.
Abbey: Will the chuddley cannons ever win the quidditch world cup?
J.K. Rowling: Bless them, perhaps. But they’d need to replace the entire team and down several cauldrons of Felix Felicitas.
Hayleyhaha: Why did regulus have a change of heart?
J.K. Rowling: He was not prepared for the reality of life as a Death Eater. It was Voldemort’s attempted murder of Kreacher that really turned him.
Stephval: Is scorpius as misguided as his father, or has draco improved and taught his child(ren) better?
J.K. Rowling: Scorpius has a lot going against him, not least that name. However, I think Scorpius would be an improvement on his father, whom misfortune has sobered! [The previous question was posed after the answer appeared.] J.K. Rowling: Sorry, technical hitch ‘ just answered a question before seeing it!
J.K. Rowling: I am clearly getting better at Legilimency.
Lona: Did draco and harry lose their animosity towards eachother when voldemort died?
J.K. Rowling: Not really. There would be a kind of rapprochement, in that Harry knows Draco hated being a Death Eater, and would not have killed Dumbledore; similarly, Draco would feel a grudging gratitude towards Harry for saving his life.
J.K. Rowling: Real friendship would be out of the question, though. Too much had happened prior to the final battle.
Hannah: Why was snape so badly groomed?
J.K. Rowling: Hmm. Good question. Poor eyesight? Did he look in the mirror and believe he was gorgeous as he was?
J.K. Rowling: I think it more likely that he valued other qualities in himself!
J.K. Rowling: I think not. I imagine that it was squashed into the ground by a centaur’s hoof as the centaurs dashed to the aid of the Hogwarts fighters, and thereafter became buried.
Adwait313: Has the jinx on the dada teaching post at hogwarts been lifted?
J.K. Rowling: Yes, at last! Incidentally, I know some have asked about Quirrell with regard to this question.
J.K. Rowling: He was teaching at Hogwarts for more than a year, but NOT in the post of D.A.D.A. teacher. He was previously Muggle Studies professor.
Emily: What ever happened to aberforth?
J.K. Rowling: He is still there, at the Hog’s Head, playing w
Lee: I recently purchsed nimbus twothousand it has a terrible knack of veering left is their anything I can do (wihout the use of a wand it was broken by a hippogriff) to repair it back to it original straight flying state
J.K. Rowling: Hm. I would advise a trip to Arkie Alderton’s Kwik-Repair Shop. Never attempt to mend a broom at home, the consequences can be disastrous.
Abjoppotter: Is narcissa malfoy really a death eater?
J.K. Rowling: No, she never had the Dark Mark and was never a fully paid-up member. However, her views were identical to those of her husband until Voldemort planned the death of her son.
Emzzy: Did mr weasley ever get around to fixing sirius motorbike?
J.K. Rowling: Of course, and it ended up in Harry’s possession.
Lulu: Do you think dumbledore was a little more fond of ron than either ron or harry believed?
J.K. Rowling: Yes, I do. Through Harry’s account of Ron, and from reports of the professors who taught Ron, Dumbledore understood Ron better than Ron ever knew, and liked him, too.
Chelatina: Was firenze ever welcomed back into the herd?
J.K. Rowling: Yes, the rest of the herd was forced to acknowledge that Firenze’s pro-human leanings were not shameful, but honourable.
Kristy: What was your favorite scene to write in deathly hallows?
J.K. Rowling: Chapter 34: The Forest Again.
Chely: James patronus is a stag and lilys a doe is that a coincidence?
J.K. Rowling: No, the Patronus often mutates to take the image of the love of one’s life (because they so often become the ‘happy thought’ that generates a Patronus).
Jon: Since voldemort was afraid of death, did he choose to be a ghost if so where does he haunt or is this not possible due to his horcruxes?
J.K. Rowling: No, he is not a ghost. He is forced to exist in the stunted form we witnessed in King’s Cross.
Angela Morrissey: Were there seven horcruxes not six as dumbledore intimated to harry if so, does this mean that voldemort had an 8 part soul not a 7
J.K. Rowling: Yes, Voldemort accidentally broke his soul into eight parts, not seven.
Laura Trego: Did hermione really put a memory charm on her parents she says she did but then about 50 pages later tells ron shes never done a memory charm?
J.K. Rowling: They are two different charms. She has not wiped her parents’ memories (as she later does to Dolohov and Rowle); she has bewitched them to make them believe that they are different people.
Maura: How come voldemort was no longer employing occlumency against harry, as he was in the 6th book?
J.K. Rowling: He is losing control, and unable to prevent Harry seeing into his mind. The connection between them is never fully understood by Voldemort, who does not know that Harry is a Horcrux.
Gandalfxj9: Did krum ever find love?
J.K. Rowling: Of course, though he had to go back to his native Bulgaria to do so.
Twinkletoes: Why did you feel that hedwigs death was necessary?
J.K. Rowling: The loss of Hedwig represented a loss of innocence and security. She has been almost like a cuddly toy to Harry at times. Voldemort killing her marked the end of childhood. I’m sorry’ I know that death upset a LOT of people!
Lecanard: Will we see harry and his friends having their own history on chocolate frogs cards?
J.K. Rowling: Definitely, and Ron will describe this as his finest hour.
Mike: What is the incantation for creating a horcrux?
J.K. Rowling: I cannot possibly tell you. Some things are better left unsaid.
Samantha: Was snape the only death eater who could produce a full patronus?
J.K. Rowling: Yes, because a Patronus is used against things that the Death Eaters generally generate, or fight alongside. They would not need Patronuses.
Jess: How did nagini could see harry and hermione if they were under the invisibility cloak?
J.K. Rowling: Snakes’ sense are very different from human ones. They can detect heat and movement in a way that we can’t.
Chucky: Have you had another alternatives as book title apart from deathly hallows?
J.K. Rowling: The two other possibilities were ‘the Elder Wand’ (used instead as a chapter title) and ‘the Peverell Quest’, which I decided against quite quickly. I think the word ‘Quest’ is a bit corny!
Iglooanne: What would your patronus be?
J.K. Rowling: I’d like an otter, like Hermione, but I’ve got a feeling it might be a large dog.
The Stoic Cycle: Why is it that voldemort is unaware that the gaunt ring is a hallow, when he has worn it (such as in the memory the diary shows harry in book 2)
J.K. Rowling: Wearing the ring would not make the stone work. The stone existed outside the ring originally, and to use it you had to turn it three times in your hand.
Finchburg: Does the dark mark remain on those that voldemort has branded after his death or does the tattoo dissapear now he is gone thanks for considering my question!
J.K. Rowling: My pleasure, Finchburg! The Dark Mark would fade to a scar, not dissimilar to the lightning scar on Harry’s forehead.
J.K. Rowling: Like Harry’s, these scars would no longer burn or hurt.
Katie Mosher: How is the quibbler doing these days?
J.K. Rowling: Pretty well, actually. It has returned to its usual condition of advanced lunacy, and is appreciated for its unintentional humour.
Camille: Dear mrs rowling, while I’m here I want to thank you for making me laugh, cry (a lot! Most of all for sirius!) since I’m 11 quite a long time for me as im 20 Harry’s magic and yours will be with me forever! Thanks!
J.K. Rowling: Thank you very much, Camille, and I’m sorry about Sirius. That man’s got a lot of fans.
J.K. Rowling: Mostly female, I might add.
Nicofr: Does winky still drink a lot of butterbeer?
J.K. Rowling: She’s dried out a bit now.
Isabel: Did bellatrix ever love her husband, or did she have love only for voldemort?
J.K. Rowling: She took a pureblood husband, because that was what was expected of her, but her true love was always Voldemort.
jenny: How did snape keep his patronus secret from the rest of the order?
J.K. Rowling: He was careful not to use the talking Patronus means of communication with them. This was not difficult, as his particular job within the Order, ie, as spy, meant that sending a Patronus to any of them might have given away his true allegiance.
Darchey: Did voldemort ever love a girl?
J.K. Rowling: No, he loved only power, and himself. He valued people whom he could use to advance his own objectives.
Leo: What would your wand be made of?
J.K. Rowling: I’d like Harry’s wand ‘ holly and phoenix feather.
Brian: Did the D.A. keep the coins?
J.K. Rowling: Naturally. They would be like badges or medals of honour ‘ proof that the owner had been at the heart of the fight against Voldemort from the start! I like to imagine Neville showing his to his admiring pupils.
Tracie: How relieved are you that you can finally talk about the series no more secretkeeping!
J.K. Rowling: I’m elated! It is great to be able to do this at last, I’ve looked forward to it for so long!
Lou: How did snape get into grimmauld place to get the second half of the letter, if there were protection spells on the house stopping snape getting in?
J.K. Rowling: Snape entered the house immediately after Dumbledore’ death, before Moody put up the spells against him.
Koen Van Der Voort: Why is the scar on harrys forehead lightning shaped?
J.K. Rowling: To be honest, because it’s a cool shape. I couldn’t have my hero sport a doughnut-shaped scar.
Louie: Did mariettas pimply formation ever fade?
J.K. Rowling: Eventually, but it left a few scars. I loathe a traitor!
Katie B: Why was kings cross the place harry went to when he died?
J.K. Rowling: For many reasons. The name works rather well, and it has been established in the books as the gateway between two worlds, and Harry would associate it with moving on between two worlds (don’t forget that it is Harry’s image we see, not necessarily
J.K. Rowling: what is really there.
J.K. Rowling: We seem to have over-run. We’ve had over 120,000 questions, I’ve been told!
J.K. Rowling: What can I say? Thank you so much for sticking with me, and with Harry, for so long. You have made this an incredible journey for Harry’s author.
J.K. Rowling: I like this question, so I’ll take it for my last.
Tess: What muggle song do you imagine would be played at dumbledores funeral?
J.K. Rowling: Surely ‘I did it my way’ by Frank Sinatra.
J.K. Rowling: I’m very aware I haven’t answered everything’ keep an eye on my website, and I’ll try and answer some more questions in due course!
J.K. Rowling: Thanks very much everybody, I’ve had a great time, and I hope I’ve covered some of the outstanding questions (I hear a distant roar of ‘YOU DIDN’T GET TO MINE!’)
J.K. Rowling: That’s it! I’m Disapparating. Bye!
Interview with Triwizard Contenders
Interview with Triwizard Contenders
Interview with the Triwizard Contenders
This was a roundtable interview conducted in November at Leavesden Studios by MuggleNet, TLC, IGN, Dark Horizons, and Coming Soon.
How does it feel to be the new blood in such a popular series of movies?
Robert Pattinson: Well, I thought it would be more daunting then it has turned out to be. I think I’ve kind of integrated pretty easily, but everyone’s pretty friendly, so it’s not particularly difficult to do that. I think being a “new blood” hasn’t really affected me that much.
Stanislav Ianevski: I feel as if what I’ve been doing hasn’t really changed me, as well. I feel as if I’m a part of a new family now. I’ve settled down really well, I think.
Were you fans of the movies before doing this or had you not paid attention?
Stan: Well, me, personally, not directly, but as soon as I got the part, I got the past books and the films.
Robert: That’s more or less the same as me. I hadn’t read any of them until I heard about the audition and then I read it about a week before the audition. I was pretty unitiated.
Stan, this being your first movie ever, what’s it like coming onto a set this extravagant for your first experience?
Stan: Well, I didn’t exactly know what I was going into, so I think I sort of took it the more relaxed way. Then, as time went by, I started getting amazed myself, thinking of the future in that what we do in that moment, we’ll actually be seeing that all over the world on screens next year. It was a little scary feeling as time went by. You try to give your best for the viewers.
Can you tell us how you got the part of Victor Krum?
Stan: Well, I had only been in little school thing. In Israel, we had little theatre things, but they were minor. I got the part in my current school. We had afternoon registration and I was late, and I was speaking to one of my friends in school, running to sign in at the late afternoon. The casting director was walking by and she heard my voice. She turned around and told the head of drama that she wanted me to come to audition. That’s how it started. I went to a lot of auditions and I eventually got to meet Mike and got the part.
What is Mike Newell like to work as a director? Was he rather paternal to the younger actors?
Robert: Sort of. Everyone says that he’s very much of an actors’ director and he is quite hands-on. Nothing’s kind of theoretical. He’ll show you exactly what he wants to do. It’s not sort of anything high-flung about it. He won’t assume anything to any of the actors. He’ll talk to you the same if you’re Alan Rickman or if you’re an extra. He’s a really good director to work with.
Stan: He creates a really strong atmosphere when he’s around, and I think it’s also really motivating for the actors.
Of the other actors you’ve worked with, which of the veterans most impressed you?
Stan: Personally, every single actor on this film has his own strong side, and I’ve been impressed by everyone, really, but especially Dumbledore, Michael Gambon, and Alan Rickman. The bigger actors seem to be more friendly then I thought they would be, and they really make you feel like you’re there to have fun rather than work. (At this point, actress Clemence Poey joins the two guys.)
Since you’re just joining us, what’s it like being the “new blood” in this movie?
Clemence Poey: It’s been fine really. Everyone’s been really friendly. You don’t feel like an intruder in a way. You feel really welcomed, and it’s a new film each time. We’re not the only ones being new.
How was it shooting the Tri-Wizard scenes?
Robert: The maze right at the beginning was tough, physically demanding stuff. It’s me and Stan and Dan doing it for most of the time, and most of the special effects are kind of real. The whole thing was hydraulic, so the maze is crushing and squeezing in on you, and no one knew if you were going to sort of die, because it closed the whole way. It was all pretty exciting stuff. I had never done anything like that before.
Stan: It was the very first thing we were doing, as well, and we had quite a few laughs. We were at some times a bit scared.
What are some of the things that each of you face during the maze, which is the third task in the Tri-Wizard contest?
Clemence Dangerous things, I guess. We haven’t seen it yet.
Robert: What we face? It’s kind of nothing in a way. It’s different to the book how it’s been portrayed in this, quite a lot different. It’s like your biggest enemy is yourself and the isolation and fear of what’s behind the next corner, of not knowing anything. And the maze itself is alive, rather than being monsters and stuff inside. When you’re walking around a corner, you never see anything, but all the competitors go insane, because of the competition and the general fear, like being scared of the dark over a period of time.
So there won’t be any 15-foot tall spiders like in the book?
Robert: No, but it’s much scarier. I shouldn’t really say that to be controversial.
What’s the coolest scene you’ve filmed that you’re most looking forward to seeing on the big screen?
Robert: I think probably the final sequence of scenes from the end of the maze and the big fight scene finale. That’s going to be really, really cool.
Stan: I’m looking forward to the more action scenes as well, especially the one me and Rob filmed right at the beginning where we were fighting in the maze. I remember that very clearly.
So we know what was the hardest part, but what was the most fun for you to do?
Robert: All the physical things were probably the most fun things, as well. The underwater stuff was really cool, but bizarre. You can’t experience that anywhere else. There’s nothing in the pool, and that’s the scene that I’m most looking forward to seeing because you can’t actually see anything. There’s nothing to see, so everything is very devoid, the entire environment.
Can you talk a bit about the underwater training you went through for the second task?
Robert: I did about three weeks training just before the maze and that was the first thing I did for anything. Yeah, and how long did we shoot underwater? It was two months, I think, but I was only there for three weeks. It’s pretty strange, because you can’t see anything. Everyone’s in blue wetsuits and you get something jammed into your mouth. You have a megaphone Tannoy (that’s a speaker for you non-Brits) under the water, which tells you “Look more scared” or something. “Stop breathing.” (laughter)
Were any of you certified divers before this and did you know you’d be doing so much swimming before you got the part?
Robert: I wasn’t. Just general swimming.
Stan: I wasn’t either.
Clemence: Well, I think we got one from the training. It was the first time for me. I had never scubadived before, but I know they made sure I was able to swim when my contract showed up. That was it.
Which one of you ended up spending the most time underwater?
Robert: I don’t know, because [Celeste] had to fight the Grindylow.
Clemence: Yeah, I don’t think I was supposed to have that much, and then I got a bit more.
How is it fighting in a blue screen tank against a non-existent monster?
Clemence: It’s pretty scary at first, just because you can’t breathe. It’s just not natural and you just want to go back to the surface. They keep telling you that you’re going to get used to it, and you just stop coming up all the time. You actually spend three hours underwater, which is great by the end of it, because it’s really relaxing. It’s a very peaceful world.
Robert: And you’re not self-conscious at all, because you know that whatever you do, you’re going to look like an idiot. (laughter)
What did you guys have to do underwater?
Robert: I had to kind of look around (laughter) and point and I have to tell Harry to hurry up, so I didn’t have a huge amount to do.
Clemence: Did you actually talk?
Robert: No, I didn’t really do anything. I just kind of point at my watch. There’s so much chlorine in the water, you can’t actually see each other, so it took almost the whole day just to get the right angle. You can’t get any of the timing right. (Note: Spoiler warnings for those who haven’t read the book follow. You can read them by scrolling over them with your mouse.)
Robert, your character dies in the book, so what was that experience like in the film?
Robert: Well, I haven’t actually died “live” yet but I’ve been dead a few times. It’s strange, but it’s quite sort of relaxing. You feel like a bit of a therapist, because everyone’s giving you all their grief, and you’re just lying there listening. Yeah, it was quite nice, like no pressure after a couple weeks. I enjoyed it.
Of all the costumes you each wear in the movie, which is your favorite?
Clemence: Why I think it’s going to be my ball dress. I haven’t worn it yet, but I tried it on, and I’m looking forward to wearing it. We’ll be shooting that in December, of course, so we’ll all be freezing, but it’s a very nice dress.
Robert: I think the costume which I have when I’m dead, the funeral costume. And I did request to have an open coffin.
Clemence: And then you attended your own funeral! He came and looked! (laughter)
Robert: I think the torn-up Voldemort blood-stained costume is probably my favorite.
Stan: I quite like my maze costume, as it’s the softest one of all. It’s made out of cotton and I prefer softer clothes.
All the clothes you’re wearing seems to be kind of heavy, Stan. Aren’t you hot all the time?
Stan: I don’t prefer much heat on me, but you have to wear it.
Clemence: We can swap if you want. (laughter)
Are we going to see you playing Quidditch at all in the movie?
Stan: Well, I’ve tried my broomstick out, and we are going to shoot Quidditch, but that’s still to come.
The fourth book seems to show a lot more of the growing teen’s hormones. Did you feel that sort of atmosphere on the set at all? (All three actors look at each other trying to decide who to answer, before both guys look at Clemence, at which point, they all start laughing.)
Clemence: No, the thing is that I’m always surrounded by fifteen really pretty girls, so when you walk down the set, you’ve got all of these extras (breathing heavily) because it’s a group. I don’t think we’d be like that if we’re on our own otherwise.
Robert, can you talk about the celebrity of being the Hogwarts champion and having to compete against the great Harry Potter?
Robert: I suppose it is quite cool, but then again, it is Harry Potter, so you’re never going to really compete. During the Great Hall sequence, my entrance is like you hear everyone whispering “It’s Cedric..it’s Cedric…” That’s really quite cool. You get a trip from it.
How has it been working with Daniel Radcliffe?
Robert: Really good. I’ve kind of done everything and I’ve only worked with Dan in almost every single scene, so yeah, I get on with him very well.
Stan: He’s a great boy. He’s just amazing. There’s not much that I can add to that.
Clemence: Me neither.
Robert: He’s incredibly hard working, as well.
Clemence: Yeah, he’s a true professional.
Stan: He’s always friendly and willing to help you.
Robert: He has to go to tutoring at the same time and the immediate switch between going from tutoring to actor all day every day, nearly 365 days a day. I think it’s absolutely incredible, and I would never ever be able to do that.
Have Daniel, Rupert or Emma talked to you about the mad fans you’ll be dealing with when the movie comes out or are they trying to keep that from you?
Robert: We kind of briefly met, and I was talking to Dan’s dad about his Christmas card to the fans. I think they’re printing out 20,000 Christmas cards, just in the first batch, just for his personal fan club. Just the scale of it is incredible. I got fan letters about a week after it was announced that I was cast from people who probably have no idea who I am really. I thought that was really strange.
What have each of you learned from doing this movie?
Clemence: The most important thing is about acting in front of blue screens. I mean, that’s something I’ve never done before, and acting underwater was quite a new experience, as well.
Robert: Yeah, I suppose the blue screen thing, I guess you can never really get that used to it. I did another movie, which is almost all blue screen, as well, so I had some idea, but not to the extent that it is in this movie. I think the technicalities of things is quite a big thing I’ve learned.
Stan: Everything that’s been done on the film has been pretty much new to me, so I’ve learned quite a lot.
