Last October I published my set visit to Leavesden Studios for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, which you can see here. I am happy to say that I am now able to publish the rest of the set visit that pertains to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, including a scene I watched being filmed.
This is my one and only warning for spoilers. I did not hold back on anything, so if you do not want to be spoiled, then I suggest you not read the rest.
It was March 2010 when a group of us from different Harry Potter fansites and media outlets were taken to Leavesden Studios just north of London near Watford. Our visit took place on the 224th day (of over 300 days) of filming. It was a bit chilly, and I was a bit stressed out and nervous. Nervous because I was going to see the Harry Potter film sets and interview many of the stars and crew of Harry Potter. Stressed because I had lost my iPhone in the middle of London (which I thankfully found the next day).
The buildings are surrounded by a large area of grass and small hills. The warehouse-like building we enter has many areas cordoned off to separate areas. The ‘room’ we’re taken into almost appears to be a tent. The inside walls had many photos plastered to them. Outside of these walls come sounds of banging, whizzing, and small construction vehicles being driven.
Many of the photos on the walls were from the first film (read about those here). Those from Part 2 include:
- Ron holding Hermione with Griphook who is holding the Gryffindor sword
- A close up of Ron holding Hermione whose eyes are closed
- Bill and Olivander (who is holding a wand)
- Dumbledore’s brother, Aberforth, who is sitting at a table with a drink
- The trio with a short-haired Neville Longbottom – he’s much taller than the trio – and they are behind Ariana’s (Dumbeldore’s younger sister) portrait
- Ron and Hermione getting ready to kiss while in the Chamber of Secrets – Rupert truly shows the love that Ron has for Hermione in this picture – it makes my heart feel good
- Harry getting ready to put a memory in the Pensieve that is located in what is now Snape’s office
- The Marauder’s map
- The Ravenclaw Diadem
The first of the actors we get to meet is the one and only Dan Radcliffe. He had not originally been scheduled to film that day, but wanted to make sure we were able to meet with him so he took the trip (about a 45 to 60 minute drive) out to the studio so we wouldn’t miss him. Such a nice guy!
He enters looking very handsome in a blazer, a buttoned shirt, and jeans. He marvels at the room stating that it had been quite some time since he’d been in there and he’s always excited to see what was new with the displays.
When asked about the differences between the two films, he says that he feels they have a good balance. “If it’s right it should have a very good balance. The action sequences are pretty much non-stop. But that shouldn’t, and I don’t think will, over power the characters of the story.”
He’s questioned about the budding romance between Harry and Ginny and any kissing they’ll share. We’ve seen one of those kisses in the first film, in which a sly George peeks in on and, of course in typical Weasley twin fashion, has to make an, erm, nod to. He admits that there’s more kisses to come in the second film during the battle. “It’s done in a less dramatically way. It’s done during a time when they may not see each other again, and I suggested that it be done quickly because there’s not a lot of time. So, the relationship does blossom and eventually she becomes my wife.”
There’s a point in the story when Harry separates from Ron and Hermione, feeling he must complete certain missions on his own. For instance, he must get to the Pensieve to see one of Snape’s memories and find the Ravenclaw Diadem (one of the Horcruxes).
“Harry kind of splits from Ron and Hermione and you follow the story separately. I don’t actually know how long it will end up being between the time of finding the Diadem and the ultimate fight with Voldemort. You certainly won’t notice the time go by. The action is really non-stop. You won’t really have time to think about the pacing it’ll just be happening to you.”
That scene in the woods and actually walking into the forest was one that I was looking forward to the most to film because I see it as one of the key moments in the film.
One of the big moments in the story is the chapter from Deathly Hallows called ‘The Forest Again’. This is an extremely emotional time for Harry. He’s figured out what to do with one of the Hallows. With it he can bring dead people back, and some of Harry’s loved ones do return to give him assistance. Dan explains that he was really excited to do this scene. “That scene in the woods and actually walking into the forest was one that I was looking forward to the most to film because I see it as one of the key moments in the film. Naturally, I came away feeling I didn’t do well enough. It’s very hard to judge how scenes like that went. I know I certainly gave it everything. Dave [Yates] and I worked very closely on this scene. It’s a funny thing when you put that much pressure on yourself, the whole day becomes, ‘This is the most important scene in the film,’ which kind of takes away from the objectivity, and it’s harder to judge what you’re doing.
