Leviosa 2019: Sean Biggerstaff Q&A Session
Sean Biggerstaff (Oliver Wood) was among the special guests at Leviosa 2019, a Harry Potter and young adult literature convention held June 27 through June 30, 2019, at Loews Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles, California, and a number of MuggleNet staff members, myself included, were in attendance.
While the convention officially began on Thursday, June 27, things really got going on Friday, June 28, when Sean Biggerstaff gave the first of two Q&A sessions. We learned a lot about what it was like for Biggerstaff to be an actor on the Harry Potter films, including what it was like to return to work on the film adaptations of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows after so many years. Among other stories, Biggerstaff also gave the audience touching insight on what it was like to work with the late actors Alan Rickman, who portrayed Severus Snape, and Rik Mayall, whose scenes as Peeves the Poltergeist were ultimately cut from the first Harry Potter film.
In the session, Biggerstaff recalled his experience working with some of the biggest names in British film and theater. He already had a close relationship with Alan Rickman, whom he credited with getting him his role as Oliver. Biggerstaff first worked with Rickman at the age of 13, though he noted that Rickman was “still as scary” even after he had known him for 20 years and had been shown nothing but kindness by him.
Although he did not get to work with Mayall as much on Harry Potter, Biggerstaff explained that he had worked with the late comedian on another project, on which Mayall had been just as kind and as comedic in real life as he appeared on-screen.
Did you know that Sean Biggerstaff could have played Percy Weasley? We certainly didn’t! As it turns out, he was asked to read for the role of Percy – even though he had already played Oliver Wood! If he hadn’t played Oliver, Biggerstaff also said that he would like to have played the young Tom Riddle from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, who was portrayed by Christian Coulson. Biggerstaff clarified that this is because he was asked by David Heyman to read the role of Tom Riddle during the read-through for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, at which point Coulson had not yet been cast.
With regard to his role as Oliver Wood, Biggerstaff was asked what it was like to be one of the older child actors on set and to return to the film series years after Chamber of Secrets. Because the films had been in production for years continuously, however, Biggerstaff said that it was like no one had ever actually left. He explained that, at one point, Rupert Grint greeted him on set without looking up – as though he had simply been there for the films in between. (Actually, Biggerstaff noted that he was originally going to be written in as Oliver for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but that did not make the final version of the script.)
While some actors have stories of stealing items from the films’ sets, Biggerstaff said that he had never been able to get away with stealing anything. On the set of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, production was so tightly controlled that the actors weren’t even allowed to keep their wands on them when it wasn’t absolutely necessary. Alan Rickman, on the other hand, “stole incessantly” from the films’ sets, although Biggerstaff explained that Rickman’s theft was never for his own gain: The late actor gave the items to charity.
Overall, Sean Biggerstaff’s Q&A session was both informative and humorous and provided a touching glimpse into what it must have been like to be involved in the Harry Potter films. The anecdotes that Biggerstaff provided about Alan Rickman, especially, seemed to be well received by the entire room. Biggerstaff’s humor and detailed descriptions were like diving into a Pensieve, and I only wish that we had gotten more time to listen to his stories.
Thank you so much to Sean Biggerstaff for coming to Leviosa 2019 and to the convention’s organizers for inviting us!