You’ve been working on this movie since April, and you’re going to be shooting through March. Do you have anything else lined up for after it’s done yet?
Robert: I’m going to start doing castings again in January, since I have a month off and see what happens.
Stan: I’ve got to see my agent beforehand, but hopefully, there will be things to come.
Clemence: I’ve got two French movies lined-up actually, one for spring and the other for the summer, so it’s going to be very different. Small movies.
'Goblet of Fire' Movie Press Junket
'Goblet of Fire' Movie Press Junket
October 22, 2005
Thanks to TLC for all their help!
Interview with Director Mike Newell and Executive Producer David Heyman
Andrew Sims: Hey everyone! This is Andrew Sims from Mugglenet.com and host of MuggleNet’s weekly podcast, MuggleCast. On Saturday, October 22, various media from around the Harry Potter community were invited to a junket conference with the actors from the Harry Potter films, including Dan Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint. This first interview is with Goblet of Fire producer David Heyman and director Mike Newell, followed by an interview with the Triwizard contenders and the actress who plays Cho Chang; the third and final interview is with the Trio. Enjoy!
Conference Leader (CL): So good afternoon, everybody here in London, and for those of us joining us by phone from North America, good morning to all of you. Our first press conference will last approximately thirty minutes with director Mike Newell and Producer David Heyman. And with that, we shall welcome them to the dais.
CL: Okay, so as I mentioned, we’d like all questions from the audience here to come via the microphone so that people back, joining us on phone from North America, so that they can hear. So we’ll wait just a minute for some tape recorders to be placed.
Mike Newell (MN): Hi y’all. It’s very nice to see you. Thank you for being here. If you weren’t here, then who would you be? We’d be in trouble. We’d be in a lot of trouble.
Media: (unintelligible) from Boston Globe. I want to ask both Mike and David. How is this Harry Potter different from everything that’s gone before that? From everything about to change that’s on the posters to they’ve obviously hit adolescence and are growing up before our eyes. What’s the real dramatic difference in this one?
MN: I can go. For me, it’s that I think in the previous films, the age of the people, the age is crucial. What’s been happening is that the scale of the challenge to the leading character has been limited. He’s had a basilisk to deal with; he’s had this problem, that problem, but he’s never actually been challenged in his self. He’s never had to put up or shut up, he’s always had the group to rely on, and now in this one, he’s older, he’s more conscious so he knows much more what’s happening to him. And he knows when Voldemort says in the graveyard, “Come out here. What do you want – to take it in the back or take it in the front, but you’re going to get it whatever way.” But what Harry says is, “All right, I’ll show you.” And he comes out and he’s ready for a fight, and he knows that it’s a fight to the death. And he has the moral courage to do it. So for me, the difference is, and of course there are lots and lots of differences. There are lots of wonderful new things about this, like the jokes and growing up and girls, and “oh god how do we dance”, and all of those things. But the big difference is the challenge is kind of a moral one and he may not survive it.
David Heyman (DH): And for Harry, when we went to Jo the first time, it was a very sort of important thing for her. A theme that will be continued which is to stand up and be counted. Even if you might not win, rather you have to sound out for what you believe in.
MN: It was a very, very important time for that. David took me up there two years ago now and she talked about just that she talked about these moral challenges and she was brilliant about it. And I took a great deal away from that.
DH: And that’s really the fundamental essence that Mike took that sort of goes from the beginning to the end. It is a thriller, the world is expanded, and we’ve got two new schools coming in. We’ve got the first interactions with the opposite sex, both the good and the awkward and the uncomfortable sides of that that begins at thirteen/fourteen and never goes away. We have at its heart, as Mike says, is this moral development. Harry is now fourteen. He’s much more of an individual than he’s ever been before. He’s becoming more who he is and who is meant to be.
MN: Both you and I have taken Emma as a sort of honorary boy. But of course Emma now gets to be a young woman, which is something that I am personally very proud of. Because I thought that she was wonderful, allowed herself to be very vulnerable. She so easily could have said, “Well, I’m Hermione and I’m going to be this and that.” But she was very, very allowing of vulnerability and not knowing and not being kind of cool. And I was very pleased of that because I thought that we got that. Just as in number three, there is this hugely satisfying moment when she hits Malfoy “bop”; so is there in this one, there is this wonderful moment when she is unsure and insecure.
DH: And the other there is I think Mike is…the kids frankly are growing as actors and Mike is benefitting from them having had two films with Chris and one film with Alfonso. And at the same time I think the real reason and one of the many reasons that we brought Mike in is that he is one of the great directors of actors. And the kids are challenged, he didn’t let them rest one minute on what felt comfortable. He pushed and pushed and pushed and the performances show it.
Media: Mike, talking about challenges. As a director, you’ve got some of the greatest actors in England as the co-stars…about trying to use them. I mean, they are just in the background now to Harry’s story. I was wondering what the challenge is.
MN: It’s actually a problem. I think that the way that we attacked it, was that even though each of them is now, Maggie is established, Alan is established, Mike Gambon, Hagrid – all these people are established. So there is no more exploration for the audience to do of those characters. Indeed, they mustn’t change in a way, and so what you have to do is find a kind of lapidary way of using these tiny bits, which will show you parts of these characters that you’ve never seen before. So you’ve never seen Hagrid in love before; a very wonderful thing it is, too. She did this thing at rehearsal, nobody could believe it. This is Frances DeLatour, and they found themselves opposite one another. And of course they are both of them great natural comediennes. So it was great to see these two people kind of awkward and blushing and retiring with one another. And then suddenly, she bent forward and does what she actually does in the scene in the movie, she picks something out of his beard and we all thought, “Isn’t that wonderful!” and then god helps us she ate it. (laughter) So, you know, those little things. A tiny moment like that will keep those characters alive. But yes, it’s something you have to do. It’s difficult.
DH: Look at how Dumbledore in particular has really changed. Looking to explore, this is the first time that we’re really aware that things are getting beyond his control. And that he’s not altogether comfortable with it.
MN: It was really interesting actually, cause Michael was really game to do that. I think that he had not really wanted to be the same figure that Richard Harris had been, a figure of tremendous Olympian authority who’s never caught on the harp. He wanted something different simply because he’s not Richard Harris. And what he found in this one is that Dumbledore is fallible and not omnipotent, and indeed is behind the game. A great deal of what he does is about being inadequate rather than super adequate which of course is much more interesting to play.
Media: (unintelligible)…this is a question for Mike. How much awareness did you have for the movies and the books? Have you read them; have you watched the previous films before being approached for this?
MN: Before being approached? Yes, I had seen both of the films. I had one book, the first book, and seen both of the films before I was approached. And so I was hoping to be approached. And so therefore was educated pretty reasonably when I was approached. Of course then I started to particularly watch the films obsessively. I can still recite in my sleep those textual analysis of numbers one, two, and three.
DH: And Alfonso was very generous…
MN: Yes, he was actually as I’m sure Chris had been.
DH: As Mike has been in turn with David Yates. Alfonso allowed, engaged Mike in discussion of the process of visual effects and allowed him to see the film early. Just as Mike did with David Yates. I mean David Yates has seen a rough cut of the film, so it’s pretty, it’s been pretty great in that way. By the way, Mike was one of the people, I think Mike was the very first person who I approached for the first Harry Potter, so I’d wanted him from the very beginning.
Media: This movie is so different from the previous films. Do you think that’s it’s not only a kids’ movie anymore?
MN: It isn’t for me, not a kid movie for me. It’s an adventure story and it’s a huge entertainment. Warner Brothers absolutely hates me saying this, so I’m going to say it. For me, it has all the kind of variety that a Bollywood film has.
DH: Oh no, he said it!
MN: But anyways, it’s a huge broad-based entertainment. But above all else, David is habitually modest about this stuff, but he was very, very good when he first approached me. Because what he said was “You must read the book and if you find a way of doing the book, then you must tell us what that is. You mustn’t come because it’s a franchise. You mustn’t come because it’s the most famous children’s film there’s ever been. You mustn’t come for this, that, and the other reason. You’ve got to be able to see how to make a 750 page book into a single movie.” And we then had one of the meetings made in heaven when we talked about the thing as being a thriller, because that’s what I found in it. I thought that it was an absolute god-gift thriller and then I convinced him.
DH: For me, the books are not children’s books. I think that’s a misconception. I think the books are books that appeal to maybe children of all ages. But they appeal to people of all ages. I think that they are – that there is something in them for everybody, and I think that this film… That each of the books is getting more mature than the one preceding it because it’s also dealing with a different age – a different year in Harry’s life. In this one Harry’s fourteen, so there’s different issues, greater complexity and I think that really shows in the film. The film is true to that spirit. The other thing is, that when you bring in a director like Mike Newell, just as when you bring in a director like Alfonso Cuarón , you don’t want them to…they are different directors; they are not cookie cutters. You don’t bring in a director like Mike Newell and tell him “Well, you’ve got to make a film just like Chris Columbus”. I mean why, it would be foolish. So for me, it’s been one of the- I look at this film; I see Mike Newell. I mean I see Jo Rowling but I see Mike Newell written all over it. And that was really exciting to me. I saw it with Alfonso, I saw Alfonso written all over it; and Chris.
MN: I saw Alfonso, too.
DH: And I think it’s really important. And I hope that David Yates, I’m sure that David Yates will imbue the fifth with the same. And it’s really exciting to me; this is a big generous, smart, funny thriller.
Media: Are you happy with the PG-13?
DH: Very much so and I am very happy with the 12A in the UK. I see, yes. 1 – I think that it’ll be good for the slightly older audience….um and 2 – I think that we had to be, we chose to be faithful to the material. Um…I think if we can’t – books do not talk down to an audience; the audience reaches for the books and I think the films do the same. They don’t patronize our audience; we make films very much in the spirit. It’s not literally faithful; it is truly faithful to the spirit of what Jo has written and that’s really exciting.
MN: One of the challenges was that, of course, everything goes back to the book, always. Um…and that’s where the audience begins as well and so as the audience, which began with the first book progresses through 2 & 3 they get to 4 and they see that it’s a different kind of animal – it’s a much tougher beast and the others um…and if you don’t get a PG-13 in a way, then that audience that began with #1 and is now 14, 15, 16 or 64 whatever – will kind of want to know why you are still – are you not infantilizing the situation. Of course what David says is that these are not children’s books. These are kind of adult stories, with a very strong moral aim and view so with PG-13 they can believe. Without it, I am not sure they can.
Media: Mike, in this stage of your career after all of these remarkable films, how does this rank personally? Not only the film, but the whole entire project?
MN: OK…so… I always hate what I make. I think that it simply shows a depth of, a lack of, I truly mean this, I… It sounds like such a joke sometimes but it isn’t, I can’t stand myself sometimes. He’s seen me in rushes where I simply can’t bear the ordinariness of what I do and I always feel that about everyone….
DH: Even when it’s extraordinary by the way.
MN: What’s that?
DH: Even when it’s extraordinary.
MN: Woo, anyway, I really do, and I always hate the end result. And this time, may be a very bad sign, I don’t know, but this time I don’t hate it. This time, I think it’s, I think it’s what I tried to do, what we all tried to do which was to make this wonderful terrifying thriller ride and so it pleases me very much and that’s a better way of answering your question.
DH: By the way, no we didn’t answer your question.
Media: David, this question is for you. I wanted to ask you in working with Mike and bringing him on board, he brings a certain sense of British sensibility and I was wondering from your perspective, can you talk a little bit about that?
DH: Mike went to a school, as did I by the way, that’s like Hogwarts but without the magic.
MN: Our school was very…it’s very similar.
DH: And he brings an innate since of understanding of the school life. Um, he is very comfortable getting on the floor and wrestling with the kids to bring the, as he did with the Weasley twins, to bring, the sort of the school is more anarchic than I feel that it’s been in any of the other films. It’s a little more anarchic, it’s a little madder and a little looser. Yes you have the authority of the teachers, but you also have the kids rebelling as kids do, kids standing up for themselves, kids complaining to teachers and I think Mike brings a real, I think it’s very true to the schools, the school that I went to and I think it’s true to school life in general but it’s most certainly true to British schools umm… So yeah, and I also think that in a way, I think the nature of the performances – it’s an incredible thing I don’t know quite how to describe, but I really feel that the performances in this are more British than they have ever been. I feel that there is a complexity and a um, you know, at times when he talks about the Bollywood theatrical largeness in a really positive way to the performances, the way I think Dan is incredibly subtle and nuanced and I think all the performances are a boldness about the performances which I think is very, very British and I’m very happy for that.
CL: We have time for two more questions at this end. And then we’ll go to the phone questions.
Media: You talked a bit about how the characters have evolved, the kids how they have grown up and handled how they have handled becoming teenagers. Can you talk a bit about how the actors themselves are handling this fame and how they are sort of dealing with growing up really on set and in front of the whole world?
MN: I don’t know, I….
DH: How did you find them when they arrived?
DH: No – people like Dan, Rupert and Emma in particular?
MN: Oh, I mean I had been expecting – my worst fear was that they would have realized that these films were stories in which they absolutely were the stars. Now most children’s films, that’s not true of, most children’s films, they are that sort of little (unintelligible) of a third of a story taken by the adults, the um, in that way. Mary Poppins is not quite a children’s story – it’s an adult’s story but that’s not the case here. This is a story in which the children are stars and that can do terrible things to children. Miraculously – mostly because of the way they are handled by the production and also because they have got really good parents. Good kids, good parents. They haven’t – they know exactly what they are worth but they have not become impossible and so they are still loose and they are still cute, curious and they are still prepared to have a go at it and everything. We had a, before we began shooting, we had two weeks of acting classes and the reason that we did this was that I was very anxious that the established characters would not dominate the newcomers, many of whom had never acted before. Um the Chinese girl had never acted before, the two little Indian girls had never acted before, and I didn’t want them feeling they were secondary citizens, and so we had these two weeks where what we did was we played. We did physical exercises, we did improvisation exercises, and so on and so forth. And by the time by the end of that, everybody was loose in one another’s company, and there was not a rank structure with Dan outshone. Everybody else – they were all the same and they were prepared to do that, which was a very wonderful thing and it shows what you’ve got now is an ensemble rather than a from the top down pyramid structure. You have an ensemble.
DH: And I think in this film more than in the previous three films, partly because of the number of the cast and the number of extras, I mean the number of extras was larger than any of the previous films. It was more than the other films – the sense of community amongst the kids – and you know, whether you got Stan, who plays Krum, or and all the playing and joking and laughing; there was a lot more hanging out and I think it also gave a real, Dan and Rupert, all part of that so it was a much more extended community school life then…
MN: That’s a good point actually. I hadn’t thought of that. It was much more a kind of relationship you would build up in school, much bigger.
DH: Yeah and I say we are blessed, I mean, with three kids who could make it so easy to be brats are not. They want to learn. They want to get through what they do. They are enthusiastic still and they have a lot of fun doing it. And um partly the rehearsal that Mike had them do but also by the very nature, they are non-judgmental, open people who are as good to the person. They are good to people from the top down. It’s not a – I think Michael can attest to though – the buck always stops with him ultimately. It’s a very democratic environment, it’s one in which people, you know, everyone has a voice – sometimes too much of one, but everyone…
MN: I agree. The trouble is you can’t start that game unless you play that game all the way through.
DH: I agree with you. You know it’s a very democratic – it’s a really um it’s a place in which everybody is welcome. It’s very open-door, very safe place for the kids to be…Quickly tell them about the fight.
MN: Well there had to be a fight at one point between the two Weasley twins and they did horrible um adolescent stage screen fighting. It just wasn’t, it was awful and I had tried and I pushed them and pushed them and they said they couldn’t get past it and I said, “Ok, which one of you wants to fight me?” And they were like rabbits in the head lights and I said what they thought I said. Finally, one of them put their hands up and so we fell upon one another and we rolled over and over and over on the floor of the great hall and I actually cracked a rib and it was very early on in the shooting schedule and all the kids were there and they all saw the director make a complete prat of himself and also get himself injured, ha ha ha, and things were a lot easier after that actually. It doesn’t do any harm to punch your dignity.
CL: We have time for one more question here and then we’ll go to the phones. Ok?
Media: Matthew Vines from Veritaserum.com. This question is for Mr. Newell. How frequently did you consult with J.K. Rowling about deviations from the book and sub-plots cut from the story line and what about in particular?
MN: Well, actually, um, I will answer it, but usually you should ask David because this is an absolutely key function of David’s. Jo Rowling appears to me to be quite extraordinarily hands-off. Um, everybody says, “Oh we’re surprised to hear that; we thought she was very controlling.” Well I speak as I find. She wasn’t with me and I don’t think it’s in her nature. I don’t think she’s like that. Um, we however, David’s relationship with her, which is very close, meant that the whole time the script as it evolved and the script continued, you know I had a set of script pages…It’s a joke, we’ve been shooting the film for six months and I get several script pages…
DH: (laughs)…and I looked to Michael and said, “What is this?” and he says, “Oh, we shot them yesterday (All laugh) and it was great.” That’s right, it was great, yes. I don’t know what color they were.
MN: Sorry it’s a joke sorry. Of course what happened (the operator interrupts the interview and we cannot hear Mike speaking) it’s a huge tribute to David. It’s an enormous tribute to Steve Kloves that in fact they could both of them and everybody around them could be loose enough to see that actually we might get to be going to a place although we couldn’t exactly point to it on a map yet, but we might be going to a place which wasn’t exactly where the first draft of the script had started out but of course, in that the danger is that you lose Jo Rowling, at which point, you lose the audience. Um, because they come in the end for her and uh she was very, very sweet. She was very available. She’s not the best returner of a phone call that I’ve come across, but she was fine. She gave me very clear things when I needed them, like, what did the Avada Kedavra Curse actually do when it hits you. But, she also had this very strong view how the story fitted into the seven-book arc. Beyond that, she didn’t control at all, but, of course, it was to David’s credit that she was brought into the process just as much as he knew she wanted to be, and not an inch more. How does that work?
DH: Jo is the most generous of collaborators – she sees each and every draft of the screenplay. We want to do that because, 1) I made a promise at the beginning that I, that we, would be true, but 2) because we would be fools to do otherwise. So we show her each draft, and we also don’t want to do anything will disrupt books – at that time Book 6 hadn’t been published, or Book 7 – we didn’t want to do anything that would adversely affect that order; that would make people read them askant, or looking askant. So she has incredible knowledge! What’s in the books is just the surface of what she knows. She has notebook upon notebook with more material that doesn’t quite make the books… But I think one of the reasons for the success of the books is because the universe is so clearly thought through. She knows the sixth use of dragon’s blood! You could have a question; she knows the answer. There was one very significant change that we made, and we called Jo to ask her about it because it was a major – I mean, we would have done it anyway – but it was major. It had to do with Barty Crouch, Jr. being present in that very first scene in the film, with Voldemort and Peter Pettigrew, which isn’t in the book. The scene takes place, but Barty Crouch, Jr. is not in it. And, the reason why we wanted that was because we needed Barty Crouch, Jr. to be a more recognizable and formidable presence when you got to the end, when Moody turns back into him. Without that, the only time you’re just seeing him would’ve been in the flashback when he didn’t look exactly like he did at the end. So I called Jo and asked her about it, and she said, “Yeah, that could’ve happened. That’s absolutely fine.” What she loved about the third film – she hasn’t yet seen the fourth – but what she loved about the third film was that it was true to the spirit. That it made changes, but it made changes in the spirit of the work. That’s what she has felt, so far, in the inclusive process of the script, and I know she’ll feel when she sees the film. You know, she was meant to see it last week, but some personal matters came up, and then she couldn’t. She will be seeing it shortly.
CL: I’m sorry. On that note, I’ve got to pitch it to the phone people who have been very patient with us. So we have time for two questions from the phones…
DH: No. No. No interest. Never been asked. She has the attitude that says, the book is the book, and the film is the film, and you won’t make a good film unless you have a certain amount of freedom.
CL: Okay. Operator?
Operator: Yes. The first question comes from the line of Steve Brian of Suburban Journal. Please, go ahead.
Media: Good evening. I’m directing this towards Mike. This is one film where you had to put Daniel through all his paces; lots of running and jumping. How did he handle that?
MN: Well, he’s a very brave boy. He really is a brave boy. He’s a rotten swimmer, or he was when this began, and he had great trepidation and came to me about the swimming. There wasn’t any way around it; he had to swim, he had to spend huge amounts of time underwater in the tank. And, apart from anything else, he was by no means sure that he had the physical resources to do that… You couldn’t say that he was frightened of it, but he was only a step away. Nonetheless, he knuckled down and he did what he had to do. There was another shot that I was actually there for, and I could see that he was absolutely terrified that he had to do it! Falling off the roof… Sliding down the roof. Have you seen the movie?