Nagini offs him and it’s a great scene.
Another pivotal moments in the film is when Snape dies. This scene, along with the scene where Harry goes to the Pensieve and reveals Snape’s memory, really opens Harry’s eyes and shows him how much Snape actually did for Harry and why Snape did many of the things he did. It all comes together in a crashing reality for Harry. Everything Snape did he did for his love for Harry’s mother, Lily. Dan reveals that Snape’s death is not pretty. “We did it quite recently. It was pretty violent. Nagini offs him and it’s a great scene…there’s this great part in the film…the scene takes part in the boat house.” He looks around to see if a photo of the boat house is posted somewhere on the walls [it’s not]. “But we keep talking about the boat house.” He mimics like he’s speaking to someone, “I know where it is, it’s in the boat house.” The boat house? “We’ve never talked about a boat house in the other films. But that’s where it takes place and it’s a great set.”
He says that Alan Rickman (Professor Snape) does wonderful in the scene. “It’s a great scene and Alan plays it wonderfully and beautifully…all the stuff about [Harry’s] mother and it’s played as you would expect him to…It was a pleasure to see Alan give that performance.”
…people absolutely do amazing things for love and particularly for unrequited love.
When asked whether he feels Snape’s love for Lily adequately explains Snape’s actions and the risks he takes to help Harry, he answers, “I’m not in a position to judge, because I’m not in a place to feel those feelings, but presumably people absolutely do amazing things for love and particularly for unrequited love. I don’t think it’s the course of action everybody would take but it turns out to be very noble and one that I think Harry can completely understand Snape’s feelings towards him personally after what he sees in the pensieve.”
At the time of our visit, the Epilogue scene hadn’t been filmed yet, but when asked about it, Dan jokes a bit about what Ron will look like. He confirms they’ve gone the Mr. Weasley (Ron’s father) route saying, “He’s not missed too many lunches. I look like my dad, which is quite bizarre.”
This film has many more battle scenes than any of the other films. Dan says he doesn’t feel it’s much of a challenge to keep Harry’s character going during the battle scenes, as he feels people associate Harry with battles. He says that the physical aspect (the jumping, running, etc.) is actually a good thing, as it helps him to keep in character and he isn’t necessarily thinking about the lines. “This isn’t something I have to particularly change into a different mode for,” he explains. “You’re not busy being over critical and over analyzing, because you’re busy thinking about the more important stuff.”
When asked if there’s a point where he feels Harry becomes a man, Dan says he doesn’t really feel there is a point that Harry becomes a man, because he’s still 17 years old. Dan does believe there is one area, however, that Harry does come very close to being a man, saying, “He grows up hugely in this film, especially at the point in King’s Cross Station where he makes the decision with Dumbledore to go back rather than dyeing and going on to a peaceful afterlife. I suppose that is where he is the most grown up. But he is still a boy, which makes it so awful when Voldemort tries to kill him.”
…we had to be pulled out of the water because we were – Rupert in particular – absolutely purple.
He was asked about the scene in Part 1 where he jumped into the lake to get the Gryffindor sword. Rumor had it that he would be nude. He corrected the rumor to state he wasn’t nude, but was down to his shorts. He went on to explain that, for this scene, he was lucky, because it was done in the studio and the water was warm. However, in another scene, the water wasn’t heated, and he and Rupert were in for a big chill. “There was one day where me, Rupert, and Emma…it was a Friday – really not the way you want to spend a Friday – and we were outside…the shot was where we had just dropped off the dragon’s back into this lake, and we’re coming out of the lake explaining some of the back story, and as we’re explaining it, me and Rupert are stripping off our clothes and changing into dry clothes. Emma wasn’t changing in the shot, so she had a dry suit on under her costume, but we couldn’t since we had to change. We were absolutely – I mean, normally we don’t let this bother us – but we had to be pulled out of the water because we were – Rupert in particular – absolutely purple. We had to stop filming for about 50 minutes. It was one of those really – gaw – man, it was cold! That was a black Friday.”
