Transcribed by Katy Chapman and Luna Irazábal
So what inspired you to put together the exhibition?
Eddie Newquist: I think a couple of things. I think everybody was reading the books at the time and the first couple of films had come out. We're GES's in the exhibition business, so when we started thinking about what would be fun to do, we knew the films were very popular, we knew the books were a huge success, and I think we felt there's definitely something here and the world is so rich. We also knew that Warner Bros. had thought about it but couldn't really bring it to the front of their minds, and nor could the filmmakers because they were very busy. So the idea was out there for a number of years, but it didn't really quite click, I think, until Warner Bros. and the filmmakers could see some sort of end in sight and say, "Well, what do we do with all these amazing things, and how do we share this in a special way?" So we were already working with Warner Bros. on a number of other things at the time and helping them promote films and do special projects, and so we were in the right place at the right time, and the filmmakers were in the right place, and it all came together from there.
And how did you do the negotiations to get the different props? Which ones did they say, "Oh, you can't have that one. We're keeping that one in London," and so on?
Eddie: Well, that was an interesting process because we're fans, so we wanted things that people would have an emotional connection to because we knew that that would be great for fans and other folks to see. But we also knew they were in the middle of production at the time, and so when we went over and met with David Heyman, David Barron, and Stuart Craig, they were all absolutely terrific, very supportive; they helped with our design and had great ideas. But then we met with the different heads of the departments from costumes to props and other things and we'd say, "Well, maybe we should have that," and they were like, "No. We can't tell you why, but you can't have that."
Eddie: We said, "Oh, okay. Wink, we get it." So luckily though, there were enough things from the first few films that we knew would be great. And the other thing is, once we opened and they saw the exhibition and experienced it, they realized this is a great way to share things. And so as the films would be released, they would provide things to us to add to the exhibition. So the exhibition has changed and grown quite a bit - everything from the sword of Gryffindor to Horcruxes - and if you remember for a while, people were wondering what shape the Horcruxes were going to take and what they would look like and nobody knew, really, other than the brief description. So that was fun to see that in the films and then to know that we could share that in the exhibition.
Do you each have a favorite prop in the exhibition?
Julie Jentzen: Absolutely, absolutely. I think the phoenix is my favorite. They made a few of them because they were animatronics. They could move - one could cry tears, actually - and they hand-dyed every single feather on that bird. So people got to create a phoenix in real life, which to me is absolutely incredible. And I think one of them... the phoenix was moving around controlled by the animatronics guys, and Richard Harris came up to the bird and was like, "Oh, wow! What a well-trained bird."
Julie: So they fooled him.
Frank Torres: For me, I think it's not just one - it's the Quidditch stuff. Being a sports fan myself, all those sequences are so exciting to me, and they really did a great job of bringing that fictional game to life in the films. And then seeing the actual props here is fantastic, [as well as] the amount of detail that went into those. So definitely Quidditch.
The exhibition has been to a lot of places like Shanghai, Brussels... Relocating the exhibition to those certain places, did it give any trouble?
Eddie: It's challenging, yeah.
Frank: That's a good question. Every one has its challenges. Every facility is different. Obviously going from one country to the other, you have rules and regulations you have to follow - transportation, sizes of trucks and how you can get them into a city, how you get into a building. For example, in Tokyo we were on the 52nd floor of a building, so...
Frank: So one piece at a time.
Frank: So yeah, there's a lot of planning that goes into each one of these venues. It's usually about a six-month process once we identify where we're going. Then I go forward and I'll visit those locations and do a preliminary, "How are we going to get in here? What will we need? What kind of trucks?" and then you just move on from there.
Are you ever going to add some props from the Fantastic Beasts movies?
Eddie: Well, so we did have some Fantastic Beasts costumes in Brussels because that was when the film was coming out. So we were very happy to work with Warner Bros. to include those, and we have dreams and ideas but we can't say anything official right now.
Then I only say, "Keep dreaming."
Eddie: We will, that's what we do.
Does it surprise you that every time again a lot of fans show up for the exhibition?
Eddie: It's amazing.
Frank: Oh, it really is amazing.
Eddie: They show up, and it's really everybody. Everybody, all generations seem to keep wanting to experience the wizarding world, which is wonderful. But yes, having fans show up in costumes, and it's so rewarding because that's the way we feel every day, but we're so busy working and setting things up and worrying about things, so it's a big reward for us to open the doors and get to share it with people who love it and also educate people who have never seen film costumes or props or even some of the graphics by MinaLima up close. I mean, they're just breathtaking. So it's really rewarding, and it's always fun to go to a new place and share that.