MN: No, no, no. The man who’s talking to me. Have you seen the movie?
Media: I’ve seen all the trailers.
MN: Okay. I think it may be in the trailers. Anyway, during the dragon chase, he’s knocked off his broom and he slides down a very steep roof, which he did for real. So he slid 30 feet from a 40 foot high gantry – with a safety wire on, of course, but not (unintelligible). But, nobody had to say, “Sorry, Dan, but you’ve got to do it.” We would ultimately, of course, have said that, (Media laughs) but nobody had to say that. Because, he will read himself the riot act; he will tell himself what he’s got to do. So I really think he’s naturally – he’s not going to turn into a stunt man – but, he is a very responsible boy. He knows what he wants to do, and simply does it.
DH: Actually, on the first film when we began the process, Dan was not a physical boy. He wants to be more physical, and we encourage that. We put him together with our stunt team, and he loves, and he is now a jock, of sorts. His body has changed; he’s really much more physical than he ever was. At lunch break, for example, several times a week, he’ll go down to the gym and work out. It’s nothing with actually asking him to do, he just loves to do it. He likes to do his own stunts. He’s very brave, as Mike said. In the underwater scene, he logged 41 hours on his log book.
CL: Sorry, we have time for one more question from, ahh, Operator?
Operator: Thank you. And, our next question comes from the line Daniel Fienberg of Zap2it.com. Please, go ahead.
Media: Hi, guys. This question is probably more for David, and also for Mike. Umm, could you guys talk a little bit about the impact of Steve Kloves and the continuity of the series, and then, sort of as a quick follow-up, is Imelda Staunton signed on for the next movie?
MN: You broke up quite severely towards the end, there. Could you just, briefly, say the question again?
Media: The first, and main question, is about the role of Steven Kloves and the continuity of the series, and then, sort of as a quick follow-up, just wanted to know if Imelda Staunton signed on for the next movie, as rumored.
DH: Steve Kloves is one of the great experiences… To me, one of the great joys of this entire series has been working with Steve Kloves, and frankly, his becoming a very good friend over the five years. I think he is one of the best writers writing. He is a brilliant adapter in the sense that he is able to retain the voice of the author that he’s adapting. He did it with Michael Chabon and the Wonderboys. He did it with another script I’ve read called, (unintelligible), and I think he’s done it with the former films that he’s written. He is a fantastic writer, who manages to bring a keen sense of character and really understands the voice of the actors he is writing for. He can write with great emotion, and at the same time, also a great humor. He is not doing the fifth, because he is writing another project for me called, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” which I hope he will direct. However, he read the sixth book and couldn’t stay away, and so he’s going to come back and write the sixth.
MN: Oh, great! Oh, that is good!
DH: Yeah, I know it’s great. (laughter) Michael Goldenberg is writing the fifth. He is another writer, who, actually, I talked to about the first film, and he’s doing a fantastic job. You can never make a good film out of a bad script. You most certainly can make a bad one out of a good one. But, he does have a good script. And, I really believe that Steve Kloves, on each of the four films, has given us a really good script. He’s also a man, in my perspective, who writes without ego. He’s someone who… It’s great when you sit in the script meeting with him, because you can say anything – and he’s thought through everything – it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t defend what he has, but he does it in a way which explains the reason why he has done what he has done. But, it’s always open to changes. He also has an encyclopedic knowledge of the world, and clearly, he and Jo are very much on the same wavelength.
CL: Thank you, all, very much.
Media: What about Mr. Newell?
MN: Everything he said. It was the most, it was the happiest collaboration, I think I’ve ever had, certainly as an adapter. He never gets in your way. I am one of those who will start with them, and re-write them, and re-re-write them through the film, which is why the joke about getting pages six months and shooting… Why we all laughed at that. But, he would never, ever complain. He would always see why. He would always dig down into his personal mine of stuff, and come up with wonderful things. I can’t tell you how happy I was with him.
CL: Great. Thank you very much. For those on the phone, uhh, the next press conference will be starting in less than two minutes.
Katie Leung (KL): Katie.
Robert Pattinson (RP): Robert.
Clemence Poesy (CP): Clemence Poesy.
Stanislav Ianevski (SI): Stan Ianevski.
Media: Good afternoon. I’d like to know – did you feel like strangers when you came on the set, where everything was like a young crowd of friends?
KL: Who wants to start?
RP: You can.
KL: Okay. We’d been working very nicely, and everyone had been very, very friendly the first few days, and then it was just everyone in the same boat doing the same movie. So, great!
Conference Leader (CL): Stan?
SI: Well, there’s not much to add. We were extremely warmly welcomed. I personally felt it so much from the beginning.
Media: For all of you – can you tell us how the audition process was? I know that some of you were selected among a few thousand people.
KL: Well, my audition process is quite long-winded. My dad saw an advert on the telly, and basically, he just suggested that I should go down and try out for the part. I hadn’t done any acting before; I was a bit reluctant. But, I went down anyway, and I stood in the queue for hours and hours. And we went in… I finally got in and they just took a polaroid and said, they’d call you back if they were interested. So I got a call a few weeks later, and they told me to go down me down for a drama workshop, and that involved a lot of improvisation, and a few scenes from the movie that involved Harry and Cho. And then, they called me back for a screen-test, and that took place at Leavesden Studios, which is where they filmed the movies and from there, I got the part.
Conference Leader (CL): Robert? Stan? Can you tell a little?
RP: Yeah, I don’t have a very interesting story. (laughter) I knew the casting director from another movie which I did, and they wanted to see me for this part, but I was doing another movie over the casting period, so I ended up seeing Mike Newell and Mary Selway and Fiona Weir – who were casting at the time – before anyone else was seen for casting. And then, I went to do this other movie, and then the day I came back… I got a call back and basically, that’s what happened.
Media: What was the other movie?
RP: It was called Ring of the Nibelungs, which was a German movie.
SI: Well, I’ve got an interesting story. (All laugh) I was basically spotted in school. It was all by chance, really. I was late for my afternoon registration, which this school has. So you can imagine, I was a bit nervous, rushing through the lines. But the casting director was there at the time with the head of drama for the school. So when she heard me talking, and then turned around and saw me (unintelligible) as an interest? She asked me to go to an audition later on in the school, which I went to dressed up very sporty before going to the gym. So I was there the longest and I was asked to go to two workshops afterwards, which I didn’t go to for various reasons. I had an exam, and then one of the times they (unintelligible) laid me off. So as any normal person would think I thought – well, I’ve lost this chance, they’re not going to call me back. But then I did get a call back, and they weren’t very happy that I didn’t go. So I went again, later on that night and they turned out to like me and I got it.
CP: My audition was much more classical than Stan’s. I was working to a French casting director about something else and he said, “I’m doing the Harry Potter casting, would you like to come?” So we had to chat in English in front of the camera, and then Mike was in Paris promoting Mona Lisa so I met him in a hotel. We had a little chat, and I think it was three left and we all came to London to audition a very short scene and that was it.
CL: Was it with Harry?
CP: Not with Harry, no.
Media: Matthew Vines from Veritaserum.com. Could each of you describe a typical day on set?
RP: Well, go ahead… There wasn’t anything of any sort of structure. There would be days where hardly anything would happen, where you’d stand around the whole time because it was such a long shoot. Everything was shooting for about 11 months or something in total, so there were days and weeks where you would do absolutely nothing.
Media: At what time would you start shooting on an average day?
RP: Because most people, I think you, a lot of people got, because of younger people working on it, I think those people worked about from 9 or something, but I generally started about 6:30 in the morning. You sort of end up, generally, starting work at 9, having a leisurely morning. Yeah, but some days were just ridiculously busy while other days, especially when there is stunt work or something like that, they would go on and be ruined one day, but a lot of time waiting around.
CL: I was wondering if you knew about the series’ plan, each of you if you could say a little about that. If you had been reading the books, if you were fans of the film. Also, if each of you quickly, and I know one of you can’t answer, looked at the next book to see if you were in that one.
KL: I was a fan of the films before I got the part, and I read the first three books. I didn’t read the fourth and fifth one until after I got the part, and I read the books which Cho was involved in. She was mentioned briefly and I think Harry gets over her. (All laugh)
CP: I loved the books, I had read the first four ones. I saw the first movie, then I saw the third one on set. I absolutely loved the whole universe, the whole world of Harry Potter.
SI: Well, I had never read the books or seen the films. (All laugh) But as soon as I got the part, I read the books up to the fifth one and I’ve touched the sixth one and I saw the films.
CL: And Robert?
RP: Yeah, I hadn’t read any of them either. I read the fourth one just before my audition in a day, and it changed my whole opinion about the whole series.
CL: Okay, I wanted to ask if each of you could discuss your character. What you think of them, and are you all signed for the rest of the series?
SI: Well, Viktor appears in the fourth book. He is the world’s David Beckham, I would say. A Quidditch player so he is obviously well based in the magic world of Harry Potter. Well, people describe him as being very physical, although I think he has got two sides, very sporty and very concentrated. He knows what he is doing, but also he has a big heart. He develops feelings for Hermione so yeah, I think he is a great character.
CL: Where is he from and why does he have an accent?
SI: Well, he is from Bulgaria and that is where his accent comes from.
CL: And that is where you are from?
CP: Fleur Delacour is like, she’s French, I’m French. She’s the kind of girl that would dread in a school. She is perfect, kind of annoying at the end being so perfect. But always well dressed and good at sports, good at school, good at everything. She appears like the kind of image that I guess people have of a French girl and then reacts as normal girls to what’s happening. That’s it.
RP: Cedric is a prefect at Hogwarts. He’s in the top year. He’s one of those guys who does the right thing but not in an annoying way. It’s impossible to hate him. He’s good at sports and athletic. He kind of vaguely takes Harry under his wing and they get closer as the film draws to a close.
CL: Have you seen it with (unintelligible) yet?
RP: No, well I’ve seen it with these guys yesterday.
KL: My character Cho basically shows that Harry is developing into a teenager and is starting to go through a hormonal change, becomes interested in girls. Basically, I’m his crush.
Media: Seth Benderson from USA Today. This question is more for Katie and Clemence. As you’ve been reading the books, this is the first time we’ve seen Lord Voldemort. How did he compare to what you had thought in you imagination, and how do you think Ralph Fiennes’ characterization of character, do you think he… what do you think about how he portrayed the character?
KL: I think he’s done a great job. When I watched it yesterday, it was such a dark scene and he’s just really terrifying which is what Voldemort is. Yeah, I think he’s made a great portrayal of the character and he’s exactly like I imagined him to be when I was reading the books.
CP: I can’t really remember what I imagined. I’m sure I imagined something, but I’ve lost any idea I had. But I loved that moment where he becomes real and that costume surrounding him and him becoming a man in a way. Yeah, I thought it was great!
Media: Katie and Stan, you haven’t acted before. What has been the impact of this on your life so far?
KL: I don’t think, it’s not really changed apart from the fact that I know I can act. And also it has really brought a lot of confidence in me by being able to act in front of so many people and for the cameras and getting to meet new people as well, interacting with everyone. Yeah, everything has been positive about the film.
SI: I’m pretty much the same. I’ve gained lots of experience, a lot of confidence. Especially being in front of a group of people, even a crowd. I couldn’t do that before. I was quite a nervous guy. I also found out what I want to do in the future, which is hopefully continue acting.
Media: For each of you, this is probably your biggest film, if not your first film. And I was just wondering, are you guys prepared for the fame that will be entailed with this, because you’re going to be known all over the world? And how are you prepared to deal with fans?
RP: It’s strange, somebody asked for my autograph the other day. Because I finished school and I’m not really doing anything at the moment, I was just kind of aimlessly wandering around London and these two guys who were about 30 came up and asked for my autograph. I was really quite proud at the time, and they wanted to take photos and stuff. And then they were sort of wandering around and I was kind of wandering around and I bumped into them about three times, and every single time their respect for me kept growing and growing and growing. (unintelligible) I don’t know how that actually happened. (All laugh) So yeah, it’s a lot.
SI: Well, I don’t think you can actually be prepared for what’s really going to happen after this film comes out, because the fan base is world-wide, it is absolutely huge. So I guess we’ll just have to face it and do our best.
KL: Like what Stan said, I don’t think I’ll be able to, no matter how much you try, prepare for it, it’s going to be beyond your expectation, what’s going to happen. I mean, this morning when I was coming back to the hotel, there were a few photographers and the crazy fan base. It was just terrifying, but at the same time it’s a really nice feeling as well that they want your autograph and that you mean something to them. Yeah, I think it’ll be a really good experience.
CP: I don’t know how you, I’ve never been recognized so far. But I think, because I live in Paris, shooting other movies in Paris, it might be a bit easier for me than you guys because the tabloids aren’t that big in France. But I don’t know. I think that when you walk down the street without makeup and in your jeans as always being, or I just hope things will stay the same.
CL: Alright. Clemence, you are fluently bilingual, but you also have an ease with dialect and English, and you can also talk Americanese, so to speak. I was wondering whereabout in the country you learned?
CP: I’ve been a very lucky girl, because my parents put me in a school where you learn English a lot more than you usually would do in a French school. And I went on an exchange program to Toronto when I was 13, spent like two months there so I had no choice but to learn English. It started from there, and I’ve been working in England a bit, I’ve been working with Americans a bit. Each time, it’s another step and you actually work on your accent, try to improve it. But it comes from practice.
CL: Okay, we have time for one more question here and then we’ll go to the phone questions.
Media: Matthew Vines from Veritaserum.com. What stunts did you most enjoy doing?
SI: Well, I personally enjoyed doing stunts with the water. I had a dive, which we I think won’t be seeing. I enjoyed that most because you know it took a lot of courage and a lot of time. And a huge amount of effort. So I’ve enjoyed that most.
CP: Well, the only stunt I had to do was the underwater thing. So I guess that’s what I’d like the most.
RP: The maze stuff was really, really fun to do. Because it was all real. And, and no one actually knew where the walls – because it was all hydraulic walls, and ah, you were wondering if it would kill you or not if you actually got trapped. It was quite nice doing sort of enforced method acting…it was quite nice. That was, it was really exciting. And like doing all the stuff with the weeds, it like…It was so enclosed in the maze, you felt like you could really let your imagination go. Even it was just some guy with a rope pulling (unintelligible) It was really fun, quite therapeutic.
KL: Well, I don’t take part in all the stunts. The only thing I do is the underwater scene. I had to get diving lessons and that was a great experience. It was a lot of hard work and yeah, it was good.
CL: Ok, so Operator, you there?
CL: Ok, let’s go with question 1 please.
Operator: Ok, uhh, first question comes from the line of Michelle Riley, Harry Potter’s Page. Please go ahead.
Media: Yes, for those…you…who have…how…this…
CL: Operator, we’re getting a lot of feedback. We’re hearing every third word.
Operator: Ok, one more time please.
Media: First, I was saying…something before, different was this film…rest…
CL: Ok, Operator, can you say the question please?
Operator: Umm, I’m getting the same sound you are.
CL: Ok, let’s jump to the next question, sorry.
Operator: You need to turn your volume down on your mike in the room.
Media: Okay, for those of you who have experience, how different was this film from the rest of your films?
CP: It, ah, I mean it’s almost a different job. … because everything is almost ten times bigger. Filming, you know, the filming time, it’s much longer. I mean, I shot for eight months when I usually do two months. The crew is, you know, you don’t know half of the crew you’re working with. And you’re actually not on set as much as you are on a normal movie. I mean you’ve got doubles, everyone has doubles. When you have to do something, you’re not participating as much to the life of the movie as you would do on a smaller budget movie. So it was a good way to approach that kind of movie, I think.
RP: Yeah, the scale of it is completely different. And also, I think too, with the blue screen effects and stuff… I did some blue screen things in my last film, but, um, there’s a difference because you have such a huge budget. I mean it’s … you can … there’s so much. Virtually every scene has a bit of … some sort of special effect in it which is changed to do, like having to use your imagination somewhat.
CL: Ok, uhh, operator next question.
Operator: One moment…(unintelligible)…please go ahead.
Media: Hi. This question is for Clemence. I see you have a birthday coming up in November. So I just wondered…this is your first really big film. How do you plan to celebrate?
CP: My birthday isn’t actually in November. I don’t know. I saw it somewhere. It’s not in November. So…
Media: When is your birthday then?
CP: Um, I don’t know. I think I’ll keep my birthday to myself. And I’m twenty-three now.
CL: Operator, the question at this end is how old are each of the actors here in the room? So we’ll let them answer that first.
SI: Twenty at the moment.
CL: OK, great, so Operator, next question.
Operator: Next comes from the line of Andrew Sims, of Muggle.Net. Please go ahead.
Andrew Sims: Hey guys. I was wondering what kind of practice went into the Yule Ball scenes and how you think you did in the final cut?
RP: Um…um…yeah, it was cool. We practiced for like, um, I think it was a two-week choreography session. And, um, learning the waltz. And, um, yeah it’s cut down to nothing in the film. It’s like…it is kind of strange. But, um, yeah it was fun doing it. It was really…that was a really fun period. Because I’ve never really done renaissance… Is it renaissance or a waltz? …some classical dancing. I really think I learned a lot.
RP: Yeah, then the shoot was about two…two or three weeks…
KL: Two weeks.
RP: Yeah, and um, I think the most embarrassing part of that was just the normal dancing. When the rock band comes. I think there was two days where the crew was like, “Just dance, just dance.”. So you can’t, in a club or whatever… that was really awkward.
CL: Ok, we have time for one more question, from, uhh, Operator?
Operator: Yes. Ok, next question comes from the line of Melissa Anelli of Leaky Cauldron. Please go ahead.
Melissa Anelli: Hi! I was wondering if you guys could switch roles with anybody else in the film, who would it be and why?
KL: I think I would love to play Ron’s part. Because he’s like the comical guy and he seems to, like, he’s able to make everyone laugh even when it’s in the saddest tones. I mean, like when the film’s like really tragic and stuff he comes out with is just hilarious. So I love to make people laugh. Because I can’t do that in real life.
RP: Probably Harry. I think. Not being arrogant or anything. I just think it’s a really intricate and it’s an amazing part. I think also when you don’t really have the opportunity to be guaranteed seven films when you’re growing up during the filming. (laughter) It’s really strange …yeah, I think it’s amazing. I think it’d be an absolute…I think Daniel’s doing an amazing job. And you can see him progressing and developing as an actor and as a person…
CP: Um, Dumbledore has always been my favorite character. So I guess, you know, I’ll switch to the beard and a weird dress.
SI: I’d probably try out Voldemort. Um, you know, we’ve only just seen what he’s actually like in a humanic way. And I would love to try him. See what it feels like to be the Dark Lord.
CL: Ok, thank you all. Umm, we are going to be bringing in Daniel, Emma and Rupert momentarily, so if you want to switch tape recorders real quickly or anything, thank you very much. And for those on the phone we’ll just have…just a moment.
Interview with Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson
Media: Hi, you guys. Cindy Pearlman from the Chicago SunTimes.
Daniel Radcliffe (DR): Hello.
Media: Congratulations, this was one of the great Harry Potter movies.
DR: Thank you very much. Thank you.
Media: Let us know what you thought about him growing up, was it something you guys have identified with a little bit in your own life, and what do you think about your characters aging?
DR: Well, I think… You don’t mind if I start, do you? Okay, then. It’s great because there is so much pressure on the films now to get better and better and better and better, and especially after the third one, which I… for me was great. There was an awareness that we had to work really hard to go further with it, to make it better. Otherwise, people would be very disappointed I think. So for me, it is also a lot of fun… Sorry, it’s also loads of fun playing Harry as he’s getting older because it’s almost as if, sort of, we go from being, I think when we start Harry is 10, it’s his 10th birthday, and it’s almost as in real life, the stories that people sort of grow extra emotions, which is partly to do with hormones and all the trouble that they cause. And it’s partly just a thing about growing up. You have other assets to you, and it’s fun to play that in Harry as he grows older.
Emma Watson (EW): There is also a lot of speculation as to whether we’re going to outgrow our parts, or that the films will take longer than we will. But actually, it works out pretty well because each film takes about a year and obviously that goes right with us. While they’re at school, we’re pretty much growing along side them and sometimes everything that we’re going through, in some cases they are, too.
DR: I’m sorry, this is quite good. Because there is always this thing of will you get to old for your part. But people are playing a lot younger than they actually are in real life. I don’t think it’s as big an issue as a lot of people are making it out to be.
