MuggleCast 197 Transcript (continued)
Interview With Warwick Davis
Andrew: We are now joined by Warwick Davis, the actor who plays Flitwick and Griphook in the Harry Potter films. He joins us now, and Warwick has a new autobiography out called Size Matters Not: The Extraordinary Life and Career of Warwick Davis. It's in England bookstores now. Hey, Warwick! Thanks for joining us.
Warwick Davis: Thank you very much for having me. It's a pleasure.
Andrew: No problem. We're going to start with some Potter questions, since that's the focus of our show...
Warwick Davis: Okay.
Andrew: ...and obviously, our listeners know all about you through Harry Potter.
Micah: All right. You are about to wrap up filming for Deathly Hallows. You recently said in an interview that you will be finished in June. What's the feeling like on set and what are you going to miss the most about the franchise?
Warwick Davis: I've had such a wonderful experience on all of the films and yeah, it will be sad to say goodbye to the people that we've been working with for almost ten years now. We've become very close and it's almost like a family kind of situation. I often actually liken it to going back to school for a new term, and that was each film we would do would be the new term at school. And everybody's grown up, and now we're all about to graduate and go our separate ways. It's going to be sad, but we'll always have the work that we've created to look back on as our legacy and for many, many years to come. I mean, the Harry Potter films are not things that we've forgotten about very quickly, so yeah. We'll always be proud of what we've achieved in the ten years.
Andrew: Yeah. And you've now been a part of two of the most popular movie franchises in history: Star Wars and Harry Potter. Did you ever think, like ten years ago, that Potter would have become this sort of phenomenon, sort of how Star Wars did. And how does it differ from Star Wars?
Warwick Davis: I mean, it is amazing and I don't think that I ever took it for granted that there would be a sequel each time. I took each movie as it came along and always remained hopeful that my character would appear in the screenplay because of course, in the translation from novel to screenplay, many characters are often not included for time sake and for the way the screenplay is being constructed. I was always grateful that the characters that I was involved with have made it in the adaptations each time. I suppose when we got to number four and number five, it became quite clear that yeah, this is probably going to go all the way now. The thing is, for the first two or three, we were pretty unsure each time and look at the success of the film and just keep your fingers crossed that indeed you would all be asked back to continue with this. I suppose that the similarity between Potter and Star Wars The story is a very, very big story and it's obviously broken up into different parts, but you can look at it as a whole thing. It would be lovely to be able to sit down, and as you can with Star Wars, watch all six parts and with Potter you'll be able to sit down and watch eight films, and I think you'll see them very differently then. You're used to seeing all the different episodes, different movies as you've gone through, but now we can sit back and look at the whole thing as one piece.
Warwick Davis: And that'll be quite an experience, I'm sure there will be many Potter fans throughout the world doing these marathon viewings in the future...
Warwick Davis: ...which will be fantastic.
Micah: Absolutely. And you recently said about Deathly Hallows - the split into two films - that you thought it was a good idea because it's going to do justice to the final book of the series. Now based upon what you've filmed so far and I guess, what you can say, do you believe these two movies are going to stay true to the book, possibly more so than any that have come before them?
Warwick Davis: I've got to be careful how I answer any of this...
Warwick Davis: I mean, I often look at the films and the novels - because this is kind of a question that comes up, and it's kind of a debate, I suppose, amongst people who read the novels and fans of the films, et cetera, as to do with the similarities. But I like to view them as kind of separate pieces of art in their own right, so that - obviously the films are based on the book, but I think they should stand beside each other, but also you could see them very differently. I don't see that we have to be worried about particularly following the book, and if the producers want to embellish on certain things more than the novel was able to, then I think that's all fine as well. There has to be a certain amount of artistic license allowed, as it always becomes sort of restrictive to make a film based on a book. But yeah, I can't really comment on anything regarding Deathly Hallows in that respect, I'm afraid.
Andrew: Right. Did you ever have any discussions with J.K. Rowling about the characters of Flitwick and Griphook to help you prepare for the roles?
Warwick Davis: Well, I mean, all of the preparation I did for any of the characters was based on the books and the descriptions and that sort of thing, from those novels. So I never had any direct discussion with her to say, "How should this be done?" et cetera. I've gleaned all of that from reading the book and interpreting that. And hopefully interpreting in the way that all of the readers out there best imagined it, because the human imagination is a wonderful thing...
Warwick Davis: And as filmmakers and actors, we can never hope to get close to how wondrous the images that you can create in your mind are. But we can do our best guess at that, and try to find a middle ground, and that's certainly what I did with the characters I played, is try and find a best guess at the interpretation to try and suit most people. And I think on the whole, I've managed to do that, and J.K. Rowling - I did ask her after the first film, "How is Flitwick?" And she said, "He's very good, thank you."
[Andrew and Micah laugh]
Warwick Davis: So that's about as much as I've got in terms of direction, et cetera, for the character.
Andrew: Right. It must be great to hear the author tell you that you did a great job putting him on.
Warwick Davis: Oh, absolutely. Yeah.
Warwick Davis: Because it's always in the back of my mind.
Andrew: Right. [laughs]
Warwick Davis: You kind of wonder are you doing justice to the literary work...