He goes on to say, however, that normally they’re fine when doing these types of scenes and that they are rarely done.
Harry would really like to stay and just be absorbed by the ‘divine light’ that is surrounding him.
One of the scenes that many of the fans are looking forward to (and we have yet to see in any of the trailers) is the King’s Cross Station scene with Dumbledore. This is one of Dan’s favorite scenes. He said he had put a lot of pressure on himself during this scene. He said he didn’t do a lot of preparation as he doesn’t know what to do to prepare for the afterlife. He played it from the aspect that ‘this place’ (where Dumbledore was) was actually quite a nice place, and the place he had left (with all the violence) wasn’t very nice. He played it from the point of view that the place was quite nice and Harry would really like to stay and just be absorbed by the ‘divine light’ that is surrounding him. But that doesn’t happen because Harry has to return.
We then take a tour of the set and meet Nick Dudman who has been the Creature Designer of the Harry Potter films since the beginning of the films. We’re taken to his shop where the number of staff members ebbs and flows depending on the current scenes they’re working on.
One of the projects being worked on was the skin for the back of the dragon that escapes from Gringotts. It’s part of a machine that the trio will ride on. This is the only part of the dragon that isn’t digital. The polyurethane they were using to make the skin wasn’t quite safe for breathing purposes, so we only got a quick glimpse. But it was rather large.
The Fabrication Department is where they make body suits and where they make things that need to be added to people. This is also where the body suits for the trio will be made for the epilogue. For their body changes, they’re doing very subtle changes, including make-up, to help them age to their 30s. They’re going to make the girls a bit more ‘hippy’ and ‘busty’, and adding a bit of a tummy, because they’ve had kids. The boys on the other hand are slightly wider and heavier.
Dudman explains, “We’re doing lots of different changes so there’s no statement made. So that when you go into the story 17 or 18 years later, you’re not jarred. However you do realize something has happened.”
The good thing with Ron, you can actually be quite humorous.
When asked if Ron (Rupert) has put on a bit of weight, he said this is most definitely true. “When we first tested him, he rather took to the bodysuit and the stomach rather too well,” he explains with a smile. He continues, “The good thing with Ron, you can actually be quite humorous. However, with the girls we’ve got to be flattering. Dan can’t be humorous; he can’t be something that’s going to distract. So it’s actually quite difficult.”
“Make up wise,” he says, “is quite tricky as well. We do tiny little pieces, you know, like silicon eye bags – little silicon pieces. But it’s all got to be something that doesn’t make a statement or distracts you from the action in the story.”
He begins to discuss the many Goblins used during the Gringotts Bank scene. It was a huge task but they pulled it off. “So, all of the Gringotts goblins, there were 38 separate make-ups. For every day of shooting there were 38 separate forehead pieces, each a different sculpt. Every one of them has the hair [strands] put in individually. So, every day, that’s another 38 sets of eyebrows.”
Of course, to do all of this took a tremendous amount of work and people to accomplish. “We had teams just endlessly doing this,” he says.
He then shows us a completed Goblin face. “As you can see, the eyebrow hairs have been put in one at a time as the correct angle. So it all fits beautifully. But it’s all got to be the same for every day this character works so that they can cut from any day of shooting to any other day of shooting and it matches.”
To pull something off this large, especially with the large number of Goblins they used for the Gringotts scene, takes a huge amount of support. “We hit 158 [support] people for this, when we were doing the Goblin sequence. The bulk of the movie, we have 80.”
