Harry Potter: Love Potions and Dark Magic
"Chipmunk face, big teeth, bushy hair", says Emma. "My lips are like the lips of a horse" says Daniel, "I was s**ting myself massively" admits Tom. These are the kinds of self-deprecating statements we got from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince actors Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Tom Felton and Bonnie Wright when we spoke with them recently at New York's posh Waldorf-Astoria hotel.
It's clear that over ten years of praise and fan adulation hasn't turned these young actors into snobs. We realized, as they currently shoot their roles as Harry, Hermione, Ron, Draco and Ginny in the last two "Deathly Hallows" Potter films, that, like many older teens and their BFFs, these actors are childhood pals who will soon go out into the world, alone for the first time; some (Emma and Bonnie) to college, others (the boys) continuing their film careers with further education on the back burner.
For now, the wizard brood is taking a break from shooting the away-from- Hogwarts, action-packed last two films, in order to fill us in on the sometimes comic romantic entanglements that their characters experience all while fighting some very dark magic in "Half-Blood". We got the scoop on how they date without the benefit of love spells (Emma jokes that she is dating her stalker), Rupert's comic turn on the Quidditch team, Dan and Bonnie's kiss, Emma and Rupert's upcoming snogging session and what it was really like to lose Dumbledore. When Michael Gambon stuck his head in the door to tease Dan during our interview, we noted that old and very wise wizards never really die, they just become more playful.
Fashion alert: picture Dan in eye-matching blue shirt and black slacks, Emma in classy little black dress and very high gladiator sandal heels, Tom in Draco-appropriate black suit and Bonnie in cute white tunic with rainbow-colored, sequined embellishments, black slacks and sweater. We can't get over how beautifully these actors have grown up. Let's dish kisses, curses and childhoods left behind...
TeenHollywood: How did you handle working on the balance between teen romance versus the dark heavy drama in "Half-Blood"?
Emma: I think it was a nice break. I think if Hermione 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's nice that she had a bit of light relief for all of us. For kids' books, they're pretty dark. They can be pretty heavy and serious. I sound like an English Literature student but having more of that [humor] actually heightened the pathos at the end where Dumbledore died. By, having some other, lighter stuff, it was pretty shocking when suddenly it was like 'whoa! A really big figure in this series has just died'. So, it was really good.
Rupert: Yeah. I thought it was one of the funniest [of the films]. You've got two new characters as well; Jim Broadbent, who I think, is hilarious in it and Jessie Cave as well who is my girlfriend.
Rupert: [laughs] Yeah. I really enjoyed it.
Dan: Yeah, I have to say as well, for my money, in terms of the comedy, I think this is Rupert's finest hour. He's absolutely brilliant in the movie and reveals himself to be a fantastic practitioner of physical comedy. He always has been and he balances the dramatic stuff as well wonderfully but the scene on the broomstick in Quidditch which is like something out of Buster Keaton or something, it's absolutely brilliant and I was belly laughing. It was wonderful.
Rupert: Thanks, I know you mean that.
TeenHollywood: Emma and Rupert, was there a kissing scene filmed that didn't make it to the movie or is that an internet rumor?
Emma: I think there might have been a small misunderstanding. The kissing scene that they have is in the seventh film and this is the sixth one so it wasn't that we did it and it was s**t and didn't make it [laughter]. We'll see after the edit. But, yeah, we did the scene about two weeks ago.
Rupert: [is he blushing?] Yeah. We did it. [laughter]. It was not something we were looking forward to. It was quite a strange thing to think about doing but I think it was all right in the end.
Emma: Yeah. David [Yates, the director] doesn't really let us watch playback but he let us watch in this circumstance and Rupert and I were quite nervous that it might look ingenuous as we were so desperate to get it over with. I think Rupert and I felt the pressure of this kiss. There's so much media interest and also the fans.. this is like ten years worth of tension and hormones and chemistry and everything in one moment and we had to ace it. So, it was like 'oh, God'. But, hopefully we did. I'm sure you'll critique it in a couple of years. Please be nice.
Dan: [to Rupert and Emma] I think, to be honest with you, you're probably going to come out very well. But, poor Bonnie, who is sitting down at the other end of this table, who has the kiss with me, I saw the film again a couple of nights ago at the premiere and I really watched it and my God! My lips are like the lips of a horse [laughter] kind of distending independently away from my face and trying to encompass the lower half of hers. I apologize, Bonnie.
Bonnie: I don't know what to say. Well, I didn't notice so don't worry.
TeenHollywood: Well speaking of horses. Daniel, you've just finished "Equus". Do you have another stage project lined up?
