Alan Rickman as Severus Snape in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2."
Despite unleashing enough info to fill the Great Hall in our Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 set visit report, we've still got a chamber of secrets with major spoilers to share for Deathly Hallows: Part 2. We're about to jump right in, so expel your eyes from this page if you'd rather not know anything about the epic ending in store for Snape, Harry, Ron and Hermione.
The last set visit preview
revealed that Snape's death didn't take place in the Shrieking Shack – a blatant deviation from the books. Instead, it takes place near the more atmospheric boathouse. Even the most avid Harry Potter
readers might not remember much about the boathouse, since it's brought up very few times in the series. "There's always been a boathouse, but we decided to make something of it – expand it, explore it," Stuart Craig, production designer says. "Now [Snape's death] has a real sense of place. He dies somewhere which is really atmospheric, looking out over the lake, the mountains across the lake, the school in flames above." Although departures from the source material are commonplace in film, fans can breathe a sigh of relief knowing this was done with author J.K. Rowling's consent. Craig was brought to tears after watching the raw film footage of Snape's death; however, his evocative end is also violent.
"I was impressed. Nagini offs him. It's a great scene," Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry, says. "Allan [Rickman] plays it wonderfully and beautifully. All the stuff about my mother is played as you would expect him to—wonderfully." (Read Daniel Radcliffe's full interview here
Harry Potter's special makeup designer and creature effects supervisor Nick Dudman was also on set to share how prosthetics age Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny 19 years older for the epilogue. They'll each wear bodysuits for the end of the film. "We're making the girls a tiny bit more hippy and a tiny bit more busty because they've had kids," Dudman says. "[We're] making the boys wider, heavier, but trying to do it [in] lots of little different changes so that there's no statement made."
They tried to achieve a flattering look for Ginny and Hermione, but with Ron they decided to go for some humor and add weight to his body suit, which Rupert Grint took to rather well. "They've gone down the route you want them to go I think. He's not missed too many lunches," Radcliffe laughs.
Summoning the Shield
The one scene we watched while the cast filmed on set took place right before Hogwarts is breached by Voldemort's followers. We're outside on the Hogwarts courtyard set. Cloaked in her witch's black robes, Maggie Smith, who plays Professor McGonagall, is standing on the stairs with her back to the castle, giving permission to Neville and Seamus Finnigan to use pyrotechnics in order to keep Voldemort out. Professor Flitwick is at her side and Molly Weasley is behind her. In the background, green screen covers the corridor and a crew clad in gray-armored bodysuits stands between the castle's columns. Students run in different directions. McGonagall whips around, raises her wand and shouts the spell to bring the Hogwarts statues to life. "Piertotem locamotor! Hogwarts is… something," she laughs. The cast and crew chuckle. It's 8:45 p.m. and filming continues well past 9. Sometimes they film until 4 a.m. in rain or snow. Although it feels less than 45 degrees outside, they all seem to be in good spirits. The scene is filmed multiple times and Smith says it perfectly in the following takes: "Hogwarts is threatened! Man the boundaries. Protect us! Do your duties to the school!" Those dressed as knights stiffly step forward to obey the command.
"It's the last resort to use this security system when we get all the statues to come out and guard the perimeter. It's a lockdown situation for Hogwarts," Warwick Davis says. When he sits down to chat with us, he's dressed as Professor Flitwick, although he also plays another character, the Gringotts goblin Griphook. "I get some wand action this time, which is great. In the past, my wand has never been used in anger. Quite nice that this time I finally get to cast a few spells and dispatch a few Death Eaters."
Goblins and Goblets
In addition to playing two characters, Davis took on another role for the last film as a casting agent, charged with finding 60 actors to play goblins. Davis runs his own casting agency for short actors. "That was, first of all, an honor to be asked to provide 60 short actors to play goblins, but also a great challenge because finding enough people under the height that they wanted who have the abilities and the stamina and the performance ability to play the goblins, was quite a – dare I say it – tall order."
Getting those actors into goblin makeup and prosthetics was another challenge. "It was a very big call of makeup artists," Davis says. "They brought them from all over Europe to come together and have this huge marquee made up as just one big makeup room." To prepare for a three-day shoot, the goblin actors had a few preparation days where they were all made up and transported to the set. Preparing prosthetics for that many actors takes time; hair prosthetics, such as eyebrows, need to have the hairs manually, individually set so that when it's viewed closely, it looks as if the hairs are growing out. "All this hair punching takes a day. By the time we came to actually shoot for the three days, it was a very smooth operation…. We had contact lenses going in – it was a bit of a production line – then into the dentures area where everyone got their teeth in. It was a very well-oiled machine."
In addition to procuring enough actors to play goblins for the Gringotts scenes, thousands of golden goblets were needed for Bellatrix's vault. Davis saw a crewmember constructing the goblets when he walked by a special effects shed. "I said, 'Wow! Look at all that!' And he said, 'This is nothing. We're gonna make 7,000 of these goblets!' And they have to spray them gold. The poor guy – it looks like he's going cross-eyed, really – I bet he sees them in his sleep." The Potter films are a testament that not everything is movie magic, and Davis says the sets are actually built, rather than using just green screen, so that not much is left to the actor's imagination. "In the day of CGI and everything, you'd think we're not going to see one goblet, but there are actually going to be 7,000 goblets."
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