They used more Goblins than they have before, which, of course, took an extreme amount of work for the make-up department. “On this film, I decided we’d be extremely foolish and that we’d make as many full silicone makeups as we possibly could. I think we made 38, with about 22 background heads. The problem we get into is that it takes three people for each set of makeups. Those three people need a couple of assistants. And for each makeup, you need a hair dresser. So, this is how the crew ended up at 158. And everybody was in there [in the small make-up area]. It took a lot of arranging.”
The problem they ran into with using this many people was actually finding the qualified people to do this. They asked those who were already on the set to ask people they knew and for those people to find people they knew. They ended up with about 40. So they took 20 trainees and trained them over a year’s time to do just this make-up. But they still didn’t have enough support. So how did he find the people? He attended the International Make-Up Artist Trade Show in London and asked people there if they’d like to attend. So, they ended up with people from all over Europe (over 17 different nationalities) on their crew and had a fantastic time.
Then they all had to be trained, all the goblin actors had to be fed, they needed people who knew how to put in contacts, etc. “It was a logistical nightmare,” he said.
We then get to see the Voldemort baby. “We have a sequence in this movie at King’s Cross, where Harry basically has either died or been stunned, and there’s this thing underneath the bench that’s screaming and pulsing. In the book, it’s quite vague. Basically we think it’s what’s left of Voldemort’s soul. Now, in the book, you’re like, ‘okay, that’s fine, I’ll buy into that,’ but when you translate into what’s it’s actually going to be, we figured, since you’ve already seen this character in the fourth film as this revolting thing that’s been dropped into a cauldron and then becomes Ralph Fiennes [Voldemort], the logic was to go back to that, so that the audience will go, ‘Ah, little Voldemort,’ as opposed to, ‘God, what’s that under that bench?’”
The baby (I really hesitate to call it this because it’s really creepy looking and not like a, ‘Oh, what a cute baby’ kind of thing – it’s very nasty looking) is thin. They are testing its movements and it’s hooked up to many different wires looking like something hooked up to life support machines. Its head is moving back and forth and small thin arms are flailing. The skin is translucent and looks to have veins beneath it. The face is flat and snake-like, like the grown Voldemort. Very frightening.
We tested him inside an amniotic sac, covered in blood, with goop everywhere, and we’ve shot the scene, but without the close ups, and we’re going to do a series of tests, though I think he’ll end up quite bloody.
He discusses the different experiments they did for the baby Voldemort. “We tested him inside an amniotic sac, covered in blood, with goop everywhere, and we’ve shot the scene, but without the close ups, and we’re going to do a series of tests, though I think he’ll end up quite bloody.”
He explains how they operate the dummy. “He’s an android puppet. He’ll be operated from underneath the floor. He writhes and moves. His chest pumps and the eyes are compressed, and his jaw moves. His hands are mechanized as well, which is really tricky because with something this fine and small, you basically have to build the machine, the part that’s mechanized, and build it in the mold, and then pour the skin – the silicone – through the mold and seal it in there. If it works perfectly, then we’ll paint it. If it doesn’t, you have to strip everything off and clean everything. We have to make sure the silicone doesn’t flow into the machinery.”
To make something like this, of course, takes a great amount of time. “If you were making something like this from scratch, it takes about 3 to 4 months to complete. And that’s really motoring. The one good thing is that this has no hair.”
The dummy itself also needs painting to make it look real. The paint includes wrinkles in the skin to the blue veins.
We then head over to different areas of the set, including Dumbledore’s office. Apart from the Great Hall, Dumbledore’s office is the longest standing set. It was built during the second film. For this film, however, it had a re-dress, because it becomes Snape’s office. However, we see it as Dumbledore’s office because they had filmed a sequence from one of Snape’s memories in which Alan Rickman had been there to film the night before. The scene filmed was where Dumbledore and Snape discuss Snape’s love for Lily and Dumbledore asks Snape to look after Harry. While it’s dressed as Snape’s office, Dumbeldore’s portrait hangs high and looks over the entire office.