Dan: Nothing specific, no. Nice segue, though. Using the horse at the end of that question was excellent [we laugh]. No, nothing specific at all. I would love to be back on the stage sometime within the next two or three years but there's nothing planned at all. Obviously, if Broadway would have me back, that would be incredible because I had an amazing time here.
TeenHollywood: What did you learn about your characters this time around and Bonnie how did you feel playing a much bigger part in this film?
Tom: It was a great opportunity for myself to really dive a little bit deeper into Draco's head and discover that he really is a coward through and through [laughter]. But, no, it was great fun to really explore a bit deeper and make him more three-dimensional.
Bonnie: Yeah, the same for me. When you've got more to look at with your character and it's not just in one section at the beginning and then at the end of the film, it's a continual development so I was able to take the character further and have more to do.
Emma: I think, in the film, we see quite a strong Hermione, quite a kind of girl-power Hermione. She's the brains behind the operation dragging the guys around with her but also, in this one, I think she's much more fragile and vulnerable and emotional. She's experiencing her first heartache, really. I think she's very confused by how she feels about Ron and how upset she is when he kisses someone else so it was a challenge for me to play this much more emotional, vulnerable person. It was fun to do a lot more comedy with Rupert [he laughs] which was great. I actually had a lot of fun doing this one and I loved it a lot.
Rupert: Yeah. I liked to think this is Ron's best year at Hogwarts. He gets a girlfriend, joins the Quidditch team for the first time. And, yeah, it was nice to have something to really get stuff into and I really enjoyed it, yeah.
Dan: For me, the big change in Harry this year is his relationship with Dumbledore. Previously, it's always been very much teacher and student and this year it changes to being a general with his favorite lieutenant. Harry becomes foot soldier in this movie and happy to be so. Also, in all the other ones, you see Harry going 'yeah! We've got to get Voldemort. We're gonna kill him' but he never really does anything towards it. This year he's actually being pro-active and planning and trying to actually do something towards the ultimate destruction of Voldemort.
TeenHollywood: Ron has this stalker girlfriend who is impressed by his celebrity. For the three of you, has it gotten a little strange where you find you are dating people more interested in your character rather than yourself?
Dan: Fortunately, I don't think that's the case for any of us. I don't think that any of us are...
Emma: I'm dating my stalker. [laughter]
Dan: Well, that's often the best way to deal with them. You just confront them with it, then they often go off.
Emma: He's always there when I need him. I can be very demanding. He's so into me. [now everybody is laughing]. It's the way to go. I really recommend it.
Dan: Well, I'm not but it's still good.
Rupert: [long pause] Oh, I'm not but it sounds quite good really. You get a lot of attention, I suppose.
TeenHollywood: You hear stories that you guys are filming and people are taking pieces of the set. Has it registered for you that this Harry Potter thing is truly ending?
Dan: For me, it hadn't until this week. I was actually getting along quite nicely until people said 'well, so, your dream's coming to an end'. But, I think I speak for most of us, we've got a year left on [film] seven. It's a long way to go then we've got to do lots of publicity and meet up with [the press] twice more. So there's a long way to go to be honest certainly for us so I'm not contemplating the end too much these days.
Emma: Aside from that, I think we all feel as if Harry Potter is never really going to die. I think it's so big and so loved and we have the theme park coming out in 2010 and I think kids are going to keep reading the books and new generations of kids are going to keep watching the films. I don't really feel like it's ever really going to go away. I think it's got longevity.
Tom: Yeah. I don't think when they finish filming that will be the end of us portraying the characters. I think always be a little bit inside of us that will always remain so to speak. But I'm certainly enjoying it rather than looking ahead and getting a bit sad about it. I'm gonna make the most of it and certainly cry my eyes out when it's finished.
TeenHollywood: Dan, how do you weather the world of dating in real life without the benefit of magic or spells?
Tom: Oh, I wanna hear this.
Emma: He doesn't need them.
Dan: That's very kind of you. I don't know. I don't feel like I'm in the world of dating. I don't feel like a young 20-something in that world. I don't have that sort of life. I'm working. I'm happy to be working. It's not a case of I don't have time to have a girlfriend. I do. People often ask, 'does being Harry Potter help you get girls?' I don't know. I was eight or nine when I started so I didn't have girls so I don't know what it's like to get girls without being Harry Potter. [laughter]
TeenHollywood: Okay, we'll be kind and leave the dating subject for now. Could you talk about that great scene when you all raise your wands in salute and what it was like losing Dumbledore?
