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Three’s A Charm


Three’s A Charm

Written by Bruce Kirkland

We speak with Harry Potter’s terrific threesome on the set of the Half-Blood Prince

harry-potter-and-the-half-blood-prince-daniel-radcliffe-emma-watson-rupert-grint

LEAVESDEN, HERTFORDSHIRE, ENGLAND — As a seven-film franchise, Harry Potter is a miracle of casting.

“It’s a remarkable thing,” says David Yates, director of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, due on DVD Dec. 11, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, now shooting at the Leavesden Studios, a former Rolls Royce airplane engine factory.

Each child star — Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint — has grown up on screen and grown into his or her role as an actor (Yates now calls them seasoned pros).

Each has stayed the course, despite Watson’s self-doubt about her commitment to the profession (that phase has passed, she says).

None has become a public spectacle for bad behaviour or drug-and-alcohol related scandals. Not like Drew Barrymore, an alcoholic at nine after starring in E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. Or Lindsay Lohan, seemingly in rehab after every movie.

The Potter kids have avoided Hollywood partying and have stayed clean in England, where a voracious celebrity media unearths every transgression. So they must be doing something right.

“Chris Columbus deserves huge credit in casting who he cast,” says producer David Hayman, who attributes it to good instincts and better luck. The core trio was chosen by the American filmmaker, who directed the first two Harry Potters.

“They were obviously not the only choices he had. These were the choices he made and I am forever grateful to him for that.”

The soft-spoken Yates praises his young stars. “They are remarkable children, really,” he tells Sun Media. “They are very down-to-earth. They are very gifted. They are lovely kids. So it is a very special talent to be able to choose them. That’s why I’m going to buy him (Columbus) a pint … or two.”

Their professionalism is also shown in their commitment to the new Order of the Phoenix DVD, in which they exceed normal expectations and provide fans with solid insights into the history of the franchise.

“I don’t think the franchise, in a way, needs any justification because it is such a leviathan of a thing anyway,” the 18-year-old, London-born Radcliffe tells Sun Media in a shared interview on the Half-Blood set. “Things don’t get that big without merit.

“But, I suppose, it (extra work on the DVDs) is almost to prove to people that we are, in fact, taking this very seriously. More seriously than people would probably assume. I took it very seriously when I was 11 and (growing up in the Harry Potter role) I’ve taken it more and more seriously.

“So, to me, it’s just about letting people know that I’m incredibly serious and passionate about this — this series of films — and how much they mean to me. If you’ve been involved in something for more than seven years now, you want to be able to talk about it articulately and explain why you love it, explain why you loved being involved in it so much.”

Growing up on screen as Hermione Granger has been strange for the 17-year-old Watson, who was born in Paris but raised in England.

“It’s funny because it happened to me when I was so young,” Watson tells Sun Media. “You barely notice yourself growing up when it’s happening, but I guess that’s what has happened, really. It’s very peculiar looking back on them and seeing how much I’ve changed and how much I’ve grown and what I looked like before all this happened.

“But, in a way, that’s what people really identify with. It makes it a real journey — a very real journey — because we literally are growing up with the characters.”

The razor-sharp Watson respects the profound themes that author J.K. Rowling has woven into the text of the seven Potter books, themes transported to the films.

“For such mainstream entertainment, it has such depth. It is very complex. That’s why I wouldn’t just call it a kids’ book. I would call it an adults’ book as well because it genuinely can be read by all ages.

“Everything about the book, everything about J.K. Rowling’s world, is thought down to the very last detail. You can pull apart the spells and they’re Latin and they actually mean what they’re doing. And all the names are so interesting and they’re unique and different and everyone has their own history. How she’s come up with all of this is just amazing.

“At the end of each book, it’s almost like an Aesop’s Fable. Every time, every year, there is a lesson that Harry learns, so that the reader in turn learns.” With no lectures. “Exactly! So it doesn’t feel tiresome.”

As for acting in the future, Watson is now keen. “I did a film for the BBC, called Ballet Shoes, in the summer. Having an experience outside of Harry Potter really helped me. I think it convinced me that this is where I am meant to be and this is what I’m meant to be doing: That I do want to be an actress.

“But I think I needed to have an experience outside of Harry Potter because, in a way, I was really plucked out of obscurity and given this role. I mean, I really wanted it but it never felt like a decision that I made. It just happened to me. I felt that I won the lottery. So I’ve always kind of slightly questioned it.”

The 19-year-old Grint, a local lad from the Hertfordshire town of Stevenage, has no such career doubts since playing Ron Weasley. Sort of. In his interview, Grint uses filler language such as “sort of”, “really” and “cool” repeatedly. And he loves the Harry Potter franchise.

“It’s just been an amazing experience,” Grint says. “I’ve enjoyed sort of every moment of it. It’s been wicked. It’s sad, really, because it does feel that it is coming to an end now with the seventh (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, due in 2010) on the way. It is nearly all over. I think I’m going to miss it. But I’ll just sort of move on after that.”

Each of the three has done other work, mostly movies, outside of Harry Potter. Radcliffe was also on stage (and naked) in a London revival of the play Equus, which he will debut on Broadway Sept. 18, 2008, for an extended run. Each young actor may be heading to a solid and long career.

“I think that’s a huge credit to the producers and a huge credit to their parents,” says Imelda Staunton, an Oscar nominee for Vera Drake and new to the franchise with Order of the Phoenix. She also credits the child stars for their own efforts.

“These kids have worked bloody hard for all these years, on set and off set in school. It’s bloody hard work for them and I think they’ve done it with great grace and ability and humility. They’re so professional. That’s what (you have to be.) There’s no time for messing about!”


Original article can be found here Winnipeg Sun I November 25, 2007

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