I get a chance to sit in Dumbledore’s chair. The cushion is lose and comes off easily. There are many books on his desk, including one titled “Household Words.” I go up the narrow stairs behind his desk. The stairs creek as I walk on them and I wonder how much weight they can take. The shelves along the stairs hold many different books and scrolls. I then make it up to the tower and look over Dumbledore’s desk. These are very cramped quarters – I must duck to not hit my head. The globe in this area is only partially completed – the completed portion faces toward the office. I head down the other stair way. There are more books. Some of the titles include, “The Dark Arts,” “Illegal Companion,” “A Witch’s Guide to the Use of Improper Magic,” and “Muggle Law, a Complete Guide.” The smallest details found here and there are completely amazing. Gryffindor’s sword is seen in a case high up on a shelf.
We are told that when the office belongs to Snape, the office is much darker, the books are black, and the tone is darker.
All of the portraits are complete. They don’t use any with green screen unless necessary for the scene (i.e. the portraits are moving).
We then enter the corridor, which they’ve named the Grey Lady corridor, where the scene was filmed with Dan and Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) and they find the Grey Lady and discuss Rowena Ravenclaw’s diadem.
Outside the entrance to the Great Hall, we see the stairway where Hermione had made her entrance in her gown for the ball during Goblet of Fire. The extra items we find in this area are the statues that McGonagall charms to come to life during the battle sequence. They’re massive and very impressive.
We are then taken to the Great Hall – the longest standing set. When we enter, there are animal trainers there with the Malfoy white peacock. We steer clear so not to interrupt the process and spook the beautiful bird.
The room, which at the time didn’t include the long wooden tables, is extremely large and cavernous. The floors are made of real York stone. There’s no ceiling, as CGI is used for this area. The walls are made to break away so that scenes can be filmed at certain angles. The candles seen during filming are real, but can only be burned for a certain amount of time for health and safety reasons. At full capacity, 350 children can fit into the room. The children fill the room, and when it’s their turn for a break or classes, they go out and the next 350 children come into the room. Quite an undertaking.
For the first two films, all of the food was real, including the turkeys, hams, and vegetables. Now they don’t use quite as much real food. Instead they use fiberglass props for the centerpieces (poor Ron!). The fireplace is so large that I, at 66 inches tall, can completely stand in it. It’s nearly 15 feet wide and the Hogwarts symbol is inside of it.
Where Dumbledore would normally stand at the head of the room, the wooden floor is very worn down. There are nicks in the floor where the staff tables normally stand and it creeks like it’s very old. The stained glass windows are actually painted. All of the statues on the walls, which represent each of the houses, have wings, including the snakes and badgers. There are secret panels along the walls so that, if there were an emergency, everyone can exit quickly and safely.
We then go to another area of the set where we see a man hand painting the hundreds of Hufflepuff cups that will end up multiplying in the Lestrange vault in Gringotts. He will also hand paint all of the other items that multiply in the vault.
There was also a large group of props that had been used for the Room of Requirement scene at the end of the film when the trio are searching for the Diadem. For this scene (the set is now taken over by the Ministry of Magic scene), there was an unimaginable amount of props filling all the way up to the ceiling (at least 25 to 30 feet high). They used props from all of the films, including Trelawney’s tea cups, library book shelves, suit cases, props from Mad-Eye Moody’s classroom, and much more.
We then enter the Room of Requirement which is much larger that I had imagined. We walk through the walkway that supposed to take us back to the Hog’s Head Pub entrance with Ariana’s portrait. Cots made of the Hogwarts sleeping bags are placed willy-nilly all over the floor along with books, clothes, and trunks. There are hammocks, with wooden ladders to get up to them, here and there. There are portable silver heaters, bowls, ropes to climb, book bags, other bags, a chess set, the Quibbler, shoes, a stack of Daily Prophets (Titles: Ministry Witch Still Missing; Minister of Magic Now Personally Involved), scarves and jackets hanging, tables with little boxes, chairs, Herbology books for Neville’s area, a Gryffindor towel, wooden flutes, pillows, a blackboard, and so many other items one might expect to find for the Hogwarts students who have taken on their parts in Dumbledore’s Army.
