BEWITCHED, BOTHERED AND BEWILDERED
_ As the new year begins at Hogwarts, Dumbledore introduces the students assembled in the Great Hall to returning Potions Professor Horace Slughorn. He also reveals that Severus Snape has finally achieved his long-held ambition to become the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.
The students had also been greeted by added security measures, which Dumbledore now explains are to protect both them and the school against the threat of the rampaging Death Eaters. However, the young wizards are about to discover there is no magic formula to help them navigate their teen years, and the intertwining stories of romance, jealousy, crushes, unrequited love, and romantic rivalries might also feel familiar to any Muggle who is—or has ever been—a teenager.
David Barron illustrates, “For the first time we learn that Harry has feelings for Ginny Weasley, who is going out with Dean Thomas, much to the concern of her brother Ron, who has fallen head-over-heels for Lavender Brown, leaving Hermione, who is secretly in love with Ron, watching jealously from the sidelines, so she goes out with Cormac McLaggen, even though she can’t stand him, to make Ron jealous… Welcome to the normal life of a teenager,” he deadpans.
Returning in the role of Hermione Granger, Emma Watson notes, “These characters are usually facing such huge issues, like fighting evil, so it’s easy to forget that they’re just teenagers. For me, this film feels more like a romantic comedy than the others, in the sense that we get to see them coping with first love, jealousy and insecurity and all the usual things involved in dating.”
In “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” Harry famously had his first kiss with Cho Chang. In this film, we see him begin a new relationship with an old friend, as he discovers that Ron’s “baby” sister, Ginny, is now a lovely young woman. Bonnie Wright, who likewise has grown up in the role of Ginny, says her character’s attraction to Harry is not news to her. “As a little girl, Ginny fancied her big brother’s best friend, but she never believed anything would come of it because he is her brother’s best friend. Over the years, they developed a connection; she understands the responsibility Harry has to the rest of the wizarding world and that he is seen as the ‘Chosen One.’ But what she doesn’t realize is that he has begun to like her, too. That does come as a surprise to her and I guess to him, as well,” she smiles.
Standing in the way of Harry and Ginny’s budding romance, there is the matter of her current boyfriend, Dean Thomas (Alfred Enoch). Ron has been glaring at Dean while keeping a protective eye on his sister, and Harry would prefer not to see that glare turned towards him. Radcliffe offers, “Harry is starting to feel incredibly strongly about Ginny, but her brother is his best mate and he doesn’t want to jeopardize that. At the same time, he really does want to kiss Ginny so it’s a bit of a dilemma. I think it’s good fun and quite sweet.”
However, Ginny’s big brother is about to be distracted by his own romantic triangle. Ron Weasley gets his first official love interest, although fans have long suspected that he and Hermione have feelings for each other, while never actually admitting them. But pretty Lavender Brown makes no secret of her affection for Ron and never misses an opportunity to demonstrate her adoration.
“Ron finally gets a girlfriend in this film,” Rupert Grint says. “At the start, he thinks he’s quite the man. But after a while he finds her a bit overwhelming because Lavender is sort of over the top; she’s starting to scare him. She calls him ‘Won-Won’ and gives him jewelry, and Ron doesn’t know how to handle it. She’s driving him crazy.”
Heyman comments, “Lavender is a force of nature. She’s a lovely girl but not at all reserved. She is all over Ron, who is not used to such a predatory female. But initially, he is rather enjoying it, and who can blame him? Their romance is a great source of humor and it really lets Rupert flex his comedic muscles, which is a treat.”
“Rupert is such a natural comedian,” Yates affirms. “He was always coming up with surprising little things that made us all laugh. So it was a real thrill to direct him in the comedy scenes, which is something I didn’t really have an opportunity to do on ‘Order of the Phoenix.’”
For the role of the coquettish Lavender Brown, the filmmakers cast newcomer JessieCave, who describes her character as “bubbly and very physical, which is quite liberating. Her way of getting Ron is leaping on him and kissing him and practically strangling him with her hugs, but it leaves other people incredulous. It’s a bold thing to do; not many girls would be brazen enough to act that way, but she uses it to get what she wants and she usually does. I also think that she is hiding a lot of insecurities underneath. She definitely has layers, and that’s what makes her such a great character.”
“JessieCave is fantastic,” Heyman states. “We saw a lot of girls for the part, but when we saw Jessie, there was no question—she was our Lavender Brown. There was also so much chemistry between her and Rupert.”
