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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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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: MSN Q&A

RUPERT GRINT (Ron Weasley) Q&A

QUESTION: Word is that in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince there is plenty of Quidditch for Ron this time round?

RUPERT GRINT: Yeah, I’ve never done Quidditch in the films before so this is my first Quidditch experience. Dan says it’s really painful and I know where he’s coming from because it’s quite uncomfortable, with the harness and stuff, and you’re getting slung about. There are two stages. One is the try-outs where Ron is not very good and keeps getting hit in the face. Another stage is where Ron takes the potion and thinks he is really, really good. It’s quite tricky but I’ve really enjoyed it. I’m always on a wire because the broom is quite high up, about 18 feet.

QUESTION: You are in great shape but are you naturally athletic?

RUPERT GRINT: Not really. The only sport I do is a bit of golf, really. Apart from that, I’m lazy so I’ve had to do a bit of training.

QUESTION: Was getting into the flow of things for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince almost like coming back to school?

RUPERT GRINT: Each film is a little bit different, but it is a lot like coming back to school. It’s the same people you’ve worked with and we’re never away that long anyway. It’s easy to get back into the routine.

QUESTION: Do you keep in touch with rest of the cast between films?

RUPERT GRINT: I usually try to, but we’re always quite busy, to be honest. I see the twins quite a bit, because I play golf with them. I usually win. I’m not bad and I have a handicap of 12.

QUESTION: Word is that there is going to be a lot of kissing in this movie?

RUPERT GRINT: Yeah, and Ron gets a girlfriend in this one. When we did the kissing sequence, it wasn’t easy because I’m standing on a plinth and the whole room is watching. It was quite embarrassing and I was actually dreading it. It was weird and the girl who plays my girlfriend is really cool. It was fine after the first 10 takes. [Laughs.]

QUESTION: Did you get the last book sent to you?

RUPERT GRINT: I didn’t get it any earlier than anyone else. I got it the day it came out and was quite keen to see what happened, especially since there was so much hype about it. I was quite happy with the ending.

QUESTION: Since the Harry Potter films have been such a huge part of your life it must seem strange that it’s all going to come to an end soon?

RUPERT GRINT: Sure. It’s quite sad because it’s been a massive part of my life. It’s hard to get my head around something that will have taken up 10 years of my life when it’s finished.

QUESTION: How do you feel when for instance you catch the early Harry Potter films on TV?

RUPERT GRINT: I haven’t watched the films all the way through for ages but I’ve seen bits and pieces on Sky. It feels like a different person, to be honest; it feels like it all happened ages ago. It brings back a lot of good memories because it was all a good life and it brings back all those exciting times to me. I had barely done a school play before I started so it was very scary in those early films. I never thought of it as a serious thing. It was all just fun for me back then.

QUESTION: Do you think that you ever get used to all the attention that comes with the phenomenal success of the films?

RUPERT GRINT: I’ve gradually got used to it over the years. It’s more apparent when the films come out. It’s strange when people come up to you. People are always really nice though. It’s never really gangs of people; it’s usually one or two who come over. I don’t mind that at all. Once, I was in TGI Friday and a guy with a camera happened to be there. That was the only time I had any paparazzi, as such.

QUESTION: Do you ever get called Ron?

RUPERT GRINT: People always call me Ron, especially the younger kids. My little cousins actually think I’m magic.

QUESTION: What’s the one thing you’ve most enjoyed that the Harry Potter films have brought you?

RUPERT GRINT: The chance to travel, especially that trip we made to Japan. It was a really different, a really cool experience.

QUESTION: Aren’t there loads of Harry Potter fans in Japan?

RUPERT GRINT: Yeah. I get a lot of gifts from Japan, especially pyjamas, but they’re very cool. We had to learn a few words in Japanese but I can’t remember them. I’m not very good at languages. It was embarrassing when we went to Paris because Emma is very good at French and I was stumbling over my few words.

QUESTION: Does being a movie star help overcome shyness?

RUPERT GRINT: I’ve always been a bit shy, but I do feel more confident now, yeah.

QUESTION: After the eighth Harry Potter film is done, do you want to carry on acting?

RUPERT GRINT: I’d like to because I really enjoy it. When this is over I’ll see what happens. I enjoyed working on small movies like Driving Lessons, so maybe more stuff like that would be nice.

QUESTION: When you are not on camera, how do you guys unwind?

RUPERT GRINT: Table tennis is a big thing; me and Dan are getting very good at it. I have a table in my dressing room and we play every day. It’s quite even because Dan has improved a lot. He has a really good serve. We’re at a professional level now. [Laughs.]