We return to the tent room to meet with Oscar award-winning Production Designer Craig Stuart, who gives us insight into Gringotts Bank and the boat house that Dan spoke of earlier.
The trio invade Bellatrix Lestrange’s family vault located in Gringotts Bank to get the Hufflepuff Cup which is one of the Horcruxes. This is a huge scene in the film and took a lot of creativity on Craig’s part. “They invade the bank and go into the cavern beneath the bank where they find this 64 foot dragon and eventually go to the Lestrange vault, where everything they touch multiplies and they practically drown in this swelling tide of treasure and jewelry.” He goes on the describe the rest of the scene, “Finally they’re caught by the goblins that run the bank and they escape on this dragon.”
Snape dies here, making it very atmospheric, looking out over the lake and the mountains, with the school in flames above.
He talks about Snape’s death scene and how Alan Rickman’s acting brought him to tears. “He’s just so good, isn’t he?” he says. “His death is so moving.”
They filmed this scene in a different location from the book, with J.K. Rowling’s permission. “Snape dies in the Shrieking Shack in the book, and it’s an interesting interior, but it somehow didn’t have the breadth and the romanticism that Snape’s death required. So we made something of the boat house that’s beneath Hogwarts. So we expanded it so it has a real sense of place. Snape dies here, making it very atmospheric, looking out over the lake and the mountains, with the school in flames above.”
Costume Designer Jany Temime enters next. She not a large lady, but somehow fills the room with her presence. She’s very passionate about her work and it comes through with the costumes she develops for the films.
One of the challenges she faced for Part 2 was when Hermione takes polyjuice potion in order to turn into Bellatrix Lestrange. Of course, Emma Watson (Hermione) has a completely different body style than Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix). So, this was very difficult for Jany. “The two bodies are very different. When the change occurred [once the potion was taken] you had to see a smooth transition,” she says. She went on to describe why she made the costume with a jacket to help with the transition. “That’s why I had the dress, with a sort of coat on top, you don’t really see the shapes, you just see the movement,” she explains.
She then describes how Helena watched Emma in the same costume and imitated Emma’s mannerisms. “First Emma wore the outfit, and she did good in it. After that, Helena wore it, and she was looking at Hermione walking in the same costume, and she started walking herself and became Hermione. It was amazing. She immediately picked up the way of walking and the way of behaving.” She says she truly liked the outfit as it wasn’t very specifically a Bellatrix type of style.
David Yates has directed most of the Harry Potter films. His first was Order of the Phoenix. On the red carpet for this film, he confirmed with me during my red carpet interview with him that he would like to continue filming the rest of the Harry Potter films. He ended up directing four of the eight Potter films with, thus far, great success.
For Part 2, he said he’d love to be able to shoot straight into the film, without a real set up. “The audiences have experienced 6 or 7 of these movies and they don’t need an intro, they don’t need a big bang…so the notion of shooting straight in I think is really fun.”
He wrote it without a beginning, which I thought was great because you’re just going, it starts, and you’re off.
He went on to say that screenwriter Steve Kloves wrote a first draft of the second part with this same spirit. “He wrote it without a beginning, which I thought was great because you’re just going, it starts, and you’re off.”
He said for the final battle, he wanted it to feel more in the moment rather than visceral, as he feels this has already been done before. “I feel doing it’s more fun this way and is more engaging, and you feel more involved,” he explains.
There’s a lot of intercutting during the battle scene where Harry is racing to find the Horcrux during Voldemort’s incursion into the school.
There are some extra scenes for the film they’ve added that aren’t in the book. He explains why they decided to add some of extra scenes, “It’s crazy that we’re adding things, when we’re always criticized for leaving things out. The adapting is really very hard, and sometimes you have to add two or three things to help with structure.”