Warwick Davis: ...and is it all as it should be. And yeah, she's never made any complaints. So I guess she's all right with it.
Andrew: Good, good.
Micah: Well, how big of a fan of the books were you prior to the films? Were you just as eager as everyone else to get your hands on a copy of the next book?
Warwick Davis: Well it's funny. It was several years before the films were even talked about that I first heard about the books. It was while I was working on another project, and one of the actresses had this book entitled Harry Potter. And we were actually traveling to the location on a mini bus, and I said, "What's this book you're reading?" And she said, "Oh, it's a fantasy book. It's really great." And she said, "If they ever made it into a film there'd be characters for you to play."
[Andrew and Micah laugh]
Warwick Davis: And I said, "Oh, that sounds cool." Anyway, that was kind of the last I heard of it for a couple of years until my agent called up and said, "We've got this script coming in, and there's a part we'd like you to audition for. It's Harry Potter." And by then the books were becoming quite a sensation and so I was very impressed and very excited to get an audition for it. And it was a very nerve-wracking experience - I described this in my book, actually, going up to the studios in Leavesden in North London and meeting with Chris Columbus and the producers, and actually having to do the audition, which went very well. And it - yeah, it left me with a really good feeling, and a very positive feeling. But then not hearing anything for three weeks after that...
Warwick Davis: ...no phone calls, nothing. You then start to really doubt yourself. And actors by their nature are insecure characters, and I just became very insecure about that whole thing. I thought, "I must have really messed that up, because I have not heard anything."
Andrew: [laughs] Yeah.
Warwick Davis: And when you don't hear anything that means you didn't get it. They don't phone you to say, "Sorry, thanks for coming in but we don't need you."
[Andrew and Micah laugh]
Warwick Davis: They just phone you when they want you, but I'd been waiting a long time now, three weeks. But the fact that I'm talking to you now testifies I did indeed get a call just after three weeks from my agent. And it was wonderful because he said, "They would love to offer you the part of Flitwick." And I said, "That's fantastic." Because Flitwick was a dream role for me. He's a character that I played in some old home movies that I made...
Warwick Davis: ... in my bedroom. I used to play this kind of mad professor sort of character, and I'd be sort of in this little laboratory mixing up potions and things. And he was the genesis in that sort of scene for Professor Flitwick, so he's a character I always wanted to play. But not only did my agent say, "You've got that role," but he said, "Wait a minute. Are you sitting down? Because they would like you to play another character, the goblin bank teller." So I've sort of hit the jackpot twice.
Warwick Davis: And it's just a wonderful honor and - to be a part of it. But as I said earlier, little did I know it was going to lead on to be ten years worth of acting work.
Andrew: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And - and off of that I mean you - you've been on these films since the very beginning. Are you someone who believes the films could have benefited in a certain way from one director or do you think that all these situations - you've had four different directors now, do you think they bring a sort of different dynamic to the series that - that adds to it?
Warwick Davis: I think it has been really nice to have a sort of - a different director for many of the films now. It's been four different directors. Because they've all brought they're own - they're own little piece of magic to it. They're own touches to it.
Warwick Davis: Chris Columbus was perfect for the first two movies because he's a brilliant director in bringing out great performances from youngsters. And Daniel, Rupert, and Emma were very, very young. And I don't remember exactly how old they were. They were round about ten or slightly younger than that.
Warwick Davis: You've got to have a director who knows what he's doing to get the performances out of the - out of the actors at that age. And I do remember one thing that Chris did. He lots of little techniques - lots of little tricks he'd try to get the reactions that he wanted. And he really wanted this reaction from Dan in the first scene with the goblin bank teller. And he wasn't really reacting in the way that Chris wanted and so he said to me very quietly, "When we start rolling on this close up of Dan I just want you to do something extreme all of a sudden to get a reaction." So I said "okay leave it with me..."
Warwick Davis: So they start rolling and Chris shouts, "Action," and we start the dialogue and all of a sudden I just yell and scream right in his face as loud as I could and all he did was look at me blankly and he just bursts out laughing.
[Andrew and Micah laugh]
Warwick Davis: It didn't have the desired affect at all. But...
Warwick Davis: So Chris was really great for that sort of thing. I thought that he also brought a kind of innocence and magic to those first films. Because again Harry was coming into this as we were, the audience, to kind of be introduced to Hogwarts and I thought that was just - through that beautiful innocence in that film. And also that they managed in the next one. And Alfonso Cuaron - again it started turning a little bit darker. The books and novels were becoming darker and the characters are growing up. So again that was really sort of an interesting style that he had and I think it did lend itself very well. And then Michael Newell, he directed number four. I mean, he reminded me actually, I went to public school here in the U.K. and he's very much like a public school headmaster in his own personality. And Hogwarts reminded me of my school as well.
Warwick Davis: So he kind of came into this and really had a great sense of how that kind of school environment should be, and the adolescence and all of that sort of thing. How that kind of - how all of that tension is starting to build in the stories as well. And finally David Yates who is a most marvelous director as well. A complete contrast to Michael Newell and the others, but again brings his own sort of fine detail and precision to the whole thing and I particularly enjoyed working with David on these. What an achievement though to work on and direct four of these films in very quick succession. I mean ...