DR: You know what, that was really awful for me. No, that was great! It was fantastic, and if Katie had been in there, “Thank god, I hated doing the hugging scenes with Dan,” or something. But for me it was great fun.
Rupert Grint (RG): So what was the question?
DR: We have gone far off the topic since…
RG: Yeah, I think it’s cool that the characters have grown. They’re more so the teenage sort of life. But Ron was bit, bit more moodier in this one. But yeah, there are a few arguments and yeah, I enjoyed doing all that. That was fun.
Media: Now that you all have got a few films under your belts, can you tell me a little bit about some of your favorite things? What do you splurge on? What are your luxuries, your favorite gadgets? Can each of you talk a little about that?
DR: Rupert, Gadgets?
RG: Yeah, I really do like gadgets. When I went to Japan last year, that’s a good place for them. I’m not sure about gadgets at the moment, but…
DR: What about the camera thing?
RG: Oh, yeah! When I was in Japan, there was this sort of Spy Camera and it was disguised as a cigarette box. And that was quite cool, I think.
DR: And the NDAB office helped.
EW: For me, it’s the iPods. Where I come from, they’re everywhere.
DR: Umm… Well you see, I find the iPod thing hard, because I’m quite obsessive about CDs. And so I quite like to have the actual CD with the little sleeves and the back and the pictures. Which some may call bad. For me, it’s mainly CDs, books and DVDs, I suppose. I mean I haven’t changed much over the past five years, which isn’t that exciting. But that’s the honest answer.
Media: The three of you, Steven Shave with the Boston Herald, the three of you are now a part of this empire, this global phenomenon of Harry Potter movies, not just the books. And yet you’ve got such low-key profiles. You’re not individually famous or anything like that. Now, is that all going to change now that you’re real teenagers with hormones and everything? Are going to see you turn to Lindsay Lohan and start trying to shock us with some stuff? Are you going to be party animals?
EW: Hopefully not.
DR: Well, I’m planning on buying 20 Porsches and crashing them just for the extravagance. I don’t think that – I think it’s quite a really good thing that we haven’t… Because the characters are so well known and iconic, if we had been going out and if we’d been… Basically, if we’d gone to every party on the planet we’d been invited to, it would be hard for people to divorce what they see in the films from what they see in magazines.
DR: And starting that would have been a mistake, and that’s why we basically only go to the premieres pretty much.
EW: Yeah and I think we do have kind of a responsibility to that as well. And I don’t think – we aren’t particularly party animals.
DR: Yeah, I quite enjoy the not having a high profile thing. I quite like that, but it is – I sort of feel like I’m fooling people, because you know, it’s this massive thing and yet it’s still quite a low-key thing. I feel like I’m tricking everyone.
Media: (unintelligible) Does everyone where you go to school know who you are?
EW: At the new school two years ago. At first, you do get some funny looks but after a while, they just accept the fact that you’re there all the time, and I didn’t get treated any differently and that’s how I like it, so much happy.
Media: Angela Dawson, Entertainment NewsWire….
DR: (interrupts) Quickly sorry, this is interesting – the answer. The only thing that I would sort of; basically when you get back to school as Emma said originally – when you’re that person, as if you’re sort of running along with an extra arm or something, but then after a few weeks or something, it sort of settles down. And then they just go, “Oh, there’s the kid with the extra arm”. You know? It just doesn’t seem to affect everyone quite as much. I mean, it’s actually the only time it peaks is if I’m ever at school; I mean, it’s only every happened once really, when I was at school when the third film came out. Then it went a bit, sort of hit fever pitch again sort of mad, but I mean it’s not really a problem. Is it for you?
RG: Well I’ve finished school now, so I don’t really get the same sort of reorganization as that. But getting recognized is sort of weird anyway. I’m 17 now, yeah. You get the odd person sort of shouting out “Ron” or something. And my hair at the moment is sort of stand out at the moment. It’s not really a problem.
Media: Angela again. I wanted to ask you, each of you has issues with each other going on throughout the film. I thought it was kind of interesting, kind of the fact that you know Rupert – you and Dan kind of get to be at odds a little bit with each other and there’s a sort of tension you know with Emma and Rupert and stuff like that. And can you talk a little about the disconnect that kind of goes on and how do you guys when you come back to a new film? Is it like going back to school?
EW: I loved all the arguing. I thought it was really juicy. It’s not these people that always get along perfectly and I think it’s much more realistic that they would argue and that there would be problems. So I thought it was great fun. And I think it makes up for quite a dark book; this one makes up for a lot of the humour, which is nice, light relief.
DR: What’s quite nice, actually, about the thing that goes on between Harry and Ron in this one is the tension is that it’s funny to someone looking in on it, but to them, it’s absolutely serious and they’re really angry at each other, and each of them feels that they’ve both behaved in a really bad way. Sort of like they’ve been betrayed by them. And so it’s mutual blame; both to blame for how they’re acting but to someone else watching, it’s quite funny because you sort of, in the long run, it’s actually quite trivial what they’re arguing about as a lot of arguments sort of are. They seem really important at the time and then two years later, you can’t even remember where it started or what it’s about. So I think that’s probably as you said it does provide a lot of the humour, that and the dribbling orange juice.
EW: Oh yes, that was good. They both behaved rude.
DR: I enjoy doing that, yeah sorry.
RG: Yeah I think it’s also sort of again just them growing up.
RG: Yeah sort of more natural, I suppose.
Media: I’d like to go back to what Emma said about this being quite a dark film. I also thought it’s easily the funniest of the Harry Potter films. Was it difficult finding the balance of the tone, when you’re playing emotionally grueling stuff then quite light-hearted?
DR: As you go along…
EW: I think it was quite difficult because it’s difficult to know quite what to do because I think for – I mean it’s difficult because there’s such a huge audience that’s children. You get kids being so into it, so part of the people who are making this film feel “Oh we don’t want to make it too scary, because we’re going to cut out this huge audience that are so passionate and love Harry Potter films.” At the same time, they want to be faithful to the book which is a darker book and I think they did a really good balance because I really do think it was the best way to go because, from the very beginning, it’s been “we’re going to stay faithful to what this is about and not about having, getting everyone, having huge audiences.”
DR: I mean, I think it would have been hard to adapt. Steve Kloves, who wrote the script, that’s what must have been – I mean to adapt something as huge as the fourth book, is, is something – I certainly wouldn’t envy that task. I mean he did an amazing, job on it. I mean, to me, the humour is actually essential to the darkness in a way. I mean, if you had that darkness running the whole way through the film, you’d be tired and it wouldn’t be effective. I mean – what’s nice, is that Mike lulled you into a quite false, you’ve got a dark opening with the snake and caretaker being killed, but it then goes into this sort of feeling that almost like the first film in it’s almost – with the Quidditch World Cup – it’s almost wide-eyed and it’s sort of wonder and everything and that highlights the fact that suddenly they come out and everything is ablaze and everything is on fire, which means the same thing as ablaze, I don’t know why I said both. And you know and suddenly, instantly, it’s more of a shock when you go into that darker world. So I think the humour is all sort of essential to that.
EW: I don’t think…I don’t think Mike has ever held us back in any way. He’s has every really, really pushed us…to make it so really real, how you would react in that situation. He really, really went there. And the other thing about Mike is that he really, really treats us like adults. He wasn’t taking any slack. He was expecting us to be professional the entire time where I think before in some ways, I don’t know..
DR: We could get away with more.
EW: Yeah, but he really took no excuses. He really pushed us which was really nice to feel that there was a real challenge.
Media: Emma in the Ball scene, there is a magical moment when you stand at the top of the staircase and come down. How many times did you have to shoot it and did you have input into your costume?
EW: That actually took a while. I didn’t know there were so many ways that you could walk down stairs actually until that day and it was difficult. It was hard work. Mike was giving me all these directions, “Keep your head up, make sure your back is straight, but don’t make it too frumpy, glide smoothly.” (laughter) By the time we did it, I was an absolute wreck. But hopefully it looks okay and it’s up to that amazing transformation, which it is for Hermione. As for the costume, I had a bit of input, but I loved it so much anyway, there’s nothing I’d would wanted to change about it. I mean Jany Temime, who is head of Costume created a truly magically dress – I mean beautiful, beautiful – and there were loads of fittings for it throughout the whole leading up to that scene. I think it looks really great.
EW: No it’s upsetting. I’d loved to have kept it, but no.
DR: I got to swim, not in a dress, though which would have been (unintelligible). No, that was amazing. That was quite hard work actually, because those days, I could feel I call what I did “work”. ‘Cause normally, I think I’ve got this thing in my mind that work can’t be fun, ’cause I’ve always connected it with not enjoyable. So I’ve never really associated Harry Potter with work in that way. On those days, it was tough, it was fun but it was hard you know. I trained for about six months beforehand and it was just; I’d go under and I was sharing someone else’s air from their SCUBA-diving tank, so we both had sort of, umm, regulators and they’d say “three-two-one”; on the “three” I would blow out all the air in my lungs and then on “one,” I’d take a very big gulp of air in and then it’s how much action you can do with that amount of breath in your body kind of thing. It was actually quite – the hard thing was not holding breath. It was the fact that you couldn’t – I wasn’t actually allowed to let any of the air out because Harry is supposed to become a fish with gills, so there’s not supposed to be bubbles going around. So if I looked at all pained…
EW: You know why.
DR: It was good fun and I have to point out I have the most amazing stunt team backing me up. I trained with them for six months. They were down in the tank with me, so they were fantastic.
Media: For each of you – now that it’s been four films, what’s the thought about whether acting is your long term life choice or don’t you know yet?
RG: I think, I’m really enjoying doing all the Harry Potter films. It’s really good sort of experience and in the future, it’s not such a bad job and so definitely.
EW: I definitely wouldn’t want Harry Potter to be the last thing I do whether within this business, it turned out to be film or not; but originally what I used to love was being on a stage and reacting to a live audience and maybe my calling is more in theatre. But I don’t know. There are so many different things you can do within it. But definitely looking around and definitely interested.
DR: I love doing it and I was trying to sort of work out the other day what’s the attraction, why do I love it so much and I have no idea. The sort of conclusion I reached was that, that it’s something to do with the idea, a sort of power thing. Because you have a character and in many ways, it’s up to you how that character is perceived by people who are watching the film. Obviously, it’s not just up to you, it’s the script and direction as well. So I supposed that’s something I love doing. Huge passion for acting. I’m also quite interested in maybe… I’m not even saying it’s happening within the next twenty/thirty years but eventually maybe directing or something like that. Simply because I’ve been so inspired by working with Chris Columbus and Alfonso and now Mike and having conversations with David Yates, who’s doing the fifth film and also talking to Gary Oldman, cause he directed a film Nil by Mouth, which is a fantastic film, quite harrowing but it’s brilliant. I mean to watch, to talk to him about it – he just said “When you’re doing, you’re creating all the time.” which is quite appealing to me. A long way down the line.
Media: Matthew Vines, Veritaserum.com. Which scenes that you filmed that were cut would you have most liked to have seen in the final movie?
EW: Good question; difficult to say. It’s kind of – I try to think about what they did cut. When it’s all put together and you see the final thing, it’s very kind of, I don’t know. It looks – it all flows so well that you kind of forget what’s actually missing. I’m trying to think …
DR: Personally, I was quite happy because all the bits I was really worried about me being really bad in, they cut. Which is wonderful. I don’t know… What were some of the bits? They were just needling sort of moments where there was one; where we just went into…there was another I thought I didn’t do as good as I could have there an they weren’t in which was fantastic. Which obviously meant I was right. I hadn’t done as well as I could have done. But it was I can’t actually think of any whole scenes that were cut. I’m sure with the amount we shoot there must be…
EW: A huge amount was cut.
DR: When you see the film, it does seem so complete that…..
EW: You don’t really miss it. It’s so good that I can’t remember anything that was cut, I can’t remember.
Media: Can you talk about, I’m going back to the theme of the parallels to your own life, how the opposite sex treats you, with boys at school, do you have boys chasing you, everywhere?
DR: Is that for me? (laughter)
EW: I don’t really know how to answer that, to be honest. Dan, you’re always good on this question, you take it.
DR: Do I have boys chasing after me? (Laughter) Um, I don’t, but to be honest, you talk about parallels in the film. There is a parallel in that both me and Harry are not very good with women. (Laughter) Um, I think I’ve gotten better now. I think any man who says he has never had an awkward moment with a girl, he’s a liar or he’s delusional because he is sitting there thinking he is doing really well and the girl is thinking “Who is this man and why is he talking to me?” So I think that is probably the main parallel between me and Harry in this film. I would like to say though that’s got huge amounts of attention, but I think there’s this sort of dividing thing between what people think they’re going to get when they see the film and then what the reality is. I think it’s slightly grimmer possibly.
DR: Yeah, oh, nothing but! (laughter)
Media: Rupert, are you engaged?
RG: I’m pretty much the same as Dan, yeah. I think I’m probably very similar to Ron really. He is not very lucky and he has some bad experiences. (laughter)
DR: And the worst date in the world.
RG: Oh, yeah.
DR: From experience. That is what I like about Harry and Ron. They are the worst dates in the world and these poor girls, Afshan, the girl who plays Padma, the girl who had the misfortune of going out with Ron is one of sort of my best friends (aside – is this button part of the microphone) and it was great because you just feel so sorry, and this night should be the greatest night in the world for her, but it’s horrible, and then you have that little bit outside which is quite true with those kind of dances and type of thing where you’ve got sorta the ballroom casualties are outside weeping because their night has been so horrible.
EW: Hermione included. (laughter)
DR: Yeah, Included.
EW: That’s the thing, you know, I loved doing it so much because I could relate so much to what she was going through. I so know that frustration where guys can be so insensitive. Um, yeah, but I can relate to a lot of things she experiences and a lot of awkward moments and feeling so unsure about um, you know that is the really sweet thing about the relationship that Hermione and Viktor have and the one that Mike really wants to play to is that Hermione is so insecure about herself that she’s never really had any attention from any guy before that when she sees Viktor looking at her, she thinks “Is that guy really looking at me,” and like, he genuinely wanted to come across as she is quite literally being swept of her feet. She doesn’t know what is happening to her and she gets caught up in this whirlwind with this incredibly famous Quidditch player and she can’t believe that it is happening to her so um…. It is quite an emotional roller coaster for her but, um…
Media: If you were a bit older, I wonder which one of the more mature roles in the series would you like to have played?
DR: Sirius, yes probably. Mainly because Gary Oldman played him and I think he is one of the most brilliant actors. I think Sirius is very similar to Harry and it is what is sort of fascinating and would have been fascinating if I would have played Sirius and will be when I’m doing Harry in the fifth film. It’s because there is sort of a relationship that is based on two relationships that are based on a mutual need for someone that is gone, so me and Sirius is basically based on the fact that we both miss James and he’s clinging onto James through me and I’m trying to get to know my father through him and the same thing happened with me and Cho Chang in the film when I was the last person there and her boyfriend got killed. We sort of had a crush on each other anyway. It would have been nice to get to know Harry from a different angle. So maybe when they remake the film in fifty years, I’ll be lining up for it. (laughter)
EW: Rita Skeeter, she’s so deliciously evil. She is just umm, she is just such a personality. She’d be so much fun to play because she’s funny, but she was something that is very um, there is something very real about her and her costume is fantastic.
Media: You said there is something very real about her.
DR: We’re in a room full of journalists.
EW: Maybe that wasn’t the right thing to say? (laughter) I’m going to backtrack, um (laughter) yeah, but.
DR: What Emma meant! (laughter) People have (laughter) a malevolent side to them.
EW: They can! (laughter)
DR: But none of you! (laughter)
EW: None of you, not any in here. (laughter)
RG: Uh yeah, I’ll tell you. I’d be Hagrid; he’s pretty cool yeah. I’d probably be him, I don’t know why, he’s tall. Yeah, he’s tall. That’s one reason.
CL: We have time for two more questions and then we’ll go to the phone.
Media: Could you go through who your favorite actors are that are not in the film and who each of your favorite bands are or musicians?
DR: Rupert, you want to go first?
RG: Music, yeah, I’m into sort of rock, AC/DC are quite cool, yeah.
EW: This question is a killer. I hate it.
DR: Look what you’ve done!
EW: Umm, there are so many people that I’ve never had one person that I’ve particularly idolized or I thought “Wow, I want to be just like them”. It used to be when I was younger, Julia Roberts, I used to just love her. There is something so appealing about her and um, I think – I think pretty more recently I’ve loved Natalie Portman, not just on screen but how she’s handled herself. I think she’s done a really good job. I love people like Renée Zellweger who’s not afraid to look unattractive and really put themselves into a character role and to really be an actress and not just be onscreen “am I pouting and looking beautiful” cause that’s not really what it’s about. Nicole Kidman has had a fantastic career and she’s done loads of different things with herself. She’s been really successful and she’s done loads of different things. Um, ok, um music. Again, this is really difficult, I like so many different things I have had so many music influences in my life and my dad has had a lot of influence on that. He got me into Eric Clapton, BB King, and loads of stuff like that and then my mom got me interested into the symphony and me for myself – I kind of divide up what I like, for dance I like hip-hop and all that, there’s things I just like listening to. I love Damien Rice um, I just love music generally. If you come to my house, I have music playing, um, yeah. (unintelligible)
DR: Umm, in a way, it’s hard to think of actors. We’ve been incredibly luckily, I’ve worked with some of the best British actors um, of their generation, Gary Oldman, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon and um, I’m trying to think of other actors, and um, a German actor who I think is absolutely amazing, but I don’t think it would ever work is Daniel Brühl who is in “The Edukators” aka “Die Fetten Jahre sind vorbei”, and “Goodbye Lenin” as well, and he’s amazing. When Alfonso did “Y Tú Mamá También“, Gael García Bernal is amazing. I mean… Come on now, think of someone who speaks English. (All laugh) I can’t actually think of… To be honest, I would like to worked with Peter Sellers… Older actors that I’d like to, just have… well would have been Peter Sellers. Because when you people talk about classic British actors, you talk about Lawrence Olivier, and Peter Sellers was just the most amazing in films. He played four parts in them, I think it was four or three in, three. So he’s just amazing.
But with music, that comes easier to me. Which possibly the other way around, it should be. I’m one of those people, I got an album the other day by a band called We Are Scientists, a band called… Yes, good! It’s so rare that my taste gets recognition from someone. That’s a very special moment. (audience member mumbles) Fantastic! The Rakes, Dogs, Hi-Fi, What else… I’m also listening to a sort of, because they’re not similar, actually, the new Franz Ferdinand album is extraordinary. They all sound kind of Indie. But I also like a sort of more orchestral type like – any heard… hands up if you’ve heard the band called Godspeed You Black Emperor? YES! Fantastic. Brilliant. And also, my dad listens, my dad has got me into David Bowie and T-Rex and stuff like that. Electric Warrior, what a brilliant album! But also he got me into… When we were in San Francisco, he bought Melanie’s Greatest Hits. It’s BRILLIANT! Absolutely fantastic! There’s this one song called “Look What They’ve Done to My Song, Ma”, it’s fantastic! So those are probably some of the ones at this moment.
Conference Leader (CL): We have time for one more quick question before we go to the phones.
Media: I know it’s very difficult but what memory will you, of this film, carry away with you? When you’re lying in bed and you’re thinking, “Oh my god, that was brilliant,” which memory will it be?
DR: Seeing it, probably. When you see sort of eleven months of your life and you go in everyday and you do it, it’s very particular Harry Potter, it’s a very gradual process. And you piece it together day by day and you refine and refine and refine and go through all the different stages and I mean, it’s fifteen minutes of credits. Thousands of people work on it, all whose work is as important as the last. And then it amounts to this massive thing at the end of it, which is just amazing and it is a fantastic thing to see because even if we hadn’t (I mean I believe we’ve made a great film, a really good film), even if we hadn’t, the sense of achievement would be still be this amazing thing. So that would probably be for me the thing about the film.
EW: My answer is quite similar to Dan’s. You’d kind of think that working on something for the five years I’ve been doing this for, the novelty would start to wear off and it would get a bit boring, and probably start to get complacent and want to move on and stuff, but a couple weeks back, the trailer was shown for the first time on ITV. And, I remember coming in to the kitchen and I saw the screen and it said that it was going to play in five minutes. And, I literally filled with excitement all over again about the fact that I was part of this and that I was in it. I could be excited about that there was all this talking again and I was going to see it soon and all the waiting. And, when I saw it I was literally just like, “Oh!” I was so excited again. Then… So probably… Yeah, probably sort of waiting to see how it would come out. And there’s a huge wait. A killer wait. You worked on the film for eleven months and you have to wait six months to see it. It’s painful. You just so want to know what it looks like. So yeah, probably that.
