First Look at the Forbidden Forest at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter
On March 8, MuggleNet was invited to a special sneak peek of the new Forbidden Forest expansion at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter and given the opportunity to interview some of the cast and crew members who worked on the Harry Potter movies, courtesy of Warner Bros.
Being somewhat a regular visitor at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour myself (that Wednesday being my 11th trip – do I get an acceptance letter for that?), I had previously spied the cordoned-off area of the “J” stage and had been dreaming up weird and wonderful ideas of what might lay behind it, but I’d never imagined I’d be as blown away by the reality as the fantasy inside my head.
Upon booking in and being handed my press badge, I was taken into a canteen holding room, where I ran through my questions in preparation for meeting the talent. Despite years of attending Harry Potter events and conventions, I had never before met any of the talent whom I’d be interviewing, so it was fair to say that I was more than a little nervous.
Running only ten minutes behind schedule, we were ushered in groups of three through the backlot, past the Potters’ house and the Knight Bus, into the main “J” studio, where the majority of the sets and props are housed. Inside, past Umbridge’s delightfully repulsive study, there was a huge black curtain – appropriate considering the dark forest that was lurking behind it. We were then taken in through a rear entrance, where we were greeted by the impressive and mesmerizing new set.
My first reaction to the Forbidden Forest was awe (though retrospectively I cannot fathom why, considering the other absolutely mind-blowing sets that I’ve gawked over on previous occasions). With 19 enormous trees, each with a diameter of over 12 feet, it feels as daunting and oppressive as it looks on the big screen.
The first creature I spotted, while waiting for my first interview slot, was Buckbeak the hippogriff, whom visitors have the opportunity to bow to. This new model is on display for the first time, standing majestically beneath the trees – he looks wonderfully at home in the Forest.
I was then taken through the Forest to the spectacular Hogwarts gates (which will be the entrance to the expansion upon its official opening), manned by Rubeus Hagrid, where a film crew awaited, alongside James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley). Meeting the Weasley twins on an as-yet-unopened set at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour felt like a dream, but sitting down behind the camera to interview them was something else entirely.
Chatting with James and Oliver about the Forbidden Forest gleaned some interesting views about the expansion, with Oliver proclaiming “it’s such a nice environment” and “when you actually see it here, you can see how much detail went into it.” It was clear to see their adoration of the new set.
Following the culmination of my first interview, I was taken through the Forest to Aragog’s lair, where creature and makeup effects designer Nick Dudman was waiting to tell me all about the complexities of creating the terrifying Acromantula and the beautiful Buckbeak, both of whom can be found in the new expansion.
Rounding the corner into a darker and more mysterious part of the Forest, with rolling white fog covering the spongy ground and adding a distinctly ominous air to the new set, sat Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy) and Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood). Jason appeared almost too at home in the expansion, stating “there’s a reason it’s called the Forbidden Forest. As soon as you introduce the word ‘forbidden,’ that’s the only place you want to go.” We had the opportunity to talk about the enthralling creatures that can be found in the Forest, including Aragog, whom Jason pronounced to be “magnificent.”
Upon conclusion of the interviews, I took full advantage of the opportunity and grabbed a couple of obligatory selfies with the actors before we were escorted out of the Forbidden Forest.
Overall, the Forbidden Forest expansion is an excellent addition to what is already a fabulous attraction. The new set is extraordinary and immersive on a level I’ve yet to experience at the Tour. The level of detail that went into the creatures and the trees themselves really has to be seen to be believed.
Finishing touches are currently taking place to ensure that the Forbidden Forest is ready to welcome its first visitors during the official opening on March 31. You can find out more about the expansion at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour and book your tickets here.