Warwick Davis: ...it's something a director gives a sort of soul to something and to do that four times in a row...
Warwick Davis: ...is just a tremendous achievement, and I certainly enjoyed working with him. And he's given me certainly lovely of opportunities as far as characters and scenes and things. We discussed - I've often dropped hints of other things I could possibly do in the films and he takes them all on board as well. It's just...
Andrew: Yeah, that's great. And since you are so experienced in the film industry, we wanted to ask you about the recognition that the Harry Potter films gets in the industry. The series already is and will no doubt hold the record, if not for a very long time perhaps forever as the highest grossing film franchise of all time. Do you believe that the Potter films don't get the respect they deserve from the Oscars, and do you think movies seven and eight could possibly break through with an Oscar nomination? What's your take on all that?
Warwick Davis: I've often wondered this and considered Oscars and how the voting things work. The voting's done by the sort of industry professionals and the peers of the films that are actually up for nomination etc. And I think that possibly some times these huge blockbusters don't often benefit where they should because of the fact that they - I don't know perhaps there might be some enemies in the voting part of the...
Warwick Davis: ...industry? But these are very successful, and it takes away a little bit from the art of the whole thing.
Warwick Davis: Because you look at these films - you look at the Harry Potter movies and there's just so much wonderful work and skill. I mean knowing this from working on the films I know how many people just going to put me on set basically how much preparation it is to put my make-up on. It's many, many man hours and a big team of people just to deal with one character.
Warwick Davis: When you watch the films there is the wonderful music and the special effects and I think we're starting to actually take it for granted because it is all so good all the time.
Warwick Davis: You often - you actually are starting not to notice when stuff is effects, you actually take it for granted now, but each time we just do the best job we can and we actually raise the bar each time because the next film we do we've got to be better than we were before.
Warwick Davis: So we're honing all of the skills all the time and it'd be lovely to get some recognition for the films, and for all the brilliant people that worked on them. They all deserve recognition and awards for their brilliant work.
Micah: Absolutely, yeah. Now what's your personal favorite film of the series, putting aside Deathly Hallows up to this point.
Warwick Davis: Yeah, I think it's probably Prisoner of Azkaban, actually. Because I very much liked that book and I just think the film works very well in a way that - I love the time turning sequence, and when I read that I was very looking forward to seeing it - how it was going to be put on screen and again, I mean it's just done so, so well. So yeah, that for me is a favorite, but I've got loads of favorite moments in the others. It's hard to pick a favorite scene but I did enjoy that one.
Micah: So you enjoyed the crowd-surfing in Goblet of Fire?
Warwick Davis: Oh, absolutely, yeah. That was - that's another thing I talk about in my book as well, just the fact that what started as a kind of a jokey suggestion - not even a suggestion, actually, just kind of a joke to say to Michael Newell, ended up being something we shot in the movie.
[Andrew and Micah laugh]
Warwick Davis: And that was the thing about him, I could often suggest ideas, and Michael would take them on board and we'd do them and there was so much wonderful material from that film that never made it into the movie. I mean you got to see Flitwick playing air guitar and stuff.
Andrew: Oh, no way.
Warwick Davis: We've got loads of stuff, yeah.
Warwick Davis: I mean whether - it'd be lovely to see some sort of easter egg on the DVD but...
Warwick Davis: There is so much, so much that doesn't make into the film and as an actor you always see that when you watch your movies. You always see - the first time you watch it you always see what isn't there. That's the first thing you notice, oh that's been cut, oh that's missing, oh they didn't use that.
Warwick Davis: But the second time you watch it you enjoy it for what it is, but yeah, you always end up seeing what is not there. And more often than not the majority of what you do in the film is kind of lost to the cutting room floor, I'm afraid.
Micah: Yeah, you also had that great little fist pump when the Weasley twins fly away at the...
Warwick Davis: Yeah. [Laughs]
Andrew and Micah: ... in Order of the Phoenix.
Andrew: Yeah. [laughs]
Warwick Davis: Yeah, actually that was good. We shot that actually fairly early on and then David thought it was really nice if we kind of gave that a bit more justification and we went and shot the scene where she comes and measures Flitwick.
Warwick Davis: And that kind of gave a little bit more of the motivation.
Warwick Davis: I mean, how kind of cheeky is that...
Warwick Davis: ...not measuring up to stand as a male in Hogwarts. I'm actually too short...
Warwick Davis: ...which is brilliant. I thought that was actually inspired, that was a great moment.
Andrew: Yeah. It was.
Micah: Oh, go ahead - No I was just going to say, who's your favorite character aside from Flitwick of Griphook in the series?
Warwick Davis: I think it's got to be Professor Snape. He is the one I would have loved to have played, but he's just so - brilliant character. Alan is a brilliant actor, and he just portrays the character so well. And I just love watching him. He's just mesmerizing, isn't he? He's just almost sort of hypnotic in a way.
Warwick Davis: And the way he also sticks his dialogue up and uses the phrasing is the most unusual phrasing, and the pauses are all in the literary sense - all in the wrong places, but it just works...