QUESTION: And what about Emma?

RUPERT GRINT: She’s at a different level to us so there’s no point in playing with her. She just embarrasses us.

QUESTION: Was there ever any remote chance that you wouldn’t come back for this sixth Harry Potter film?

RUPERT GRINT: For me, there was no doubt. So long as they wanted me, I was coming back to do it. I really enjoy doing this and it’s really cool.

Original article found here: MSN UK | July 2009

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Potty About Lavender

Potty about Lavender

I’m a big JK Rowling fan, so even though I try to feign a cool, composed look, I’m very excited to be meeting the actress who plays Lavender Brown, Ron Weasley’s girlfriend in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

We meet for tea in Claridges and Jessie arrives, straight from her rehearsals for Arcadia, a Tom Stoppard play. She has beautiful, flawless skin – which is not surprising, as she sups a non-alcoholic fruit cocktail.

At just 22, Jessie is at the start of her career and seems genuinely bewildered as well as thrilled to have bagged a film role. “To be in a Harry Potter film is still the most bizarre thing,” she says.

However, it wasn’t an overnight success story as the film auditions began back in 2007, when around 200 people were seen for the part. The second auditions were open, with over 7,000 girls vying for the role. It was only on looking back that Jessie realised what she had achieved. “Once I got cast, I realised they must have auditioned close to 8,000 people. It was a mind-blowing lottery kind of win.”

The Ealing-based actress believes it was all down to a strong chemistry with Rupert Grint. “I did really fancy him! In a girly, innocent kind of way – not a weird way at all. I didn’t want to scare him and I’d never tell him. I think that really helped the energy. That’s what David Yates [the director] said to me. We kept making each other laugh, we just clicked.”

Ambition also played a big part in securing the role. “I wanted it so much,” she says. It wasn’t easy getting to the auditions as Jessie was filming Summerhill (based on life at the progressive and rather bohemian school in Suffolk), which was hundreds of miles away. She and her mother brainstormed ways to get there on time, including hiring a motorbike to bomb down the motorway. “In the end, my mum was there on the dot to take me down, and arrived by the skin of my teeth. The amount of energy that went into that day probably helped. I don’t think anyone wanted it more than I did.” Then there’s the instinct and understanding of the role as Jessie really got under the skin of 16-year-old Lavender Brown, recognising similarities between them. “I remember at that age I was utterly obsessed with boys.”

When she was at Latymer school, her little gang would follow unsuspecting lads around. “We found timetables of boys we fancied. We knew at any precise moment where this boy would be. We used to place ourselves wherever he would be. If he only knew how desperate I was!”

Personally, I think Ron Weasley made the wrong choice in opting for Hermione as Lavender is such a delight, with her untrammelled sexuality. Jessie agrees to a certain extent. “She is a goer when you read the book. But she has so much heart and she really just loved him.”

Alas, as with many first loves, it ends in disaster as Ron finally plucks up the courage to end his relationship with Lavender. “She’s too desperate. She’s not the right girl for him. She’s too obsessed, too girly. Hermione is the right one for Ron.” Jessie can’t harbour too many grudges against the alpha female Hermione, as the Gryffindor girl saves Lavender from a Death Eater in the next Potter film.

In fact, Jessie’s role as Thomasina Coverly in Arcadia seems to have marked similarities with Hermione’s character. “I play a child genius who is way ahead of her time mathematically. It’s a great play about love, the chaos theory and maths.” The play began its run at the Duke of York’s Theatre in June and continues until September.

Home for Jessie is her much beloved Ealing. “I’ve always lived in Ealing apart from a brief horrific stint in Pinner. We moved back as soon as possible once we realised how great Ealing was.”

She loves pottering around the area, especially Oscar’s coffee shop and organic food shop As Nature Intended. The young actress is just loving blending in and being part of her neighbourhood, involved with local establishments such as the Jill Wildman Dance Gallery. “She does the most amazing classes, it’s a great community thing. She’s done so much for Ealing.”

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is out on 15 July 2009

Article found here on Westside MagazineI Published July, 2009

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‘Harry Potter’ Countdown: Jessie Cave spills about scaring, smooching Rupert Grint

Our countdown continues toward the July 17 release of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” and today our Denise Martin catches up with a newcomer to Hogwarts.

