On Jan. 1, things weren’t exactly “new year, new me.” HBO Max debuted the highly anticipated Harry Potter reunion and made it easier than ever to fall back into the beloved wizarding world we grew to love as kids. Nearly the entire cast was back, including your favorite trio, Harry, Ron and Hermoine— or should we say Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson? It has been, after all, just over 10 years since the final movie premiered. Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts arrived just in time to celebrate the Sorcerer’s Stone milestone and reflect on the magic of the film series. See below for six of the special’s big reveals.
Knowing this actor had to be the absolute perfect fit, Chris Columbus, who directed the first two Harry Potter movies, explains that they had a hard time finding the right actor to play The Boy Who Lived. Everything finally came together when, one night, Columbus was watching the BBC’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield. He saw a young Daniel Radcliffe as young David and knew he had found their lead.
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Point blank, Watson says nothing romantically happened between her and Tom Felton. However, the two revealed that they loved each other and Watson even admitted that, when she was younger, she would get excited when they were on set the same day. “Emma and I have always loved each other, really,” Felton says at the beginning of the segment. Watson even described the moment she fell in love with him. The on-set tutor assigned them to draw what they thought God looked like and Felton drew a girl with a backward hat on a skateboard. “I don’t know how else to say it, I just fell in love with him,” Watson says.
Nothing settles you into the Harry Potter universe like a scene in the Great Hall. The illumination of the floating candles really cements the magic and mystique, which actually was quite the feat at the time. “One of my favorite moments on set ever was the moment all the floating candles started burning through the ropes tied to the ceiling and just falling around the Great Hall,” Radcliffe reflects. Watson adds, “Hundreds of candles that were really lit on fishing line from the ceiling.”
When Felton looks back on working with his on-screen father, he initially describes it as delightful, but, after a quick pause, remembers just how terrifying it was to witness Isaacs in character. “Working with Jason was not always a treat,” Felton says. “Just immediately turned into the most unfriendly, horrible person I’ve ever met.” The two go on to describe the first scene they filmed together, during which Isaacs knocks Felton’s hand with his cane. “I didn’t know how sharp [it] was and it went right into little Tom’s hand,” Issacs says. “He looked up at me, eyes welled with tears. I went, ‘Tom I’m so sorry….’ He went, (high-pitched voice), ‘It’s all right, it’s good for the scene.’” The scene ended up cut from the film.
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The Weasley twins are well-renowned for their shenanigans, but Goblet of Fire director Mike Newell had to step in to show actors Oliver and James Phelps how to really tussle. At some point, the twins’ mischief results in the two fighting, rolling around on the floor, but Newell thought they weren’t roughing it up enough, so he stepped in to demonstrate. “These two were sort of pressing around about it and I said, come on boys really, it’s a fight,” he explains. “I remember gripping him around the waist and trying to fling him about and cracked a couple of ribs. I was in absolute agony from then on, but of course the wonderful thing was that I had made a complete twit of myself.”
“In this moment of extraordinary jeopardy, they turn to each other, and then they just kiss. We’ve waited seven movies for this,” director David Yates says of the highly-anticipated first kiss between Ron and Hermoine. “It was almost like prepping them for a major sports event.” However, the stars weren’t that into it. Watson looks back at how it was supposed to be a dramatic makeout, but that the two just kept laughing , making it hard to get through a usable cut. “I did not make this better because I have been told significantly that I was just being an absolute d*** about it,” Radcliffe says, later apologizing with a laugh. “Everyone wanted to be on set for it,” Watson explains, noting that she had to be the one to make it happen. “I kind of think I blacked out,” Grint recalls. The duo are light-hearted all the way through the segment, proving just how good of friends they had become over the course of filming. “Kissing Rupert is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do,” Watson says. “It just felt so wrong on every level because Dan, Rupert and I are so much siblings. All three of us, I think, felt so matched in how much [this life experience] meant to us.”
Photography by: Courtesy HBO Max