Life is a little confusing for the Harry Potter cast right now. Great - but confusing. They are in the middle of simultaneously shooting what will become multiple movies, whilst also taking a break to attend premieres and talk about the first of them: Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince. In the middle of the madness, Daniel Radcliffe (Harry), Emma Watson (Hermione), Rupert Grint (Ron), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) and Bonnie Wright (Ginny) took a moment to talk to Buzzine's Emmanuel Itier about magic and wizardry, love and stalkers...
Emmanuel Itier: You are all becoming old hands at this by now, but what during the making of this film made you stop and appreciate what you are a vital part of?
Emma Watson: It's not very often that, in the middle of the filmmaking process, you stop yourself and go, "This is awesome." I've done that on a number occasions. We just filmed this amazing scene where we're in a forest being chased by the Snatchers, and I've never done anything like it.
Emmanuel Itier: What more did you all learn most about your characters in this film? Particularly, Tom (Felton) and Bonnie (Wright), how did you feel about coming into this film in a big way?
Tom Felton: It was a great opportunity for myself to dive a little bit deeper into Draco's head and discover that he really is a coward through and through. It was great fun, though, to explore a bit deeper, make him more three-dimensional.
Bonnie Wright: Yeah, the same with me. I think we got more to look at with our characters. It's not just one section in the beginning and then at the end of the film. It's going to continue in development, so I was able to take the character further.
EW: I think, in the films, we've seen quite a strong Hermoine -- quite a girl-power Hermione. She's the brains behind the operation, kind of dragging the guys around with her, but, in this one, I think you see a very different Hermoine. She's much more vulnerable and fragile and emotional. She's experiencing her first heartache, really, so it was much more of a challenge for me to play this as a more emotional and vulnerable person. It was also fun to do a lot more comedy with Rupert, which was great. So I had a lot of fun doing this one, and I learned a lot.
Rupert Grint: I like to think this is Ron's best year. He gets a girlfriend, he joins the Quiddich team for the first time, and it was nice to have something to really get stuck into.
Daniel Radcliffe: For me, particularly the big change in Harry this year is his relationship with Dumbledore. Previously, he's always been very much teacher/student. This year it kind of changes to being a general with his favorite lieutenant. Harry becomes a foot soldier in this movie, and happy to be so. Also, in all the other ones, you sort of see Harry has been, "Yeah, we're going to get Voldemort. We're going to kill him," but he never really does anything towards it, whereas this year he's actually been planning and trying to do something towards the ultimate destruction of Voldemort. That's the difference in Harry this year.
EI: In the movie, Ron has sort of a stalker girlfriend who is impressed by his celebrity. For the three of you, has it gotten a little strange where you find out that you are dating someone who is more interested in you as your character rather than yourselves?
DR: Fortunately, I don't think that's the case for any of us. I don't think that any of us are...
EW: I'm dating my stalker.
DR: [Laughs] Are you? Well, I guess that's probably the best way to deal with them. If you just confront them with it, then they often go off.
EW: He is always there when I need him. I can be very demanding. He's so into me. It's the way to go. I would recommend it.
DR: I'm not, but it's still good. [Laughs]
RG: I'm not, but it sounds quite good, really. You get a lot of attention, I suppose.
EI: Has it finally set in with you guys that the Harry Potter series is ending?
DR: For me, it hadn't until this week, when everybody seems to be telling me that it's almost over. I was actually getting along quite nicely until people said, "So your dream is coming to an end..." To be honest, I think I speak for most of us when I say we've got a year left on 7. It's a long way to go. Then we've got to do lots of publicity and meet up with all of you lovely people twice more, which is something I... That sounded sarcastic. It wasn't. So there's a long way to go, to be honest -- certainly for us -- so I'm not contemplating the end too much too soon.
EW: Aside from that, I think we all feel as if...I don't think Harry Potter will ever "die." It's so big and so loved. We have the theme park coming out in 2010. I think kids will keep reading the book, and new generations of kids are going to keep watching the films. I think it's got longevity.