It was months between Jessie Cave’s first open call audition and finding out that the 22-year-old Londoner had nabbed the part of Lavender Brown, Hermione’s smitten roommate-turned-romantic competition in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” “It was quite surreal,” Cave said in an interview. “Throughout the process I never thought I had the part, the chances were so slim.”

Well, not so slim: Cave appeared in the CBBC drama “Summerhill” and is currently starring on the West End stage in the critically acclaimed revival of Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia.”

While waiting to see the finished film herself, Cave talked to Hero Complex about scaring Rupert Grint, who plays Lavender’s sweetheart Ron, with (a perhaps all-too-realistic?) audition, the actors’ first kiss, and how Lavender puts up a good fight for Ron’s heart.

DM: For your final audition, what scene did you get to act out with Rupert?

JC: We actually had to improvise for a good 15 or 20 minutes, which is very scary. It’s a really long time. The director, David Yates, was there and he was just like, “Hi. Right. Here’s a plate of biscuits, Jessie. It’s a lovely plate of chocolate biscuits and I want you to do whatever you want with these biscuits.’ Rupert was in the room, sitting on the sofa, and I just thought, ‘What the hell am I going to do with this plate of biscuits?’

DM: What did you end up doing?

JC: I thought, ‘I’m just going to go for it.’ And I think Rupert was a bit scared, really. The biscuits were past the sofa, away from me so I kind of just tangled myself around Rupert and just made it really obvious that I didn’t really care about the biscuits. I just wanted to be near him. I think he was quite scared.

DM: Awww, he was probably acting, too. Right?

JC: No, he was actually scared [laughs]. I think he’s easily scared though, bless him. He was so lovely and we really got on and made each other laugh, and that helped.

DM: Was he less scared once you started filming?

JC: He was very easygoing and very laid-back. He didn’t at all have any kind of ego, he was just a nice guy and very normal. It was easy to become friends with him, which I didn’t expect to be honest. I’ve watched [the ‘Harry Potter’ stars] since I was young and, you know, I didn’t think they’d be as normal as they are. It’s quite weird.

DM: Do you remember what your first day on set was like?

JC: It’s funny, I was filming for six months, but I remember my third day was the big kissing scene. I remember thinking, ‘Why are they doing this so early?’ It helped actually because the nerves kind of added to the scene. There were so many extras, like 70 other people in the room, it could have gone so wrong. The first day was kind of building up to the kissing scene, so it was immediately going into the deep end.

DM: If I remember correctly, Lavender’s the aggressor in the relationship, right?

JC: Ha! Yes, she is incredibly dominating of Ron. She just wants to be around him all the time and she’s the one who initiates everything. She’s one of those girls that’s very pretty and very obvious, she’s just not really aware of how she’s being perceived by anyone else. And I think that’s really sweet in a way because she doesn’t perceive barriers very well [laughs]. She treads all over them. It’s why she ruffles Hermione’s feathers so much.

DM: She does put up a good fight.

JC: She’s almost the catalyst in setting up Hermione and Ron in the final chapter of the saga really. Without Lavender, they wouldn’t have been forced together, to acknowledge their feelings so abruptly because she definitely caused that.

DM: How did it feel playing someone who everyone will know doesn’t stand a chance?

JC: Well, she does really! She does quite well. She does go out with him and does get her claws into him for awhile. Not claws — she’s lovely. She does get her way for a tiny bit, but unfortunately, it doesn’t end up her way.

DM: How is Lavender introduced?

JC: She’s in the Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes shop and she’s kind of ogling Ron. She’s been going to school with them for years, but it’s not that she’s making her interests known.

DM: Were you already a ‘Harry Potter’ fan when you auditioned for the part?

JC: Oh, yes! I’m one of five in my family and we’ve all gone through the books at different paces. I read ‘Half-Blood Prince’ before I knew anything about the auditions. So to have already read the character was so great. Also, my little brothers and sisters are so excited, and proud. It’s impacted their lives in a really nice way. So I’m really grateful for it.

DM: Did any of them get to go with you to the set?

JC: I brought them all on set but my little sister, she’s 11, she was the one who was in awe of everything. Jim Broadbent was there, and Daniel Radcliffe. I brought her into the Potions classroom and I signaled Daniel to wave at her without her seeing. And then Daniel waved and she thought he had done that for no reason and she was in seventh heaven. She was absolutely star-struck. She almost fainted when she saw Emma [Watson] in the corridor. It is so bizarre to actually meet them because, you know, they’re on posters everywhere. It’s so weird. My sister’s got sticker books of them and then to actually meet them? There’s actually a new sticker book with me in it, so she’s got stickers of me now. It’s so sweet. I can’t believe I’m actually a sticker.

