The Harry Potter movies were being filmed for over ten years, and during that time, we were treated to tons of behind the scenes footage of our favorite cast members messing around and generally being adorable on set. From what we saw, everyone on set, cast and crew alike, got along.
That said, ever since the last movie was released, a number of fascinating stories have surfaced about some of the antics that went on off camera. Since this is a near-perfect and closely-knit cast, most of the drama was on the light side, but there were some moments that teetered on the edge of disaster.
While the movies came out years ago, the Harry Potter fandom is the gift that keeps on giving with the opening of several Wizarding World theme parks and the release of The Cursed Child over a year ago, as well as the Fantastic Beasts movies.
Since the Harry Potter fandom is still alive and well, those involved with the production of the Harry Potter films always have new behind-the-scenes tidbits to share with the fans-- and we’re here to eat it all up – the good and the bad.
With that said, here are the 15 Secrets You Didn't Know Behind The Making Of Harry Potter.
15 Daniel Radcliffe Wasn't Right On Set
Imagine being cast in a big franchise movie at the age of eleven and being thrust under the spotlight for over a decade. The amount of scrutiny that Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint faced during their years filming the Harry Potter movies was enormous, but no one faced more scrutiny and pressure than the star of the film.
Any time that Radcliffe did anything that was considered even the tiniest bit “problematic” or “too adult” for an actor portraying the hero of a children’s story, his name was splashed across every tabloid.
According to Radcliffe, the constant spotlight was what drove him to showing up on set after drinking a little too much.
14 Steven Spielberg Turned Down Directing The Sorcerer’s Stone
While most fans agree that the casting choices for Harry Potter were nearly perfect, some fans had issues with a number of the directors chosen to helm the movies over the years.
One director who was initially approached to direct the first movie was Steven Spielberg. He spent several months developing the film and even considered making it an animated series, but ultimately he chose to drop out of production.
Spielberg said that doing Harry Potter would have been like “shooting ducks in a barrel” since it was a guaranteed hit. He explained that he wanted to work on a project that was more challenging and one that touched him in some way. He went on to direct A.I. starring Haley Joel Osment instead.
13 There Was Some Bad Blood Between Helena Bonham Carter and Emma Thompson
In the early '90s, Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh were a heavy-hitting power couple. The two split after six years of marriage when Thompson learned that Branagh and Helena Bonham Carter were having an affair.
Apparently, the two began their affair on the set of Mary Shelley’s 1994 Frankenstein – Thompson and Branagh divorced the following year.
While there was originally some bad blood between the two actresses, Thompson shared that the two had “made [their] peace years and years ago,” so it would be safe to assume that there was no on-set drama between the two of them.
She also said that, upon reflection, she could see why Branagh loved both of them, as the two women are “slightly mad and a bit fashion-challenged.”
12 J.K. Rowling Had To Fight For McGonagall
Movie adaptations are tricky. It’s impossible to please every fan-- inevitably, someone’s going to be upset about the exclusion of a certain character or missing scenes that seemed integral to a character’s development. Although she didn’t write the screenplays for the Harry Potter films, J.K. Rowling remained an invaluable source during the writing process.
On several occasions, Rowling overrode some of the changes that the screenwriter, Steve Kloves, wanted to make for the movie. One change was the duel between McGonagall and Snape in The Deathly Hallows Part 2.
Kloves wanted to replace McGonagall with Harry, thinking the confrontation between Snape and Harry would add more weight to the scene when Harry learns about Snape’s tragic past and his former Professor’s love for his mother.
However, Rowling thought it was important to give McGonagall her moment and to have her take an active role in the fight.
11 The Actor Playing Crabbe Was Fired
As many fans noticed, Vincent Crabbe’s character was replaced in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows with Blaise Zabini, another Slytherin from Draco’s year. While Blaise’s character appeared in the books, he wasn’t originally in the Room of Requirement scene.
