When readers and audiences dig into a Harry Potter book or movie, they tend to bury themselves far past the point of escape. J.K. Rowling has manufactured genuine magic in her series, and the titular boy wizard has manifested himself into pop culture. In fact, it’s as much about magic as it is about perfecting a kind of narrative science.
Harry’s an icon. In The Sorcerer’s Stone, McGonagall explains that “every child in our world will know his name,” and that’s just as true within the books as it is outside of them.
With all of that being the case (for fans, obsessive and casual alike, the magic isn’t easy to penetrate from the inside out. Once Rowling’s prose or that John Williams score has you in its grip, there’s no escape. Still, though—especially in the world of Harry Potter— nothing is impossible.
When making a movie, the suspension of disbelief only really ever comes to life in the editing booth. Before that, catching a glimpse at a movie’s production is the equivalent of peeking behind the wizard’s curtain in Emerald City. Once you see that the magic is nothing more than the product of gears and pulleys, the magic tends to peel away.
Keep reading to check out 15 Behind-The-Scenes Photos That Ruin The Harry Potter Movies.
15. The Two Potters
As much as Potterheads might love to believe that Daniel Radcliffe is actually enduring the same sort of physical strain that Harry Potter himself endured, production would never allow for it. Not only would insurance be a nightmare, but running the risk of damaging your main star isn’t especially wise.
To keep everyone happy, he’s equipped with a stunt double to potentially get hurt so that he doesn’t have to.
While this is the norm in movie-making, there’s something kind of disheartening about seeing The Boy Who Lived— the wizard who is meant to be so extraordinary that he alone can defeat the most powerful villain around—having a human airbag at his side to take the blows meant for him. It doesn’t really instill much confidence in his abilities to be the sole victor over Lord Voldemort.
14. The Basilisk Loses Its Head
No matter how scary any beast— real or fictional— may seem, it’s nothing without a properly functioning body. Yes, it’d be terrifying to be stuck in the company of a wild animal, but a wild animal without the means to attack removes any shred of danger. If it can’t catch you, it can’t hurt you.
In The Chamber of Secrets, the Basilisk has more than proven its scariness. A giant snake that can kill you with little more than a stare? No, thanks.
Still, the moment you’re taken out of the scene and see that this creature is nothing more than a giant prop attached to some complicated machinery. What’s even more underwhelming is that it’s just a head. If you can’t find it in yourself to escape the clutches of a mechanized prop head that comes with an on/off switch, then you may want to reevaluate your own personal demons…
13. Draco and Harry Getting Friendly in the Fiendfyre
As horrible as Draco Malfoy may be to Harry Potter (as well as to everyone else, for that matter), he’s no monster. Even when he’s tasked with killing Albus Dumbledore, he can’t find it in himself to go through with it.
Sure, he has one of the most hittable faces ever pressed onto celluloid, but at the end of the day, there’s a twinkle of goodness at his core. Even though he nearly kills everyone, including himself, in the Room of Requirements after setting off some uncontrollable fiendfyre, Harry saves him, scooping him up on his broom and flying away to safety.
On camera, this moment was epic. During production, however, this moment was painfully awkward. Both actors are definitely trying to sell the moment, but any sense of actual danger disappears pretty quickly once you realize that these two were just propped atop a piece of clunky machinery against a blank backdrop.
12. Hands-Free Hermione
One of the most satisfying aspects about magic in the Potterverse is how simplified it makes everything seem. Between Molly Weasley’s automated sewing needles to Rita Skeeter’s self-writing quill, the ease of life that magic brings makes audiences just as jealous as they are fascinated. Once they get a glimpse of life behind the scenes, though, that fascination may dwindle substantially.
Hermione stacking books in the library by doing little more than aiming a book at its spot in the shelf and releasing it into the air seems like a dream clean-up ability, but the reality is much creepier than it lets on. During production, people wearing green gloves merely stuck their hands out of the shelves and took the books from her, only to disappear on account of some digital touch-ups. In reality, this is more Labyrinth than leviosa.