DM: What’s been the best perk that comes with being in a ‘Harry Potter’ movie?

JC: Just to be there every day was so brilliant. I’m so happy with it. I had a few scenes with Michael Gambon, and in the hospital scene, I met all of British acting royalty. I was so scared I didn’t really speak. To be in the room with them is quite overwhelming. Someone behind me said, ‘You’re standing next to three Oscars and a BAFTA,‘ or something. Yeah, that made it much easier for me [laughs]. That was the best thing.

— Denise Martin

Original article found here: Latimesblogs | June 23, 2009

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‘Harry Potter’: Does Lavender Have A Real-Life Crush On Ron?

Featured Article

Why should Harry Potter get all the love? It’s about time for Ron Weasley — Harry’s Hogwarts BFF and sidekick — to get a little lovin’ too!

Jessie Cave plays over-dramatic witch-in-training, Lavender Brown, who is Ron’s girlfriend in the next big-screen installment of the Harry Potter saga: “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” But it appears Jessie’s affection for the quirky red-headed wizard existed even when the cameras stopped rolling.

In the July issue ofTatler magazine, the up-and-coming actress talks about her real-life crush on onscreen boyfriend Rupert Grint!

In the magazine, Jessie says she thinks Rupert is a bit scared of her but hints that she wouldn’t mind an offscreen love connection.

“I thought there might be a link there,” Jessie said. “Who knows, maybe in the future!”

Not only did Jessie talk about crushing on her co-star, but she also spilled the beans on her Harry Potter audition.

“For the final audition I was kitted out in Hogwarts uniform and driven in a golf-buggy to the Gryffindor common room,” the actress recalled. “I had to improvise in front of a room full of people with Rupert and a paper biscuit for half an hour.”

Hmmm … I wonder if Jessie’s crush on her wide-eyed co-star developed during her audition. I mean nothing speaks romance like a room full of people and a paper biscuit!

I’m more of a Cedric Diggory fan myself. Of course, this has nothing to do with the fact Robert Pattinson played him (er, that’s a lie!), but since Cedric is out of the picture, maybe I should join Jessie and start crushing on Rupert, too!

Jessie is currently single, but I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see if it lasts. Life can imitate art, right?

Original article found at HollywoodCrush.MTV | June 16, 2009

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Sci Fi Wire Set Visit

In the Great Hall of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, breakfast is underway, tables heaped with sausages and toast, casually dressed students talking and eating. Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) stands in the doorway, dressed in full red-and-gold Quidditch kit, nervously surveying the room.

He enters. Fellow students slap him on the back as he walks down the central aisle. “Good luck, eh, Ron?” “Countin’ on you, Ron!” “I’ve got two Galleons on Gryffindor!”

A huge guy blocks Ron’s progress. He stops, they do a side-to-side dance, Ron has to squeeze by the guy to get to his table.


It’s January 2008 on the set of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, shooting on the stages at Leavesden Film Studios outside London, the longtime home of the Potter film franchise, where SCI FI Wire was among a small group of reporters allowed to observe filming.

In addition to observing the filming that day showing the morning of Ron’s debut as a Quidditch player, we sat down and spoke with director David Yates about the sixth film in the beloved franchise, which opens July 15. Following is an edited version of our talk with Yates, who was dressed in a beige V-neck sweater and fleece pullover on this chilly day.

So I think you were quoted as saying this movie’s about sex, drugs and rock
‘n’ roll.

Yates: Yeah. I want to amend that. It’s actually about sex, potions and rock ‘n’ roll. … It’s a wonderfully fun, slightly rebellious, quite naughty stage of teenage life. When you’re kind of discovering the opposite sex. … In the previous film, it was about the first kiss. This film is a bit more sexualized than that. You know, in a way. We don’t see sex, but it’s kind of in there. And the relationships are a bit more complicated and romantic and convoluted. So we’re pushing into new emotional and kind of physical territory for Harry Potter, you know, in a way, so it’s quite playful and fun.

Do you think Harry Potter fans are going to be ready to see him grown up?

Yates: Do you know, they’ve been growing up with him, so I figure they would be by now. And that’s what’s wonderful about this series of films, is that they grow older, the characters grow older. You know, the actors grow older. … I think it’s quite an interesting relationship they probably have with him, and I’m sure they’re ready for that.

And there’s more comic elements in this film than the last film?