[Andrew and Micah laugh]
Warwick Davis: ...perfectly with that character. It's fascinating to watch Alan in his portrayal of the character...
Warwick Davis: ...on set. You never know what you're going to get. It's just brilliant.
Andrew: Yeah. The Harry Potter theme park is going to be opening up soon, and you have children, are you - are you excited to take them there? Any plans to visit?
Warwick Davis: Oh absolutely. Yeah, I shall be there - and yeah, the kids are going to love that, too. I mean - my children, who are seven and thirteen, Annabel and Harrison are very fortunate because they've been to what I would call the real Hogwarts for quite a long time.
[Andrew and Micah laugh]
Warwick Davis: But for them now it's not very exciting. It's just Dad's work.
Andrew: Yeah. [Laughs]
Warwick Davis: It's my office they go to...
Warwick Davis: ...and yeah. But it's going to be magical place. I can't wait to go. I hear you get to choose - you get to go and get a wand and all of this stuff, and it's going to be just fantastic. So I'm looking forward to it immensely.
Andrew: Yeah, it's really exciting. So let's talk more about your book now. What kind of Harry Potter related stories can we expect to find in Size Matters Not?
Warwick Davis: Well, we've sort of brushed upon a few there. We've already talked about the - snd I talk about Michael Gambon and his beard troubles. There's quite a few little nice stories in there as well, and I ran this past the production, so it's all okayed to talk about what I'm talking about, and David Heyman the producer read it, and he was very generous enough reading it, quote...
Warwick Davis: ...and he was enthralled by it, and he enjoyed it very much, which was really nice because obviously very conscience that the franchise has been very good to me, and I've enjoyed it so much, but I also owe it as much respect as I can. And I just wanted to make sure I was - that everything I wrote was what was good to write about. So yeah, that's a really - that's a fun story. Mostly it's fun stuff. Talked a bit about my make-up, my make-up artists and the kind of - the torture of sitting in a make-up chair for many hours every day.
Warwick Davis: So it's all good stuff, yeah.
Micah: So how did you get the idea to write this book? When did you decide "okay, I'm going to do my autobiography"?
Warwick Davis: Well, for the past sort of five years I've had a few approaches from publishers who've said, "Would you like to write a book?" and I've just brushed them aside and thought well, I don't really know what I'm going to write about. I thought you had to write an autobiography when you were about sixty or seventy and I was just like, "oh, I don't really know."
Warwick Davis: And then it suddenly occurred to me, about two years ago, really, I should do this. And I happened to have a meeting with a publisher and it sort of all fell into place. And I sat down though, to write the book - and it's quite a lonely thing to do, to sit there and look at a blank piece of paper...
Warwick Davis: ...and I thought, "well, where do I start?" I guess at the beginning.
Warwick Davis: But then I thought, "I don't remember the beginning."
Warwick Davis: So I thought "well, I'll talk to mum and dad." But then you start talking to people who were influential in your life and you start piecing - it's like a jigsaw - you find all the bullet points. So it was like: being born, going to school then all the first work on Return of the Jedi, big break into the movie business and then you find Ewok, Labyrinth, then you've got Willow and then you maybe go, I don't know, Leprechaun then and then you've got Star Wars again and then Harry Potter. So you kind of do all that and then you look back, and you then start filling in the details that happened all in-between that you see. And then some sort of family and then meeting my wife and having children and all that. So it was a really wonderful experience. It made me actually stand back a bit and say, "wow, I've actually done quite a lot." Because when you're living the life and the career - I hadn't really - I'd sort of taken it for granted a bit - what I was doing.
Warwick Davis: So when I stood back and wrote the book I was like, "Gosh, this is quite - I've achieved quite a lot in forty years so far." And it was really - made me appreciate it, I suppose, a little bit more.
Micah: Yeah. Now the forward to your book was written by George Lucas, do you still keep in touch with him on a regular basis?
Warwick Davis: Absolutely. Very much so. I mean, when you work for Lucasfilm you become part of the Lucasfilm family. I have many great friends who work for Lucasfilm still. And it didn't take any persuading for George to write this and I thought he was just the right person to do it because he has been so influential in my career. He gave me my big break and has continued to give me great opportunities all the way through my career and so he was a really great person. But little did I know he'd write such nice things about me. I didn't know he held me in that regard quite, so it was really quite an honor. It was very flattering, what he's written.
Andrew: Yeah, yeah that's...
Andrew: That's great, and a little more about Star Wars, do you attend any of the cast reunions, and what were your thoughts on the making of the prequels?
Warwick Davis: Well, I do keep in touch with many of the cast because I attend Star Wars events - Star Wars celebrations in America and Stars Wars celebrations in Europe here. So I see many of the cast quite often...
Warwick Davis: And so - and it's really nice. The fan community's still as enthusiastic as ever even though we haven't had a movie for quite a few years now. But we have the live action TV series, which I hope to get in somewhere. I'd like to be a villain, though, this time. I want to play sort of a villainous character in the TV series...
Andrew: Oh, cool. Cool.