Dan: I think the moment when the wands are raised in salute and the dark mark in the sky is slowly eroded by this white light is a wonderful moment. It was a hard scene for me because, at the time of filming, I had never lost anybody close to me. And you can never hope to imagine what that must feel like and so I was, in a way, having to imagine the feelings and I hope if it even came a third of the way close to being real then I'm happy with that. In terms of losing Dumbledore from the series, it's very sad for me because I won't get to work so much with Michael [Gambon] in the seventh film and I'll miss him because we had a great time together.
TeenHollywood: For Daniel, Rupert and Emma, are you able to watch the earlier films and see yourselves acting at that age? Do you cringe or critique?
Rupert: I haven't watched one all the way through for a long time. They're on TV occasionally and you kind of flip through them. It is quite surreal seeing that because it just doesn't feel like me. I feel quite detached from it. It's quite weird. But it will always bring back good memories because it was quite an exciting time in my life and it's nice.
Emma: Really, I find it easier to watch the earlier films which might surprise you because I had the whole bushy hair, chipmunk face, big teeth thing going on which wasn't a great look for me. But, actually, I find that easier to watch because I can completely disconnect myself. It feels like such a long time ago. I don't really identify myself with that girl. Whereas ones from one or two years ago, it's a little bit close. I'm only a couple of years younger and I find that much, much harder to watch. I'm very self-critical anyway so it's not a very nice experience. I think a lot of actors don't watch their work.
Dan: I haven't watched any of the films after they've been done. No. I think it would be an almost entirely destructive experience for me if I was actually to watch that. I become, as Emma says, far too critical. I remember we were having a conversation on the fourth film and I said to Emma something like 'God, I can't believe I saw a clip from the first film the other day. God, I can't believe how bad I am in it'. I think I said something to the effect of 'Why on earth did they cast me?' The only reason I remember it was on the fourth film that we had this conversation is because [director] Mike Newell in his massive booming voice from the other side of the set came back with [he leans back from the mic and yells] 'because you are absolutely bloody charming!' [laughter] But, in answer to the original question, I have not watched any of the films back.
TeenHollywood: These young wizards can control their magic but can't control their hormones so how did you reconcile those two principles in this film and how will you reconcile that going forward?
Dan: I think it's a wonderful thing in the film. I find it particularly endearing with Harry, the fact that he's this very acclaimed wizard and he's crap with women. I think that's a wonderful rather endearing quality that he has. I think this film demonstrates two types of teenaged relationships; one, which is mine and Bonnie's, is that kind of teenaged 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 fourteen and fifteen and you fall in love with somebody and that's all there is. And, the other kind which is much more carnal and energetic which is the one Rupert was lucky enough to have [laughter]. But I think that is probably true of most teenagers; a complete inability to control hormones or desire and it's no different with wizard children.
Emma: I think particularly with Hermione, you know, she's such a control freak. She wants to be able to control everything about her life, her destiny, her work, everything. And then, suddenly, she just falls apart in this one. She's just a wreck because she can't control the way that she feels. I think, in her head, if she could have chosen who she would fall in love with, it certainly would not have been Ron. In the nicest possible way, she would have chosen someone much more serious and much smarter and much better suited to her and la, la, la, la. But you can't help who you fall in love with. It's out of your hands to an extent.
TeenHollywood: Dan, how did you get into character for when you had to take Professor Slughorn's potion and you enter this altered state of mind?
Dan: To be honest I just let the more manic side of myself that I suppress for twenty-three hours of every day loose for a while on set and just became a kind of uncontrollable, vaguely irritating but sort of amusing person that I keep hidden. I just let him out and went mad for a few days. It was great fun to do. Actually, it is a kind of side to the character that hasn't really been seen before and [producer] David Heyman leaned over to me, he was sitting next to me at the premiere, and said, 'That's my favorite piece of acting that you do in this film.' So maybe I should've been playing slightly more maniacal all along.
Emma: I know that Dan won't mind me saying, but I think that drugged Harry is closer to Dan's real personality [laughs].
Dan: 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 like 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!
TeenHollywood: Can you talk about the process of reading the books and knowing what the characters would be doing in the upcoming two films?
Emma: To be honest, I'm such a geeky 'Harry Potter' fan, genuinely. I know the books inside and out and have read each of them at least three times and could probably answer any question you come up with and any plot detail you might care to ask, and so when I read the books I just read from the perspective of someone who's dying to know what happens generally before I even think about Hermione. I'm just not thinking of it like that. I'm just desperate to get to the end of it and am very excited to read it. That kind of comes second for me.