Yates: Very much so. The previous film was, you know, we really enjoyed making the last film. … I liked the intensity of the story that we did last time. But … this has intensity, but it’s very playful, and there are some terrifically funny scenes. And six is a much lighter, more playful book than five was.

It still has some tremendous intensity at the end of the story, but it’s got lots of laughs, too, and for me as a director, what’s lovely is to change gears a little bit, and that’s why I wanted to do it. I didn’t want to make a kind of film about teenage angst; I wanted to make a film about teenage romance, and so, when I took over for Mike Newell—Mike Newell did the fourth film—I said, “You [got a chance to do] the kind of teenage love side of things, and so now I’ve got a bit of that to do.” And it’s really fun to come back and do it. …

Can you talk about the scene that you’re shooting now?

Yates: Yeah. This is a, Ron’s big Quidditch match, and he’s really nervous, and he’s not very good, and he’s terrified, frankly. And so it’s really about him building up to the game. And Harry [Daniel Radcliffe] pretends to slip some Felix Felicis, which is this potion that apparently gives you great luck, and Harry’s going to pretend to slip it into his drink to give him this bravura, which he doesn’t have. So it’s a gentle, funny scene about Ron’s trepidation about playing Quidditch. …

How have the actors changed since the last film?

Yates: That’s interesting. Emma [Watson, who plays Hermione,] has become much more confident. I mean, she was confident before, but … her acting … is becoming more effortless. Dan’s been off and done Equus and some television things, a television film, and he’s grown a lot more confident and matured a wee bit. And they’re all getting a wee bit older, and the material allows them to take a few more turns, again. They’re getting better, as they should be as they get older, you know, so it’s encouraging and enjoyable. …

Original article found here at SciFiWire I April 23, 2009

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Total Film: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Talk about symbolic. It’s the end of a long day’s location shoot on the Harry Potter franchise. Total Film is sat yakking with the series’ now-signature director, David Yates, in a dressing tent. Suddenly, it all goes inky-black.

Just one of the crew powering down the lights for the day. Fitting metaphor, though, for a saga that gets darker with every episode, right?

“For me, this is a warmer, lighter film than Order Of The Phoenix,” says Yates.“I loved the intensity of the fifth one, but it had all this bloody earnest teenage-angst stuff, whereas this is a little bit more of a romantic comedy – until things turn dark in the third act…”

We’ll get back to that. In the meantime, hormones are off the hook at Hogwarts: “There’s a lot to do with Ron and Hermione’s relationship in this one,” says Emma Watson.

“Which is great, because it gave us the chance to do comedy. Hermione got very serious in the last couple, so it was nice to do some funny bits with Rupert [Grint], who’s great at that sort of thing.”

But slightly awkward when it comes to love scenes, mind. “There’s a bit of a kiss with Jessie [Cave, who plays Lavender], which was quite embarrassing,” confesses Rupert Grint.

“That particular scene, I hadn’t known Jessie that long and there were loads of people around; it’s after the Quidditch match and I was standing on a little plinth, so it wasn’t really that romantic!”

Quidditch match? Yes – it’s back. “The technology has moved on so we’ve made some refinements,” grins Yates. “I was always intrigued by how violent Quidditch could be. You’ve got these players moving at enormous speed and crashing into each other… It’s a bit like American football, which got me excited.”

But it’s not all fun and games. Or loveydovey. At heart, Half-Blood Prince is all about getting prepped for the final showdown between wizards good and bad.

“Number six is kind of the hardest book to film,” reflects Harry’s alter ego Daniel Radcliffe, looking distinctly un-wizardly in chunky winter casuals and without specs.

“It’s a great book, really exciting, but also very much a lead-up to the seventh one. There’s a lot of exposition that has to go on, but they’ve done a really good job.”

As usual, the movie hews closely to JK Rowling’s source novel while exercising some cinematic licence. In the book, events in the outside world are often relayed via Potter-verse newspaper The Daily Prophet.

On screen, there’s less reporting, more action. Rowling’s passing reference to the fall of a ‘Muggle’ bridge, for example, has turned into an opening set-piece salvo: large, loud and London-based. “Let’s just say the Millennium Bridge doesn’t get well treated,” quips producer David Barron.

ut one book-to-script tweak had to be unwritten when Rowling unexpectedly outed one of her creations. “There was a line of dialogue where Dumbledore refers to the opposite sex in a romantic way,” says Heyman.

“But after the first read-through, Jo told us that this wasn’t in keeping with his character! So we made the change…” The Hogwarts headmaster’s sexuality isn’t made an issue of in the film. “Although there is his obsession with knitting patterns,” smiles Yates.