Jamie Waylett, the actor who played Crabbe, was meant to appear in the scene, but he was not asked to return to the franchise since he got arrested in 2009 for growing some illegal substances.
Although he was already removed from the cast, in 2011 he was arrested again for stealing from a supermarket during the London Riots. It seems that the troublesome Slytherin actor was equally troublesome off-set.
10 Helena Bonham Carter Gravely Injured Matthew Lewis
One of Helena Bonham Carter’s most endearing qualities is how she completely immerses herself in her roles, particularly her more eccentric and larger-than-life roles.
While fans might take issue with some of the casting choices for the Harry Potter films, nearly all fans were in agreement over the casting of Bonham Carter as the mad Bellatrix Lestrange.
Unfortunately, in one of her more engrossed moments, she took things a little too far and accidentally perforated Matthew Lewis’s eardrum. The injury happened when her character was supposed to be threatening Neville with her wand.
As Bonham Carter explains it, “By mistake, I poked him in his ear. I thought I could brandish the wand like a sort of Q-tip, and clean out his ear. Sort of torture it. But unfortunately he moved toward the wand as I was prodding it.” Apparently, Lewis was so nice that he didn’t tell her how bad it was until days later.
9 The Studio Cut Madam Hooch’s Character Because They Were Stingy
The first Harry Potter movie had a number of iconic scenes, one of them being Harry’s first flying lesson. Moviegoers were introduced to flying by Madam Hooch, the Hogwarts flying instructor and Quidditch referee.
Although her character appeared throughout the rest of the series in the books and remained one of the more prominent professors within the novels, the actress playing Hooch only appeared in The Sorcerer’s Stone.
According to Zoe Wanamaker, the actress who played Hooch, Warner Bros. was incredibly stingy with her salary. In an interview, she said that the studio would have to “up their rates” if they wanted her in the second movie.
Clearly, Warner Bros. didn’t think that her character was important enough to increase her wages and her character was written out of the franchise.
8 It Was Going To Have An American Cast
While plenty of British actors play American characters, the reverse is less common. Few American actors take on roles where they need to don an English accent.
However, when you’re casting for a surefire blockbuster like Harry Potter, you’d probably want to cast well-known actors who’ll bring in even more audience members and, in turn, revenue. With that in mind, many of the actors originally considered for main roles in the franchise were American.
One of the biggest names that was attached to the first movie was Robin Williams. Apparently, he was Warner Bros.' first choice to play Hagrid, but J.K. Rowling was adamant about keeping the cast primarily British.
While Robin Williams's take on the role would have undoubtedly been a treat, the role ultimately went to Robbie Coltrane who, for many, is the perfect Hagrid. Another American actor who was considered for a role in the first film was Liam Aiken, who was Christopher Columbus’s first pick for Harry.
7 Alan Rickman And Jason Isaacs Tried To Steal Props From The Set
According to Jason Isaacs, Alan Rickman was a pro at stealing items from set. Apparently, on the first day of shooting on the Gringotts’s set, Rickman pilfered a ton of coins from the Goblin bank without a single person batting an eye.
Emboldened by his costar’s success in stealing Warner Bros. property, Isaacs’ eyes settled on a copy of the Daily Prophet, one of the thousands copies available on set.
Isaacs approached director David Yates and asked if he could take one of the copies home. Yates said he could, but when Isaacs tried to leave the studio with the Prophet in his bag, a setworker said that Yates wanted the prop back. Isaacs described the exchange as embarrassing, especially since he got nothing out of it.
6 We Almost Got A Green-Eyed Harry And A Buck-Toothed Hermione
Warner Bros. has gotten a lot of criticism for not making the characters more accurate to the books, but some fans might not be aware that the studio initially tried to give Harry green eyes and Hermione buck teeth from the very start of filming.
The first scene shot for The Sorcerer’s Stone was actually the movie's final scene where the trio are saying their goodbyes as they board the Hogwarts Express. If you look closely, you’ll see that in several shots, Radcliffe is wearing green tinted contacts and Watson is wearing a set of false teeth.