Lavender also gives Ron his first kiss, but it is a far cry from the chaste and very private kiss shared by Harry and Cho in the last film. Rather, Ron and Lavender are in the middle of a cheering crowd when Lavender wraps her arms around Ron’s neck and plants a long kiss on his lips. “It was sort of embarrassing because our first kiss was in a room full of people, not like Dan’s. We were both nervous,” Grint confesses, “but once we got through a few takes, it was cool.”
_ As the kissing scene approached, Radcliffe was planning on taking a little revenge on his castmate. “I was very much looking forward to Rupert kissing Jessie. I took a fair bit of ribbing when I kissed Katie in the last film, so it was my turn this time around,” he laughs.
_ One person, however, is not amused by Lavender’s overt displays of affection for Ron: Hermione, who has been holding a torch for Ron, while he remains oblivious. Yates acknowledges, “They may not seem to be a natural couple in many ways, because she is so bright and organized and serious and he appears to be none of those things. But there is something else going on that draws them together.”
Hermione hasn’t exactly been forthcoming about her feelings, and now she is heartbroken—afraid she has lost her chance and, worse yet, to a girl she can’t abide.
“Hermione hates Lavender so much,” says Watson candidly. “The fact that she is with Ron would be reason enough, but I think Hermione mostly hates her because Lavender is the complete opposite of her in every way. She sees Lavender as a giggly, air-headed, attention-seeking girly-girl and she can’t stand that. Hermione is strong and smart, which can be intimidating to guys. I don’t think she knows how to put on makeup or do her hair, so she finds it hard to compete on those terms with a girl like Lavender.”
The differences between Hermione and Lavender are also evident in their clothing choices. Jany Temime says she designed Lavender’s costumes to be as feminine and colorful as her name. “We gave her very flirty, pretty things to wear, and she has a different outfit for every scene to show she’s a girl who loves clothes. Even when she wears her uniform, she’s added personal little touches, like the scarf in her hair.”
By contrast, Temime says, “Hermione is still very down to earth in what she wears—very casual, very practical. She looks lovely because Emma is a beautiful girl, but Hermione is the sort of girl who believes her brain is her best asset, so she is not trying to impress with her clothes.”
But neither Lavender nor Hermione counted on a love potion-laced box of chocolates, combined with Ron’s unending appetite, to steal his affections. “They were just laying out for the taking, and Ron does enjoy his sweets,” Grint teases.
_ FIELD OF PLAY
_ The romantic rivalries spill over to the Quidditch pitch, where Ron and Cormac McLaggen are both trying out for the Gryffindor Quidditch team. Hoping to catch Hermione’s eye, the handsome and athletic Cormac has decided to compete against Ron for the position of Keeper. “He’s an arrogant show-off, who thinks he is the best at everything,” states Freddie Stroma, who plays Cormac. “He wants to give Ron a hard time by going after the position of Keeper…and Hermione.”
“Ron is understandably intimidated by him because Cormac is in a physical class that Ron will never be,” says Heyman. “But with some help from his friends, Ron puts Cormac in his place.”
Second unit director Stephen Woolfenden reveals, “One thing David Yates really wanted to do was get Rupert up there on a rig and catch him off guard, so we filmed him from a variety of angles where we would just fire 20 Quaffles at a time at him. The real responses to everything flying at him at once made for some very funny viewing and the improvised nature of it also made it easier for him to look as though he is not as in control.”
In addition to the team trials, there is also an actual match between Gryffindor and Slytherin. “It was really great to work on the Quidditch scenes, which is something I didn’t get to do in the last film,” Yates says. “From the start, we wanted to explore how physically demanding a sport it is, because if you’re flying around on a broomstick at 60 miles-per-hour, trying to avoid Bludgers and each other, it can actually be quite dangerous. In our Quidditch, you see players colliding in mid-air and falling, so it’s visceral and very fast.”
“We wanted it to be like rollerball on brooms,” adds David Barron. “It’s tougher and rougher than Quidditch has ever been before, but also a lot of fun.”
Woolfenden says that capturing the rough-and-tumble action of the flying sport “was a wonderful mix of departments all working together: visual effects, stunts, special effects, camera, costumes…”
The flying rigs used for the Quidditch scenes in the previous films had to be redesigned for “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” mainly because the kids have grown up. Special effects supervisor John Richardson offers, “The broomstick rigs we had in the past were all designed for little kids, and now we’re dealing with big, strapping lads and lasses. Everything had to be redeveloped.”
There were several different rigs utilized to capture the high-flying action, including one called the Matrix rig, which could rapidly spin an actor or stuntperson on any axis, while keeping them safely secured. Stunt coordinator Greg Powell notes, “It gave us great range of motion in a nice fluid movement, but was very safe.”