Dumbledore is very much to the fore in Prince, training Harry for battle while heading towards his own date with destiny. “It’s a big movie for him,” says Heyman, lauding Michael Gambon’s commitment to the role. Yet, as with the character, there are revelations to be had about the veteran thesp…

“The secret about Michael Gambon is that, as much as he’s revered, he’s also the most unprofessional actor in the word,” joshes Radcliffe. “He never takes anything seriously, which is why he’s great fun to work with.”

The actor spins anecdotes of Gambon playfully bombarding him with rubber rocks – and real ones – on set. “So I threw bits of stuff back at him. It was really infantile. And he’s a ‘Sir’, isn’t he? ‘Sir’ Michael Gambon, my arse!”

Much as he enjoyed mucking about with Gambon, Radcliffe missed another of the series’ father figures – Gary Oldman.

“It was sad to do the first film without Gary,” he sighs. “He was a bit of a mentor who let me know when I was crap and when I was good. Actors aren’t always the most generous, so when someone like him said ‘That was really good,’ to a young actor like me, it was amazing. So I kind of missed that.”

Still, the pair keep in text contact; and besides, there are other mates around – like fellow mainstay Tom Felton.

As bad boy Draco Malfoy, Felton has skulked on the sidelines for the last eight years but in Half-Blood Prince, Harry’s classroom arch-rival finally slopes into the spotlight.

“This is my favourite of the films,” says Felton, as cheery as Draco is sneery. “The first one I’ve worked on from beginning to end, not just a month here and there.”

Felton’s big moment comes when he and Radcliffe square up for a scrap that plays like something out of Bond or Bourne. “It was great,” raves Felton.

“We spent a week in this misty bathroom set, rolling around in the water having all sorts of fights. It’s a longer sequence than it is in the book.” There’s blood – but also some fleshing-out.

“This film develops the character further than before,” he says.“We take the chance to explain why he’s such a complete cretin, that he’s not just doing it for the sake of it.”


More character shading comes in the shape of flashbacks to Voldemort’s youth, magically conjured by Dumbledore as part of Harry’s training. Not easy, casting evil incarnate as a kid.

Luckily, it doesn’t sound like they have another Jake Lloyd on their hands… “It took a while,” recalls Heyman. “There was a lot of discussion
over how similar they should be to [adult Voldemort] Ralph Fiennes.”

In the end, they decided on Fiennes’ own nephew, Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, as the 10-year-old future dark lord; while Frank Dillane (son of Brit-actor Stephen) takes over for the teenage years.

“Both of them have this disquieting sense of darkness about them,” Heyman praises. “Frank projects a kind of superciliousness – he’s
very superior, very in control of the situation. And with Hero, as with Ralph, it’s all about the stillness… He evokes Voldemort so successfully, so creepily.”

The film’s visuals also play their part in establishing eeriness. “The choice of angles, the extreme close-ups, the pacing of the scenes,” recites Heyman, going on to laud director of photography Bruno Delbonnel, the French lenser responsible for Amelie’s lavish palette.

Half-Blood Prince goes for an equally heightened look, U-turning from the stark, dark timbre of Phoenix. “It’s very layered, incredibly rich,”
says Yates, before revealing that number seven – Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows – will be more naturalistic “with loads of hand-held cameras”.

“I want to shake things up every time I go into this world. I like experimenting as we go along,” says the director, best known pre-Phoenix for the original BBC version of State Of Play.

Now, his rep rests on Harry Potter, which he’ll preside over until 2011, when Part 2 of Deathly Hallows hits cinemas (with Part 1 due late 2010).
Three previous directors have graduated from Hogwarts (Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuarón, Mike Newell), so why did Yates decide to sign up for the long haul?

“It was around the end of Pheonix,” says the fortysomething, looking out over a forest set covered in imitation frost. “I got a taste for it. It’s a big, wonderful world to play in.

“You get all the resources you need to tell the stories, the people are terrific and the studio keep off your back. I was smitten with all those things combined and I wanted to be the one to see it through to its completion.”

There’s still a way to go, but thoughts are beginning to turn to the journey’s end. “It’s going to be weird when it’s all over,” muses Grint. “I’ve really enjoyed it and part of me will miss it. But it’ll also be good to be free.”

While he and Radcliffe express a desire to carry on thesping post-Potter, the third member of the trio isn’t quite so sure…

“I really don’t know,” says Watson, her face flecked with fake nicks and cuts. “I think I need to find some real belief in myself away from this. I know that I can play Hermione, but… we’ll see.”