RG: Yeah, I tried. I find it harder to actually remember anything really being quite like that.
RG: I’d have to say seeing it. Seeing it at the end.
DR: It seems productive.
RG: Yeah, definitely. Yeah.
DR: It’s far too early to be reminiscing though, I think. We’ll be having parties soon. It was really nice to end that. Sort of, yeah.
CL: And now we’re going to go to some questions from our phone. So operator, first question?
Operator: First question. Comes from the line of Paige Banfield of DanRadcliffe.co.uk. Please go ahead.
Media: Hi Dan! My question is for you.
DR: Hello, Paige!
Media: Hi! How are you?
DR: I am very well, thank you. How are you?
Media: I’m good! What is the one impression of this film that you wish that the viewers would take away that perhaps they didn’t get from the first three films?
DR: I think this film, I think the main theme of the entire, sort of like all stories are, is I think it comes across more in this film than the last one, is the whole series is about a loss of innocence. If you go with the first one, it is all sort of very wide-eyed and almost naive. You know, he is quite naive and thinking because it is a magical world, it is going to be better than the world that he has come from. Where in actual fact, it’s not. It actually… There are further extremes. The further… You know? It can have extremes of joy which possibly are more than in the normal human world, but also the depths that man can sink to and people like Voldemort, and I think in this film, he starts to wake up to that fact even more than last time. He comes to the realization that if he’s going to make it in life, he’s going to be making it alone. And, I think that’s the main thing that he discovers in this film and hopefully people will realize that about me. That I’m not out wreaking havoc! (laughs)
CL: Okay, operator. Second question.
Operator: Second question comes from the line of Lisa Carlin of CBS Radio. Please go ahead.
Media: Yes. Hello, congratulations to all of you! It is a wonderful movie and I’d love to hear each of you answer this question. After all these years, I am sure that you are incredibly invested in these characters in the story. J.K. Rowling is writing the 7th book now, the final book. If there was something you could say to her that you either really want to happen or really don’t want to happen before this series is finished, what would it be?
DR: If Quidditch isn’t absolutely necessary, maybe don’t make it so…
DR: Because I read in an interview with her a while ago saying, she said something like that it has become quite a chore writing Quidditch now. It’s quite tough to film!
DR: It’s tough on both of us. No one is benefitting!
DR: So maybe, that would probably be one thing, I would say. Then again, it’s also incredibly exciting for people to watch. So there is that as well.
Media: And how about Emma and Rupert?
EW: I’m going to make Rupert really uncomfortable now. For goodness sake! Hermione and Ron just need to get it together! This has been SO long now! They’re so wrong, but they’re so right. It just needs to happen and they just need to get on with it. Yeah, if that doesn’t happen, I am going to be really frustrated. Oh God! It’s still ongoing. So hopefully, they will end up together. (laughs)
Media: Great answer.
RG: Yeah… My answer is a bit different.
RG: I was actually looking forward to Quidditch, really. So I’ve ruined it. Yeah.
CL: Okay, operator. Question three?
Operator: One moment. Next question comes from the line of Sharon Eberson of Pittsburgh Post. Please go ahead.
Media: Hi! How are you guys doing? I was wondering, you said on this film Mike Newell treated you as adults, and perhaps that hadn’t been the case before or as much so before? In what way did that manifest itself? How did you know that “Wow! We’re being taken seriously!” and more like adults this time around?
DR: Do you want to say something? I am still thinking. So…
EW: I feel it’s just the way that… I mean, Alfonso put a lot of trust in us and it was so nice that he really wanted to hear what we had to say and what we thought because, but Mike kind of took it to a new level. I mean sometimes, in a way I think, I would be saying to him, I would be learning something really difficult and just say, “I can’t get this right! Just tell me what you want me to do! Just tell me how you want this to be because I am going crazy!” And he would just say, “I can’t tell you how to do it. I’m not going to tell you how to do it.” And I would be like, “Okay!” And he said, “Just think about it.” I mean, it was just nice that while he guided us really well, we felt responsibility for ourselves, for our role, for how we came across. He left a lot of trust in us to do that and it was really, really nice.
DR: I mean, I suppose sort of the main thing that I got out of Mike’s direction was to… I mean, we’re not old enough to appreciate scenes being analyzed and broken down. The fact is, there is such a rigorous process of drafting the script on Harry Potter, on all films, but Harry Potter, you know, we must go through ourselves before we get to the one, before we start shooting them. So basically by that time, if it’s in the script, it pushes the story forward and it advances things and it is there for a reason, and Mike was fantastic about going into detail. I mean I remember sort of the first time, we were rehearsing with Mike. It was me and Matt Lewis. The boy who plays Neville, who is fantastic. He’s just the greatest guy and we were doing a scene. And, on the page, the scene was around an inch-and-a-half long, and we spent an hour-and-a-quarter rehearsing it and going through different… And we were going like, “Mike if this is how long an inch-and-a-half of script takes, how long will it take when we get to the twelve-page things with Voldemort?” We were sort of slightly apprehensive about how we were going to be pushed, but it was very exciting. He realized that we are now old enough to appreciate really going into detail about the scenes. And, I think that was probably the main thing that changed in this film.
RG: Yeah. The same really. Well, actually I’ve finished school now, so for me, it feels like I’m sort of grown up a bit more now anyway. Yeah, and Mike was great. He was really into your own sort of input. Yeah. I’m uniform in that. Yeah, definitely.
CL: Okay, operator we have time for one more question.
Operator: Your next question comes from the line of Earl Dittman of Wireless Magazine. Please go ahead.
Media: Hi guys and girls! How you doing?
DR: I’m sorry. One second. You’ve just been greeted by two members of the audience.
Media: (Laughs) I’ve got the final question. One thing. A two-part question. Now that you’ve played these characters for over four films, do you feel a connection to them like twins or best friends? And, are you excited about doing the rest of the films, the rest of the books? It’s for all of you.
DR: Emma, do you want to go first?
EW: I am hugely attached to Hermione’s character because I’ve already played the part for four years. I know any of you who interviewed me early on know that there is so much of me that goes into her as far as so much as my experiences and the things that Mike did. He really made me think about while I was acting. I was kind of regurgitating my own experiences. I don’t know what I am going to say now.
EW: Yeah, no. Putting them into, applying them to what Hermione’s going through. So I know if anybody else played Hermione, it would actually kill me. I wouldn’t be able to deal with that at all. I’d go after her. Anyway…
EW: So yeah. No girl can replace her.
DR: A threat to any future Hermiones.
EW: Yeah. Watch out!
DR: Actually, what you bring up, it’s enough to bring up an image… No, you’re absolutely right. He did make us draw upon our experiences. I think you can’t really help but feel attached to… I can’t help but feel attached to him in some ways. But, I mean kind of like twins. OH! Someone’s tape has just run out. I just wanted to point that out. But, I don’t know if it’s so much that… In a way, I don’t know if me playing him has turned out how much I am like him now or being so close to him over five years has influenced my own character. I mean, I don’t think it’s – I haven’t developed a complex over it or anything, but it is sort of an interesting thing. Yeah. I mean, it is very hard to separate yourself from him in some ways, but ultimately you go home at night and it’s not like you stay in character all the time. It would be very hard to be a method actor on Harry Potter because then you’d have to try to find a figure of ultimate evil… Rupert, you’ve broken the… Sorry, that wasn’t a part of an answer to the question.
DR: So that would be my not particularly clear answer to that question. Oh, the other part. Yes, sorry. I think it comes down to the fact of are we still all enjoying it. If we are, I think it would be sort of stupid not to. If the script is good, and it’s a challenge and it’s an interesting director, as long as… I mean I’m going to speak for myself. I’m not going to speak for everyone here. You know, I don’t want to put words in everyone’s mouth. But, I would feel as long as I am doing sort of enough other stuff. For some reason I keep addressing all the phone questions.
DR: As long as I can do enough other stuff around the same time, then I think it would be…and also, I sort of try to read the books when they come out very impartially and not make up my mind. But, the fact is, when I was reading the 6th book, there was that bit and I was going like, “Oh my God. I would love to do that.” It was so good.
Media: Do you get those books earlier than the rest of us?
DR: No. No, we don’t.
EW: No, no.
DR: I tell my friends. I tell my friends I know and then make up stories, but I don’t actually get them. No.
RG: Yeah. Well, since the beginning, I always felt like I could sort of relate to Ron in a way. We’re both ginger, if you want, and we both have sort of big families. I’ve obviously been playing him for a long time. So I got to know him. So yeah, definitely.
EW: It’s really difficult when people ask these questions because it is such a huge commitment and you can’t appreciate how much you’re on it, the amount of time everything takes. An eleven-month film is huge and it’s not just a little bit every day. It is a full day. We work a lot of hours. So I think I would never want to do it if I felt I wasn’t going to give a 100%. I’m so focused on this one now. I’m so psyched about this film now. I’m really not thinking about anything. You have to take it one at a time. Otherwise you just get a bit overwhelmed, I think.
DR: I mean I would just… I mean I am not in any way trying to undermine… Just in case we get prosecuted, we don’t actually work for very long hours. We work very long hours…
DR: And when we’re not working… I think what makes it hard is that a lot of actors act like that. That’s the thing.
DR: When actors aren’t filming, they just go to their dressing rooms and relax. Whereas, we go… So yeah.
(Cluttered chat) And I think that makes it come to the equivalent because when we’re not filming… When other…
Media: Well, congratulations again for a great movie.
DR: Thank you very, very much, Earl.
EW: Thank you.
CL: We have to get them on out of here so thank you very, very much.
MuggleNet's Interview With J.K. Rowling
MuggleNet's Interview With J.K. Rowling
Emerson Spartz of MuggleNet and Melissa Anelli of The Leaky Cauldron interview Joanne Rowling
July 16, 2005: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince publication day
Warning: The entirety of this interview is colored by Book 6 – which means if you don’t want to be spoiled or haven’t read Half-Blood Prince, reading this interview will not be good for your health.
- Part 1
- Part 2
- Part 3
Emerson Spartz, MuggleNet (ES): Who do you discuss Harry Potter with?
JKR: When I’m working on it, you mean? Virtually no one, which is, for me, it’s a necessary condition of work. I have this reputation for being reclusive. Now, that came, I’m not sure that it holds so true in America, but in Britain you really can’t read an article on me – and I read probably a hundredth of what’s out there so I know it must be happening more – without the world reclusive being attached to my name. I’m not reclusive in the slightest. What they mean is that I’m secretive and I don’t do a lot of – I’m secretive because that for me is necessary condition of work. It’s got nothing to do with the franchise; it’s got nothing to do with trying to protect “the property.” I hate it being called “the property,” but other people call it “the property.” It’s because I think if you discuss the work while you’re doing it you tend to dissipate the energy you need to do it.
You will meet, we’ve all met, a hell of a lot of people who stand in bars and discuss the novels they are writing. If they were writing, they’d be at home actually writing it. Very occasionally I might tell Neil that, I say, I’ve had a good day, or I’ve, you know, I wrote a good joke – it made me laugh – whatever, but I would never discuss in details. And then once I’ve handed in the manuscript to my editors, and that’s Emma, who is my UK editor, and Arthur, who is my American editor, they would both see the manuscript at the same time. They collaborate on what they both think about it, and then they come back to me and suggest things. Of course, it’s very liberating once someone’s read it to be able to then discuss it, so you know I’ve kept it quiet for 18 months while I’ve been working and then you get this explosion, because you really want to talk to someone about it now, so Emma and Arthur are the ones who get my first effusions and then it’s wonderful to hear what they think. They were both very positive about this book; they really liked it. And then we have arguments as well, obviously.
ES: This is kind of a strange question but how many times have you read your own story?
JKR: That is not a strange question; it’s a very valid question because once the book is published, I rarely re-read. A funny thing is when I do pick up a book to check a fact – which I obviously do a lot – if I start reading, then I do get kind of sucked in myself and I may read several pages and then I put it away and go back to what I’m doing, but I would never, if for example I was heading to the bath, and I wanted to pick up something to read, I’d never pick up one of my own books. Therefore there are thousands of fans who know the books much better than I do. My one advantage is I know what’s going to happen, and I’ve got a lot of backstory.
Melissa Anelli, The Leaky Cauldron (MA): How many boxes is it now of backstory?
JKR: It really is hard to say because I’m so disorganized, but yeah, there’s boxes. It’s mainly in notebooks because the backstory is so valuable, so I mainly need that in a format I can retrieve because I lose stuff. So it’s harder to lose a book than it is a bit of paper.
ES: When Book 7 is out, will you keep the website open to keep answering questions?
JKR: Yeah, I don’t see the Web site closing, like on the stroke of midnight when the seventh book’s finished. No, definitely not. My feeling is, I couldn’t possibly answer all the questions, because the novel is the wrong form in which to, for example, present a catalog of your characters’ favorite colors. But people actually want to know – it’s that kind of detail, isn’t it? So I’m never going to answer everything that an obsessive fan would want to know in the novels, and the website is another way of doing that.
Also I think people will continue to theorize about the characters even at the end of Book 7 because some people are very interested in certain characters whose past lives are not germane to the plot – they’re not central to the story – so there is big leeway there still for fan fiction, just as there is, I mean – Jane Austen, I’m a huge Jane Austen fan and you wonder about the characters lives at the end of the story. They still exist, they still live; you’re bound to wonder, aren’t you? But I am as sure as I can be currently that 7 will be the final novel, even though I get a lot of really big puppy dog eyes. “Just one more!” Yeah, I think it will be seven.
ES: Seven books is a long series.
JKR: Yeah, exactly, I don’t think they’re going to say you wimped out, come on!
MA: If you were to write anything else on the Harry Potter series, would it be about Harry Potter himself or another character or a reference book?
JKR: The most likely thing I’ve said this a few times before, would be an encyclopedia in which I could have fun with the minor characters and I could give the definitive biography of all the characters.
MA: Okay, big, big, big Book 6 question. Is Snape evil?
JKR: [Almost laughing] Well, you’ve read the book, what do you think?
ES: She’s trying to make you say it categorically.
MA: Well, there are conspiracy theorists, and there are people who will claim -
JKR: Cling to some desperate hope [laughter] -
ES: Like certain shippers we know![All laugh]
JKR: Well, okay, I’m obviously – Harry-Snape is now as personal, if not more so, than Harry-Voldemort. I can’t answer that question because it’s a spoiler, isn’t it? Whatever I say, and obviously it has such a huge impact on what will happen when they meet again that I can’t. And let’s face it, it’s going to launch 10,000 theories, and I’m going to get a big kick out of reading them so [laughs] I’m evil but I just like the theories. I love the theories.
ES: I know Dumbledore likes to see the good in people but he seems trusting almost to the point of recklessness sometimes.[Laughter]
JKR: Yes, I would agree. I would agree.
ES: How can someone so -
JKR: Intelligent -
ES: – be so blind with regard to certain things?
JKR: Well, there is information on that to come, in seven. But I would say that I think it has been demonstrated, particularly in Books 5 and 6 that immense brainpower does not protect you from emotional mistakes, and I think Dumbledore really exemplifies that. In fact, I would tend to think that being very, very intelligent might create some problems and it has done for Dumbledore, because his wisdom has isolated him, and I think you can see that in the books, because where is his equal; where is his confidante; where is his partner? He has none of those things. He’s always the one who gives; he’s always the one who has the insight and has the knowledge. So I think that, while I ask the reader to accept that McGonagall is a very worthy second-in-command, she is not an equal. You have a slightly circuitous answer, but I can’t get much closer than that.
ES: No, that was a good answer.
MA: It’s interesting about Dumbledore being lonely.
JKR: I see him as isolated, and a few people have said to me rightly I think, that he is detached. My sister said to me in a moment of frustration – it was when Hagrid was shut up in his house after Rita Skeeter had published that he was a half-breed – and my sister said to me, “Why didn’t Dumbledore go down earlier, why didn’t Dumbledore go down earlier?” I said he really had to let Hagrid stew for a while and see if he was going to come out of this on his own because if he had come out on his own, he really would have been better. “Well he’s too detached, he’s too cold, it’s like you,” she said! [Laughter] By which she meant that where she would immediately rush in and I would maybe stand back a little bit and say, “Let’s wait and see if he can work this out.” I wouldn’t leave him a week. I’d leave him maybe an afternoon. But she would chase him into the hut.
ES: This is one of my burning questions since the third book – why did Voldemort offer Lily so many chances to live? Would he actually have let her live?
JKR: [silence] Can’t tell you. But he did offer; you’re absolutely right. Don’t you want to ask me why James’s death didn’t protect Lily and Harry? There’s your answer – you’ve just answered your own question – because she could have lived – and chose to die. James was going to be killed anyway. Do you see what I mean? I’m not saying James wasn’t ready to; he died trying to protect his family, but he was going to be murdered anyway. He had no – he wasn’t given a choice, so he rushed into it in a kind of animal way. I think there are distinctions in courage. James was immensely brave. But the caliber of Lily’s bravery was, I think in this instance, higher because she could have saved herself. Now any mother, any normal mother would have done what Lily did. So in that sense, her courage too was of an animal quality but she was given time to choose. James wasn’t. It’s like an intruder entering your house, isn’t it? You would instinctively rush them. But if in cold blood you were told, “Get out of the way,” you know, what would you do? I mean, I don’t think any mother would stand aside from their child. But does that answer it? She did very consciously lay down her life. She had a clear choice. -
ES: And James didn’t.
JKR: Did he clearly die to try and protect Harry specifically given a clear choice? No. It’s a subtle distinction and there’s slightly more to it than that but that’s most of the answer.
MA: Did she know anything about the possible effect of standing in front of Harry?
JKR: No – because as I’ve tried to make clear in the series, it never happened before. No one ever survived before. And no one, therefore, knew that could happen.
MA: So no one – Voldemort or anyone using Avada Kedavra – ever gave someone a choice and then they took that option [to die] -
JKR: They may have been given a choice, but not in that particular way.
ES: When Sirius was framed for the death of Pettigrew and the Muggles, did he actually laugh or was that something made up to make him look even more insane?
JKR: Did he actually laugh? Yes, I would say he did. Well, he did, because I’ve created him. Sirius, to me, he’s kind of on the edge. Do you not get that feeling from Sirius? He’s a little bit of a loose cannon. I really like him as a character and a lot of people really liked him as a character and are still asking me when he’s going to come back. [Laughter] But Sirius had his flaws – I’ve sort of discussed that before – some quite glaring flaws. I see Sirius as someone who was a case of arrested development. I think you see that from his relationship with Harry in “Phoenix.” He kind of wants a mate from Harry, and what Harry craves is a father. Harry’s kind of outgrowing that now. Sirius wasn’t equipped to give him that.
The laughter – he was absolutely unhinged by James’s death. Harry and Sirius were very similar in the way that both of them were craving family connections with friends. So Sirius with James wanted a brother, and Harry has nominated Ron and Hermione as his family. This is the thing I found interesting – it might have been on MuggleNet’s comments, this is a while back when I was actually looking for fan sites of the month (or whatever arbitrary time period I do) – it was around the time I was reading comments for the first time and there was something in there where kids were saying, “I don’t understand why he’s shouting at Ron and Hermione. I mean, I’d shout at my parents. I would never shout at my best friends.” But he has no one else to shout at. That was interesting from young kids, because I just don’t think they could make that leap of imagination. He’s very alone. Anyway I’ve wandered miles away from Sirius.
He was unhinged. Yes, he laughed. He knew what he’d lost. It was a humorless laugh. Pettigrew, who they, in a slightly patronizing way – James and Sirius at least – who they allowed to hang round with them, it turned out that he was a better wizard than they knew. Turned out he was better at hiding secrets than they knew.
MA: You said that during the writing of Book 6 something caused you fiendish glee. Do you remember what that was?
JKR: Oh, god. [Long silence as Jo thinks] What was it? It wasn’t really vindictive [laughter] – that was more of a figure of speech. I know what I’ve enjoyed writing – you know Luna’s commentary during the Quidditch match? [Laughter] It was that. I really enjoyed doing that. Actually I really enjoyed doing that.
You know, that was the last Quidditch match. I knew as I wrote it that it was the last time I was going to be doing a Quidditch match. To be honest with you, Quidditch matches have been the bane of my life in the Harry Potter books. They are necessary in that people expect Harry to play Quidditch, but there is a limit to how many ways you can have them play Quidditch together and for something new to happen. And then I had this moment of blinding inspiration. I thought, Luna’s going to commentate, and that was just a gift. It’s the kind of commentary I’d do on a sports match because I’m -[laughs]. Anyway yeah, it was that.
