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15 Things to Know About ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’

15 Things to Know About ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’

School vacation has never seemed longer. ‘Potter’ heads who’ve been breathlessly waiting two years since the last movie from the mega-popular franchise can finally exhale — Harry, Ron, Hermione and their classmates are back for year 6 of Hogwarts training in ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ (opens July 15), which is shaping up to be the most romantic — and of course, mature — installment yet.

We visited the 500,000-square foot Leavesden Film Studios in rural London (imagine an interconnecting complex of 15 Home Depots, plus dazzling exterior sets) to see where Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson have spent the better part of the last decade of their lives — and to get the scoop on their latest ‘Potter’ adventure. Keep reading for a sneak peek from the set of ‘Half-Blood Prince.’ — By Kevin Polowy

1. Army of One

Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) has long since come to terms with a fate that sets him up as the only wizard who can bring down Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). And in ‘Half-Blood Prince’ the training wheels truly come off, as Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) privately tutors Harry and even commands him to retrieve a key memory out of the newly arrived professor Slughorn (Jim Broadbent). “His want — or his need — in this film is basically to kill Voldemort, and he realizes that the way in which he’ll do this is to become Dumbledore’s favorite foot soldier,” Radcliffe says. “That’s the role you’ll see him gradually moving toward in this film.”

2. Big Man on Campus

“We see a cocky and arrogant side to Ron on this one,” says Rupert Grint about the awkward but lovable carrottop he plays. “He’s on the Quidditch team [as starting goalkeeper], he’s got a girlfriend, and he thinks he’s quite cool.” On the flipside, “at times he can be a bit cocky and he annoys Hermione quite a bit,” Grint adds. Says director David Yates: “There’s a sort of middle-aged quality that develops in the character, which is incredibly frustrating and irritating but very charming at the same time.” That’s Ron, frustratingly and irritatingly charming.

3. Plenty More Malfoy

One character who gets a much more developed role in ‘Half-Blood Prince’ is Harry’s Hogwarts rival, Draco Malfoy, who in this film receives direct orders from Lord Voldemort. Bad for Harry, good for Tom Felton, the actor behind Malfoy. “It’s really nice to take him to a higher level, rather than just being an annoying git at the back of the classroom,” Felton says. “It’s really nice that he’s grown, he was quite a two-dimensional character in the previous films.” He’s also got a girlfriend in this installment, Pansy Parkinson (Scarlett Byrne). Felton’s favorite scene this go-around? “To be able to stand on [Harry’s] nose has been a lifelong dream.”

4. Bonus Footage

As faithful as ‘Potter’ directors have been to J.K. Rowling’s source(ry) throughout the series, fans have always delighted in the occasional extra scene. In ‘Half Blood-Prince,’ scenes involving the evil Death Eaters terrorizing the community — only referenced by Rowling in the book — are played out on screen. Says director Yates, “We’ve introduced two moments in the film where we see the Death Eaters do what Jo actually described them doing, but off the page as it were.” Also added: an early scene where Harry’s emerging mojo is put on display as he flirts with an attractive waitress on a train. “You immediately set up the notion that suddenly these characters are a bit more sexualized,” Yates says. “They’re aware of the opposite sex.”

5. Game On!

A conspicuous absence since the third installment, ‘Prisoner of Azkaban,’ has been that magical (and extreme) sport known as Quidditch. “I wanted to get Quidditch in the last film but we were so overstuffed with things that it was really hard,” explains Yates, adding that the fun gaming sequence in ‘Prince’ is “kind of comedy Quidditch.” Not everyone on set was thrilled about the sport’s heralded return though — or at least shooting it. “I have to say it was bit of an anticlimax,” says Grint. “I really sort of built it up and thought it would be great fun even though [Daniel Radcliffe] said it was painful. He was definitely right. It’s not the nicest experience.” Their director feels their pain: “[Brooms] aren’t the most seat-friendly contraptions.”

6. Scrapping Scrimgeour

Of course, not every scene, detail or even character can make the cut when adapting a 652-page book into a two-hour movie. A casualty of the page-to-screen condensation in part 6 is Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour, who famously visits the Muggle Prime Minister in the book. “We struggled to keep him in,” says Yates. “It’s a great scene in the book … We loved that, and it was in and it was out and it was in and it was out again.” It was just announced that Bill Nighy has signed on to ‘Deathly Hallows,’ and though the actor is tight-lipped on who he’ll play, the presumption is he will indeed be Scrimgeour.

7. Love Triangle No. 1

Despite threats of terrorism (via the Death Eaters) and suspected turncoats roaming the halls of Hogwarts, there’s always time for a little romance, especially with a box of love potion-laced chocolates thrown into the mix with the raging teenage hormones. Yates says the story “deals with the politics of romance.” Ron must balance the affections of Lavender Brown (“Lavender’s completely crazy,” says Grint) with his long-gestating liaison with Hermione (Emma Watson). “I think Hermione’s beginning to acknowledge the fact that she has feelings for him, which she’s never done,” says Watson. “She’s always been in denial.” Adds Grint, “All the stuff with Lavender makes her go a bit crazy.” Poor guy, this Ron, surrounded by all these crazies.

8. New Kid on the Block

Jessie Cave, who makes her ‘Potter’ debut as Ron’s aforementioned love interest Lavender Brown, insists there are no initiation rites for new cast members (good news for you, ‘Deathly Hallows’ star Rhys Ifans). But while Lavender is spunky and brisk, Cave admits to being the opposite. “I’m quite shy and I’m not a loud character,” she says. “But it’s quite fun to play somebody who is because everyone has a loud character inside of them wanting to jump out.”

9. Love Triangle No. 2

Meanwhile, Harry woos Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright) away from her boyfriend, Dean Thomas (Alfie Enoch), and seeks her brother Ron’s approval. “The whole thing with Harry and Ginny is quite confusing for Ron, because he’s quite protective,” Grint says. But one scene featuring the three, where Ron obliviously plonks himself down between the two lovebirds, should be good for DVD bloopers: “I have this real problem with laughing through a take and that scene was quite hard,” Grint says. As for the hanky panky between Harry and Ginny, “It’s very odd because I’ve known Bonnie since she was about 9,” Radcliffe says. Wright agrees, sort of. “It is strange, but also it’s more comfortable with someone you know rather than just a random person.”

10. Introducing Your New Potions Instructor

With each ‘Potter’ movie comes at least one new teacher, played by some of the UK’s most venerated actors. New to the party in ‘Prince’ is Jim Broadbent, who plays Potions teacher Horace Slughorn. Says Radcliffe when asked if the relationship between Harry and Slughorn will be as strained on screen as in the books: “I think Harry ultimately likes Slughorn. I think he thinks he’s a very good person and his heart is in the right place, but he’s just very opportunistic and totally self-obsessed.” Fun fact: Broadbent played Tom Felton’s father in the young actor’s first film, ‘The Borrowers.’

Original article found at MovieFone | July 2nd, 2009

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