Warwick Davis: Yeah, it'll be good though. Villains are great characters to play anyway - any actor will tell you that. The villains are always sort of the best ones.
Warwick Davis: So - and the prequels, I mean yeah. It wasn't like Harry Potter because we have this huge gap in between, and everyone was anticipating. And in that big gap that was in between, I was dropping lots of hints to George to say, "When you get around to making these films, I'd love to be part of them." [laughs] And eventually in '97 he got around to doing Episode 1, which was great. And a lot of people, oh they prefer one trilogy or the other, and I think it's really what you grow up with. I grew up with the classic trilogy. I was seven when I saw Star Wars...
Andrew: Right, right..
Warwick Davis: They feel like my - I kind of feel ownership of those films. But I think it just depends on how old you are. My kids are actually - they're kind of more drawn towards the prequels because they were growing up when...
Andrew: Right. Right.
Warwick Davis: ...those films came out. I think it's all kind of relative in a way.
Micah: Well, speaking - you just mentioned villains, and you mentioned The Leprechaun before, and I can tell you that that movie still gives me nightmares every time I see it.
[Warwick does his Leprechaun impression]
Micah: Do you ever look back and think...?
Warwick Davis: Oh, I just traumatized you there...
Micah: Yeah, exactly. I'm going to have to jump off the headset right now.
Micah: Do you ever look back at that film in particular and think, "Man, I was pretty creepy in that film"?
Warwick Davis: I thought you were going to say, "Do you ever look back and regret it?"!
Micah: No, no, no!
Warwick Davis: I mean [sighs] - I don't suppose I look back like that at all. The Leprechaun came about - again, this is something I talk about in the book - I have some wonderful stories about Leprechaun in there and becoming involved in the project. But up until that point, in 1991, I had only ever played good characters. You know, Ewoks and goblins, and then Willow. And so I was being perceived as the actor who could play nice, short characters. And then when the script arrived it was like, "Hey this guy's a baddy. He gets to do pretty bad things. This is something I want to do." Because it's going to show that I have got some diversity in my performance and everything, and I can do not just nice guys. So I jumped at the oppurtunity. Again, little did I know at that point we were going to do six of these things through the years. But he's a very fun character to play. I'm quite fond of him and he's just so extreme. I can just let loose and there are no boundries on him. You can just be as crazy as you like and it's probably better that you are. And there's a following out there for these films. If I had the money, I would make Leprechaun 7 myself. Because I know it would sell...
Warwick Davis: You know what I mean, it's each one of those things. I think it's great if number seven would be a Leprechaun kind of crossed with a pirates movie. Do you know what I mean? In other words, either the pirates had just stolen the Leprechaun's gold, or what have you. It would work perfectly. They all like drinking...
Warwick Davis: And I think it would be fantastic. I'm actually going to call Johnny Depp to see if he wants to do it.
Andrew: Are you really? That would be awesome.
Warwick Davis: Yes, it would be. It would be fantastic, wouldn't it?
Warwick Davis: But anyway, I do appreciate all of the demented Leprechaun fans out there...
Warwick Davis: Thank you for your support.
Micah: Well, just going back to Potter for one second. One of the questions that seems to come up the most often is, if you could take one prop from the set, of all these films, what would it be? What would you love to have on the mantlepiece at home?
Warwick Davis: You know what would be lovely, and I'm sitting here as I talk to you looking at a prop that I have from Willow. I have a Willow wand in a frame on the wall here.
Warwick Davis: And I would love a Harry Potter wand in a frame just next to that...
Warwick Davis: That would be marvelous and that would be the one thing. I mean, I think all of the professors would tell you that same thing. All of the faculty at Hogwarts would love to have their wand at the end of all this. But who knows? Yeah. That would be the one, that would be the one.
Andrew: So you could pick it up from time to time and reenact that classic scene from Sorcerer's Stone, the "swish and flick". [laughs]
Warwick Davis: Oh, I do enjoy the "swish and flick", absolutely. And I do a lot of talks at schools about acting, and how youngsters might get into acting. And at one point somebody asked me about that and I always end up doing a little Charms class with everybody. And it's quite magical to see all of the kids practicing their [as Flitwick] "swish and flick".
[Andrew and Micah laugh]
Warwick Davis: [as Flitwick] "Wingardium Leviosa!"
Andrew: [laughs] That's it, it brings us all back. [laughs]
Warwick Davis: Absolutely, yeah.
Andrew: Before we wrap this up, any other projects you have lined up in the near future?
Warwick Davis: Well, I'm actually currently developing a new comedy series called Life's Too Short with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, who created The Office and Extras...
Warwick Davis: ...and who I knew from working on the Extras series, too, in the episode Dan Radcliffe was in. So yeah, we're developing a comedy for the BBC at the moment and we'll shoot the pilot in June with a view of it going to a series, so it's all very exciting.
Andrew: Cool, cool. All right, so Warwick, it's been a pleasure speaking with you, and again, your new book, The Extraordinary Life and Career of Warwick Davis is in England book stores now, and it will be hitting the United States probably in a couple months, hopefully?
Warwick Davis: Absolutely. We're just working out the final arrangements on all that, and so yeah. Hopefully it will be stateside very soon.