MA: That was a lot of fun. She’s fun.
JKR: I love Luna, I really love Luna.
ES: Why does Dumbledore allow Peeves to stay in the castle?
JKR: Can’t get him out.
ES: He’s Dumbledore: he can do anything!
JKR: No, no, no, no, no. Peeves is like dry rot. You can try and eradicate it. It comes with the building. You’re stuck. If you’ve got Peeves, you’re stuck.
ES: But Peeves answers to Dumbledore -
JKR: Yeah. I see Peeves as like a severe plumbing problem in a very old building, and Dumbledore is slightly better with the spanner than most people, so he can maybe make it function better for a few weeks. Then it’s going to start leaking again. Would you want Peeves gone, honestly?
MA: If I was Harry I might, but as a reader I enjoy him. I enjoyed him most when he started obeying Fred and George at the end of Book 5.
JKR: Yeah, that was fun. I enjoyed that. That was satisfying. [Laughter]
ES: When I signed onto IM (instant messenger) after the book came out, there were at least four or five people whose away messages were, “Give her hell from us, Peeves.” Everybody loved that line.
JKR: [Laughter] Awww. Well, Umbridge, she’s a pretty evil character.
MA: She’s still out and about in the world?
JKR: She’s still at the Ministry.
MA: Are we going to see more of her? [Jo nods] You say that with an evil nod.
JKR: Yeah, it’s too much fun to torture her not to have another little bit more before I finish.
ES: MuggleNet “Ask Jo” contest winner Asrial, who’s 22, asks, “If Voldemort saw a Boggart, what would it be?”
JKR: Voldemort’s fear is death, ignominious death. I mean, he regards death itself as ignominious. He thinks that it’s a shameful human weakness, as you know. His worst fear is death, but how would a Boggart show that? I’m not too sure. I did think about that because I knew you were going to ask me that.
ES: A corpse?
JKR: That was my conclusion, that he would see himself dead.
ES: As soon as it became clear this question was going to win, I started getting dozens of emails from people telling me I shouldn’t ask it because the answer was too obvious. Except they all disagreed on what the obvious answer was. Some were sure it would be Dumbledore, some were sure it would be Harry and some were sure it would be death. A couple of follow-ups on that, then – what would he see if he were in front of the Mirror of Erised?
JKR: Himself, all-powerful and eternal. That’s what he wants.
ES: What would Dumbledore see?
JKR: I can’t answer that.
ES: What would Dumbledore’s Boggart be?
JKR: I can’t answer that either, but for theories you should read 6 again. There you go.
MA: If Harry was to look in the Mirror of Erised at the end of Book 6, what would he see?
JKR: He would have to see Voldemort finished, dead gone, wouldn’t he? Because he knows now that he will have no peace and no rest until this is accomplished.
ES: Is the last word of Book 7 still scar?
JKR: At the moment. I wonder if it will remain that way.
MA: Have you fiddled with it?
JKR: I haven’t actually physically fiddled with it. There are definitely a couple of things that will need changing. They’re not big deals but I always knew I would have to rewrite it.
MA: But it’s definitely still on that track?
JKR: Oh definitely. Yeah, yeah
MA: How do you feel that you’re starting the last book?
JKR: It feels scary, actually. It’s been 15 years. Can you imagine? One of the longest adult relationships of my life.
MA: Have you started?
JKR: Yeah. Realistically, I don’t think I’m going to be able to do real work on it until next year. I see next year as the time that I’m really going to write seven. But I’ve started and I am doing little bits and pieces here and there when I can. But you’ve seen how young Mackenzie still is, and you can bear actual witness to the fact that I do have a very small, real baby, so I’m going to try and give Mackenzie what I gave David, which is pretty much a year of uninterrupted “me time,” and then I’ll start writing seriously again.
ES: What prompted people to start referring to Voldemort as You-Know-Who and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named?
JKR: It happens many times in history – well, you’ll know this because you’re that kind of people, but for those who don’t, having a taboo on a name is quite common in certain civilizations. In Africa there are tribes where the name is never used. Your name is a sacred part of yourself and you are referred to as the son of so-and-so, the brother of so-and-so, and you’re given these pseudonyms, because your name is something that can be used magically against you if it’s known. It’s like a part of your soul. That’s a powerful taboo in many cultures and across many folklores. On a more prosaic note, in the 1950s in London, there were a pair of gangsters called the Kray Twins. The story goes that people didn’t speak the name Kray. You just didn’t mention it. You didn’t talk about them, because retribution was so brutal and bloody. I think this is an impressive demonstration of strength – that you can convince someone not to use your name. Impressive in the sense that demonstrates how deep the level of fear is that you can inspire. It’s not something to be admired.
ES: I meant, was there a specific event?
JKR: With Voldemort? It was gradual. He was killing and doing some pretty evil things. In the chapter “Lord Voldemort’s Request,” when he comes back to request that teaching post in Book 6, you get a real sense that he’s already gone quite a long way into the Dark Arts. By that time, a lot of people would be choosing not to use his name. During that time his name was never used except by Dumbledore and people who were above the superstition.
MA: Speaking of world events -
JKR: Chapter 1?
MA: Yeah, Chapter 1, and current world events, specifically in the last four years. Terrorism and the like – has it factored into your writing; has it shaped your writing?
JKR: No, never consciously, in the sense that I’ve never thought, “It’s time for a post-9/11 Harry Potter book,” no. But what Voldemort does, in many senses, is terrorism, and that was quite clear in my mind before 9/11 happened. I was going to read last night [ie, do the midnight reading at the castle] from Chapter 1. That was the reading until the 7th of July [bombings in London]. It then became quite clear to me that it was going to be grossly inappropriate for me to read a passage in which the Muggle Prime Minister is discussing a mass Muggle killing. It just wasn’t appropriate, as there are touches of levity in there. It was totally inappropriate, so that’s when I had to change, and I decided to go for the joke shop, which is all very symbolic because, of course, Harry said to Fred and George, “I’ve got a feeling we’ll all be needing a few laughs before long.” It all ties together nicely. So no, not consciously, but there are parallels, obviously. I think one of the times I felt the parallels was when I was writing about the arrest of Stan Shunpike, you know? I always planned that these kinds of things would happen, but these have very powerful resonances, given that I believe – and many people believe – that there have been instances of persecution of people who did not deserve to be persecuted, even while we’re attempting to find the people who have committed utter atrocities. These things just happen, it’s human nature. There were some very startling parallels at the time I was writing it.
ES: Has the sorting hat ever been wrong?
JKR: Mm-mm. Do you have a theory?
ES: I have heard a lot of theories.
JKR: [laugh] I bet you have. No. [laugh] Sorry.
MA: That’s interesting, because that would suggest that the voice comes more from a person’s own head than the hat itself -
JKR: [makes mysterious noise]
MA: And that maybe when it talks on its own, it comes from -
JKR: The founders themselves.
MA: Yeah. Interesting. How much of a role are the founders going to play in Book 7?
JKR: Some, as you probably have guessed from the end of 6. There’s so much that I want to ask you, but you’re supposed to interview me, so come on. [Laughter]
ES: I know you get asked this in every interview, but the length of the book, has it changed at all?
JKR: Seven? Shorter than Phoenix, you mean, Phoenix always being our benchmark of a book that’s really, really nudging the outer limits? I still think it will be shorter thanPhoenix.
JKR: I don’t know. That is the honest truth, I don’t know. I have a plan for seven that’s not yet so detailed that I could honestly gauge the length. I know what’s going to happen; I know the story, but I haven’t sat down and plotted it to the point where you think, “We’re really looking at 42 chapters,” or, “We’re looking at 31 chapters.” I don’t know yet.
JKR: Ohhh, good.[All laugh.]
JKR: No, I’m glad! Yes?
MA: Can we figure out who he is, from what we know so far?[Note: JKR has adopted slightly evil look here]
JKR: Do you have a theory?
MA: We’ve come up with Regulus Black.
JKR: Have you now?
JKR: Well, I think that would be, um, a fine guess.
MA: And perhaps, being Sirius’s brother, he had another mirror -
JKR: [drums fingers on soda can]
MA: Does he have the other mirror, or Sirius’s mirror -
JKR: I have no comment at all on that mirror. That mirror is not on the table. [Laughter from all; Jo's is maniacal.]
MA: Let the record note that she has drummed her fingers on her Coke can in a very Mr. Burns-like way.[Laughter]
JKR: Oh, I love Mr. Burns.
ES: If you had the opportunity to rewrite any part of the series so far, what would it be and why?
JKR: There are bits of all six books that I would go back and tighten up. My feeling is that Phoenix is overlong, but I challenge anyone to find the obvious place to cut. There are places that I would prune now looking back, but they wouldn’t add up to a hugely reduced book, because my feeling is you need what’s in there. You need what’s in there if I’m going to play fair for the reader in the resolution in Book 7. One of the reasons Phoenix is so long is that I had to move Harry around a lot, physically. There were places he had to go he had never been before, and that took time – to get him there, to get him away. That was the longest non-Hogwarts stretch in any of the books, and that’s really what bumps up the length. I’m trying to think of specifics, it’s hard.
ES: Any subplots that you think could have been left out, in hindsight?
JKR: I find it very hard to pinpoint any because I feel that they were necessary. How can any of us judge? Even I, until seven’s finished, will not be able to look back really accurately and say, “That was discursive.” And maybe at the end of seven I’ll look back and say, thinking about it, “I didn’t really need to be quite so elaborate in that place there.” Until it’s written, it’s a hard thing to be accurate about. But certainly there are turns of expressions that irritate me in hindsight. There are repetitions that drive me crazy in hindsight.
MA: Now that Dumbledore is gone, will we ever know the spell that he was trying to cast on Voldemort in the Ministry?
JKR: Umm…[makes clucking noise with tongue ]
ES: Let the record show she made a funny sound with her mouth.[All laugh, Jo maniacally.]
JKR: It’s possible, it’s possible that you will know that. You will – [pause] – you will know more about Dumbledore. I have to be sooo careful on this.
MA: Can we have a book just on Dumbledore? Like a life story?
JKR: Oh, all right then.[All laugh.]
ES and MA, hi-fiving: YES!
JKR: That’s not a binding contract! [Laughter]
MA: No, it’s an oral agreement – where’s Neil [her lawyer, not her husband]?[Laughter]
ES: How many wizards are there?
JKR: In the world? Oh, Emerson, my maths is so bad.
ES: Is there a ratio of Muggles to wizards -
MA: Or in Hogwarts.
JKR: Well, Hogwarts. All right. Here is the thing with Hogwarts. Way before I finishedPhilosopher’s Stone, when I was just amassing stuff for seven years, between having the idea and publishing the book, I sat down and I created 40 kids who enter Harry’s year. I’m delighted I did it, [because] it was so useful. I got 40 pretty fleshed-out characters. I never have to stop and invent someone. I know who’s in the year, I know who’s in which house, I know what their parentage is, and I have a few personal details on all of them. So there were 40. I never consciously thought, “That’s it, that’ s all the people in his year,” but that’s kind of how it’s worked out. Then I’ve been asked a few times how many people and because numbers are not my strong point, one part of my brain knew 40, and another part of my brain said, “Oh, about 600 sounds right.” Then people started working it out and saying, “Where are the other kids sleeping?” [Laughter] We have a little bit of a dilemma there. I mean, obviously magic is very rare. I wouldn’t want to say a precise ratio. But if you assume that all of the wizarding children are being sent to Hogwarts, then that’s very few wizard-to-Muggle population, isn’t it? There will be the odd kid whose parents don’t want them to go to Hogwarts, but 600 out of the whole of Britain is tiny.
Let’s say three thousand [in Britain], actually, thinking about it, and then think of all the magical creatures, some of which appear human. So then you’ve got things like hags, trolls, ogres and so on, so that’s really bumping up your numbers. And then you’ve got the world of sad people like Filch and Figg who are kind of part of the world but are hangers-on. That’s going to bump you up a bit as well, so it’s a more sizable, total magical community that needs hiding, concealing, but don’t hold me to these figures, because that’s not how I think.
MA: How much fun did you have with the romance in this book?
JKR: Oh, loads. Doesn’t it show?
JKR: There’s a theory – this applies to detective novels, and then Harry, which is not really a detective novel, but it feels like one sometimes – that you should not have romantic intrigue in a detective book. Dorothy L. Sayers, who is queen of the genre said – and then broke her own rule – but said that there is no place for romance in a detective story except that it can be useful to camouflage other people’s motives. That’s true; it is a very useful trick. I’ve used that on Percy and I’ve used that to a degree on Tonks in this book, as a red herring. But having said that, I disagree inasmuch as mine are very character-driven books, and it’s so important, therefore, that we see these characters fall in love, which is a necessary part of life. How did you feel about the romance?
[Melissa puts her thumbs up and grins widely]
ES: We were hi-fiving the whole time.
JKR: [laughs] Yes! Good. I’m so glad.
MA: We were running back and forth between rooms yelling at each other.
ES: We thought it was clearer than ever that Harry and Ginny are an item and Ron and Hermione – although we think you made it painfully obvious in the first five books -
JKR: [points to herself and whispers] So do I!
ES: What was that?
JKR: [More loudly] Well. so do I! So do I!
[All laugh; Melissa doubles over, hysterical, and may have died.]
ES: Harry/Hermione shippers: delusional!
JKR: Well no, I’m not going to – Emerson, I am not going to say they’re delusional! They are still valued members of my readership! I am not going to use the word delusional. I am however, going to say – now I am trusting both of you to do the spoiler thing when you write this up -[More laughter]
JKR: I will say, that yes, I personally feel – well it’s going to be clear once people have read Book 6. I mean, that’s it. It’s done, isn’t it? We know. Yes, we do now know that it’s Ron and Hermione. I do feel that I have dropped heavy -
[All crack up]
JKR: – hints. ANVIL-sized, actually, hints, prior to this point. I certainly think even if subtle clues hadn’t been picked up by the end of Azkaban, that by the time we hit Krum in Goblet…
But Ron – I had a lot of fun with that in this book. I really enjoyed writing the Ron/Lavender business, and the reason that was enjoyable was Ron up to this point has been quite immature compared to the other two, and he kind of needed to make himself worthy of Hermione. Now, that didn’t mean necessarily physical experience, but he had to grow up emotionally and now he’s taken a big step up. Because he’s had the meaningless physical experience – let’s face it, his emotions were never deeply engaged with Lavender -
[Much laughter in which Melissa emits a "Won-Won"]
JKR: – and he’s realized that that is ultimately not what he wants, which takes him a huge emotional step forward.
ES: So he’s got a little bit more than a teaspoon; now there’s a tablespoon?
JKR: Yeah, I think. [Laughter]
MA: Watching all this, were you surprised when you first logged on and found this intense devotion to this thing that you knew was not going to happen?
JKR: Yes. Well, you see, I’m a relative newcomer to the world of shipping, because for a long time, I didn’t go on the net and look up Harry Potter. A long time. Occasionally I had to, because there were weird news stories or something that I would have to go and check, because I was supposed to have said something I hadn’t said. I had never gone and looked at fan sites, and then one day I did and oh – my – god. Five hours later or something, I get up from the computer shaking slightly [All laugh]. “What is going on?” And it was during that first mammoth session that I met the shippers, and it was a most extraordinary thing. I had no idea there was this huge underworld seething beneath me.
ES: She’s putting it into a positive light!
JKR: Well I am, I am, but you know. I want to make it clear that delusional is your word and not mine! [Much laughter]
MA: You’re making our lives a lot easier by laying it on the table -
JKR: Well I think anyone who is still shipping Harry/Hermione after this book -
ES: [whispered] Delusional!
JKR: Uh – no! But they need to go back and re-read, I think.
ES: Thank you.
MA: That is going to -
JKR: Will it make your lives slightly easier?
[All three]: Yeah, yeah.
JKR: I think so.
MA: I have to tell you, I’m looking forward to [this coming out], because, you know, a lot of this is predicated upon a necessary hate for another character. Ron has suffered horribly at the hands of Harry/Hermione shippers.
JKR: That bit makes me very uncomfortable, actually. Yeah, that bit does make me uncomfortable.
ES: Honestly, I think the Harry/Hermione shippers are a very small percentage of the population anyway.
MA: Yeah, if you do a general poll -
ES: They seem more prominent online, but that’s just because the online fandom is very -
MA: Militant was the best word I heard -
JKR: Militant is a beautifully chosen word. Energetic. Feisty.[Laughter]
MA: What does it do to you to see a character that you love, for people to express sheer hate -
ES: Or vice versa.
JKR: It amuses me. It honestly amuses me. People have been waxing lyrical [in letters] about Draco Malfoy, and I think that’s the only time when it stopped amusing me and started almost worrying me. I’m trying to clearly distinguish between Tom Felton, who is a good-looking young boy, and Draco, who, whatever he looks like, is not a nice man. It’s a romantic, but unhealthy, and unfortunately all too common delusion of – delusion, there you go – of girls, and you [nods to Melissa] will know this, that they are going to change someone. And that persists through many women’s lives, ’til their deathbed, and it is uncomfortable and unhealthy and it actually worried me a little bit, to see young girls swearing undying devotion to this really imperfect character, because there must be an element in there, that “I’d be the one who [changes him].” I mean, I understand the psychology of it, but it is pretty unhealthy. So a couple of times I have written back, possibly quite sharply, saying [Laughter], “You want to rethink your priorities here.”
JKR: Again, your word![Laughter]
ES: On our websites we have a tendency to have very different stances on shipping. On The Leaky Cauldron, they toe this fine political line.
MA: Down the line. We say, “If that’s your thing, that’s your thing.”
ES: And on MuggleNet, we say -
JKR: [Laughing] You say you’re delusional lunatics?
MA: He basically says, “If you don’t think this, just get off my site.”[JKR cracks up]
ES: We say, “You’re clearly delusional!”
JKR: What’s that section on your site again, when you post the absolute absurdities that you’ve received?
ES: The Wall of Shame?
JKR: The Wall of Shame. We could have a Wall of Shame. We could have them pasted up here, some of the ludicrous things I receive.
MA: What kind of things?
JKR: Very similar stuff. Very similar. From pure abuse, to just ramblings – we could say of an existential nature. Not from kids, from older people. What made me laugh out loud, I think, was your [Emerson's] comment on there saying, “Please don’t try and send me a stupid email so you end up on the Wall of Shame.” Isn’t that human nature? It starts off as let’s expose these [laughter], and people are competing to be on there?
ES: Delusional, like I said. It’s my word of the day.[Laughter]
JKR: Sorry, I just snorted my drink. Sorry, go on.
MA: I wanted to go back to Draco.
JKR: OK, yeah, let’s talk about Draco.
MA: He was utterly fascinating in this book.
JKR: Well, I’m glad you think so because I enjoyed this one. Draco did a lot of growing up in this book as well. I had an interesting discussion, I thought, with my editor Emma, about Draco. She said to me, “So Malfoy can do Occlumency,” which obviously Harry never mastered and has now pretty much given up on doing, or attempting. And she was querying this and wondering whether he should be as good as it, but I think Draco would be very gifted in Occlumency, unlike Harry. Harry’s problem with it was always that his emotions were too near the surface and that he is in some ways too damaged. But he’s also very in touch with his feelings about what’s happened to him. He’s not repressed, he’s quite honest about facing them, and he couldn’t suppress them, he couldn’t suppress these memories. But I thought of Draco as someone who is very capable of compartmentalizing his life and his emotions, and always has done. So he’s shut down his pity, enabling him to bully effectively. He’s shut down compassion – how else would you become a Death Eater? So he suppresses virtually all of the good side of himself. But then he’s playing with the big boys, as the phrase has it, and suddenly, having talked the talk he’s asked to walk it for the first time and it is absolutely terrifying. And I think that that is an accurate depiction of how some people fall into that kind of way of life and they realize what they’re in for. I felt sorry for Draco. Well, I’ve always known this was coming for Draco, obviously, however nasty he was.
Harry is correct in believing that Draco would not have killed Dumbledore, which I think is clear when he starts to lower his wand, when the matter is taken out of his hands.
ES: Was Dumbledore planning to die?
JKR: [Pause] Do you think that’s going to be the big theory?
MA and ES: Yes. It’ll be a big theory.
JKR: [Pause] Well, I don’t want to shoot that one down. [A little laughter] I have to give people hope.
MA: It goes back to the question of whether Snape is a double-double-double-triple-
JKR: [Laughs] Double-double-quadruple-to-the-power-of – yeah.
