The Harry Potter franchise has shaped the imaginations of a whole generation. J.K. Rowling’s sweeping saga of the Boy Who Lived captured millions of hearts all over the globe ever since Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was first published in the U.K. back in 1997. The popularity of the Wizarding World grew even further thanks to the feature film adaptation released in 2001. All seven books have become international best-sellers, which in turn have been transformed into eight blockbusters on silver screens everywhere.
It’s no surprise then that the end of Harry’s story marked a bittersweet moment for everyone from the cast and crew to the diehard fans who have stuck with him and his friends through thick and thin. Sure, there have been endless spinoff movies and tie-in books, and Rowling certainly doesn’t shy away from dropping bombshell after bombshell. Yet as charming as beloved Hufflepuff icon Newt Scamander is, it’s still not quite the same as watching the golden trio grow up.
If your heart is still aching for more content from the Wizarding World, you could definitely reread all the books and marathon all the movies—we won’t judge you. But you could also dig into some behind-the-scenes footage and unveil a whole new world.
We’ve compiled a list of behind-the-scenes photos from the movies which are sure to shed some new light on the Harry Potter franchise for long-time Potterheads and newcomers alike. There are some spoilers for the main story and tie-in content, including The Cursed Child.
Here are 20 Behind-The-Scenes Photos That Completely Changed The Original Movies.
20 Nagini On A Stick
Fantastic Beats: The Crimes of Grindelwald got a lot of mainstream attention, being a Wizarding World movie with a star-studded cast. But it also sparked a lot of debate following the revelation that Nagini was, in fact, a human woman. At first, Nagini could turn into a snake at will, but as a Maledictus, she’s cursed to permanently become a snake.
Of course, such a blood curse doesn’t exist in real life. Instead, the team had to use a combination of CGI and practical effects to bring Nagini to life. Nagini is beyond imposing, even being able to possess humans, but here you can see that she’s really just a head on a stick on set.
19 Basilisk Head
Nagini is far from the only magical creature in the Wizarding World. A basilisk harmed students and faculty alike during Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, thanks to Tom Riddle opening the Chamber of Secrets. Not even ghosts were immune to its lethal stare when it slithered through the pipes of the castle.
This picture might not settle your queasy stomach completely—after all, the basilisk is still a gigantic and menacing monster—but it might ease some of your nightmares. Only the basilisk’s head was practical, mounted on a rig, while the rest of it was finished in post-production. With the crew standing right by it for scale, imagine how much havoc it would wreak if it were real!
18 Bellatrix And Harry Having A Blast
Bellatrix Lestrange has proven herself to be the most loyal of Voldemort’s followers. She’s shown absolutely no remorse whatsoever, and even had a secret kid with him named Delphini. She’s done so many horrific things that there’s really no way to list all of them. However, the most prominent example is probably taking Sirius’s life at the Ministry of Magic, making Harry resent her even more.
Fortunately, none of the animosity leaked into real life, as this sweet photo demonstrates. Sure, Hogwarts is literally crumbling behind them, but Daniel Radcliffe smiles as Helena Bonham Carter plants a smooch on his face. It’s a jarring sight for sure, especially since they’re both roughed up from the scene.
17 Voldemort Vs. Mario
Voldemort is without a doubt one of the most wicked villains to have graced pop culture. He asserts that Muggles and Muggle-born wizarding folk are inferior, he ruthlessly attacks anyone who dares to defy him, and he even tries to end the life of a literal infant in order to secure his power. It takes Harry a whole lot of effort and support in order to defeat the Dark Lord, but perhaps a humble Muggle hammer could’ve done the job, like in this behind-the-scenes look on set. It definitely would’ve shown him how mighty Muggles can be.
Maybe the Order of the Phoenix should’ve paged Mario and Luigi as the Wizarding World fell into ruin. Crossover with Nintendo, anyone?
16 Dumbledore's Green Thumb
Like pretty much every other character in the series, Dumbledore went through a whole lot of turmoil, to say the least. He lost his family, fell in love with the evil wizard Grindelwald, and lost his own life in order to help take down Voldemort. Before his unfortunate demise though, he found Marvolo Gaunt’s ring with the Resurrection Stone and was tempted to use it to revive his family. The curse on the ring almost ended Dumbledore’s life, but he was able to contain the effects and restrict it to his right hand.
Dumbledore’s withering hand was actually done with CGI, as evidenced by the green glove that Michael Gambon is wearing in this photo.
15 Hermione's Happy Place
With so many magical elements in the franchise, it’s no surprise that extensive CGI was needed to bring the Wizarding World to life on the big screen. In addition to creating the fantastical environments in the background, it’s used to breathe life into little magic moments.