Andrew: Great. And we can all follow you on Twitter which is your username - well, people can access it by going to Twitter.com/WarwickADavis, and we'll...
Warwick Davis: Absolutely.
Andrew: ...include a link to that...
Warwick Davis: Follow me.
Andrew: Follow your extraordinary life and career. [laughs]
Warwick Davis: Oh yes, there's all sorts of nonsense I talk about on there that's rather...
[Andrew and Micah laugh]
Andrew: Cool. All right, great. Warwick, thank you so much for joining us.
Warwick Davis: Thank you very much, everyone. It's been a pleasure. Thank you.
Andrew: All right, thanks.
All right, there you have it. We hope you all enjoyed that interview. Warwick is such a funny guy. It was fun recording with him, wasn't it, Micah?
Micah: Yeah, absolutely. He really got into character there, towards the end.
Andrew: Yes he did, that was funny. [laughs] So now it's time for Chapter-by-Chapter. We're edging closer to the end of Prisoner of Azkaban, and this week we are looking at Chapters 18 and 19 of the book. But first, it's time for another Chapter-by-Chapter intro. This one is from Vincent, and being a Lady Gaga fan myself, I really enjoyed this one. So you guys take a listen.
[Chapter-by-Chapter intro plays]
Andrew: [laughs] Gaga! Ga! Ga! Fawkes!
Matt: That was trippy!
Andrew: That was sent in by Vincent. That was crazy! That was like - it just punches you, it's like, boom! Chapter-by-Chapter!
Matt: [singing] "Do-do-do!"
Chapter-by-Chapter: "Mooney, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs"
Andrew: Well, thank you Vincent, and we'll get to - we'll play more entries as we continue this segment through MuggleCast life. If - by the way, if you have your own Chapter-by-Chapter intro, if you would like to create one yourself, feel free to do so, then send it in to andrew at staff dot mugglenet dot com. And in the subject line, just put "Chapter-by-Chapter Intro." So anyways, Micah is going to lead us through the first chapter, Chapter 18, which is "Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs".
Micah: It's actually a pretty short chapter.
Andrew: Yeah, I was going to say, it's like two pages long.
[Andrew and Micah laugh]
Micah: Well, I don't know about that.
Matt: Yeah, it's at least three.
Micah: Yeah, come on now, but a lot of information in those three pages.
Micah: And it starts off with Sirius going after Scabbers and he tries to kill him right then and there. He doesn't want to wait any longer. But Lupin steps in and prevents him and he says that Sirius owes it to Harry to tell him the truth. And so, during this whole conversation Ron and Harry think Sirius and Lupin are completely out of their minds. They basically try to explain - because the last chapter ended with the big reveal that Scabbers is in fact Peter Pettigrew, and they just don't want to believe it. They think that these two guys are just bonkers. And my question is though, after just seeing Sirius transform from a dog and learning that he's an Animagus, why would they find it so hard to believe that Scabbers could be an Animagus as well?
Matt: Well, because they - because they've spent so much time with Scabbers, though. Right?
Micah: That's true.
Matt: He was Ron's pet for so long - for twelve years.
Eric: Percy's pet before that.
Matt: Mhm. It's just - it's one of those things where even like, for instance, when you find out one of your family members is a convicted killer or rapist or something. It's like you just don't - it doesn't fathom you at first because you have a relationship with this person.
Eric: I think without knowing Peter Pettigrew's personality - that he was a coward, was always the runt of the pack as McGonagall said earlier - without knowing that, it just doesn't seem reasonable that he would stay a rat and kind of hide out, being a rat, for twelve years. It doesn't seem like a glamorous life and someone that hears that Ron's rat is actually a person, I think they really - they just need to know more information. I don't really - especially in this chapter - I don't think Hermione's that opposed to the idea because she's got this conflict where she trusts teachers, but of course, he's a werewolf - she's been holding out on him, talking about Lupin - and soon into this story she interjects and says "but they would know because there is a register of Animagi" and they have an answer for that. So only when - I think Hermione is - and all of them, even - are on their way to being convinced. It's just initially it seems really odd because Ron's rat has always been Ron's rat, for such a long time.
Eric: And they just don't know why he would hide out as a rat if he were actually alive and a person, et cetera.
Eric: So I think there is - they need the story told to them and Lupin is quick to hold Sirius back from acting so that they can get the story out.
Micah: Yeah, it's sort of a lot to take in, in this particular chapter. You're learning all of these things that seem completely outlandish in the Wizarding World, never mind as a reader.
Micah: So the conversation continues and they hear a creak outside, but Lupin goes out and looks and determines that nobody is there, or so he thinks. And Ron comments that the place is haunted. Now Lupin tells Ron that this is, in fact, not true. And he goes through his whole story of how he became a werewolf and how Dumbledore took precautions in order to let him be a student at Hogwarts, and he recounts the Whomping Willow, the creation of the underground passage, and the Shrieking Shack. And we start to get a whole lot of backstory about the tree...