MA: – whether this had been planned, and since Dumbledore had this knowledge of Draco the whole year, had they had a discussion that said, “Should this happen, you have to act as if it is entirely your intention to just walk forward and kill me, because if you don’t, Draco will die, the Unbreakable Vow, you’ll die,” and so on -
JKR: No, I see that, and yeah, I follow your line there. I can’t – I mean, obviously, there are lines of speculation I don’t want to shut down. Generally speaking, I shut down those lines of speculation that are plain unprofitable. Even with the shippers. God bless them, but they had a lot of fun with it. It’s when people get really off the wall – it’s when people devote hours of their time to proving that Snape is a vampire that I feel it’s time to step in, because there’s really nothing in the canon that supports that.
ES: It’s when you look for those things -
JKR: Yeah, it’s after the 15th rereading when you have spots in front of your eyes that you start seeing clues about Snape being the Lord of Darkness. So there are things I shut down just because I think, well, don’t waste your time, there’s better stuff to be debating, and even if it’s wrong, it will probably lead you somewhere interesting. That’s my rough theory anyway.
ES: What’s one question you wished to be asked and what would be the answer to that question?
JKR: Um – [long pause] – such a good question. What do I wish I could be asked? [Pause] Today, just today, July the 16th, I was really hoping someone would ask me about R.A.B., and you did it. Just today, because I think that is – well, I hoped that people would.
MA: Is there more we should ask about him?
JKR: There are things you will deduce on further readings, I think – well you two definitely will, for sure – that, yeah, I was really hoping that R.A.B. would come out.
MA: Forgive me if I’m remembering incorrectly, but was Regulus the one who was murdered by Voldemort -
JKR: Well Sirius said he wouldn’t have been because he wasn’t important enough, remember?
MA: But that doesn’t have to be true, if [R.A.B.] is writing Voldemort a personal note.
JKR: That doesn’t necessarily show that Voldemort killed him personally, but Sirius himself suspected that Regulus got in a little too deep. Like Draco. He was attracted to it, but the reality of what it meant was way too much to handle.
Oh, how did you feel about Lupin/Tonks?
ES: That was -
MA: I was surprised!
ES: I was surprised, but not shocked.
MA: I think I was a little shocked.
JKR: Someone out there, and I don’t know if it was on either of your sites -I nearly fell off my chair. Someone, this is when I do my trawls – I mean, I sound like I spend my life on the Internet and that’s why I don’t get my novels finished more quickly. I swear that’s not true, and I’d like to make that clear for all the recording devices on the table. Because I’ve now got my site, I go looking for the FAQs and for fan sites that I like to put up, so that’s how I find out comments and things. And someone out there, I could not believe it, had said it. Had said, “Oh no, Tonks can’t marry so-and-so, (God knows who it was) because Tonks is going to end up with Lupin, and they’re going to have lots of little multi-colored werewolf cubs together,” or something.
MA: I’ve seen that!
JKR: Did you see that? Was that on Leaky, then?
MA: Maybe – no offense [to Emerson] but I don’t usually have time to read the MuggleNet comments -
JKR: I suppose, so many people are posting, that you would expect them to come up with virtually every possibility.
ES: Oh, yeah, they have come up with everything.
MA: Harry/Basilisk.[All crack up.]
JKR: Ain’t it the truth. I know! I suppose if I did spend all my time on there, pretty much my whole future plot would be on there somewhere.
ES: How much time do you go on the fan sites?
JKR: It really varies. When my site is quiet, it is genuinely because I’m working really hard or I’m busy with the kids or something. When I update a few times in a row, I’ve obviously been on the net. So the FAQs and that kind of stuff is just compiled by hard copy post that I get here and fan sites. I go looking to see what people want answered. It’s fantastic, it’s sometimes frustrating, but I do want to make clear, I do not post in comments, because I know that’s been cropping up. You’ve both been really responsible about that, but that slightly worries me. I did go in the MuggleNet chatroom, it was hysterical. That was the first time I ever Googled Harry Potter. I was just falling into these things and Leaky – actually Leaky I already knew about, but I discovered MuggleNet that first-ever afternoon and I went in the chatroom, and it was so funny. I was treated with outright contempt. [Laughter] It was funny, I can’t tell you.
ES: I’d like to apologize for, uh -
JKR: No, no no no, not in a horrible way, but, “Yeah, yeah, shut up, you’re not a regular, you don’t know a thing.” You can imagine!
MA: One of our Leaky “Ask Jo” poll winners is theotherhermit, she’s 50 and lives in a small town in the eastern US. I think this was addressed in the sixth book, but, “Do the memories stored in a Pensieve reflect reality or the views of the person they belong to?”
JKR: It’s reality. It’s important that I have got that across, because Slughorn gave Dumbledore this pathetic cut-and-paste memory. He didn’t want to give the real thing, and he very obviously patched it up and cobbled it together. So what you remember is accurate in the Pensieve.
ES: I was dead wrong about that.
ES: I thought for sure that it was your interpretation of it. It didn’t make sense to me to be able to examine your own thoughts from a third-person perspective. It almost feels like you’d be cheating because you’d always be able to look at things from someone else’s point of view.
MA: So there are things in there that you haven’t noticed personally, but you can go and see yourself?
JKR: Yes, and that’s the magic of the Pensieve, that’s what brings it alive.
ES: I want one of those!
JKR: Yeah. Otherwise it really would just be like a diary, wouldn’t it? Confined to what you remember. But the Pensieve recreates a moment for you, so you could go into your own memory and relive things that you didn’t notice the time. It’s somewhere in your head, which I’m sure it is, in all of our brains. I’m sure if you could access it, things that you don’t know you remember are all in there somewhere.
ES: Our other “Ask Jo” question (the one about James and Lily’s sacrifices), was from Maria Vlasiou, who is 25, of the Netherlands. And then the third is from Helen Poole, 18, from Thirsk, Yorkshire – also one of the Plot Thickensfan book authors. It’s the one about Grindelwald, which I’m sure you’ve been gearing up for us to ask.
ES: Clearly -
JKR: Come on then, remind me. Is he dead?
ES: Yeah, is he dead?
JKR: Yeah, he is.
ES: Is he important?
JKR: [regretful] Ohhh…
ES: You don’t have to answer but can you give us some backstory on him?
JKR: I’m going to tell you as much as I told someone earlier who asked me. You know Owen who won the [UK television] competition to interview me? He asked about Grindelwald [pronounced "Grindelvald" HMM...]. He said, “Is it coincidence that he died in 1945,” and I said no. It amuses me to make allusions to things that were happening in the Muggle world, so my feeling would be that while there’s a global Muggle war going on, there’s also a global wizarding war going on.
ES: Does he have any connection to -
JKR: I have no comment to make on that subject.[Laughter]
MA: Do they feed each other, the Muggle and wizarding wars?
JKR: Yeah, I think so. Yeah. Mmm.
MA: You’ve gone very quiet.[All laugh; JKR maniacally]
MA: We like when you get very quiet, it means -
ES: You’re clearly hiding something.
MA: Our next winner question is from Delaney Monaghan, who is six years old, via her mother, Vanessa Monaghan. They’re from Canberra, Australia. “What is the significance, if any of the gum wrappers that Mrs. Longbottom keeps giving Neville?”
ES: Quick, go on the record [with what you think] before she answers -
MA: I think they’re a sad mark of an insane woman.
JKR: That was also asked of me this morning. That idea was one of the very few that was inspired by a real event. I was told what, to me, was a very sad story by someone I know about their elderly mother who had Alzheimer’s, and the elderly mother was in a closed ward. She was very severely demented and no longer recognized her son, but he went faithfully to visit her twice a week, and he used to take her sweets. That was their point of connection; she had a sweet tooth. She recognized him as the sweet-giver. That was very poignant to me. So I embroidered the story. Neville gives his mother what she wants, and (it makes me sad to think of it) she wants to give something back to him, but what she gives back to him is essentially worthless. But he still takes it as worth something because she’s trying to give, so it does mean something, in emotional terms.
But, the theories on the sweet wrappers, are really out there.
ES: You can’t blame them.
JKR: I mean she’s not trying to pass him secret messages.
MA: She’s not really sane -
JKR: No. You’re right. But that’s a classic example of, “Let’s just shut that one down,” because it doesn’t really lead anywhere very interesting even if they’re wrong.
MA: It’s probably one of the most touching moments in the books.
JKR: I think it is important as a character moment.
MA: Our third winner question is from Monique Padelis, who’s 15, of Surrey. How and when was the veil created?
JKR: The veil’s been there as long as the Ministry of Magic has been there, and the Ministry of Magic has been there, not as long as Hogwarts, but a long time. We’re talking hundreds of years. It’s not particularly important to know exactly when, but centuries, definitely.
MA: Was it used as an execution chamber or just studying?
JKR: No, it’s just studying. The Department of Mysteries is all about studying. They study the mind, the universe, death…
MA: Are we going back to that room, that locked room?
JKR: No comment.
ES: Dumbledore is unrivaled in his knowledge of magic -
ES: Where did he learn it all?
JKR: I see him primarily as someone who would be self-taught. However, he in his time had access to superb teachers at Hogwarts, so he was educated in the same way that everyone else is educated. Dumbledore’s family would be a profitable line of inquiry, more profitable than sweet wrappers.
MA: His family?
JKR: Family, yes.
MA: Should we talk about that a little more?
JKR: No. But you can! [Laughter]
MA: What about Harry’s family – his grandparents – were they killed?
JKR: No. This takes us into more mundane territory. As a writer, it was more interesting, plot-wise, if Harry was completely alone. So I rather ruthlessly disposed of his entire family apart from Aunt Petunia. I mean, James and Lily are massively important to the plot, of course, but the grandparents? No. And, because I do like my backstory: Petunia and Lily’s parents, normal Muggle death. James’s parents were elderly, were getting on a little when he was born, which explains the only child, very pampered, had-him-late-in-life-so-he’s-an-extra-treasure, as often happens, I think. They were old in wizarding terms, and they died. They succumbed to a wizarding illness. That’s as far as it goes. There’s nothing serious or sinister about those deaths. I just needed them out of the way so I killed them.
MA: That sort of shuts down Heir of Gryffindor [theories], as well.
JKR: [Pause] Yeah. Well – yeah.
MA: Another one bites the dust.[Laughter]
JKR: Well, there you go. See, I’m aware that Half-Blood Prince will not delight everyone, because it does shoot down some theories. I mean, if it didn’t, I haven’t done my job right. A few people won’t particularly like it, and a lot of people aren’t going to like the death very much, but that was always what was planned to come.
We still don’t know whether there was a genuine leak on that, or whether it was speculation that happened to be accurate.
ES: With this book?
MA: Remember the bets?
ES: Oh yeah -
JKR: Yeah, the betting scam. Well, we’re now 50/50. If you remember, on Phoenix, the betting went for Cho Chang, and it was exactly the same thing. Suddenly someone put up something like £10,000 on Cho Chang to die, and you wouldn’t think someone would waste that kind of money, so we think that they thought they had inside information. On the Dumbledore one, we still don’t know. Was there a genuine leak or did someone just guess, and get it right?
ES: I remember actually putting a poll up on MuggleNet asking people if they thought he was going to bite it.
JKR: And what was the result? That’s really interesting.
ES: The majority thought he was going to die in Book 6 – well, 6 or 7. Most thought it was going to be in 7.
JKR: Really. Yeah.
ES: It was probably 65/35, but definitely, most thought he was going to die.
JKR: Yeah, well, I think if you take a step back, in the genre of writing that I’m working in, almost always the hero must go on alone. That’s the way it is. We all know that, so the question is when and how, isn’t it? If you know anything about the construction of that kind of plot.
ES: The wise old wizard with the beard always dies.
JKR: Well, that’s basically what I’m saying, yes.[Laughter]
MA: It’s interesting, because that moment – I think we all sort of felt like he was going to die as soon as he started imparting these huge swallows of wisdom.
MA: And the moment when Harry said, “I realize this, and my parents realized this, and this is about this choice,” we stopped, and we said, “All right, let’s let everyone catch up, and talk about this, because a) Dumbledore is dying, b) this is the flag that signals that we’re going to power through to the end.” I feel like that was a defining moment of the entire series. Do you tend to agree?
JKR: Yes, definitely, because I think there’s a line there between the moment inChamber of Secrets when Dumbledore says so famously, “It’s our choices that define us, not our abilities,” straight through to Dumbledore sitting in his office, saying to Harry, “The prophecy is significant only because you and Voldemort choose to make it so. If you both chose to walk away, you could both live!” That’s the bottom line. If both of them decided, “We’re not playing,” and walked away… but, it’s not going to happen, because as far as Voldemort’s concerned, Harry’s a threat. They must meet each other.
ES: I remember thinking when I read Order of the Phoenix, what would happen if Harry and Voldemort just decided to -
JKR: Shake hands, and walk away? We’ll agree to disagree![Laughter]
ES: What if he never heard the prophecy?
JKR: And that’s it, isn’t it? As I said, that’s what I posted on my site -
ES: I’m glad you put that up.
JKR: It’s the “Macbeth” idea. I absolutely adore “Macbeth.” It is possibly my favorite Shakespeare play. And that’s the question isn’t it? If Macbeth hadn’t met the witches, would he have killed Duncan? Would any of it have happened? Is it fated or did he make it happen? I believe he made it happen.
MA: If everyone would just shake hands and play a round of golf, everything would be fine.[Laughter]
MA: There are a lot of intense loyalty and bravery issues that are really tied to self-sacrifice – specifically in Book 3, “You should have died rather than betray your friends.” And then, there’s a ton of that throughout. That’s a pretty intense message to pass to, say, an eight-year-old, or a ten-year-old, who is reading the book, saying we should die for our friends.
JKR: Obviously I imagine it in the context of a very highly charged situation. God forbid – I hope that in the general run of things, an eight-year-old would not be required to die for anyone, but we’re talking here about a fully grown man who was in, what I consider to be, a war situation. This was a full-fledged war situation. I think the question really is do you, as readers, believe that Sirius would have died? Because Sirius is saying that.
ES: Oh, absolutely.
JKR: Right, well, that’s what I believed. Sirius would have done it. He, with all his faults and flaws, he has this profound sense of honor, ultimately, and he would rather have died honorably, as he would see it, than live with the dishonor and shame of knowing that he sent those three people to their deaths, those three people that he loved beyond any others, because like Harry he is a displaced person without family.
You’re right, it is an intense message, but I am ultimately writing about evil, and I have said before, I think, that I’m surprised when sometimes people say to me, “Oh, you know, the books are getting so dark.” I’m thinking, “Well, which part of Philosopher’s Stone did you think was light and fluffy?” You know, there is an innocence about it, Harry is very young when he goes to the school, but the book opens with a double murder. The possibility of death, I think, is present throughout Philosopher’s Stone, and I feel that there are a couple of really gruesome images in Philosopher’s Stone. I think the first book contains more gruesome imagery than the second, despite the giant snake, because the cloaked figure drinking the unicorn blood is pretty damn creepy. It was to me when I thought of it, and I really, right up until now, all these years later, think that the idea of the face in the back of the head [Voldemort sharing Quirrell's body] is one of the most disturbing images in the whole book. (The whole book; I call it one big book. In the whole series.)
So yes, it’s intense, I agree with you, but I would say it’s been pretty intense throughout. There are a lot of things in there that are disturbing, intentionally so, but I really don’t think I’ve ever crossed the line into shocking for shocking’s sake. I feel that I could justify every single piece of morbid imagery in those books. The one that I wondered whether I was going to be able to get past the editors was the physical condition of Voldemort before he went into the cauldron, do you remember? He was kind of fetal. I felt an almost visceral distaste for what I had conjured up, but there’s a reason it was in there and you will see that. And I discussed that with my editor, and she was okay with it. In fact, she was more disturbed with the idea of the grave cracking open. I think it’s the desecration idea, isn’t it, again. There’s nothing really to see there – but again it’s the violation of a taboo.
MA: What color are Ron’s eyes?
JKR: Ron’s eyes are blue. Have I never said that, ever? [JKR covers her eyes]
MA: They’ve been dying for us to ask this.
JKR: Blue. Harry’s green, Ron’s blue, and Hermione’s are brown.
MA: What’s Ron’s Patronus?
JKR: Ron’s Patronus? Have I never said that either? Oh no, that’s shocking! [Laughter] Ron’s Patronus is a small dog, like a Jack Russell, and that’s a really sentimental choice, because we’ve got a Jack Russell. He’s insane.
MA: This is not a short one but I really want to ask you this: with all the fame and wealth you’ve amassed, how do you keep your kids grounded and normal and rooted in the real world?
JKR: It is my top priority in life. I think and I hope that we lead a pretty normal life, believe it or not. Surreal things happen where I walk out of my house and into an illuminated castle, and so on, but that really has very little effect on them. I think as much as one can, we do lead a very normal life. We go out to the shops like anyone else, we walk around town like anyone else. That’s my feeling anyway. I also think that, importantly, all three children will grow up seeing Neil and I both working. There are no plans on either of our parts to stop working, put our feet up and go yachting around the world or anything, pleasant though that would be and does seem sometimes. We keep working and I think that’s a pretty good example to set to your children: that whatever money you might have, self-worth really lies in finding out what you do best. It’s doing your proper job, isn’t it?
MA: Yeah. Have you discovered the two missing Gryffindor students?
JKR: [Covers eyes] Ohh! [Frustrated] I was going to go and get that for you, I’m sorry I haven’t got it, I’ll put it on my site.
MA: Did Ginny send Harry the valentine?
JKR: Yeah, bless her.
MA: Was it a Tom Riddle thing, or Ginny Weasley?
JKR: No, Ginny Weasley.
MA: Well, she got paid back for it.
JKR: [laughs] Eventually.
MA: I think you set that up from the train compartment scene [in Book 1], where he was watching – all the relationships, that scene probably set it up.
JKR: I think so. I hope so. So you liked Harry/Ginny, did you, when it happened?
ES: We’ve been waiting for this for years!
JKR: Oh, I’m so glad.
MA: Oh my gosh, that kiss!
ES: It actually materialized!
JKR: It actually happened, I know! I felt a little bit like that.
MA: Had you been trying to get them -
JKR: Well I always knew that that was going to happen, that they were going to come together and then part.
ES: Were you always —–ing it? [We can't figure out what Emerson actually said here.]
JKR: Well, no, not really, because the plan was, which I really hope I fulfilled, is that the reader, like Harry, would gradually discover Ginny as pretty much the ideal girl for Harry. She’s tough, not in an unpleasant way, but she’s gutsy. He needs to be with someone who can stand the demands of being with Harry Potter, because he’s a scary boyfriend in a lot of ways. He’s a marked man. I think she’s funny, and I think that she’s very warm and compassionate. These are all things that Harry requires in his ideal woman. But, I felt – and I’m talking years ago when all this was planned – initially, she’s terrified by his image. I mean, he’s a bit of a rock god to her when she sees him first at 10 or 11, and he’s this famous boy. So Ginny had to go through a journey as well. And rather like with Ron, I didn’t want Ginny to be the first girl that Harry ever kissed. That’s something I meant to say, and it’s kind of tied in.
One of the ways in which I tried to show that Harry has done a lot of growing up – inPhoenix, remember when Cho comes into the compartment, and he thinks, “I wish I could have been discovered sitting with better people,” basically? He’s with Luna and Neville. So literally the identical thing happens in Prince, and he’s with Luna and Neville again, but this time, he has grown up, and as far as he’s concerned he is with two of the coolest people on the train. They may not look that cool. Harry has really grown. And I feel that Ginny and Harry, in this book, they are total equals. They are worthy of each other. They’ve both gone through a big emotional journey, and they’ve really got over a lot of delusions, to use your word, together. So I enjoyed writing that. I really like Ginny as a character.
MA: Does she have a larger importance; the Tom Riddle stuff, being the seventh girl -
JKR: The backstory with Ginny was, she was the first girl to arrive in the Weasley family in generations, but there’s that old tradition of the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter and a seventh son of a seventh son, so that’s why she’s the seventh, because she is a gifted witch. I think you get hints of that, because she does some pretty impressive stuff here and there, and you’ll see that again.
ES: Why is Slytherin house still -
JKR: Still allowed![All laugh]
ES: Yes! I mean, it’s such a stigma.
JKR: But they’re not all bad. They literally are not all bad. [Pause] Well, the deeper answer, the non-flippant answer, would be that you have to embrace all of a person, you have to take them with their flaws, and everyone’s got them. It’s the same way with the student body. If only they could achieve perfect unity, you would have an absolute unstoppable force, and I suppose it’s that craving for unity and wholeness that means that they keep that quarter of the school that maybe does not encapsulate the most generous and noble qualities, in the hope, in the very Dumbledore-esque hope that they will achieve union, and they will achieve harmony. Harmony is the word.
