Emma Watson grins broadly as she greets Rupert Grint, tottering towards the bar in her Rafael Lopez frock and vertiginous black heels. As they hug, he keeps a steady, protective arm on her.
Meanwhile, Julie Walters is standing by the bar, hugging a towering Robbie Coltrane, while Jason Isaacs and Matt Lewis are enthusiastically posing for pictures.
Looking around, this will probably be the last time the top-drawer cast of Harry Potter – which boasts a raft of Scottish actors including north-east natives Sean Biggerstaff, from Elgin (Oliver Wood), Peter Mullan, from Peterhead (Yaxley) and Shirley Henderson, from Forres (Moaning Myrtle) – are in the same room together, now that the 10-year saga is coming to an end. Daniel Radcliffe is notably absent, due to his Broadway theatre commitments in New York.
Besides the wrap party and the premiere, tonight’s cocktails at the new St Pancras Renaissance London Hotel mark a farewell to the series that has turned many of the cast, with the exception of veterans such as Julie, Robbie, Ralph Fiennes and Michael Gambon, into household names. They’re all fiercely proud of the films.
“I’m glad you didn’t call it a franchise,” said Jason, 48. The Liverpudlian, who portrays villain Lucius Malfoy, continued: “It always upsets me when I hear that because it sounds like someone selling burgers.
“This is one story that’s taken 10 years to tell so beautifully, and with such care, and there isn’t one drop of cynicism in anyone’s participation.”
Robbie – as Rubeus Hagrid – added in his deep voice: “It really ticks me off when people talk about Harry Potter as a franchise. This is about seven years in a boy’s life.”
The last instalment, directed by David Yates, sees the epic battle between Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) head towards its earth-shattering conclusion.
All the actors are unsurprisingly sad that the series has reached the end. “We’ve become emotionally tied into it,” says 61-year-old Robbie.
“It’s the first time in my entire career I’ve played a thoroughly good man – a bit of acting was required there,” he quipped, with a hearty laugh.
“Something strangely wonderful has come to an end – am I being terribly sentimental?”
The seven films, based on J. K. Rowling’s best-selling books, have become the highest-grossing film series of all time and a multi-billion pound business, giving Bond a run for his money.
Working its spellbinding magic on the British film industry, particularly within the special effects arena, the saga has left a lasting legacy, proving it is a force to be reckoned with.
“The most remarkable thing David Heyman and Jo Rowling did was to say at the beginning, ‘This will stay in Britain and will be British’,” recalled director David, flanked by producers David Heyman and David Barron.
“This very complicated special effects work would normally be given to American counterparts, but it stayed in England – and the States now sends its work here.”
He added: “It’s created such an infrastructure that will be sorely missed. It will be very hard to follow Potter’s kinetic power – lightning doesn’t strike twice.”
David believes the success of Potter is down to the relatable themes. “It’s about love, death, loss, friendship and loyalty,” he said.
“We all know characters like Harry, Ron and Hermione, we’ve all had teachers like Dumbledore, Snape and Lupin, and haven’t known too many Voldemorts, I hope.
“When it began, I had no idea that 10 years on we’d be sitting here. I hoped it would be another Railway Children or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It’s better than I could ever have imagined.”
It’s time to ask Emma – aka Hermione Granger – about her alter ego. “She’s been like a sister, and when people ask what I’ll miss the most, I will actually miss just being her,” said the 21-year-old.
“Hermione is such an incredible young woman, so growing up alongside her definitely made me a better person. I feel so privileged to have played her.”
Rupert, 22, who plays Ron Weasley, added: “Ron has been such a constant part of my life. So it’s weird. Especially this week it’s hit me, because those posters say, ‘It all ends now’. It’s really final.”
In the grand finale, Emma gets to lock lips with Rupert after previously kissing Daniel, as Harry, in the first part.
Asked to compare the two, she looks bashfully over at Rupert and blushes before giving an embarrassed laugh and saying: “I should have seen this one coming. It’s really difficult, as I’ve got to be diplomatic. At least Dan isn’t here so that makes it easier.
“Kissing Dan for that scene was very awkward, as I was half-naked and covered in paint. Kissing Rupert was equally awkward and weird, because we had just been soaked by an enormous bucket of water.
“Once you’ve done it four or five times, kissing gets quite boring.”
For Ralph, 48, best known for playing baddies like Nazi war criminal Amon Goth in Schindler’s List, Red Dragon’s serial killer Francis Dolarhyde and god of the underworld Hades in Clash Of The Titans, playing super-villain Lord Voldemort has been an unexpected pleasure.
“It’s been a wonderful part to play, a high-definition villain, and I’ve loved it as much as I’ve loved working with everyone here,” he said.
“Mostly, I don’t get recognised because I have my own nose and a full head of hair.”
The bane of his filming life was the Dark Lord’s heavy robes, as he admitted: “It’s an irritating costume as it was too long and I would trip over it.”
But the outfit also brought humour. “I started wearing tights underneath, and the gusset would drop down between my thighs and make it difficult to walk with any kind of dignity. So I cut them and turned them into garters. When the stunt team were getting too macho, I would lift up the robes and tease them with my inner thighs.”
As fans mourn the ending of Harry’s magical adventures, Emma is already trying to summon up a spell to reunite her with her screen “brothers” Rupert and Daniel.
“I really hope we’ll find a way to work together again. We’re already scheming,” she teased.
But could there be a new generation of Potter-likes in the future? Not so, according to the film-makers.
“Jo has no plans to write another Harry Potter book. I mean, Harry at the age of 23 going to business school?” said producer David Heyman.
Director David added: “There’s a time and place for certain stories and this series sits uniquely in this period of time. It would be a shame to try to recreate or continue them.”
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is now playing at cinemas nationwide.
5,800 – The number of times make-up artists painted Harry Potter’s scar on the head of Daniel and his various stunt doubles.
588 – The number of sets created for the films.
160 – The number of pairs of glasses worn by Daniel during filming.
70 – The number of wands used by Daniel during filming.
Original article found here: pressandjournal.co.uk| July 16th, 2011