Julie: I will say one of the interesting things about taking this exhibit around the world has been... we work with people from every country and we have people helping install the scenery, the artifacts... the hosts are from the Netherlands also, people in the retail shop. So we get to meet people [from] all over the world, and many of them are very enthusiastic about Harry Potter, and it's just amazing to hear their stories and see the way of life in different countries. We don't just roll in with our whole team - we actually interact with people.
Eddie: We live for a while. Yeah.
Julie: We live for a while. I mean, I don't know anyone else who has been to Utrecht for almost three weeks or so. It's been very cool, actually.
Do you know any Dutch translations of any names? Have you learned those?
Eddie: I was looking at the Weasleys, the twins, which was really interesting because we just weren't familiar with them. It's funny, you have all your own names for the characters, which is fun. It's really exciting to learn.
Did anything change after the exhibitions in Tokyo and other places? Is this one different?
Frank: The only changes and [additions] we've added as the films were finished. We did add some of those, but otherwise, it's the same exhibition. The only thing that might happen is instead of turning left when you come out of Hogwarts you might turn right, and that's just based on the facility that we're in. If there are columns, we try to conceal any of those things. What's great about here is that it was a custom-made venue for us.
Eddie: Yeah, it's the first time, actually...
Frank: So it's the first time.
Eddie: ... we've had a custom-made venue.
Frank: So to us, it's almost absolutely perfect. The ceiling heights are just right, the walls are so you feel really immersed - it's very cozy - and the sound is great because we have so much drapery keeping the sound in each area. So we're very excited about this facility.
Were there any props you couldn't use but wished that you could?
Frank: I think we have everything.
Julie: I think we do. Yeah. We even fit the giant chess pieces in the building - which is pretty cool - from the first movie.
Frank: We have the car in the lobby.
Eddie: It's the real Anglia.
Julie: Yeah, sure is. Yeah, it's cool.
[Eddie asks the interviewers about their favorite part of the exhibition.]
Frank: And that's a perfect example of why it is exciting for us, because you all have a different place. And that's what's amazing about Harry Potter, is that everybody walks in with their own favorite, whether it's a film, a character, [or] a prop, and we have these things here for you guys to each enjoy your way. And I think that's what makes the exhibition so special.
Eddie: And I'll tell you a secret about the Quaffle. So if you look closely [at] them, you'll see that it actually has a Hogwarts emblem on the Quaffles because all of those Quaffles were made from the original Quaffles from the movie, but we had to duplicate them because there'[re] so many of them. And it took us about a hundred times to get the right kind of Quaffle that would feel like leather and like an old football and then have it bounce perfectly.
Frank: I remember the first few - they weighed a ton. They were like rocks.
Eddie: Yeah, we'd drop them and [makes explosion noise] oh no!
Frank: And we'd be like, "No! We've destroyed the scenery. We can't use these."
Frank: "Go back and start over." And then finally...
Eddie: The production people were very helpful, yeah.
Frank: Did you have a chance to enjoy the audio tour? Because I definitely encourage you to do that.
Eddie: Yeah, you would all like the audio tour.
Frank: Because that's a whole other layer.
Eddie: Yeah, so we wanted the exhibition to be about your adventure through Hogwarts, but on the audio tour, we also wanted the filmmakers, like David Heyman and David Barron - the two producers - or Stuart Craig, who was the production designer on all the films, to tell a little bit about their story and how their feelings were. So on the audio tour, they speak but then we have different department heads, like the costume designer Jany Temime...
Julie: The set dressers...
Eddie: ... Pierre Bohanna...
Julie: ... Stephenie McMillan.
Eddie: ... set dressers, MinaLima, they're all on the audio tour talking about some of their favorite pieces. So it's not too much behind-the-scenes, but it's enough to hear their inspiration, and I think you - especially all of you - will enjoy that.
[Interviewer recalls an anecdote about how production adapted things to help the actors]
Julie: Yeah, that's one of my favorite parts from the movies - but it translates a little bit into our exhibit - is how seriously all of the actors took their roles. For me, it added to the tremendous detail that they put into the movies and the production value, which we showcase here so you can look at the costumes and remember. Alan Rickman's acting choices were phenomenal, and you'll never forget that. You'll look at Snape's costume and you'll just hear his voice. I think they were so incredibly well done.