The eight Harry Potter films were released over a period of a decade, beginning with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 2001 and concluding with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 in 2011. Five years later, in 2016, we’re set to return to the wizarding world created by J.K. Rowling in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Now that we know the new franchise will span five films (rather than three, as originally planned), we’re revisiting the original series — and everything that went down behind the scenes. Out of the hundreds of Harry Potter facts, here are the ones we find the most interesting. Enjoy!
We nearly had a completely different cast. While we adore the actors who were selected for the roles, several people were almost cast instead. Ian McKellen was offered the role of Dumbledore, Naomi Watts was intended to be Narcissa Malfoy, Liam Aiken (Stepmom) lost out on playing Harry Potter because he isn’t British, and Tilda Swinton was offered the part of Professor Trelawney.
Rowling played a huge role in the films. Rowling was brought on to oversee the films because at the time, only four of the seven books were published. The filmmakers wanted to be positive that the movies didn’t conflict with Rowling’s future plans for the story. She became more than a consultant when they asked her to write the scenes where Voldemort kills Harry’s parents, because she’s the only one who knew exactly what happened.
Two celebrities requested roles. Both Robin Williams and Rosie O’Donnell reached out and said they would work for free if they got to play Hagrid and Molly Weasley, respectively. Like Liam Aiken, they were turned down because they weren’t British.
Moaning Myrtle isn’t exactly a student’s age. Shirley Henderson, who plays Moaning Myrtle in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, was 37 when the film came out. Also, Rowling has confirmed that Myrtle is a Ravenclaw!
There’s a Star Wars connection. Composer John Williams, noted for his infamous Star Wars theme songs, worked in some part on all the films. If you listen closely, you’ll notice some of the music from Harry and Draco’s competitive Quidditch match in Chamber of Secrets is also used in Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones.Daniel Radcliffe went through a lot of props. Over the course of the films, Radcliffe went through over 160 pairs of glasses and 80 wands, the latter of which he kept using as drumsticks.
The leads are even more like their characters than you think. Alfonso Cuarón, director of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, asked Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson to write essays introducing him to their characters. Upon their due date, Radcliffe wrote one straightforward page, Watson’s was 16 pages long, and Grint didn’t even turn his in. Classic Harry, Hermione, and Ron. Also, Watson braided Cuarón’s hair between takes.
Cedric Diggory appears before you know it. Though fans probably remember Robert Pattinson’s debut as Cedric in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the character is actually the one racing against Harry in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. This is mentioned in the books but isn’t explicitly brought up in the films. By the next film, Cedric had been recast.
There’s a lot to the underwater scene in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. First of all, the tank was huge: it could hold 132,000 gallons of water. Radcliffe spent over 41 hours filming his scenes in the tank, and not only did he get two ear infections, but he also accidentally signaled that he was drowning once.
Several unscripted moments made the final cuts. Director David Yates chose to keep in a take that might have otherwise been considered botched in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are talking about Harry’s kiss with Cho, and the three actors started cracking up. Yates liked it and kept it. (Also, actress Katie Leung was incredibly nervous about their kissing scene, and to make matters worse, Radcliffe got sick and the shoot had to be postponed.) That moment when Voldemort hugs Draco in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2? Ralph Fiennes improvised it. Draco’s line, “I didn’t know you could read,” to Goyle in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets? Unscripted.