TF: I don't think that, when they finish filming, it will be the end of us portraying the characters. I think there will always be a little bit inside of us that will always remain, at least inside of me, so to speak. [Laughs] But I am certainly enjoying it rather than looking ahead and getting a bit sad about it. I'm going to make the most of it and certainly cry my eyes out when it's finished. [Laughs]
EI: Daniel, one of the best parts of the film is of you dating with a magical twist. How do you weather the world of dating as a young 20-something in real life, without the aid of magic spells?
EW: You don't need them.
DR: Well, that's very kind of you, Emma... I'm not really doing the dating thing. I don't feel like I'm in the world of dating. I don't feel like a young 20-something in that...I don't have that sort of life. I'm working. I'm happy to be working. It's not a bad case of "I don't have time to have a girlfriend." I do. It's just like everyone else, I suppose. It's weird because people sometimes ask, "Does being Harry Potter help you get girls?" I was nine before I did Harry Potter, so I don't know what it's like to get girls without the aid of being Harry, so I don't know.
EI: How much time did you spend working on balancing the light comedy and the heavy drama?
*SPOILER ALERT* EW: I think it was a nice break. If Hermoine kept going at the rate she was going, in terms of the amount of worrying she was doing, she might have developed a hemorrhage, so it was nice that there a bit of light relief, for all of us because, for kids' books, they are pretty dark. They can be pretty heavy and pretty serious. I think having more than that heightened the pathos at the end, when Dumbledore dies. By having some other light...it was pretty shocking when suddenly a very big figure in this series has just died. It's really good.
RG: I think it is one of the funniest ones out of all of them. You have two new characters as well -- Jim Broadbent, who I think is hilarious in it, and Jessie Cave as well, who is my girlfriend. [Laughs] I really enjoyed it, yeah.
DR: I think this is, for Ron, in terms of the comedy, Rupert's finest hour. He's absolutely brilliant in this movie. He kind of reveals himself to be a fantastic practitioner of physical comedy. You balance the dramatics off as well, obviously, wonderfully, but the scene on the broomstick in Quiddich is like something out of Buster Keaton or something. It's absolutely brilliant, and I was belly-laughing. It was wonderful.
EI: Emma and Rupert, apparently there was a kissing scene that was filmed but didn't quite make it into the movie. How disappointed were you guys about that?
EW: I think there might be a small misunderstanding, but the kissing scene that they have is in the seventh film. It wasn't a case of we did it, it was shit and it didn't make it. [Laughs] Well, we'll see, because they haven't gone to edit the last one yet. [Laughs] But yeah, we did the scene about two weeks ago.
RG: We did it, and it was quite a strange thing that we had to think about doing, but I think it was right.
EW: Yeah, David (Yates) doesn't really let us watch playback, but he let us watch playback for this because Rupert and I were quite nervous that it might look ingenuous because we were desperate to get it out of the way. I think we just felt the pressure of "this kiss" because there was so much media interest, and also the fans... It's like ten years worth of tension and hormones, chemistry and everything, and in one moment, we had to ace it. So it was like, "Oh God," but hopefully we did it. I'm sure you'll critique it, but please be nice.
DR: To be honest, I think you are going to come out quite well, because poor Bonnie (Wright), who's sitting down there at the other end of this table and who obviously has the kiss with me -- I saw the film again a couple nights ago at the premiere and I really watched it, and my God, my lips are like the lips of a horse -- kind of distending away, independently away from my face, trying to encompass the lower half of hers. So I apologize, Bonnie.
BW: Well, I didn't notice.
EI: Daniel, speaking of horses, you recently did the play Equus on Broadway. Do you have another stage project lined up?
DR: Nothing specific, no. Nice segue, by the way, using the "horse" to get that question. That was excellent. No, nothing specific at all. I would love to be back on the stage sometime, maybe in the next two or three years, but there's nothing planned at all. Obviously, I'd love to do it in England, and if Broadway would have me back, then that would be incredible because I had an amazing time here.
EI: Can you talk about the great scene in Half Blood Prince when you all raise your wands? Also, what does it mean to lose Dumbledore?