“They could spin around one way and then the other, and backwards and forwards… It looks great, but I would hate to do it after lunch,” Richardson jokes.
Other equipment incorporated to film the Quidditch sequences included: a pole arm, on which the broom could be mounted and either manually or mechanically manipulated; a giant Russian swing, which could literally launch a person into the air, allowing the camera to catch them in free fall; and, of course, a traditional trampoline.
Jany Temime designed new Quidditch uniforms, including a training outfit, which she describes as “basically like a track suit with extra padding on the arms and legs and a leather helmet. The game uniform is obviously more glamorous than the training outfit. Everything was handmade. It was absolutely sumptuous.”
Completing the look of the game uniforms, visual effects supervisor Tim Burke and his team digitally added the teams’ capes in post-production. They made the capes appear to be streaming, adding to the effect of speed.
Production designer Stuart Craig also updated the look of the Quidditch stadium. “We put in more towers and they’re closer together, which offered the players more opportunities for weaving in and out,” he explains. “It added to the action with things whizzing by at close proximity. There are also proper bleachers. I think it’s altogether more impressive.”
_ A NEW
_ CHOSEN ONE
_ One student, however, has no time for fun and games. Draco Malfoy has been called upon by Lord Voldemort himself to carry out a mission of great importance and greater consequence. It is a task beyond his years, but Draco accepts it willingly because it will bring him the recognition he craves…and, in his eyes, will at last give him a status to match that of his arch-rival: Harry Potter.
_ Returning to the role of Draco Malfoy, Tom Felton allows, “He has always been envious of Harry’s limelight and his standing in the wizarding world as the ‘Chosen One.’ Now Draco has been given the opportunity to be the ‘Chosen One,’ and he revels in it at first. I think this is his coming of age, since his father has been put in Azkaban and he is left to redeem the family name. He wants to prove to Voldemort that he is the right man for the job but—more importantly—to make his father proud.”
Draco’s maturation is also evident in his manner of dress. He has discarded his school uniform in favor of a black suit and even has his father’s walking stick. “He is his father’s son and dresses accordingly,” Temime comments. “We really wanted to show that he considers himself on his way out of Hogwarts.”
Nevertheless, the task Draco has been charged with is so terrible and so risky that his mother, Narcissa Malfoy, risks the wrath of the Dark Lord by going to the home of Severus Snape to ask him to help her son complete it. Helen McCrory, who plays the part of the aristocratic Malfoy matriarch, relates, “Draco has been asked to fulfill an incredibly dangerous task, and she does not think he is capable of doing it. Therefore, she betrays what she believes is a true cause in order to secure her son’s safety. She’s desperate. In that moment, I think she must be secretly furious with Voldemort—it’s one thing to ask for your loyalty, but it’s another thing to ask for your child’s life. Narcissa may be a baddie, but she is a good mother.”
Narcissa is accompanied by her sister, the malevolent Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange. Bellatrix insists to her sister that it is an honor that Draco was personally chosen by the Dark Lord to execute his plans, while hissing her distrust of Snape. When he tells Narcissa he will help her son, Bellatrix tests his resolve by forcing him to make the Unbreakable Vow.
Helena Bonham Carter, who reprises the role of Bellatrix Lestrange, observes, “I think Bellatrix has contempt for Snape and others because she has been the most faithful to the Dark Lord. She believes she is Voldemort’s favorite because she went to Azkaban and stood by him when he vanished, whereas she thinks Snape is a coward who just keeps both sides happy.”
Relishing her freedom and emboldened by Voldemort’s return, Bellatrix has been rampaging through the wizarding and Muggle worlds, causing death and destruction. Terrorizing the country with the notoriously savage werewolf Fenrir Greyback (Dave Legeno) and other Death Eaters, she has even left the wizards’ beloved Diagon Alley in ruins. But she takes particular delight in targeting Harry Potter—taunting him about her murder of his godfather, Sirius Black—and his closest friends, especially the Weasley family.
“She’s a bit of a pyromaniac,” Bonham Carter declares, alluding to the fate of the Weasley home when she and Greyback drop in uninvited at holiday time, with calamitous results. “And now that the war has really begun,” she continues, “she can be as anarchic and naughty as she wants. She truly is barking mad; there’s no halfway with Bellatrix and that’s what makes her so much fun to play.”
While Bellatrix and her cohorts are causing mayhem, Draco is sneaking around the castle and experimenting with a mysterious Vanishing Cabinet inside the Room of Requirement, which looks quite different from the room as seen in the last film. “The nature of the Room of Requirement is that in meeting your requirement, it is inevitably going to have a distinct appearance every time,” notes Craig. “The architecture is the same, with that huge vaulted ceiling, but our theme this time was to make it more of a huge storeroom.” The floor-to-ceiling clutter of furniture and other random items makes it a perfect place to camouflage or hide away certain items…as required.