Micah: ...which has been there, and played a huge role in the second book, and the shack, which played a larger role earlier on in the book. But things start tying together, and - I thought it was interesting backstory, a lot of which was left out of the movie. This chapter is basically omitted from the book, with the exception of a few things, and I think - not omitted from the book, omitted from the movie - and I think that was one of the major problems people had with Prisoner of Azkaban as a whole, aside from the director, and all that other fun stuff. But I think this was the biggest issue - like looking at this chapter in particular, this - and this backstory that we're talking about. What do you guys think?
Andrew: Well, especially since the films, we saw the Whomping Willow featured especially in Chamber of Secrets when Harry and Ron run into it, so it would have been nice for people who are just watching the movie to see that - to understand the backstory of the Whomping Willow, which is pretty interesting. And I was going to say how fitting that we're talking about the Whomping Willow today, since we just passed Earth Day, the other day.
Andrew: Yeah, that...
Eric: Be kind to your Whomping Willow.
Micah: Oh, that...
Eric: Yeah, anyway, to that point, I just think the movie focused on - well, the movie didn't focus on the world of Harry Potter, it focused on...
Eric: ...making a movie...
Andrew: The plot. [laughs]
Eric: ...and the characters. But it didn't focus on fleshing out the world which is what I think the first two movies steadily in progression did, which is just a different choice of director, but that is why this chapter was almost always omitted. Except for the sentences "Your rat is Peter Pettigrew" and possibly a "NO!" here or there, this chapter was completely...
Eric: ...absent from the movie.
Micah: Yeah. And so we learn that Sirius, James, and Peter all became Animagi in order to keep Remus company when he turned into a werewolf and Remus mentions that they were roaming the school grounds and the village by night. So I'm going to ask the obvious question, being how did Dumbledore never once spot them at all throughout all the years that they were at Hogwarts? I think they said that Peter could finally transform in their fifth year so let's say, three years they were all - even maybe some before that for Sirius and James - they're just walking around Hogwarts and Hogsmeade and nobody notices them. There were a couple of close encounters that they had, nobody ever reported this.
Micah: It just seems weird to me that they just all did this under Dumbledore's nose, knowing how smart and powerful he is that they never got caught once.
Matt: Do you think Dumbledore really didn't know that?
Eric: He had to not of known because he would have known then that Sirius was an Animagus.
Matt: Oh yeah, that's true.
Eric: Which is - yeah, I was asking the same question as Matt like a minute ago and I was like, hey wait a minute, but Dumbledore didn't know, otherwise he would have had different safeguards. Sirius wouldn't have been able to get into the castle.
Matt: Right, right.
Eric: But that said, I just don't - I think around the time that Harry's parents were in school was also maybe a few years before the heyday of Lord Voldemort, so maybe Dumbledore was really that preoccupied.
Micah: It's possible, but Hermione also mentions the point that it was dangerous for Lupin to do this - always the one to bring up the obvious and sound like the mother. It was dangerous, there's no question, but also that Lupin really feels bad at this point in the chapter because he feels as if he's betrayed Dumbledore's trust and...
Andrew: Why now, though? Why is he just realising this now? Now that's he's exposed he's feeling bad.
Eric: Hermione's words have an impact on him. Even Ron, I mean he cares for these kids.
Andrew: Yes, I guess that is a testament to the relationship he has with them.
Micah: Yeah, he says, "All this year I have been battling with myself, wondering whether I should tell Dumbledore that Sirius was an Animagus. But I didn't do it. Why? Because I was too cowardly. It would have meant admitting that I'd betrayed his trust while I was at school, admitting that I'd led others along with me ... and Dumbledore's trust has meant everything to me."
Micah: But he just decided to dishonor him, basically. [laughs]
Matt: Yeah, if there's ever a question, should you tell Dumbledore something or shouldn't you, well then you probably should.
Micah: Yeah, you probably should.
Matt: He probably already knows.
Micah: But Andrew, you asked this question, would Dumbledore ever approve of James, Pettigrew and Sirius transforming into Animagi in order to help Lupin deal with his unwanted ability? If it was for the sake of helping students maybe, or helping a student, maybe Dumbledore wouldn't have minded.
Andrew: Yeah, I think that Dumbledore would have understood the situation. I mean, he already went out of his way to set up this place for Lupin to go to transform into a werewolf. Obviously, Dumbledore knows that as a student growing up in Hogwarts you need to have some friends. You need to be surrounded by people who care about you, especially when you have to deal with something like this - being able to transform into a werewolf. So I think he would have understood, and I think he would have admired that James, Sirius, and Peter were all trying to help their friend out.
Eric: Agree, actually, and especially their aptitude of becoming an Animagus. It takes years to - I guess learn how to do it, and...
Matt: Right. I mean, there's only seven who are registered.
Andrew: Yeah, and it's noted in the book. I think it took them two or three years to master it. So...
Micah: Yeah. So...
Micah: But, them being out on the town in Animagus form...
Eric: Nearly killing people...
Micah: ...led to the Marauders' Map, and Lupin reveals who the other three on the map are. He had revealed that he had helped make the map earlier on in the book. But this must be kind of weird for Harry, though, learning all this about his father, in particular, that these were all his best friends and they had kind of just been hanging around him for this entire year and he had absolutely no clue.