DR: I think it's actually a really moving moment -- the moment when the wands are raised in salute and that the dark mark in the sky is slowly kind of eroded by this white light... It's a wonderful moment. It was a hard scene for me because, at the time, I had never lost anybody close to me. You can never hope to imagine what that must feel like, so I was trying to imagine the feelings, and if it came a third of the way close to being real, then I'm happy with that, to be honest. In terms of losing Dumbledore in the series, it's very sad for me because I won't get to work so much with Michael (Gambon) in the seventh film. I'll miss him because we had a great time together.
EI: Since you started the films so young, Dan, Rupert and Emma, are you able to go back and watch the earlier films and watch yourself acting at that age? Do you cringe or critique -- what do you do?
RG: I haven't watched one all the way through in a long time. They are on TV occasionally, and I'll flick through and it is quite surreal seeing that, because it doesn't really feel like me. I feel detached from it. It's quite weird. But they always bring back good memories because it was quite an exciting time. It's nice.
EW: Really, I find it easier to watch the earlier films, which might surprise you, because I had the whole bushy hair, chipmunk face, big cheek thing going on, which wasn't a great look for me. Actually, I find that easier to watch because I can completely disconnect myself. It felt like such a long time ago. I really don't identify myself with that girl, whereas the ones from one or two years ago are a little bit close but I'm a couple of years younger. I find that much harder to watch. I'm very self-critical anyway, but it's still a very nice experience. Actually, I think a lot of actors don't watch their work.
DR: I haven't watched any of the films after they're done. I think it would be an entirely disruptive experience for me if was actually to watch that. I'm far too critical. I remember we were having a conversation on the fourth film. I remember I said something like, "God, I saw a clip from the first film the other day. God, I can't believe how bad I am in it," or whatever. I said something to the effect of "Why did they cast me?" The only reason I remember it was on the fourth film that we had this conversation was because Mike Newell's massive booming voice on the other side of the set came back, yelling, "Because you're absolutely bloody charming!" [Laughs] In answer to your original question, I have not watched any of the films.
EI: Can we talk a bit more about the sexual tension in the film? I mean, they are great at magic, but they can't control their hormones. Do you continue to reconcile it in the seventh film?
DR: I think it's kind of a wonderful thing in the film. Particularly, I find it very endearing with Harry -- the fact that he's this very acclaimed wizard and he's crap with women. I think it's a wonderful, rather endearing quality that he has. I think this film does demonstrate basically two types of teenage relationships: One, which is mine and Bonnie's, which is that kind of teenage thing when you're just in love and it's pure and innocent and it's all that matters in your life, when you're like 14 or 15 and you fall in love with somebody and that's all there is; and the other kind, which is kind of much more carnal and energetic, which is the one Rupert was lucky enough to have. [Laughs] Those are my thoughts on the relationships in this sixth Harry Potter film. You kind of lost me, slightly, to be perfectly honest, in the reconciling thing. I wasn't sure I quite got what you meant about that.
EI: You have such great control over magic but not over hormones.
DR: Absolutely, and I think that is probably quite true of teenagers -- a complete inability to control hormones or desire, and it's no different with wizard children.
EW: I think, particularly with Hermoine, she is such a control freak, she wants to be able to control absolutely everything in her life -- her destiny, her work, everything. And then suddenly she just falls apart. She's just a wreck because she can't control the way she feels. I think, in her head, if she could have chosen who she would fall in love with, it certainly wouldn't be with someone like Ron. [Laughs] In the nicest possible way, she would have chosen someone much more serious and much more smarter and much better suited to her... [Laughs] But you can't help who you fall in love with. It's out of your hands, to an extent. [Laughs]
EI: Daniel, how did you get into character when you had to take the potion and began experiencing this altered state of mind?
DR: To be honest, I just let the more manic side of myself that I suppress for 23 hours of every day loose for a while on set, and just became a kind of uncontrollable -- vaguely irritating but a sort of vaguely amusing person that I keep hidden. I just let him out and run mad for a few days, and it was great fun to be able to actually... It is a side to the character that hasn't really been seen before. We always sit next to each other, so David Heyman leaned over to me and said, "That's my favorite piece of acting that you do in this film." So maybe I should have really been playing him slightly more manic all along.