Despite the chilled atmosphere on set, no doubt facilitated by Yates’ mild manner, Watson feels anxious. “I feel pressured, because this my last go, my last shot. I don’t want to have any regrets – I want to know that I’ve done the best I can possibly do.”

At least she’s earned the admiration of Heyman, who speaks of his young actors with quasi-parental pride. “Emma got the highest marks in the country on her English A-level, Dan got three As in his AS-Levels… they’ve all experienced other things that feed back into Harry Potter.”

Having worked on the series since the very beginning, the producer’s as big an attachment as anyone to the series – and he’s approaching the end with mixed feelings.

“I feel excitement and sadness. Firstly because there’s a real sense of family, but also because it’s very rare, in these times especially, to be in production for such a long, continuous period.”

And when it’s finally over? “I’m going to take a six-month holiday,” states Yates, raising his usually quiet voice over the hubbub of production packing up for the day.

“Then I’m going to do what I’ve always wanted to do: big movies followed by tiny ones. I’ve literally been overlapping postand pre-production so there hasn’t been time to squeeze anything else in.”

Radcliffe, on the other hand, has found windows for a number of ventures, notably his stage stint in Equus and self-mocking turn in Extras. “Doing stuff like that was tough,” he reflects, “but you were learning new disciplines, so you couldn’t help but come away with a new confidence.”

And has that confidence translated into more input on Potter? “Totally. I always used to feel my ideas were going to sound crap, but over the last two films I’ve felt a lot more comfortable about that kind of stuff. David can’t shut me up!”

Though he’s keeping mum on potential future projects (“I’m not going to jinx them!”), it’s not hard to get him gabbling about what’s in store for wizard-watchers. “This one’s more epic than the fifth film,” he enthuses.

“There’s a scene near the end that’s like something out of Paradise Lost, with Michael Gambon standing on this little island with flames swirling around him… It’s pretty cool, I have to say!”

Original article can be found here at April 1st, 2009

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Set Report: Half-Blood Prince

harrypotterhalfblood_greathall_gal-300x200Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth film in the hugely popular franchise, is wrapped and nearly ready for its July 17, 2009, debut. It shot last winter at Leavesden Studios outside London (it was originally slated to come out in Thanksgiving 2008), and SCI FI Wire was among a handful of reporters on set to watch the filming and speak with the cast and crew.

“I think this one certainly has got a greater sense of comedy than any of the other ones have, and I suppose you could say that it’s more adult humor, but you know, it’s not all a light sort of romp in the park,” Daniel Radcliffe (Harry) said during a break in filming last January. He added: “In this film, when it’s light, it’s much more comic than it has been before, but when it’s dark, it’s as dark if not darker than we were in, say, five or three.”

We toured the movie’s sets. One of the key sets we viewed is the hallway of the orphanage where Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) first meets the young Tom Riddle (Hero Fiennes Tiffin), a scene that takes place in flashback. The walls are paved with brown “tile,” and Riddle’s narrow cell is bare and bleak.

We also visited a new set representing the interior of the Weasley house. It’s a ramshackle farmhouse interior without a single right angle: The low ceiling, timbered walls and floors are all canted in weird ways, as if the house hasn’t quite settled. But it’s very cozy, with its overstuffed, ratty furniture, a grandfather clock and a big fireplace in the center of the room.

We learn that the house is central to a scene in the movie that is not in J.K. Rowling’s book (spoilers ahead!): It burns, and Harry, Lupin, Tonks and Mr. Weasley narrowly escape. The scene was added to the movie only with Rowling’s approval.

We also observed the filming of a scene in the Great Hall, which is filled with Hogwarts students at breakfast (big platters of sausages, racks of toast). It’s the day of Ron’s (Rupert Grint) big Quidditch match, and he’s nervous as heck. Ron enters the hall, kitted out in full Quidditch gear.

Students call out encouragement: “Good luck, eh, Ron?” “Countin’ on you, Ron!” “I’ve got two galleons on Gryffindor!”

The camera, on a crane, tracks Ron as he walks into the hall and down the central aisle. He encounters a towering student; they stop, do that left-right dance. Ron edges around him, then emits a big sigh. Not happy.