Just as Draco’s mother feared, the gravity of his mission begins to take its toll on the young wizard. “He is not quite the man he thinks he is,” Felton attests. “In previous years, he’s come off as confident and cocky, but now we see that he’s much weaker than he ever let on. I loved showing a more vulnerable side to him.”
“Draco has always wanted to be center stage,” Yates says. “He wants to be the ‘Chosen One,’ the one everyone talks about, and thinks that in fulfilling the terrible mission that Voldemort has set for him, he will achieve glory. But the pressure gets to him, and we see him begin to fragment…which was fun for Tom to play and me to direct.”
“As the story progresses, we see him start to unravel,” Heyman affirms. “He is only 16 or 17 years old and he is faced with the burden of doing things that he knows are very dark. Are they true to his nature? We may have been led to believe so. Is that the ultimate truth? I am not so sure. Draco Malfoy has always been the evil foil…a bit of a fool really. But we begin to see that beneath that smug, arrogant veneer lies a fragile, vulnerable person, which I think is so often true of bullies. It was really important to David Yates to explore the complexity of every character, whether bad or good, and he and Tom did a brilliant job bringing depth and humanity to Malfoy and his journey.”
“I love working with Tom,” Yates remarks. “He’s passionate about the work, and I think he did some really special stuff for us on this film.”
Malfoy’s behavior has raised the suspicions of Harry Potter, who is becoming more and more convinced that his longtime nemesis is now a full-fledged Death Eater, despite doubts expressed by Ron and Hermione. There is certainly no love lost between them and Draco Malfoy, but they can’t believe he’s gone that far. Radcliffe asserts, “Harry’s thinking is that Malfoy’s dad was one, so why not him? He starts stalking Malfoy, trying to figure out what he’s up to.”
When Harry corners Malfoy, it leads to their first truly physical fight. Although Harry and Draco had never gotten along, “our relationship was always just a bit of mouthing off; there was never really any violence,” says Felton. “This time, it gets more intense, to say the least.”
Spells are hurled back and forth until Harry delivers a crushing blow with a devastatingly powerful and potentially lethal spell…a spell he learned from the Half-Blood Prince.
_ DISTANT MEMORIES
_ Harry actually has no idea who the Half-Blood Prince is. All he knows is he was the previous owner of an old textbook, which Harry inherited when he enrolled in Professor Slughorn’s Potions class. Yates offers, “The book says it is the ‘Property of the Half-Blood Prince,’ but there is no name and no other record of him, so his identity is an enigma. But whoever he was, he was obviously very smart; he was capable of taking the conventional recipes for certain potions and spells and making them significantly better. He was an original thinker but also quite a dark thinker. The things he came up with eventually lead Harry into some very intense territory.”
_ Handwritten along the margins of the Advanced Potion Making textbook, the notes from the Half-Blood Prince help make Harry even more of a star in Slughorn’s class, which plays perfectly into Dumbledore’s plans. He knew the Potions professor would try to “collect” Harry and bluntly tells Harry to let him. Michael Gambon explains, “Dumbledore knows Slughorn is hiding some important information about the young Tom Riddle, but he needs Harry to get him to reveal it.”
Dumbledore believes that the key to Lord Voldemort’s defeat lies in his past; therefore he has been gathering any memories he can of Tom Riddle, trying to glean when and how Riddle gained the knowledge that enabled him to become, as he says, “the most dangerous Dark Wizard of all time.” Each memory he procures is carefully labeled and stored in a glass vial, including his own earliest recollections. Taking one out, he pours the contents into a floating Pensieve and shows Harry his first memory of Tom Riddle as a mere child.
Harry watches as a younger Dumbledore arrives at Wool’s Orphanage. Production designer Stuart Craig says that the exterior of the orphanage was inspired by a building he came across while location scouting on the dockside in Liverpool. “There was this monolithic brick structure that dominated everything around it,” he describes. “It was very sinister, very prison-like, and the design grew out of that. For the interior we used this glazed tile that was typical of Victorian institutions because it was durable and easy to clean. It has a dark, oppressive look that perfectly suited the environment we wanted to create for the orphanage.”
Inside the orphanage, Dumbledore is led to a cheerless room and is greeted by the cold stare of the young Tom Riddle. The part of the 11-year-old Tom is played by Hero Fiennes Tiffen, who happens to be the nephew of Ralph Fiennes, the actor who portrays Lord Voldemort. “Tom is a dark, gloomy boy,” says Tiffen, who was age 10 when he won the role of Tom Riddle as a boy. “He has these special powers and he can hurt anyone who is mean to him. He doesn’t have any friends at the orphanage, so he steals other people’s things because it makes him feel close to them. It’s very sad.”