EW: I know that Dan won't mind me saying this, but I think drugged Harry is closer to Dan's real personality, actually. [Laughs]
TF: I didn't know quite how to say it. [Laughs]
DR: I think you're probably actually right. I do think people probably -- if you spent a proper amount of time with me -- you would probably wonder if I was on drugs. I'm not. I'm just incredibly hyperactive, manic. I can be quiet and serious at the same time, but when I get like that, at the premiere in England the other night, my God, I was just this kind of beast that had been unleashed onto the red carpet. It was incredible.
EI: J.K. Rowling was still writing the books as the earlier ones were being filmed. How did the process work of you reading these books, knowing that you'd have play what these characters were doing, specifically in books six and seven?
EW: To be honest, I am such a geeky Harry Potter fan -- genuinely love Harry Potter and know the books inside out and I've probably read them all three times and I could probably answer any question that you come up with, any plot detail you might ask. When I read the books, I read them from the perspective of someone who is just dying to know what happens, generally, before I even think about, "Oh Hermoine -- I'll have to act this out." I'm not thinking about that. I'm just desperate to get to the end, and I'm very excited to read it, so that kind of comes second for me.
TF: I'm the opposite. I read it and just revel in the pages. Whenever I see Draco's name, I think, "Oh my God, this is it, this is cool. This is what I get to do." When the sixth one came out, I think I read it in probably 12 hours of it coming out. I didn't actually queue up outside, but I had a friend who was doing it for me, so I enjoy it thoroughly.
EW: You get one of your minions to do it?
TF: Yes. [Laughs]
BW: I think also, obviously, with the relationship, from my perspective, with Ginny, obviously knowing that -- reading the epilogue in the final section, in order to make the relationship work in the sixth film, you have to block that section out, obviously, because no one knows their own destiny. If you are playing a character I think you just have to forget about what happens in the final one. Obviously, we all read it, so we knew what happens, but you just have to be in the moment...
TF: Yeah, take one at a time.
DR: My reading of the books was always sort of, "Oh God, another one's dead. It's another death scene. Oh God." I always would be able to very much enjoy them when they came out, but I would get nervous when I'd read them about whether I would be able to do justice to certain aspects, which is probably not the healthiest mindset to be in when you read them, but I couldn't help it.
EI: Emma, I understand that you are going to college in the fall and living in a dorm. So are you cool with the idea of living with a complete stranger?
EW: I'm a little bit nervous. I figure if I'm going to do this experience, I'm going to do it properly and do it like everyone else. If I want to be treated like everyone else, then I am going to do it like everyone else.
DR: Have you been listening to this girl? She's dating her stalker. This girl has no shame. [Laughs]
EW: I wonder what kind of roommate will I be...
EW: Yeah, cleanliness is good... Gosh, I don't know. Hopefully I'm reasonably okay to live with. You should really ask my family this question.
DR: I really hope they're a massive Harry Potter fan, whoever you room with. [Laughs] I hope you walk in and the first thing you see is your face on a duvet.
EW: [Laughs] Just as long as I don't walk into the room and see Harry Potter posters on the wall, I'll be fine. I'll be happy. It's potluck, isn't it? So we'll see.
EI: You have been doing this all your lives. Have there been any childhood experiences that you've had to put off that you are looking forward to after doing the seventh film?
DR: Yeah, I missed a few school trips. I've gotten to go to a couple of trips to the art museums I needed to do.
TF: I don't think you missed out on much. I think we've gained more than we've lost.
DR: Well said.
EW: Also, by the time we are finished, we'll be at the age where we've sort of forgotten about things like that.
EI: A lot of kids your age spent their youth dreaming of becoming an astronaut or doctor. After doing six Potter movies, will you continue acting, or do you have any other ambitions?
TF: Yeah, I definitely want to continue acting, I quite enjoy it. I don't know what else I'd be doing if this didn't work out. Hopefully, after this, there will be more films coming along. We'll wait and see.