Unfortunately, the two actors, who were children at the time, experienced much discomfort with their respective modifications. Radcliffe had an allergic reaction to the contacts, and Watson had trouble speaking with her false teeth. Ultimately, the filmmakers decided that it wasn’t worth the trouble.
5 Alan Rickman Didn’t Let The Cast Come Near His BMW
When you’re filming with a group of young actors for over a decade, you can’t really expect them not to mess with your stuff, not even when you’re a revered thespian like Alan Rickman.
For whatever reason, during the filming of The Goblet of Fire, Rupert Grint and Matthew Lewis were in one of Rickman’s older cars and they managed to spill a milkshake in said car.
Some time later, Rickman got an upgrade and bought himself a new BMW. Once filming for The Order of the Phoenix started, Rickman forbade Grint and Lewis from coming within 5 meters of his car, no doubt fearing that the young actors would again spill something in his new wheels.
There was no official ban on set, but we’re certain that Rickman was able to intimidate the actors from staying away.
4 Daniel Radcliffe Broke 80 Wands During Filming
For any given production, a props department will usually build several copies of one prop. Some are used for closeups and others are meant to be used as backups just in case the original prop gets damaged. The same applies to costumes. For example, during filming, Daniel Radcliffe reportedly went through 160 pairs of Harry’s glasses.
He also went through nearly 80 wands, and a quick glance at some behind the scenes footage of Radcliffe filming shows us exactly why he needed so many wands.
Apparently, Radcliffe was slightly fidgety on set and liked to use his wand as a drumstick. He’d repeatedly tap his wand against a number of surfaces, and, over time, his wands would break. Luckily, the props department was on it, and they always had a backup one at the ready.
3 There Was A Lice Outbreak During The Filming Of The Chamber Of Secrets
While filming was taking place for The Chamber of Secrets, there was an outbreak of head lice on set. It spread through most of the young cast members and even hit some of the adults.
Lice can be spread in a number of ways, such as direct contact with a carrier, but another way lice is spread is through the sharing of combs and brushes. Perhaps some of the members of the hair and makeup department used the same tools for several of the actors, unknowingly spreading the parasites.
We’re not certain how many members of the cast had lice, but it was widespread and severe enough that they had to halt production until every cast and crew member were free of the parasites.
2 Rupert Grint Ignored Alfonso Cuarón’s Directions
Probably one of the greatest behind-the-scenes stories from Harry Potter is when Alfonso Cuarón, the director for The Prisoner of Azkaban, asked the main trio, Daniel, Emma, and Rupert to write an essay describing their characters.
The essay was meant to help the actors further explore their characters and give them some insight that might be useful during filming.
True to their characters, Emma wrote a long, detailed 16-page essay, Daniel wrote a brief, but deep and insightful one-page essay, and Rupert didn’t write an essay at all, reasoning that Ron would blow off the assignment.
He told Cuarón that it was “Ron-ish” not to do it. Clearly, the actors had a perfect understanding of the characters, and this proves it.
1 Alan Rickman Disagreed With Directors About Snape's Portrayal
Everyone knows that Alan Rickman was the only actor in the Harry Potter movies who knew the truth about Snape’s loyalties. J.K. Rowling told Rickman about his love for Lily Evans early on, long before The Deathly Hallows book came out. According to Rowling, she told the actor “what lies behind the word 'always.’”
Since Rickman knew of Snape’s true nature, he would often shoot down directors who told him to do something that he knew his character wouldn’t do.
According to David Heyman, the producer of the movies, there were several instances when Rickman would say something similar to, “No I can't do that — I know what is going to happen and you don't” when he was given a direction that he disagreed with. In true Snape fashion, he kept his character’s secret until the truth about Snape was revealed to the masses.
Do you have any behind-the-scenes secrets of Harry Potter to share? Let us know in the comments!
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