While the use of green gloves for Dumbledore’s rotting hand is a little macabre, the gloves also appear in a whimsical scene in which Hermione returns books to their correct places in the library at Hogwarts. Apparently, librarians have one less task to worry about in the Wizarding World, since each volume flies to its place on the shelves. That also means there’s no excuse for students to just leave unused books lying around.
14 Two Bros Chillin' In The Ministry
Dumbledore was alive to see two of the most powerful dark wizards come to power, Grindelwald and Voldemort. He had a bitter personal history with Grindelwald, having regarded him as a friend and fallen in love with him, and he witnessed Tom Riddle’s fall into the Dark Arts. That being said, any hard feelings between the two seem to have been cleared up in this photo of Gambon and Ralph Fiennes.
They’re just casually chilling in the Ministry of Magic while filming the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, one of the first fights of the Second Wizarding War. It was a brutal conflict that caused many casualties, so it’s definitely a little odd to see Voldemort and Dumbledore having a nice chat.
13 Back To The Bike
The first time we actually meet Harry is soon after he survives Voldemort’s attack in Godric’s Hollow. Hagrid brings little baby Harry to the Dursleys’ residence at 4 Privet Drive in order to leave him in the care of his Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon. Although the couple has been more than toxic, living under their roof ensured Harry’s safety from Voldemort.
That’s why this behind-the-scenes photo from The Deathly Hallows is so heart-wrenching. During the Battle of the Seven Potters, the real Harry stuck with Hagrid and the pair used Sirius’s enchanted motorbike to transport Harry to safety. Harry had grown so much since the last time he and Hagrid were on the motorbike.
12 The Trio's Body Doubles
As talented and competent Harry, Hermione, and Ron are, their adventures are hardly the safest endeavors for three teenagers. (Seriously, what’s up with the poor safety measures at Hogwarts?) It stands to reason then that Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint clearly don’t do all of those dangerous stunts.
Instead, as with most movies, the trio have trained body doubles to step in for the more strenuous and difficult scenes to make sure everyone is as safe as they can be. Unfortunately, Radcliffe’s double David Holmes got a permanent spinal injury during a stunt for Deathly Hallows, but he has the full support of his castmates. This particular photo is from the set of Order of the Phoenix.
11 Hagrid The Rugby Player
The Golden Trio aren’t the only ones who needed body doubles on set. Robbie Coltrane’s stunt double was Martin Bayfield, a former rugby player. He not only performed as a stunt double for all eight of the movies, though. He actually played the younger version of Hagrid in the flashback in Chamber of Secrets.
But no amount of rugby training could ever make a human as big as Hagrid, a half-giant. So Bayfield had to don a ton of padding to fill out his costume. The end result is his normal-sized head sitting on top of a huge half-giant-sized body. Hagrid’s stature in the movies is definitely intimidating, but now that we’ve seen this picture? Not so much anymore.
10 The Whomping Willow
Despite having stunt doubles to take on the more strenuous scenes, the cast still did as much of the physical work as they could handle. For Radcliffe and Watson, that included the adrenaline-pumping scene at the Whomping Willow near the end of The Prisoner of Azkaban.
The two tried to pursue Ron, who’d been abducted by Sirius in Animagus form and taken to the Shrieking Shack. They ultimately succeeded in getting past the Whomping Willow, but not without getting some a few hits here and there.
Thankfully, Watson and Radcliffe were both on wires, with Watson hanging onto a single tree branch. The rest of the tree and background was completed with the magic of CGI.
9 Harry With Gills
As if having the constant threat of Voldemort’s return looming over him wasn’t enough, the Triwizard Tournament threw Harry’s life into further chaos in The Goblet of Fire. It’s even worse for Harry, considering he’s under the age limit and didn’t enter his name into the competition in the first place. Fortunately, with the help of his friends, he survived each task, as well as Voldemort’s attempt on his life at the end of the last task.
Here, Radcliffe is being fitted with gills on his neck in preparation for the second task. All the contestants had different methods to breathe underwater and save their loved ones, and thanks to Dobby, Harry got some Gillyweed just in time.
8 But First, Coffee
There are a ton of sweets and treats in the Wizarding World. There’s butterbeer, chocolate frogs, and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Bean. Plus, who could ever forget those grand feasts in the Great Hall? We also know that coffee exists, since Harry and Cho had a bad coffee date at Madam Puddifoot’s Tea Shop, but the drink is hardly ever mentioned in any of the books otherwise.