DR: I think certainly, from my point of view, I definitely want to go with acting, as long as I can find employment. I love it and, to be honest, I'm never happier than when I'm on a film set, so long as that may continue. I just want to keep working on this, to be honest. Not on Potter -- just acting.
EW: I'm going to university, but it doesn't mean I'm giving up acting or anything dramatic. I feel like I do want to want to continue, definitely. I just want a normal experience for just a bit -- just a little bit of normality for a while. That would be nice.
DR: It was very much exaggerated in the press recently, wasn't it?
EW: Yeah, I think the media found it confusing that I wanted to go to university. I don't think they understood why I wanted to do it, so I think they sort of jumped to the conclusion that "She must want to do something else." I don't know. I'm very excited. I'm really looking forward to it. I've managed to juggle studying and working up to this point, so I don't see why I can't keep doing that. At university, you get five months off. On holidays, the gaps are enormous, and it's more than enough time to make one small Harry Potter film or a couple of other films, so I think everything's possible. I feel a bit selfish, really, because I'm trying to do everything.
TF: I was always a bit uncertain, in years previous, if this was the path I wanted to choose, but in the past year, I've really built up a passion for films and filmmaking -- not just acting, but everything that goes into it -- the lighting and the sound recording and all the rest of it, so I would certainly like to continue it as long as I can.
BW: The same with me. I think, as the experiences have gone on, I've realized, luckily, that this is the career I want to continue in. Also, I'm going to film school in September, so I'm also very interested in the wider elements, like directing and cinematography. This film has definitely been a big inspiration for me.
EI: What school?
BW: I'm staying in London, so I'm going to film school within University Arts London, which is the main arts school.
EI: How would you characterize your relationship with David Yates compared with the other Harry Potter directors?
DR: I've had nothing but great things to say about David. We get closer every year. We get on very well off set. We have a very, very good relationship -- not only professionally but personally as well. I think as we go on in the films, we become more in tune with each other to the point that he could say "Cut" and I will immediately know, without having to see or hear him, whether what I've just done is what he wanted, simply because I know what he's looking for in a performance...at least I think I do, but I can't always get there. He's always very good at being honest with me as well, saying to me, "You can do better than that," and that's a wonderful thing to have -- that trusting relationship with a director.
EW: I think David is great in that he won't let you do anything other than the very best you can produce. Sometimes that means being a very hard taskmaster. I think David can tell if I'm acting or not by just looking at my back. He's just scary. He knows when you're trying in the moment and when you're not. A year ago, he would say things to me like, "That was great, that was a really good performance, but you were acting." I'd be like, "Well, yes." [Laughs] He won't settle for anything less than a truthful, honest performance that comes from somewhere that's really genuine for you. I've learned a lot from him. He's very generous with his time, and if you want to talk something over, he's more than happy to help you. He's very patient.
DR: I think also the thing with David is that even if he was shouting, you wouldn't really be able to tell. He's a very soft-spoken man, so his manner is wonderful on set. You would never pick him out as the director. Nothing about him screams, "I am the creative powerhouse of this movie!" He's a very quiet and gentle man. What he had, in a good way, as a director, which is brilliant, is that he has the ability to be able to see the entire storyline in his head, in one frame almost, and be able to encapsulate it all in his mind at any given moment. So he can pick out moments from the end of the fifth film and find a relevance with them at the beginning of the seventh. He will find link moments constantly in the story. He's just got a fantastic vision of the films from day one. Also, his enthusiasm for being on Potter is the same now as it was on day one of the first film he did with us.
EW: He's like a kid in a candy store. He's just super excited with everything and to be doing what he's doing. Alfonso (Cuaron), Mike (Newell) and Chris (Columbus) all looked like they aged ten years after one Harry Potter film, and he just loves every second of it, and there's no ego with David.
EI: Tom, in this film, how did you take Draco from being cocky to more vulnerable?
