Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson return in the fifth Harry Potter film.
In Harry Potter and Order of the Phoenix (opening this week), Harry takes matters into his own hands to save the school from the dark forces threatening its very existence. At a recent press conference in London, series stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint took part in what has now become a familiar ritual. With humor and good grace, they fielded about an hour’s worth of questions from reporters, all the while full of praise for their new director David Yates, who will also be at the helm for 2008’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Q: Daniel, we understand that you worked harder on this Harry Potter film than any other. How so?
Radcliffe: [Director] David [Yates] would come up to me after a take and he'd say, 'That one was good, but it wasn't real. You can do it better than that.' And there were times where I was thinking, 'I can't... I don't know how.' But actually, in the end, he was right - I could. I do like to be challenged, that's why David came at the perfect time for me, because he was totally willing to do that.
Watson: I felt a bit nervous about working with David, just because I thought, “I don't know this guy, I'll go and watch some of his previous work.” And just looking at the films that he's done – The Girl in the Café, Sex Traffic - and the performances that he got, I was like, “Oh my goodness, how am I ever going to live up to that sort of standard of acting quality and how real everything was.”
This fifth Harry Potter film really made me feel something. I know that sounds weird, but I was so eager to live up to his expectations, so that he could get the best out of me that he possibly could. I was really nervous but I was also really excited, because I felt, “Wow, this guy can really take me to a new level,” which I think he did with all of us.
Q: Emma, you seemed to hesitate a bit before committing to the last two Harry Potter films. Can you tell us about that?
Watson: I didn't sign the contracts immediately because I needed some time to just figure out the logistics. If you can imagine combining my school timetable and pursuing university…with the making of two movies…. I didn't want to have to give either one up, so I was in kind of this really difficult position. It just took a bit of time to figure out how to make that work. And Warner Bros. have been extremely supportive in helping me figure out ways to do that.
For example, they've given me Monday mornings off, so I can go to school and meet with my teachers and pick up my work. They've provided all the tutors I need to get all my work done. Even though I'm now 16, they're still supporting me and giving me all the hours I need to get all my work done. They've got a box every Friday which I can put my work in and which they'll send back to my teachers and they can mark it. I found it quite frustrating and upsetting, all these insinuations that were made [in the media] about why I was holding off. But I just had to figure out a way to make it work for me, and that took a bit of time.
Radcliffe: It's important to realize that when you commit to a Potter film, it is about a 10-month commitment. The sixth and seventh represent together basically two years, so it's never something that should be rushed into lightly.
Q: What message do you want people to leave with this latest Harry Potter movie?
Watson: Harry is in a really, really difficult place in this film. He wants to isolate himself, because he thinks that if he does that, he won't have as much to lose. I think a lot of the film is about Harry's journey in realizing he doesn't have to do it on his own, and the importance of friends and the people he has behind him. While it's scary because he might actually lose them, it gives him something to fight for and makes him a much more powerful wizard/man than Voldemort.
Radcliffe: In terms of Harry's character, it's about sticking to your guns. If you know something is the truth and you know that it's right, then you can't let yourself be compromised by other people and outside forces. And I think that's what both Harry and Dumbledore do in this film.
Q: How would you feel if any of your characters die in the seventh and final J. K. Rowling novel?
Grint: I'm hoping I survive. There are a lot of rumors going around, so I'm looking forward to seeing what happens.
Watson: I don't know why, but I think she's going to make it. I hate endings that don't wrap things up. So in a way, it would be nice to wrap the characters up, know which direction they're going... Hermione can have a career that uses her great intelligence; hopefully the Harry-Voldemort thing will sort itself out.
Radcliffe: A couple of years ago, I said that I would like Harry to die, because that is a conclusive ending. But I'm sort of going to stay away from that now, because the next day the headlines were, “Radcliffe Wants Harry Dead.” But I do think it would be fitting in a way, because when you consider the prophecy that was made about him and Voldemort, and things like that, one of them has got to go.
Q: Daniel, you go through a lot of emotional turmoil in both the latest Harry Potter and your recent London production of the stage play Equus. Do you bring these characters home ever, or are you able to leave them on the stage and on set?
Radcliffe: I suppose it could sometimes be difficult to detach yourself from a character. Having done the stage show for 16 weeks, you do get very attached to the character and in a way you do miss going out and doing it night after night. But at the same time, it is essential that you do leave it behind you and move on. But the stage experience was phenomenal, and I think it came at the right time for me. And it was great fun. I got to work with Richard Griffiths in a completely different capacity. As Uncle Vernon [in the Harry Potter films] it's great and we always have a laugh, but he's only normally there for a week or a week and a half. So spending 16 weeks with him as this kind of character was terrific.
Q: Which was each of your favorite scenes in Order of the Phoenix, and why?
Radcliffe: I liked the scene after the kiss with Cho Chang [Katie Leung], because we're all just in hysterics and I think a lot of that was genuine. I think that day we were in quite a giggly mood. If you watch it, you can see all of us trying to keep it together. It's like the scene in The Usual Suspects at the very beginning where they're doing the line-up, when all of the men are just doing the scene and they're all laughing hysterically, and they can't keep it together at all. And Suspects director Bryan Singer was getting really angry about it, because he couldn't get them under control. And in the end, he just said, “Actually, it really works, they're all laughing because they all know each other.” And in that way, our scene is very sweet also, because we're all just in hysterics with each other.
Watson: I just have such good memories about filming that scene as well. At one point David filmed me just laughing in hysterics. Dan and Rupert both stopped, and I was still going... And he just filmed all of it. So my laughter is really genuine. It feels like a scene that brings together our real friendship and our characters’ friendship, it all comes together beautifully.
Grint: For me, the most fun scene to do and watch was the Court of Prophecies, because there was nothing there [on the set]. It was just all green screen, and looking back it's just really weird.
Radcliffe: The only scenes that I don't particularly warm to are anything on a broomstick, really, for very obvious reasons.
Q: What are some of Harry's bad points?
Radcliffe: A lot of people had a problem with the fifth book, because they didn't like Harry's anger in it, they felt he was too angry, and J.K. Rowling did say, “If you haven't understood Harry's anger in the fifth book, then you haven't understood Harry in the four books previous. Because if you did, you would see that he has a right to be this angry.”
Watson: You have to remember that this is a boy who has never known his parents, who is living with the Dursleys, which is anyone's worst nightmare. He's been completely isolated from everything and everyone. He's probably quite lonely; no one will ever understand what it's like to be him, to go through what he's gone through. He's just lost his godfather. He's world-famous, everyone knows who he is and looks to him. Considering all of that, it's [amazing] that he's actually sane and a nice guy, and that he isn't more screwed up and self-centered, just not completely gone off the rails. He's a survivor.
Dying to know how the saga could continue after the seventh book? Click here for Life Without Harry.
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