That’s why it’s still so funny to see Bonham Carter holding a paper coffee cup in full costume as Bellatrix. To top it off, Warwick Davis can be seen in his Griphook get-up under an umbrella, completing this odd scene in which the Wizarding World meets our own universe.
7 Plastic Dobby
The Second World War was brutal, with Voldemort and his Death Eater minions terrorizing Muggles and wizarding folk alike. Many lives were lost during the fight to restore peace, including poor little Dobby, who always had Harry’s best intentions at heart even though he didn’t go about it the best way. (Also, let’s be real: “Dobby is a free elf” is a great meme.)
But maybe this behind-the-scenes picture will soothe your heartache a little bit. Instead of the life-like CGI we see on the screen, Dobby is portrayed by a sculpted white prop. That being said, it does make him look like he got petrified into stone and hits home that unfortunately the Wizarding World isn’t real.
6 Harry And McGonagall
We’ve all had that one teacher who seemed unnecessarily strict, yet in retrospect was one of the most caring and supportive teachers we’ve ever had. At Hogwarts, Minerva McGonagall has more than earned that reputation. She never showed Harry and his fellow Gryffindor students any favoritism despite being Head of Gryffindor House. She held her students to high standards, knowing how full of potential they were. Plus, she showed her badassery during the Skirmish at the Great Hall. McGonagall truly was the best choice to become Headmistress of Hogwarts after Voldemort’s downfall.
As a result, it feels like such a rare sight to see this picture of the inimitable Dame Maggie Smith smiling with Radcliffe on set.
5 Mr. Potter, I Don't Feel So Good
Aragog is pretty much Ron’s worst nightmare, but Hagrid loved the Acromantula all the way until the end of the giant spider’s life. As a young spider, Aragog was already the size of a Pekingese, and by the time he became fully grown, he was the size of a small elephant with eighteen-foot legs.
The biggest spiders in our universe are nowhere near as gargantuan as Aragog is. Instead of having the actors stare at a mound of green fabric for the Acromantula’s funeral, the crew had a practical prop on set. Even though it’s a fake spider and he’s technically deceased in this picture, Aragog can still make even the strongest of stomachs churn uneasily.
4 Thestrals At Hogwarts
Another magical creature that needed Muggle movie magic to bring to life is the Thestral. Thestrals get a bad rap because they’re invisible to humans who have never witnessed a passing. Plus, they do look super skeletal and ominous, and have a big appetite for raw flesh. However, the creatures have proven themselves to be gentle and loyal to those who show the same respect to them.
We first met the Hogwarts Thestrals at the same time as Harry, after he witnessed Cedric’s passing. Luna was there to reassure Harry that he’s not losing touch with reality, and in this picture, Evanna Lynch practices petting a Thestral. Except the bony beast is really just a sculpted head.
3 Where It All Started
It’s weird to think about how Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint are all around thirty years old now, especially because it feels like the whole world grew up with them as well as Harry, Hermione and Ron. But time flies, and this picture of the trio meeting for the first time is sweet beyond words.
The picture also really hits home just how young they were when they started this epic journey that would shape their lives and careers so dramatically, earning them places in millions of hearts. All three of these tweens have gone on to have fruitful careers after finishing up the Harry Potter movies, and it’s heartening to have a reminder that everyone starts somewhere.
2 The Gryffindor Gang
When you think of Gryffindors, your thoughts might immediately go to Harry, Hermione, and Ron. But plenty of colorful characters spend their time in the cozy common room guarded by the portrait of the Fat Lady. From Ginny to Seamus, from Dean to Katie Bell, the halls of Hogwarts wouldn’t have been the same without these boisterous Gryffindor students. It’s no wonder that even the most minor of characters have amassed considerable fanbases.
This photo posted with the Weasleys and Seamus is beyond adorable, even though it is a little jarring. There’s no mention of juice boxes or Diet Coke in Rowling’s writing, after all. But maybe Arthur got the kids some treats from his job in secret.
1 Cho And Cedric
Cedric Diggory’s demise is without a doubt one of the most heart-wrenching of the series, and that’s saying a lot considering how much loss is in it. The Hufflepuff golden boy truly had a kind soul, in addition to being a talented wizard, and treated Harry with kindness even as the school turned against him during the Triwizard Tournament.
Katie Leung and Robert Pattinson look like they’re having the time of their lives in this photo, taken while shooting the second task of the Tournament. It’s sweet that the cast clearly got along in real life, but it almost looks like a glimpse of what could have been had Cedric not met an untimely end.
What are your favorite behind-the-scenes photos from the Harry Potter movies? Tell us in the comments!