Radcliffe adds that romance blooms between Harry and Ginny Weasley, played by Bonnie Wright. “Yes, I’ve got everything with Ginny, which … has been fun. It’s good, fun scenes, and hopefully that’ll come across on screen,” he says. He adds: “It’s slightly odd, though, with Bonnie, because when Katie [Leung] came in to play Cho on the fourth film, it was very much the case when she came in, we always knew she was going to be as a love interest. Whereas, of course, when I first met Bonnie, she was just another character; she was, I think, 9-10 years old when I first met her, and so it’s very strange. I’ve sort of grown up with Bonnie, and now suddenly having to play love interest scenes is very–it’s kind of odd.”

SCI FI Wire will post more from its set report closer to the movie’s July release, –Patrick Lee, News Editor

Original article can be found here at SCI FI Wire I December 15, 2008

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Set Visit Preview

Source: Heather Newgen

Attention Muggles!

Earlier this year, visited the set of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and we interviewed the entire cast, including newcomer Jessie Cave who plays Lavender Brown, a new character to the franchise. She has a strong obsession with Ron Weasley and Cave talked to us about the infamous kiss with Rupert Grint.

Dressed in her Quidditch costume complete with a huge scarf she was wearing to show team spirit, Cave excitedly explained to reporters what her experience had been like on her first “Harry Potter” film and how her character is viewed by others.

The interviews took place at Leavesden Studios, where all of the “Potter” movies have been filmed.

The studio, which opened its doors for business in 1995, is about an hour outside of London. Before it became a place that movies like GoldenEye and Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace called home during production, Leavesden was originally a site where aircrafts were made during World War II. After the war, Rolls-Royce moved in and manufactured helicopter engines.

The cast of “Harry Potter” has practically grown up on the sprawling soundstages at Leavesden, and visitors who are lucky enough to obtain a pass to the “Closed Set,” get to see and experience true movie magic.

The world of “Harry Potter” took over the complex and what’s really cool about Leavesden is that almost every scene of the movies are shot there so you actually get to see Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Gryffindor, The Great Hall and our personal favorite, Dumbledore’s Office where we got to sit in his chair.

Full details of the set visit will be posted closer to the release date, but it looks like there’s a messy love triangle between Ron Weasley, Hermione and Lavender. Harry Potter will have some romance issues of his own when he starts to see his longtime friend Ginny Weasley as more of a love interest, which causes some problems with Ron.

While on set, we learned this story has more adult humor and when there are dark moments in the movie, they’re darker than previous “Potter” films.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince hits conventional theaters and IMAX on July 17, 2009.

Original article can be found here at ComingSoon I December 15, 2008

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Harry Potter: Weigh in on ‘Half-Blood Prince’ trailer

By Adam B. Vary


Finally! After a teaser trailer that focused solely on a chilling glimpse of the young Tom Riddle, and an international trailer that featured some Ron Weasley snogging and a lot of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it action, the first full trailer for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is upon us. It’s embedded below; take a look and then make like Harry and Dumbledore and apparate past the jump to discuss. (For non Potter-heads — all 16 of you — that translates to “click on the jump link and then we’ll talk about trailer.”)

We open with this totally brills exchange between Harry and the Hogwarts Headmaster:

Dumbledore: [Closing in with Harry on a mysterious house] You are, of course, wondering why I brought you here tonight.
Harry: Actually, sir, after all these years, I just sort of go with it.

Well played, Daniel Radcliffe, well played.

Then we meet professor Horace Slughorn (played by Jim Broadbent, a pretty great piece of casting even if I personally was pulling for Bob Hoskins in the role), the new potions master who introduces Harry’s class to a love potion that seems to make its way into Ron’s bloodstream. Coupled with the moment (also featured in the internat’l trailer) when Hermione whacks Harry in the head for calling himself “the chosen one,” it’s super great to see Harry’s two bestest friends (and the actors who play them) getting some meaty screen time after spending so much of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix on the sidelines. Quickly, though, the fun comes to a halt, with Hermione in tears, the Dark Mark ominously hovering over Hogwarts, and Voldemort’s Death Eaters terrorizing central London. Fans of the books know Half-Blood Prince contains some of the series’ most lighthearted and harrowing moments, and this first robust look at the film makes it seem like returning director David Yates is walking that line quite nicely.

What do you think, Popwatchers? Does the extra time the filmmakers have had for the visual effects — like the “memory fog” inside Dumbledore’s Pensieve or quick glimpse we got of Quiddich — look like it’s paying off? Are you as slightly unnerved by how buff Rupert Grint looks in that green tank top as I am? And most importantly, how will Twilighters react (deafening squeals? rapt slience? rioting?) when this trailer plays in front of Twilight this weekend?

Original article can be found here at EW Popwatch I November 19, 2008

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