Starting out as books that proved that youngsters could still become invested in literary endeavours, when it was announced that Harry Potter films were going to be produced people loved it. Even with that level of anticipation in mind, it is still pretty easy to say that the level of success that these movies attained exceeded the expectations of many longtime fans.
Tasked with the unenviable job of bringing to life moments that millions of readers had envisioned in their minds, if you didn’t do them justice, the outrage would have been quick and severe. Fortunately, through the efforts of a dedicated cast and crew that worked tirelessly, fans were overjoyed with how the Harry Potter movies turned out, for the most part. Of course, with so many people working toward a single goal, there is bound to be some pretty fascinating things that took place during the productions of these movies. Considering that, it seems like a great idea to take a look at 20 behind-the-scenes facts about the Harry Potter films.
In order for a fact to be considered for possible inclusion on this list, it first and foremost needs to relate to behind the scenes information about the Harry Potter movies in one way or another. For instance, you could find details relating to the production of any of the many Harry Potter movies that have made it to the big screen. On top of that, anything related to planned crossovers or other attempts to extend the franchise could end up here too.
20 The Weasley Family’s House Was Purposefully Off-Balance
Without a doubt, one of the most charming sets seen in the entire Harry Potter film franchise, as soon as the audience sees the Weasley family’s house it speaks volumes. The kind of home that feels lived in, there are knick knacks everywhere and you can easily imagine it being filled to the brim with life when the entire Weasley clan is there. There is something that is not so obvious about the home, however. What is it about the movie spending time in this abode that makes it feel a little bit off? Turns out that the people that designed the set purposefully made sure that none of the walls within it stood at a 90 degree angle and they even yanked out support beams to accomplish that.
19 Capturing the Floating Candles On Film Got Dangerous
One of the first things that communicates to the audience is just how different the wizarding world of Hogwarts is and the floating candles in the great hall immediately shows us that this not our typical world. No more effective than if there were dome lights in the ceiling, the fact that they are flying in the air without a connection to anything is still fantastical and cool. Initially made possible by suspending actual candles in the air by wires that were digitally removed, in the later films, they relied wholly on special effects to make them happen. This change happened for one major reason — after the candles were lit for a while, the heat melted the wires and lit candles fell to the tables below.
18 The "Seven Harrys" Scene Required A Lot of Filming
One of the most interesting visuals in a series of movies that is choked full of moments that are a feast for the eyes, the so-called “Seven Harrys” scene feels downright weird. Featuring several of Harry Potter’s closest allies disguised to look like him in order to give him a chance at escaping those that want to dispatch him, it is an awful lot of Daniel Radcliffe in a single scene. Extremely complex to make happen, loads of digital work went into making this moment a reality.
However, the special effects team needed footage to work with so Daniel Radcliffe had to film more than 90 takes looking around with expressions of astonishment on his face.
Put on all of these different outfits must have been hilarious.
17 Creating a Scaled Model of Hogwarts Took Lots of Work
An incredibly striking moment, in the first movie, when the students see the majesty of Hogwarts for the very first time, the movie’s viewing audience was just as impressed as Harry and the gang were. A massive castle that in some ways makes it seem like the movie is taking a step back in time, it makes some people think about a legendary wizard like Merlin. A set that is far too grandiose to have been built in real-life, some of the views were still made possible with practical effects.
That is because of the 1:24 scale model of the school that took 86 artists months to construct and its many unique elements including lights in the towers, real gravel, and plants.
If only it was life-size.
16 All the Swimming Affected Daniel Radcliffe
Relatively short but extremely memorable, the swimming scenes in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire that are part of the Triwizard Tournament featured some incredible moments. Featuring mermaids that are far from the undersea creatures viewers usually see in films, it was also something else to see Harry Potter with webbed digits. Requiring Daniel Radcliffe to spend several hours under water, both during the process of training to film the scenes and the actual production, this had some unfortunate side effects for the actor. Diagnosed with a pair of ear infections during this time in his life, if you’ve ever suffered something similar, then you know how awful that would have been for Daniel Radcliffe.
15 Alan Rickman Had Friendly Clashes With the Potter Directors
One behind-the-scene Harry Potter fact that has been very well publicized,
Alan Rickman was the only person that J.K. Rowling is known to have told about Severus Snape’s true motivations early on.