“Hero was fantastic,” Heyman states. “He is a lovely, charming boy, yet he was able to create an eerie detachment and a sense of control that I think is chilling onscreen.”
“He’s absolutely the sweetest kid you’d ever want to meet,” Yates confirms. “He took direction so well. It wasn’t difficult because he’s quite charismatic, so it was just a matter of switching off any emotion and letting him be very still and very calm.”
Dumbledore tells Tom that, at Hogwarts, he will be taught how to use and control magic. He leaves not knowing the wheels he has unwittingly set in motion, “but it is scary to realize that the die was cast all those years ago,” says David Barron.
Dumbledore later shows Harry another memory, this one of a 16-year-old Tom Riddle, who has become one of Horace Slughorn’s prized pupils. Frank Dillane, who plays the teenaged Riddle, notes, “Tom is very charming but very manipulative. His relationship with Slughorn is a bit topsy-turvy. I mean, in the student/teacher relationship, the teacher should be the one that commands authority. But from what we see, Tom is the one who appears to be pulling the strings.”
“Frank did an amazing job of conveying that there is something brewing just beneath the surface,” Barron says. “Tom is exceedingly polite, yet there is something vaguely threatening about him that obviously unnerves Slughorn.”
On this particular evening, Tom lingers after one of Slughorn’s gatherings and asks him about “a bit of rare magic.” But Slughorn angrily cuts him off, refusing even to discuss such matters and ordering him out of the room.
Harry is understandably confused until Dumbledore explains that the memory is a lie. It has been altered by the one whose memory it is: Horace Slughorn. And whatever information Slughorn did impart to Tom could lead them to the only way to defeat Voldemort. Somehow, Harry must get Slughorn to overcome his guilt and his fear and divulge what, in truth, he remembers.
“This represents a real progression for Harry as a character,” Yates observes. “Harry is fighting a war so when Dumbledore tells him that, with this memory, they could defeat Voldemort, that’s all he needs to know. Killing Voldemort is what primarily drives Harry, so Slughorn becomes just a means to an end. It is a definite departure to see Harry Potter working this guy to get what he wants.”
_ PASSING THE MANTLE
_ The objective to find and, hopefully, destroy the source of Voldemort’s immortality and power sends Harry and Dumbledore on a perilous journey to an isolated cave set deep within a windswept cliff. Stuart Craig recalls, “When we were doing our location scouts, we found the Cliffs of Moher in the west of
Ireland and immediately thought they would be spectacular for the entrance of the cave.”
The filmmakers wanted the cave interior to seem vast beyond measure, “so there was no possibility of building that physically,” Craig acknowledges. “Apart from the point at which Harry and Dumbledore first arrive and the island formation on which everything inside the cave happens, the set is entirely virtual, designed in the computer. We’d had our first totally virtual set on the last film, so we approached this one with a bit more confidence.”
The interior of the cave appears to be made up of geometric crystal formations, so Craig and his team began by researching various rock formations. They also visited a quartz crystal cave and a salt crystal cave to study the properties of crystal surfaces. “Reproducing salt crystals requires some major R&D and a lot of experimenting with synthetic resins,” the designer remarks. “The challenge was to create something that was magical but credible at the same. It was also a challenge for Tim Burke and our visual effects team and also for (director of photography) Bruno Delbonnel. How do you light this glowing crystal island in the middle of a huge black void? Everybody was part of the process; it was an exciting collaboration.”
Within the recesses of the cave, Harry and Dumbledore face terrible dangers as, for the first time, Harry is forced by Dumbledore to take control. Radcliffe states, “When Dumbledore takes Harry on this mission, it is sort of a rite of passage. He is initiating Harry into what he is ultimately going to have to do. This is the beginning of the story of defeating Voldemort, and Harry would never shirk that responsibility.”
And, whether or not they succeed, new and even more terrible threats await them at Hogwarts.
Heyman reflects, “There is a line in the film where Dumbledore says, ‘Once again, I must ask too much of you, Harry.’ Does he feel guilt? I don’t know if he feels guilt, but he knows that Harry is growing up, and I think this is all part of the education of Harry Potter. Dumbledore knows that ultimately Harry is going to be the one who has to face Voldemort, and in introducing him to Slughorn and exposing him to some of Voldemort’s history and taking him on the journey that he does, he is preparing Harry for the final battle that lies ahead.”