11. The Goblet of Giggles
With or without the Harry Potter franchise, the late Alan Rickman was synonymous with classic movie villains – even Snape isn’t technically a villain, but he definitely rocks some villainous vibes. He was Hans Gruber in Die Hard, the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street; so, yeah, the guy knew how to rock a scowl. And as Severus Snape, it’s no different.
When you catch a glimpse of Rickman behind the scenes, however, you pay the price of ditching your suspension of disbelief— you know, seeing as Rickman wasn’t actually a monster when the camera’s stop rolling. In The Goblet of Fire, the sight of him laughing with co-star Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint may seem endearing, but it also ruins the years of animosity that have brewed between the three of them.
10. The Goblins Facing Off
While the goblins in Harry Potter may seem off-putting at times and tad bit creepy, that’s not to say they deserve to have their faces draped over mannequins on shelves. Alas, such was their fate once the Making of Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tours came to fruition. Once upon a time, they scared young viewers while working at Gringotts Wizarding Bank on Diagon Alley; now, they exist on display for gawking eyes.
Honestly, the Studio Tours as a whole kind of ruin all the magic in the Harry Potter movies. Exciting though it might be for fans to get a glimpse of the series’ behind-the-scenes magic, that very magic ironically doesn’t stand a chance at survival once it’s been seen.
9. Daniel and the Dolly
By the time Harry, Ron, and Hermione make it to their 7th year at Hogwarts, they never even get the chance to attend. Between Voldemort seizing control over the school and the trio on the hunt for the remaining Horcruxes, ordinary school studies seem irrelevant. Also, the fact that they’re evading Voldemort’s cronies is also reason enough to ditch classes.
In The Deathly Hallows, audiences see the trio scaling the UK so as to evade capture; and every so often, they run into trouble, outrunning Snatchers.
When you catch a glimpse of these chase sequences from a “behind-the-scenes” angle, however, any shred of tension is gone. You don’t see Harry Potter outrunning Death Eaters, but a camera crew trying to keep up with Daniel Radcliffe on a dolly. Is he still running out of breath? Yeah. Is it still suspenseful? Not really.
8. Harry Potter and the Temporary Truce
The duel between Albus Dumbledore and Lord Voldemort in Order of the Phoenix was long overdue. Having known each other for decades – back when Voldemort was just a boy named Tom and before Dumbledore had yet to reach Gandalf-style beard length – their relationship had done nothing but wither into chaos. When they finally draws their wands at one another, “epic” is putting it lightly. Had Voldemort not wimped out, it might have been a battle to the death— but alas, such is the M.O. of most bad guys.
When you see the two actors who play both characters casually chatting between takes, however, all those years of budding chaos go down the proverbial drain. Now, instead of being two powerful enemies, they’re seasoned actors Ralph Fiennes and Michael Gambon, respectively, chatting in full wardrobe, and appearing to enjoy each others’ company very much.
7. Hermione’s Doppelgänger Posse
Hermione Granger can do anything. That’s the basic takeaway from the Harry Potter series. She’s inherently intelligent, but also always prepared to put in the extra hours of studying to learn more on a subject in which she’s already well-versed. In fact, her perseverance even keeps her ahead of the curve when it comes to self-defense, seeing as she’s actually done the homework to perfect her proficiency with a wand.
Unfortunately, when you see her sitting around three of her stunt doubles on set, those abilities seem slightly less potent. Audiences imagine that Hermione can handle anything, but when it turns out that she actually has doubles taking over for all of her dirty work, her skills seem slightly less impressive. Her resilience feels significantly more watered down.
6. Daniel in the Deep
When Harry is tasked with saving Ron from the bottom of the Great Lake, the journey is a dangerous one. Sure, Dumbledore wouldn’t let any actual harm come to his students (Cedric Diggory’s death was a fluke), but fighting off against a swarm of Grindylow in the murky depths of a danger-infested lake isn’t without certain dangers.