A fascinating piece of information already, the idea that he knew something that millions of people around the world were dying to find about long in advance is incredible. On top of that, aside from being interesting to think about, that fact also resulted in some interesting moments on set. The only one working on the films with that deeper understanding, it resulted in Rickman refusing some directions since he knew they went against what his character was working toward.
14 J.K. Rowling Was asked to play Harry's mom
The mind behind all things Harry Potter, because of J.K. Rowling’s extensive work, several books and movies that mean the world to millions of people came into existence. Extremely passionate about making the film adaptations of her work come out right, she did things like ensure that British actors were cast in almost every role seen in the movies. On top of that, she also turned down a major role, perhaps because she didn't want her presence to interfere with the audience's connection to the other actors. Offered the chance to play the mother of Harry Potter in the movies, that would have been neat, but it could have broken the reality set up in the movies for those who know what she looks like.
13 Hugh Grant was almost Gilderoy Lockhart
Only seen in a handful of scenes in a film franchise with many instalments, despite that, the character of Gilderoy Lockhart is so unique that he has a large impact on the viewing audience. A braggart who habitually took credit for things that he had nothing to do with, he would then go on to bask in the adulation showered on him by the masses. Brought to life in the movies by the highly-respected actor Kenneth Branagh, his theatrical demure was simply perfect for the role. However, he was only cast after a scheduling conflict that caused Hugh Grant to pull out of the role and it was decided that Jude Law was too young to play the part.
12 Gary Oldman Found Playing Sirius Black Difficult
Known to completely immerse himself in whatever roles he takes on, time and time again throughout his career, Gary Oldman would disappear into the characters he played. In fact, there were times in which he blended into his characters so completely that many people had no idea he was even playing the part, for instance, in the movie Hannibal. Highly celebrated at award shows over the years, at first blush, you may expect some of the work that resulted in those trophies to be his most challenging ones. However, he found it difficult to become Sirius Black because the character's look is so similar to Oldman's and he felt like he was just playing himself, saying, "This is pretty much the way I look."
11 Dumbledore's Bookshelves were not very exciting
One of the absolute best aspects of the Harry Potter film franchise, there are loads of sets that look amazing and also say an awful lot about the people that operate within them. One of the best examples is Dumbledore’s office which features many magical elements. It has respect for those that came before, has a whimsical feel, and shows how important knowledge is to him. There's a chock-full of magical texts on the walls, implying to the audience that he is broadly aware of the history of wizarding while also saying that his knowledge of spells is extensive. However, in actuality, those tomes were far less impressive as the production staff created them by binding hundreds of British phone books in various materials.
10 There Was a Lice Outbreak
One of the best known adages in Hollywood, many powers that be will warn others to never work with animals or children for good reason. For instance, there are labour laws that require kids to only work limited hours on set and they also have to spend part of their days getting an education. However, when work commenced on the first Harry Potter movies, they could plan around those limitations in relation to the many kid actors working on them. However, when lice broke out on the set of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, they must have been taken by surprise even though that kind of thing can happen among large groups of children.
9 Emma Watson Had a Crush on Tom Felton
From one entry that relates to the kind of thing that usually happens among a group of kids to one another, this time around, we are looking at the innocent affections that tend to build up. Working together year after year for most of their childhood, many members of the Harry Potter cast grew up together including Emma Watson and Tom Felton. Cast as two characters that greatly disliked one another, that didn’t affect their real-life interactions as evidenced by the fact that she was revealed to have had a crush on him. In fact, not only was Emma Watson eventually open about that fact, but it also came out that at the time, Tom Felton was very aware of how she felt even though she tried to keep it to herself.
8 Originally, the Food in the Great Hall Scenes Was Real
In a world where Hollywood seems to rely on CGI more and more each year, often to the detriment of the final product, the people behind Harry Potter bucked that trend. Going with practical effects whenever they could, especially early on, it is always great when things feel real on the big screen, so that is a great decision. However, in some cases, their attempts to be as real as possible had less-than-stellar side effects. One of the best examples of that, during early scenes filmed in the great hall, they shot with real food on the tables.
Unfortunately, after hours of sitting under the bright lights that come along with filming, the food spoiled and it began to emit an odor.
Imagine sitting in front of that food all day long, just eating and smelling it for hours.