This is evident in the trailers we’ve seen where Harry says to Voldemort, while standing on a ledge of a crumbled Hogwarts, “Come on Tom, let’s finish this the way we started – together!” Harry grabs Voldemort and then hurls them both together off of the ledge to what one would assume is their deaths. For those who have read the books, they know this is not how it ends, so the question still remains (until the movie comes out, that is) what is this extra scene all about?
Warwick Davis enters the room in complete make- up for Professor Flitwick. His wig is quite amazing and even sitting right next to him I can hardly tell it isn’t real. Such quality; I was quite amazed.
He says that, for that day, they hadn’t done much yet. He arrived at 3pm and spent the first few hours in makeup. Then they did some rehearsing and blocking for a big scene where they go from the Great Hall and out into the courtyard for the commencement of the battle.
I get some real wand action this time, which is really nice. I actually get to dispatch a few Death Eaters. I also put the shield around Hogwarts.
He’s excited that he gets to join some of the battle this time round, “I get some real wand action this time, which is really nice. I actually get to dispatch a few Death Eaters. I also put the shield around Hogwarts.”
He said he’s doing the scene with Maggie Smith (Professor McGonagall). “It’s a pivotal moment using these security measures that’s a last resort. We’re bringing the statues to life to come out and guard the perimeter. It’s a lockdown situation for Hogwarts, so it’s quite cool.”
He also had another role with this film. Warwick has his own agency for small people called Willow Personal Management Ltd., and his agency was used to fill the role of many short people as goblins in Deathly Hallows. “Indeed, I do have a third hat. That was a really great honor to be asked to provide 60 short actors to play goblins. It was also a great challenge. To try to find that many people who were at the height they were looking for and had the abilities, it was – dare I say it? – a tall order,” he jests.
He speaks of the challenges they went through to do such an endeavor, “I think it was the largest makeup job in the UK. They brought in makeup artists from all over to help. We had this huge marquee for this huge makeup room, but it went very smoothly. You know, it takes a tremendous amount of work to prepare before they’re [the masks] even used. Each hair is individually punched in which takes a day just to do that.”
He hasn’t yet filmed the scene for the vault, but had stated they had to make over 7,000 goblets for the vault for when they magically reproduce when touched. “The poor guy, he’s having to spray them in gold. I mean, I bet he sees them in his sleep. I mean they’re everywhere. You’d think, with CGI, we’re not going to see one goblet, but they are actually going to be 7,000 goblets.”
During the scene in which he is with the trio and enters Gringotts, his character is under the invisibility cloak, which was a different experience for him. “What was interesting is that I’m under the invisibility cloak with Harry in the bank, so on those days I didn’t have to be in makeup. I was there reading off lines, well, invisible lines, as it were, but I didn’t have to be in makeup, so it was quite a site to see.”
Matt Lewis shows up with a few scratches on his face. Of course, they’re just make-up. He says that during the battle, Neville will need about a pint more of blood to show just how beat up he gets. He said when they first started filming the battle scenes, he enjoyed getting dirty and grungy, but about 12 months later, it’s pretty boring.
He talks about how Neville kind of takes over Harry’s role as the unofficial leader of Dumbledore’s Army since Harry isn’t at Hogwarts. “He’s sort of barking out orders to people and telling them where to go. He’s sort of evolved into this leader, which I never thought he would end up doing. So, it’s really cool.”
He continues, “He’s watched Harry all these years as this leader and have so much courage, and as he’s seen Harry take on all these responsibilities, he’s realized that they’re not too dissimilar because they’ve both lost their parents when they were young. Neville starts to think he can do this, and when Harry leaves the school, Neville realizes it’s time for him to fill the breach and step into this responsibility.”
Matt believes that Neville is truly a good person, saying, “He’s always had a good heart, he’s always wanted to help people, but he’s never had the courage to do it. Now he thinks, ‘this is it, it’s now or never…we’ve got to fight this evil’ so if no one else is willing to do it, then he will.”
He’s going to miss the character a great deal. “The character was so brilliantly written, it wasn’t that hard to get into character. So, I am going to miss it. At the same time, I know it’s time to move on, and do something else.”
