Of the three leads, Daniel Radcliffe was the most experienced actor prior to Sorcerer’s Stone, having appeared in The Tailor of Panama with Pierce Brosnan and Geoffrey Rush and in a BBC adaptation of David Copperfield, as well as on stage. Emma Watson appeared in a few plays but had never acted professionally before taking on the role of Hermione Granger, and Rupert Grint also had only amateur theatricals on his résumé.
Emma Thompson (Professor Sybil Trelawney) has been in directed in films by two of her fellow Hogwarts faculty: Kenneth Branagh (Professor Gilderoy Lockhart and, off-screen, her former husband) was behind the camera on Henry V,Dead Again,Peter’s Friends, and Much Ado About Nothing, while Alan Rickman (Professor Severus Snape) directed The Winter Guest.
Actress Zoe Wanamaker was reportedly written out of the series as Quidditch coach Madam Hooch in Sorcerer’s Stone after she complained that cast members were being underpaid and deprived of royalties from merchandise that bore their images. The role was not recast.
The role of Albus Dumbledore went to Michael Gambon starting with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban after actor Richard Harris passed away. Both Verne Troyer and Warwick Davis played Griphook, the Gringott’s goblin, but Davis voiced the role when Troyer played it.
Indie rock fans may recognize the members of the Weird Sisters, the band that plays the Yule Ball in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. They are Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker and Steve Mackey, Johnny Greenwood and Phil Selway of Radiohead, Jason Buckle of All Seeing I, and Steve Claydon of Add N to (X). The band’s name is a reference to the soothsaying witches who appear in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
Author J.K. Rowling’s only casting suggestion was Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid; subsequently, he was the first actor cast.
All scenes involving the titular Sorcerer’s Stone had to be shot twice, since the film and book are known everywhere else in the English-speaking world besides the United States as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. A “philosopher’s stone,” according to ancient legend, has the power to transform lead into gold.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was the first film in the series to hire a “wand choreographer” (Paul Harris) to train the actors how to engage in this unique form of on-screen combat.
Platform 9 ¾, where Hogwarts students catch the train that takes them to school, was actually filmed between Platforms 4 and 5 at London’s King’s Cross station – Rowling meant for the platform to be placed in the inner city and not out in the suburbs, which is where Platforms 9 and 10 are. If you visit the real station, however, there is now a Platform 9 ¾, between 9 and 10, for Potter fans.
Keep an eye peeled during the coffee shop battle in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One, and you’ll see a poster for the stage production of Equus, which starred Radcliffe.
Academy Award winners who have acted in the series include Maggie Smith (Professor Minerva McGonagall – Best Actress, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie; Best Supporting Actress, California Suite), Emma Thompson (Best Actress, Howards End; Best Adapted Screenplay, Sense and Sensibility); Julie Christie (Madam Rosmerta – Best Actress, Darling); and Jim Broadbent (Professor Horace Slughorn – Best Supporting Actor, Iris).
POSSIBLE SPOILER: Over the course of both parts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Hermione impersonates Mafalda Hopkirk (played by Emma Thompson’s real-life sister Sophie) and Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter, who portrayed Thompson’s sister in Howards End).
A total of 13 cast members have appeared in all eight Harry Potter movies: Radcliffe, Watson, Grint, Coltrane, Rickman, James Phelps (Fred Weasley), Oliver Phelps (George Weasley), Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley), Devon Murray (Seamus Finnigan), Geraldine Somerville (Lily Potter), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), and Warwick Davis (Professor Flitwick and/or Griphook).
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two will be the only film in the series to be released entirely in 3D.
Jason Isaacs had considered not returning to play the role of Lucius Malfoy in the final films, since his character is imprisoned at the end of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but he convinced J.K. Rowling to let Lucius out of jail in the first chapter of Deathly Hallows.
Terry Gilliam (Brazil,12 Monkeys) was at the top of Rowling’s wish list for directors when the series began, but the studio hired Chris Columbus to do the first two films instead. Years later, when Gilliam got the offer to direct Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, he turned it down, saying, “Warner Bros. had their chance the first time around, and they blew it.”
Costume designer Jany Temime assembled a crew of 100 dressmakers and wardrobe artists to create more than 300 costumes for the Yule Ball sequence of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, with Hermione’s dress alone requiring three months of work and a dozen yards of chiffon.
If you pay close attention to the Great Hall breakfast scene in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, you’ll see boxes of Cheeri-Owls and Pixie-Puffs cereals, designed to resemble Cheerios and Sugar Puffs.
If you’re wondering why Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) and his siblings (Bellatrix, Regulus, Arcturus, Andromeda, etc.) all have such unusual names, it’s because they’re all named for astronomical objects or phenomena.
Sorcerers know how to recycle: the same space was used to create Olivander’s Wand Shop in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Flourish and Blotts in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and Honeydukes sweet shop in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.