7 Some of the Awkwardness Was Very Real
A time in many people’s lives in which they are still trying to feel comfortable with themselves and others, when the stars of Harry Potter were still kids, they were thrust in front of the world. On top of that, far away from the prying eye of the public, they took on the task of playing characters that did things that they may not be comfortable doing as of yet. During the filming of a scene from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Emma Watson was supposed to hug both her co-stars but was nervous about doing so.
Opting to play into that awkwardness, the scene was changed and she only shook Rupert Grint’s hand instead of hugging him, which turned out to be perfect for the dynamic between their characters.
It was fitting to have actors the same age as the characters and have them experience the same growing pains of adolescence.
6 There Were Some Very Fitting Essays Written
Something of a rumor over the years, some readers may have heard that Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint were asked to write essays, but it recently was confirmed. Only the second director to helm a Potter film, Alfonso Cuarón asked his young stars to write about their characters in order to ensure they understood their parts. Each reacting in their own way, in an amusing twist of fate, each of their essays perfectly fit the characters they would play for many years. The most studious of them all, Emma handed in 16 intricate pages about her character. A leader who does what he must but is more interested in practical learning, Daniel’s effort was solid, but short 1 page. On the other hand, the reliable but rebellious Rupert never wrote a single word.
5 Helena Bonham Carter took it too far
Seemingly a role she was born to play, Helena Bonham Carter has been marvelous in many projects, but when she was cast as Bellatrix Lestrange, it fit her acting abilities to utter perfection. Totally committed to her role at every turn, she would attack every scene she was a part of with as much gusto as anyone could possibly muster. Unfortunately, during the filming of one scene, that passion resulted in bad things for one of her co-stars. Holding the actor Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom) in her arms while in character, she was just supposed to be threatening him and his friends but took it too far. Deciding to stick her wand in the actor’s ear, she meant it to be menacing but safe, but in her zeal, she went too far and ended up perforating his eardrum
4 Ralph Fiennes’ Nephew Played the Young Voldemort
An actor that has been working on stage and screen for many years at this point, even though Ralph Fiennes has played a wide array of compelling characters, one of them will likely be his calling card. The big bad guy in one of the highest-grossing film franchises of all time, being cast as Voldemort was a huge boon to an already stellar career. Even though it is his performance in the role that will go down in history, it should be noted that he was not the only one to play the role as younger actors were also required. For instance, Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, Ralph’s nephew, had the honor of playing an 11-year-old Tom Riddle, the boy that would become Voldemort, in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. This makes total sense since they actually look related.
3 Emma Watson Took a Spill
Meant to be the moment that made all the difference in the way that observers viewed the character of Hermione Granger, when she descends the stairs at the Yule Ball, it is known to be quite the moment. Perhaps not quite as successful on film as it was in the books, since it was already obvious that the actor that played her was a pretty young woman, she still looked incredibly glamorous. Seen by some people working on the film as a make-or-break moment for the series, they were even comparing it to when Julia Roberts appears all dressed up for the first time in Pretty Woman. Well aware of that pressure, Emma Watson was nervous about filming the scene and that anxiety resulted in her actually taking a fall the first time she walked down the stairs on set.
2 Daniel Radcliffe Was Discovered in an Unexpected Place
An extremely difficult task, to say the least, finding the right child actor to play Harry Potter was of the utmost importance. As a result, an exhaustive search to find the right child actor was undertaken but it wouldn’t lead to any success. Instead, producer David Heyman discovered a young Daniel Radcliffe among the crowd when both of them attended a London theater production of Stones in His Pockets.
Deciding he looked like he was “an old soul in a young body” and that Daniel “was incredibly generous of spirit, warm, friendly, and open,” he brought him in and things went from there.
On an interesting side note, the day Radcliffe learned he got the role, his parents allowed him to celebrate by staying up late to watch the show Fawlty Towers.
1 That Weird Hug Was Improvised
Probably the weirdest "affectionate" scene in this entire film franchise was during the climax of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 where we get a strange Voldemort and Draco interaction. Speaking in front of the entire Hogwarts student body after an extensive and violent battle, Voldemort calls out Draco Malfoy who he proceeds to hug awkwardly. Odd because nobody expects Voldemort to express affection in that kind of way, it turns out that Draco’s stunned reaction was very real. An entirely improvised moment on behalf of Ralph Fiennes, Tom Felton, the actor that played Draco, seemed to freeze in reaction which totally works for the moment.