He said he’s not wearing the fat suit for this one as he’s thinned out for this film. “We’re trying to suggest that he’s living underground at Hogwarts and sort of being this long distance leader and hasn’t had time to eat,” he jokes.
He said holding Gryffindor sword was pretty cool, “Yeah, that was great, because he pulls it out of the [sorting] hat.”
He continues, “It was wicked, especially when we were with Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort). It was sort of all these feelings coming out at once. There’s the sword of Gryffindor, Voldemort, Ralph Fiennes…it was just really special. I’m going to see if I can nick that sword if I can at the end.”
He said that for future projects he’d really like to do a type of war film, especially something like Saving Private Ryan. However, there isn’t a particular genre he’s opposed to. He just wants to act.
He’s asked about a tattoo he has on his arm and whether he got in trouble for getting it. “No, I was a good boy and asked permission from (producer) David Barron. As a parent, he wasn’t happy, but he understood and said it was fine.”
He’s asked about his huge following on Twitter, “It’s a very odd thing, Twitter. I mean, it’s for arrogant people to let other people know what they’re doing all the time. But I’m doing it, and everyone else knows I’m doing it, and I’m going to tell them all the time. It confuses me, whilst at the same time it fascinates me. To be fair, it’s a great way to let people know what you’re up to in a professional sense.”
Later that evening we’re taken outside to watch a scene be filmed. It’s a small wait, but it’s cold, and I didn’t have a jacket. But the adrenaline of standing in the shadow of Hogwarts’ walls kept my heart racing. We’re all given headsets so we can listen to everything that’s going on. Different voices come and go and then I hear one distinct voice that is unmistakable – Dame Maggie Smith. Unbeknownst to me, each actor has their own mic so it is easy to hear each of them talking. I look to my left and see the lady herself walk onto the grass of the set. I had no idea who she had been talking to, but to my disbelief I found out she was talking to producer David Barron’s dog. Apparently, Mr. Barron’s dog was somewhat of a mascot on the set. He was there pretty much every day and Ms. Smith seemed to like him very much.
Her hair was up in a bun for her character, but she wore a long black down feather jacket to keep her warm. She made her way to the steps that led to the large Hogwarts entrance. She was then joined by many others, including Matt Lewis (Neville Longbottom), Julie Walters (Molly Weasley), Warwick Davis (Professor Flitwick), Katie Leung (Cho Chang), and other various Hogwarts students.
The scene being filmed, which can be seen during many of the current trailers, is when the Death Eaters are just showing up and the instructors must take great steps to help protect the school and the students within. They rehearsed the scene a few times before actually filming. Professor McGonagall calls for the guards. “Hogwarts is threatened! Man the boundaries!” she cries. Men wearing all white with dots on them march out in straight lines from the entrance and down the steps. These, of course, will later become the large stone soldiers shown in the current trailers.
There is oncoming danger in this scene and, though I’m not actually in it, I can feel it. It’s a bit tense, no real laughter is heard, and the underlying menace could be felt.
The students, including some who stood behind me, looked on in fascination and horror. It was so surreal. They practiced two or three times and then began filming. A monitor was set up for us as the filming began. Ms. Smith waved her wand to call for her transfiguration spells. I watched both the live action and the monitor. In the headset I could hear everything happening – each sniff, each breath, each guidance given by director David Yates in his calm voice.
The soldiers continued to march back and forth for each scene. In between takes, they would put the jacket back onto Ms. Smith and Ms. Walter to keep them warm.
We continued to watch for about an hour and then had to go.
This was an absolutely incredible experience for me – undeniably a dream come true. I am so very excited for this film. But at the same time, I dread it. I know I will cry and laugh at the same time. I will be so happy for the climatic ending and to see the consummation of all of the books come to life on the big screen in 3D. It has been one heck of a ride – the greatest ever!
I’d like to thank Warner Bros. for allowing my dream to come true by giving me this tremendous opportunity and for everything else they have done for me and the rest of the fans.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 will be in theatres July 15, 2011. See the world-wide release dates here.