ES: Couldn’t -
JKR: Couldn’t they just shoot them all? NO, Emerson, they really couldn’t![All laugh]
ES: Couldn’t they just put them into the other three houses, and maybe it wouldn’t be a perfect fit for all of them, but a close enough fit that they would get by and wouldn’t be in such a negative environment?
JKR: They could. But you must remember, I have thought about this -
ES: Even their common room is a gloomy dark room-
JKR: Well, I don’t know, because I think the Slytherin common room has a spooky beauty.
ES: It’s gotta be a bad idea to stick all the Death Eaters’ kids together in one place.[All crack up again ]
JKR: But they’re not all – don’t think I don’t take your point, but – we, the reader, and I as the writer, because I’m leading you all there – you are seeing Slytherin house always from the perspective of Death Eaters’ children. They are a small fraction of the total Slytherin population. I’m not saying all the other Slytherins are adorable, but they’re certainly not Draco; they’re certainly not, you know, Crabbe and Goyle. They’re not all like that. That would be too brutal for words, wouldn’t it?
ES: But there aren’t a lot of Death Eater children in the other houses, are there?
JKR: You will have people connected with Death Eaters in the other houses, yeah, absolutely.
ES: Just in lesser numbers.
JKR: Probably. I hear you. It is the tradition to have four houses, but in this case, I wanted them to correspond roughly to the four elements. So Gryffindor is fire, Ravenclaw is air, Hufflepuff is earth, and Slytherin is water; hence the fact that their common room is under the lake. So again, it was this idea of harmony and balance, that you had four necessary components and by integrating them you would make a very strong place. But they remain fragmented, as we know.
ES: Was James the only one who had romantic feelings for Lily?
JKR: No. [Pause] She was like Ginny: she was a popular girl.
JKR: That is a theory that’s been put to me repeatedly.
ES: What about Lupin?
JKR: I can answer either one.
ES: How about both? One at a time.
JKR: I can’t answer, can I, really?
ES: Can you give us any clue, without misleading us [Emerson misspoke; he meant "without giving too much away"] –?
JKR: I’ve never, to my knowledge, lied when posed a question about the books. To my knowledge. You can imagine, I’ve now been asked hundreds of questions; it’s perfectly possible at some point I misspoke or I gave a misleading answer unintentionally, or I may have answered truthfully at the time and then changed my mind in a subsequent book. That makes me cagey about answering some questions in too much detail because I have to have some leeway to get there and do it my way, but never on a major plot point.
Lupin was very fond of Lily. We’ll put it like that, but I wouldn’t want anyone to run around thinking that he competed with James for her. She was a popular girl, and that is relevant. But I think you’ve seen that already. She was a bit of a catch.
MA: How did they get together? She hated James, from what we’ve seen.
JKR: Did she really? You’re a woman, you know what I’m saying. [Laughter]
ES: How on earth did Fred and George know that Ireland would win and Bulgaria would get the Snitch?
JKR: Well, I think that if you were really into Quidditch, you could have predicted that. What they had -
ES: But how can you predict that, because you don’t know when the Snitch is going to show up.
JKR: It was a risk. They risked everything on it. That is Fred and George, isn’t it? They are the risk-takers in the family. You’ve got Percy at one end of the family – conform, do everything correctly – and you’ve got Fred and George, who just take a totally different life path and were prepared to risk everything. They risked all they had, which is as much as anyone can do.
MA: How did they figure out how to work the map?
JKR: Don’t you – well. This is how I explained it to myself at the time, and this does sound glib. Don’t you think it would be quite a Fred and Georgeish thing to say in jest, and then see this thing transform?
JKR: Can’t you just see them?
ES: But the exact word combination? Is that just a lot of luck, or Felix Felicis -
JKR: Or, the map helped.
MA: Yep, yeah. You can see them sort of answering and joking with each other -
JKR: And the map flickering into life here and there when they got closer and closer, and finally they hit upon the exact right word combination and it just erupts.
ES: What on earth was Aberforth Dumbledore doing with those goats?[Big laughs from all]
JKR: Your guess is as good as mine! [Evil laugh!]
MA: Excellent. And Dumbledore makes a little joke about him in this one, about knowing people in bars.
JKR: Yes, absolutely. Yeah, that’s right. And you of course see Aberforth very briefly.
MA: Does the gleam of triumph still have yet to make an appearance?
JKR: That’s still enormously significant. And let’s face it, I haven’t told you that much is enormously significant, so you can let your imaginations run free there.
ES: I think everybody realized it was significant when they read it but we didn’t see it materialize in 5 or 6.
JKR: Well, it still is.
ES:We’ve been kind of waiting for the big revelation.
JKR: Absolutely, that’s for seven. That’s for seven.
MA: Here at the end you sort of get the feeling that we know what Harry’s setting out to do, but can this really be the entire throughline of the rest of the story?
JKR: It’s not all of it. Obviously it’s not all of it, but still, that is the way to kill Voldemort. That’s not to say it won’t be extremely an torturous and winding journey, but that’s what he’s got to do. Harry now knows – well he believe he knows – what he’s facing. Dumbledore’s guesses are never very far wide of the mark. I don’t want to give too much away here, but Dumbledore says, “There are four out there, you’ve got to get rid of four, and then you go for Voldemort.” So that’s where he is, and that’s what he’s got to do.
ES: It’s a tall order.
JKR: It’s a huge order. But Dumbledore has given him some pretty valuable clues and Harry, also, in the course of previous six books has amassed more knowledge than he realizes. That’s all I am going to say.
ES: It seems like it would be impossible. If Harry had gone to the cave, he never could have done it on his own, it seems like.
JKR: Well, I’m prepared to bet you now, that at least before the week is out, at least one of the Horcruxes will have been correctly identified by careful re-readers of the books.
MA: Someone put it to me last night, that if Ginny, with the diary -
JKR: Harry definitely destroyed that piece of soul. You saw it take shape, you saw it destroyed, it’s gone. And Ginny is definitely in no way possessed by Voldemort.
MA: Is she still a Parselmouth?
MA: Does she have a life debt to Harry from Book 2?
JKR: No, not really. Wormtail is different. You know, part of me would just love to explain the whole thing to you, plot of Book 7, you know, I honestly would.
ES: We wouldn’t want to hear it.
JKR: “Yeah, go on, we’re not listening!”[Laughter]
ES: Who is Harry’s godmother?
JKR: Didn’t have one.
JKR:Well, Sirius never had time to get a girlfriend, let alone marry.
ES: They could have just picked some other close friend of the family.
JKR: At the time that they christened Harry, they were in hiding. This was not going to be a widely attended christening because he was already in danger. So this is something they were going to do very quietly, with as few people as possible, that they wanted to make this commitment with Sirius. And – yeah. Can’t say much more.[We're starting to realize the time...]
MA: Can we do this again?[Laughter]
JKR: It’s a possibility.
MA: I mean, seriously, for a week.[All laugh.]
JKR: Just lock me in some underground room -
MA: Well, my family is Sicilian, Jo -[Laughter]
MA: Hold on, we have to ask you one more question [Melissa puts on the green glasses and takes out the green quill that Lexicon_Bel~ and Puffin from the LeakyLounge prepared for her as a joke for Jo] -[All crack up]
JKR: RITA! I’ve missed you!
JKR: I tell you, there is only one way to deal with the Rita articles, and that’s laugh; otherwise you’re going to go slightly mad. And of course, I now have my Rubbish Bin [on my site]. It’s really amazing how liberating that is, to be able to say directly to people who read the books, “That was rubbish.” It’s never important stuff, but taken as a whole, it can really mislead a person, I think. Anyway, Rita. I like this, very much.
MA: Isn’t this funny? They made this up for me.
JKR: That’s fantastic. You know, Miranda Richardson is playing her in the Goblet of Fire. I’m so looking forward to that.
MA: We’ve seen, we went to the set on a day that she was working.
JKR: Did you?
ES: She looks fantastic for the role.
JKR: She’s such a great actress.
ES: Oh, I have a question about that. When you write the books now, do you see the actors from the movies, or do you see your own characters?
JKR: My own characters. Every time.
ES: Their faces don’t infiltrate your head at all?
JKR: Not at all. I still see my Ron; I still see my Harry; I still see my Hermione. I was writing them for too long before the films came out for the film images to displace what’s in my head. I was lucky in that sense. I’d lived with these characters so long, it just couldn’t have any effect. Occasionally I will – Ron/Lavender, I did kind of think of Rupert. I mean, it was always planned that way, obviously, but I would kind of emerge for a coffee break and I might have a wry smile about Rupert.
MA: Doing that?
JKR: Not so much doing it, he’ll be more than adequate to the task of doing it, but thinking about him attending the castings for Lavender, stuff like that. It just kind of makes you smile once you know the people who are acting it. But I really mean what I’ve said before – you would have to go a very long way to find three better-adjusted people, given what they’ve been through – Rupert, Dan and Emma. They’re incredible.[Pause as we look at time]
JKR: I know.
MA: Sixty-six pages of questions, Jo.
JKR: Oh my goodness.
ES: Let’s just keep asking questions until she throws us out.[All laugh]
ES: Hagrid’s Keeper of the Keys title: does that mean anything?
JKR: Just simply that he will let you in and out of Hogwarts, so it’s slightly more interesting than that but it’s not loads more interesting. So again, that is something that people shouldn’t get too excited about.
MA: Will Harry and Ron ever read Hogwarts, a History?
JKR: Never. [Laughter] It’s a gift to me, because all my exposition can be dressed up as, “When are you going to read it?” So Hermione fills in the reader as well, so I could never let them read it.
MA: Did Dobby know about the prophecy?
MA: Did he know about the Potters?
JKR: He knew their story, but obviously his knowledge would be narrowed down to what was known in the Malfoy household.
MA: Oh, here’s one [from our forums] that I’ve really got to ask you. Has Snape ever been loved by anyone?
JKR: Yes, he has, which in some ways makes him more culpable even than Voldemort, who never has. Okay, one more each!
ES: Why don’t witches and wizards Disapparate when they’re in danger?
JKR: Well. This is like all of these things. It’s tedious to stop and tell the reader when you’re writing an action scene but there would be ways of stopping that happening. Sometimes they do Disapparate, but very often, when you’re watching that kind of scene, it’s within a place that you can’t Disapparate from, like Hogwarts. So that’s not an option when Harry’s at school. There would be other reasons why you wouldn’t Disapparate. You might want to stand your ground and fight. But they do Disapparate sometimes. There has to be an equal and opposite action. [to Melissa] Go on, hit me with it.
MA: Was there anyone else present in Godric’s Hollow the night Harry’s parents were killed?
JKR: No comment.[All laugh]
JKR: I’m sorry!
Emerson's Report - July 14-18, 2005
Emerson's Report - July 14-18, 2005
July 14, 2005, 6:00 p.m. GMT
The nine hour flight was uneventful, except for almost missing my connecting flight from London to Edinburgh and the airlines losing my luggage, which eventually came a half hour before the interview on Saturday. Better late than never, I guess.
I met up with MuggleNet staffer Jamie, whom I stayed with the other three times I’ve been to England, at the Edinburgh airport and we took a bus to the hotel. There was a ten foot tall HBP likeness by the baggage claim, which we thought was pretty neat. On the way I got my first glimpse at the famous Edinburgh Castle, which is, if you didn’t know, perched on the top of “a big friggin’ mountain” (Melissa’s words). I can’t imagine how this castle could possibly have ever been overtaken, but apparently it has been done before.
Our room was roughly the size of a broom closet and the shower was about as wide as a box of cereal, but it was courtesy of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury so I’m not complaining (…really!). I hadn’t slept in 22 hours and I knew there wouldn’t be time for sleeping on Friday night so I passed out as soon as we checked in to the hotel.
July 15, 2005, 12:00 p.m. GMT
I was out cold for almost 18 hours, only waking once to eat dinner. We met up with Melissa and her two friends David and Kathleen who were in the rooms next to ours.
Two Irish lads (GO IRISH!), Ciaran (pronounced “keer on”) of the MuggleNet staff and his friend Lachlan joined our troop a little later. Most of the day was spent getting ready for Saturday- sleeping, eating, sleeping, eating, etc.
The real fun began that night. At 9pm, Melissa and I headed over to the city council chambers for a reception with the 70 cub reporters and their parents. The Lord Provost (mayor) gave a short speech and shortly after, a man dressed in a loud, Victorian outfit appeared atop the balcony and introduced himself as Crispin the Curator.
Eight “prefects” dressed in full Hogwarts garb appeared for Crispin’s over-the-top speech explaining how Edinburgh Castle is a museum and J.K. Rowling is a magical historian. The kids ate it up.
Our group of about two dozen Bloomsbury staff and VIPs followed behind the cub reporters as they set off in their Hogwarts-like carriages and made their dramatic entrance at the castle to 2000 screaming fans. We took our seats in the VIP section of the huge grandstand had been set up to cheer Jo and the contest winners on as they entered the castle which, by the way, looked spectacular with an enormous image of Harry and Dumbledore projected on to the front. A massive screen was set up outside near the red carpet which would was broadcasting bits and pieces of the ITV1 special “Magic at Midnight” along with shots of the crowd and filler footage of the prefects talking about their lives at Hogwarts. An MC on the ground made sure the crowd made tons of noise for the TV cameras as the kids’ carriages arrived. The noise was deafening when Jo made her dramatic appearance riding a Thestral (kidding, of course). She looks terrific for a woman nearing 40.
I just happened to be sitting right next to the CEO of Bloomsbury and his daughter Alice (you know, “the girl who saved Harry Potter”?). I pestered them both with questions all night, real nice people.
At one point, while Jo made her way down the carpet five rows of seats in front of us cleared for reasons we are still unaware. I thought it looked bad, so I slid down a few rows to the middle of the ocean of empty seats. I have always had dreams of pursuing a career as an Oscar seat-filler, so this was my time to shine. Melissa made some excuses about a skirt but after much taunting, she joined me and we gave Jo several standing ovations as the night went on.
After Jo had smiled for about 300 photos and signed as many books, she walked in to the castle and we followed shortly. The crowd kept their seats to watch the book reading on the giant screen outside.
The castle was as magical on the inside as it was on the outside. Lining the path to “the chamber” were actors dressed up like grindylows and other magical creatures. The costumes were actually pretty cool-looking – the mechanical, fire-breathing horse was especially impressive. We didn’t go in the actual room where she did the reading as we had been promised originally because we would get in the way of the TV cameras, so we watched it on screens in a room outside with the parents of the cub reporters and Bloomsbury staff. Jo was originally planning to read the first chapter but she ended up reading from chapter six – see interview for explanation. Melissa cried during the reading (“it’s all too much!”) and much to her chagrin, I have tattled to every single person we’ve met since. I believe she is planning retaliation by announcing to the world in her write-up that I was doing Irish jigs all night. Come on. I’ve been going to Notre Dame football games (GO IRISH!) since I was a wee lad and I am kind of, you know, enrolled there. I’m practically a jigging expert.
We received our beloved books from Bloomsbury immediately after the reading. I jigged. Melissa cried some more. We took a moment to soak in their awesomeness (!) and raced, literally, back to the hotel. Poor Melissa had to make the four block jaunt barefoot – she was wearing high heels and you obviously can’t run in high heels. We made off with armloads of instant coffee packets from the hotel reception and plopped down on our beds to read.
July 16, 2005
I turned the last page at 1 p.m. – 12 hours after I first laid eyes on the precioussss. I didn’t read straight through – took frequent breaks to stay awake (and sane), but I still think I read half the lines in the book twice due to lack of focus.
I was expecting Harry to be more powerful of a wizard by now, but overall Half-Blood Prince was a big improvement over Order of the Phoenix and probably her best yet, but I have evolved too much as Harry Potter fan to objectively say it was or it wasn’t. Harry/Hermione shippers can expect me to be even more arrogant and cocky thanks to my recent vindication (see interview or just the last four books). “…Anvil-sized hints…”
The two hours before the interview were spent frantically thinking up last minute questions and arguing over what shirt I should wear (commence eye-rolling).
The phone rang. The car was here for us.
Jo’s PA (Personal Assistant) Fiddy gave us a tour of her office while we nervously waited for the queen herself. The room is covered – and I mean covered – in Harry Potter paraphernalia from the books, movies and video games. She even has copies of every book in every language.
Jo walked in five minutes later, followed by Neil and little Mackenzie, the cutest little chub you’ve ever seen. We hugged and I was caught momentarily speechless, which, I assure you, is very unlike me. We gave her the gifts we’d brought for her – shirts, Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, keys to cities, etc. – and she said she had gifts for us, but didn’t want us to open them until she’d left in case we didn’t like them (as if!).
We discussed non-HP things for a few minutes before we got down to business. Melissa and I were happy to hear she’s a huge West Wing fan, because we can’t get enough of that show either. She kept asking us questions about our sites and we were happy to answer, but we needed to get the interview going because we only were supposed to have an hour with her and, well, she’s the interesting one – not us!
I was very surprised at how easy it was to talk with her – she’s so personable and friendly it seemed ridiculous that I had ever been nervous about meeting her. At first, I kept thinking to myself, “I can’t possibly be in this room talking to this woman right now,” but it only took a few minutes before I became totally engrossed in the conversation and forgot about everything else.
It didn’t even feel like an interview, it was more like a chat with friends. Her sense of humor manifests itself well in the books, but she’s even funnier in person. The two hours flew by in what seemed like thirty minutes. I was very disappointed when I heard Fiddy knocking on the door, letting us know our car was here. Jo immediately said, “He hasn’t been waiting that long. Give us 10 more minutes.” Melissa and I each had about a dozen “last questions” and Jo didn’t end up leaving for about a half hour later. This is probably wishful thinking, but it seemed like she wanted to keep on going. Melissa chimed in several times, “We should do this again.” And every time, Jo laughed and said, “It’s a possibility.” We should only be so lucky!
Far too soon, it was time to say goodbye. She signed our books, we took some photos together, hugged, and just like that, she was gone. Off to raise kids and the best-selling novels of the decade.
We opened her gifts on the way back to the hotel. She gave Melissa a neat-looking ring with a snake on it (“but that doesn’t mean you belong in Slytherin!” the note said). Melissa cried some more and for once, I didn’t mock her. She’s been wearing it since.
Her gift to me was a beautiful silver cup with ornate handles on either side. Her handwritten letter explained that it was a “Quaich”, a word she assures me she didn’t make up but is actually Gaelic and means “friendship cup”. My breath caught in my mouth when I saw that it was engraved.
“To Emerson, with love from J.K. Rowling”
What an incredibly thoughtful woman.
Back at the hotel, our Potter posse was waiting to hear everything. We talked HP for a few hours – everyone was dying to talk about the book and the interview – and went out for a celebratory dinner at a famous Edinburgh restaurant/pub.
I love my life.
July 17, 2005
The kids’ press conference took place at the castle at 9am. Melissa and I sat in the back row and slumped in our seats so we wouldn’t stick out, being the only adults seated. (Yeah! I’m an adult now!)
They asked a few good questions but we’ve heard most of them before. We waited around for a half hour afterwards for the transcript before they told us they’d just email it to us. Bloomsbury gave us gift bags like the cub reporters got and we headed off to the internet café to update our sites.
We had lunch with Lizo Mzimba, the CBBC guy who’s been able to interview Jo several times in the past. He really knows his HP I was impressed. Then we had to go back to the hotel and get started writing our reports and transcribing the interview. When we both had satisfactory drafts done and the first part of the interview transcribed, we went out to dinner to celebrate nothing in particular. Hey, you’re not in Scotland every day – that’s enough reason to celebrate! Well, you might be, but I’m not.
July 18, 2005
Hellish. But the trip was so incredibly positive overall, I don’t want to leave a bad taste in your mouths by writing a blow-by-blow account of all the things that went horribly wrong this day. I did write it, actually, in vivid detail, but that was just to make myself feel better.
I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone when I was 11 – Harry’s age – so I have grown with Harry, laughed with Harry and cried with Harry. Every Harry Potter fan wishes they could go to Hogwarts, and after visiting the Goblet of Fire movie set in November and interviewing the creator, I think I have gotten as close to Harry’s world as it is possible for a fan to get. And I have you, MuggleNet fans, to thank for this. Without your support, MuggleNet surely would not have gotten this kind of attention and I would not have been presented with these wonderful opportunities.
I don’t know how mere words can express how grateful I am to J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury for allowing me this amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. All the events surrounding the release were designed to reward Jo’s fans, which says a lot about the kind of caring person she really is. She is truly a figure to respect and admire.
Thanks, Jo, for everything.