TF: This really links in with David. I was terrified, before starting the film, about approaching Draco in this whole new light. He's always been very two-dimentional in previous years, and we had to take a new angle with it. But David was very clear and concise with this ghostlike image, with this sort of glaze over his eyes constantly. He did some rehearsals with Michael and Alan (Rickman) which, again, I was shitting myself massively before doing. He's like a father almost. He made sure that it was all okay. Certainly, any praise that I get is down to his great direction.
DR: I think for Tom too on this film, to be honest -- not having been asked to do a great deal for the last few years -- to come in and give the performance in the sixth film is remarkable, and it's a fantastic performance.
EI: Daniel, did you shoot the underwater scene in a studio or was it all CGI? Were those stunt people or animatronics holding onto you? Were you holding your breath or did you use a tank?
DR: I was holding my breath, certainly. To be honest, it was quite easygoing, this particular underwater scene in comparison to what we did on 4 when I was underwater for about 41 hours over the course of a month...and 23 minutes, but it doesn't matter. So compared to that, it was very easy. I think it was maybe two days we were filming underwater. It was a stunt woman who was wrapping herself around me as the kind of lady fairy. It was actually one of the coolest moments of my career -- bursting through the surface of the water surrounded by the circle of real fire. They had a little pipeline just underneath the surface of the water that shoots up bubbles of kerosene or whatever -- propane. They ignited just after the surface, so the surface of the water was completely just black with soot, and it was kind of horrible but it was also very fun. Then I get to climb up onto the separate island where I look up and see Michael Gambon there just looking like God or Moses, with swirling fire around his head. It was one of those moments where I went, "It does not matter how many more things I do, I will never have this scene or anything like this ever again."
EI: Are you guys happy with the way the next film is shaping up?
DR: I couldn't be happier, personally, because I am so excited about the seventh film. I don't know if anybody else had the same experience as me over the last couple days, but seeing the sixth film again, I started to realize we're doing something very different. We're not at Hogwarts. It's a different dynamic.
EW: It's not very often that, in the middle of the filmmaking process, you stop yourself and go, "This is awesome." I've done that on a number occasions. We just filmed this amazing scene where we're in a forest being chased by the Snatchers, and I've never done anything like it. I've never done any serious stunts or real action. It's so exciting and so dynamic, I think, because all of us are now finished with school and we are just totally focused on this finale. It's out of Hogwarts and it's just the three of us. I hope it is going to be brilliant. I feel like I'm on a different film. The other films have this structure. We come into the Great Hall, we have an evening talk and then we... It has a structure that we go through. But now it's gone. It's going to be great.
EI: How do you feel when J.K. Rowling visits the set? Have you spoken to her about your characters?
TF: I hadn't seen her in a while, but I had the pleasure of seeing her two nights ago at the London premiere. Obviously, as an actor on her project, you do want to hear what she has to say, and she was very complimentary about the whole film, which is the ultimate honor -- for her to be happy with the performances, I think, is truly great for us.
DR: Absolutely. She's always been very good about letting go of the films and realizing that they are a totally separate entity from the books. She has not been too precious about anything. She realizes things have to be cut in order to make them doable, so she has always been very good, and when she comes out to the set, it's a pleasure. It's a rare treat because she doesn't want us to feel she was prying, but she has always been wonderful and she's incredibly gracious and a lovely woman.
EW: She has always given a lot of trust to the people in the art department, costumes and just the whole idea of the visual aspects of the film. I think it shows that she really trusts the creative affection that everyone puts into these films. I think a lot of her world, unfortunately, is not seeing the films.
DR: It might be interesting to note that the only thing in thus far six films that has been on screen which is not in the books, which she said, "I wish I'd thought of that," was an idea Alfonso Cuaron had on the third Potter film to make the temperature drop when Dementors came by so you would see the water freeze over. That's the only thing that she's gone, "Oh God, I wish I'd thought of that." That's a little piece of Potter trivia for you.
EI: Rupert, we heard you got the swine flu. Are you alright now?
RG: I'm fine now. You're safe. [Laughs] Wait a minute -- you better run! Run! [Laughs]
'Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince' is in theaters now from Warner Bros. Films