Eric: Yeah. Harry is at a very interesting point this year. Every time his dad is mentioned, especially in these chapters, he's - a different emotion comes out of him. At first, Sirius mentions his name and Harry's like, "Don't say his name, you killed him!" And Sirus is like, "Oh, I as good as killed him," and goes into the story. But every time James is mentioned, Harry is just being tugged because it's kind of like what he's been going through with the Dementors, where he hears his mother's voice. It's knowledge about his parents that you just - he just didn't expect to find, and here they're telling these stories. He feels like he's among friends, eventually.
Micah: Right, but what's interesting is that never once is it mentioned what Animagus form James took. He says that James was called Prongs, but they never specify what his Animagus form was - in this chapter, anyway - Which is what makes so much confusion later on.
Eric: I think, the subject, too, is on Peter Pettigrew at the moment. So, they do limit it. But...
Micah: Yeah. So, Lupin continues his story telling and he tells about how Dumbledore pointed him to Defense Against the Dark Arts, and he also makes Sirius aware of the fact that Snape is at Hogwarts as well, teaching Potions, and Sirius doesn't seem to like that too much. One thing that I thought about while reading this is that Dumbledore really believes in taking risks and/or giving second chances: Snape, a former Death Eater, he's teaching Potions. Lupin is a werewolf. He's teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts. Hagrid is a half-giant and he's teaching - and he's been expelled from Hogwarts at one point. He's teaching Care of Magical Creatures. Trelawney, who's kind of a kook, a drunk, and a fraud is teaching Divination.
Micah: So, it's kind of like - I don't even know - like a hodgepodge of...
Eric: Castle for misfits.
Micah: ...social outcasts.
Micah: Yeah, exactly.
Matt: But this is the finest school of witchcraft and wizardry.
[Eric and Micah laugh]
Micah: Yeah, it definitely is.
Eric: It's the only one in Britain!
Micah: Yeah. But next we learn the story of how Sirius played a trick on Snape that almost killed him. And this goes back to Sorcerer's Stone when Harry learned that his father had saved Snape's life and that James had done this at great personal risk to himself. And this was the whole night that Snape learned about Lupin's condition. Lupin saw - or sorry, Snape saw Madam Pomfrey taking Lupin out to the Whomping Willow and he figured he would follow, and in the process almost got killed. So, interesting how James saved Snape, but how Snape just can't seem to get over the fact that - I don't know. Maybe James just treated him that bad the rest of their time at Hogwarts. What do you guys think? I mean...
Eric: Hanging him upside-down...
Micah: You would think that their relationship...
Eric: ...from his underpants.
Micah: ...would be a bit better.
Eric: It's kind of...
Andrew: Well there's...
Eric: Once you get hung upside-down, using his own spell against him, stealing his girl.
Andrew: There's more on this in the next chapter so I'll talk about it there.
Micah: Yeah. The other just kind of final bit of information from this chapter we learned is that Snape has been brewing the Wolfsbane Potion for Lupin. I kind of wonder, is that something he's doing against his own will? He obviously wasn't really happy with Lupin being appointed to this position, but the other thing is that this Wolfsbane Potion is mentioned in Sorcerer's Stone. It's also mentioned with the Bezoar and the Draught of Living Death.
Micah: And it's just interesting how all three of those end up playing a role later on in the series. It's kind of like one of those mentioned in passing bits that...
Eric: That become...
Micah: ...end up playing a much larger role.
Eric: How does the Draught of Living Death?
Micah: Well don't they have to brew it? Or is that peace? I don't remember. I thought they had to brew it in - for Slughorn in Half-Blood Prince.
Eric: He mentions it in the movie. Oh yeah yeah yeah, they do. Yeah, yeah. But I don't think Snape can do - I don't think Dumbledore can make Snape do anything, like make Snape do anything. I think what it is is - and it is a testament to Snape because Lupin says, "It's a difficult potion to brew and I owe Snape," and I don't know if he says, "my life." But he says "I really owe Snape for that." I think later in Book 5 or 6 when Harry is talking bad on Snape, Lupin specifically reminds him that he brewed - he can't really have anything against Snape because he kept him away from transforming. And I think Snape knows the danger of students or anybody coming into contact with a full werewolf from his almost near-death experience. So I just think Snape - it is a testament to his character that he's brewing this potion for Lupin, and I think he is doing it against his best wishes. But he understands why he is doing it. I think that is one of the clues that Snape is actually at least reasonable - a reasonable human being from time to time.
Micah: Yeah, so once Lupin is done telling the story to Harry about how his father saves Snape, Snape arrives in the room from under the Invisibility Cloak. So that whole creak that they heard earlier on in the chapter was in fact Snape hiding out. He seems to have a knack for that, doesn't he?
Andrew: Hiding out? [laughs]
Micah: He likes listening outside doors.
Micah: He did it in - in the - what was it?
Eric: Even sooner than that.
Micah: The Three Broomsticks.
Eric: Even sooner than that. He did it when his parents were fighting when Harry finds his memory or whatever, when his Occlumency backfires or whatever. He...
Andrew: He's just a sneaky little fellow.
Eric: He's like a kid. Yeah.
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