In The Goblet of Fire, Harry is isolated during his dive, doing all that he can to not only complete the task and save Ron, but keep himself from harm’s way as well.
As it turns out, though, the Great Lake isn’t a lake at all, but a pool lined with a blue chroma key background. He’s not surrounded by Grindylow, but by a camera crew wearing SCUBA gear. Daniel Radcliffe still had to hold his breath, but he was hardly at risk of any actual harm.
5. Hogwarts students are looking rough
When Albus Dumbledore makes his yearly announcement to the students at the beginning of term in Hogwarts’ Great Hall, it’s a sight to behold. The old wizard has seen it all, so the fact that dedicates so much of his time to educating budding wizards on school protocol makes such a simple task seem kind of epic. He’s a hero in the wizarding world. He’s a celebrity. Even as a member of the audience, the sight is compelling.
Seeing as Dumbledore is actually not addressing the students at all, but the film crew, the moment feels duller, less intimate, and absolutely less magical. There’s something kind of dry and disappointing seeing him waste a good speech on a bunch of tired crew members— deserving a solid speech though they may be.
4. Fake Harry. Stunt Hagrid. So Many Questions.
Most people are (well aware that Robbie Coltrane isn’t actually as tall as Rubeus Hagrid. He’s playing a character, and with some simple movie magic, audiences can be led to believe that Coltrane is actually a half-giant wizard without a single shred of doubt. Still, though, seeing him out of costume seated beside a stunt double in a half-giant Hagrid suit doesn’t feel right. What’s worse is that the double is holding a dummy of Harry Potter, and Coltrane is gently rubbing its chin.
Hagrid may have been wrongly accused on several occasions (one time leading to his expulsion from Hogwarts, and another sending him off to Azkaban prison), but this is really the one time where he can be unquestionably proven guilty. That is to say, guilty of being the cause of layered creepiness.
Voldemort is supposed to represent nothing but evil in the Harry Potter series. He was bred out of evil, grew up fascinated with evil, and spent adulthood perfecting his evil. In the movies, he’s played by Ralph Fiennes with utter perfection. Even though he may not be as loud or as manic as someone like Jack Torrance or Freddy Krueger, he’s still just as menacing.
On set, however, the menace takes a back seat.
Fiennes is a charming thespian, goofing around with members of the crew to pass the time between takes, so if you ever wanted to maintain that sense of dread, you’re better off avoiding behind-the-scenes photos from this series altogether. Plus, the fact that you can see his nose makes Voldemort that much less legit.
2. Artificial Send-Off
Most people would be more than happy to see a dead spider. Arachnophobia is as real as any other fear, so the presence of any live eight-legged creatures is reason enough for panic. Still, considering the fact that Hagrid’s friend Aragog just so happened to be a spider, his death makes for a genuinely somber moment in the series. Harry, Hagrid, and Slughorn stand beside the giant creature, with Slughorn reciting a brief eulogy, and tears are shed.
Take away the digital effects, though, and all you have is a creepy prop, some actors, and a blue screen.
1. “Minerva, Don’t Look, But I Think the Muggles Have Found Us”
In the very first scene of the very first Harry Potter movie, Dumbledore and McGonagall share some words while strolling down Privet Drive in Little Whinging, Surrey. It sets the stage for the entire, decade-long series to come, and it’s as intimate as it is simple – even with the eventual arrival of a flying motorcycle. So, when you consider the fact that they weren’t alone, but surrounded by crew members with two dollies rigged up on either side of them, the intimacy is broken.
They suddenly don’t seem like two characters that readers have been longing to see on screen, but two award-winning actors dressed up like cosplayer,s giving it their all despite the nosy onlookers. Not even John Williams’ “Prologue” track can return this moment to its former glory— not from this angle at least.
Did these pictures changed the Harry Potter movies for you? Let us know in the comments!
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