Tom: I'm quite the opposite. I read it and I revel in the pages when I see Draco's name I think 'oh, my God, this is it! This is cool. This is what I get to do'. So, when the sixth one came out I think I probably read it within twelve hours of it coming out. I didn't actually cue up outside but I have a friend who was doing it for me. So, I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Bonnie: I think also, with the relationship from my perspective with Ginny, reading the epilogue in the final section, I think, in order to make the relationship work in the sixth film, you kind of have to block that section out, obviously because no one knows their own destiny if you're playing a character. So I think you've just got to forget about what happens in the final one. Obviously, we knew, all of use knew, we'd read it so we knew what happens but you have to just be in the moment.
Tom: And take one at a time, yeah.
Dan: My reading of the books was always like, 'God. Another one of us is dead. Another death scene. Oh, God.' I always would be very much able to enjoy them when they came out, but I would also get nervous when I read them about whether I would be able to do justice to certain aspects of them which is probably not the healthiest mindset to be in when you read them. I couldn't help it though.
TeenHollywood: Emma you have college in the fall. Have you thought about the idea of having a roommate; a complete stranger?
Emma: I'm a little bit nervous. I figure if I'm going to do this experience I'm going to do it properly and I'm going to do it like everyone else. If I want to be treated like everyone else I have to do it like everyone else.
Dan: Haven't you been listening, she's dating a stalker. [laughter]
Emma: What kind of roommate will I be?
Emma: Yeah, clean. Cleanliness is good. Gosh. I don't know. Hopefully I'll be reasonably okay to live with. You should really ask this question to my family.
Dan: [chuckling] I really hope they are massive Harry Potter fans and have your face on a duvet (bed cover). [huge laughter].
Emma: As long as my face isn't on the wall, I will be fine. I will be happy. We'll see. It's pot luck isn't it?
TeenHollywood: Are there any childhood experiences you've put off that you are now looking forward to catching up with once the last two films are done?
Tom: I missed a few school trips. But, we've gained more than we've lost, it's fair enough to say.
Bonnie: Also, if you're waiting to do it, by the time we've finished, we're already of the age where we've forgotten about things like that.
Tom: It's a little late to go to Lego Land now. We missed that boat, unfortunately, yeah.
TeenHollywood: Well, have you thought about whether you want to continue acting or try something else?
Rupert: I definitely want to continue acting. I really enjoy it. I don't know what else I'd really be doing if this didn't really come up. Hopefully after this there will be some stuff to do. We'll wait and see.
Dan: I think, certainly from my point of view, I definitely want to go on acting for as long as I can find employment. To be honest, I'm never happier than when I'm on a film set. Long may that continue. I just want to keep working.
Emma: I'm going to university, but that doesn't mean that I'm giving up acting or anything dramatic like that. I feel like I do want to continue, definitely. I just want a normal experience for a bit. Just a little bit of normality for a while.
Dan: It was very much exaggerated in the press recently, wasn't it?
Emma: I think the media found it confusing that I wanted to go to university and sort of don't really understand why I'm doing it. I'm really looking forward to it. I've managed to juggle and balance studying and working well enough up to this point. So I don't see why I can't keep doing it. At university you get five months off on Holiday. The gaps are enormous. It's more than enough time to make one small 'Harry Potter' film but a couple of other films. So I think everything is possible. I'm being a bit selfish really. I'm trying to do everything.
Tom: I was always a little uncertain, to be honest, in years previous, whether this was the path I wanted to choose but in the last year, I've really brought up a passion for filmmaking, not just acting but everything that goes into it; the lights, the sound recording and the rest of it so I'd certainly love to continue it for as long as I can yeah.
Bonnie: It's the same with me. As this experience has gone on I've realized, luckily that this is the career I want to continue in and I'm going to film school in September. I'm interested in the wider elements like directing and cinematography. This film has definitely been a big inspiration for me.
TeenHollywood: Tom, you were brilliant as Draco in this. How did you approach taking him from cocky to more vulnerable throughout the movie?
Tom: Thank you. This neatly links in with [director] David [Yates], really. I was terrified before starting the film about approaching him in this whole new light. He's always been very two dimensional in previous years and we had to sort of take a new angle with it and David was very clear and concise with what he wanted. This sort of ghost-like image would glaze over his eyes constantly. He did some rehearsals with Michael [Gambon] and Alan [Rickman] and stuff which I was sh**ting myself massively before doing but he was like a father almost and he carried on and made sure that it was all okay so, certainly, any praise I get is down to his great direction.
Dan: I've said all this to you, privately.
Tom: Oh, don't embarrass me, mate.
Dan: I think for Tom to come in on this film, having, if we're honest, not been asked to do a great deal for the last few years, to come in a give the performance he gives in this 6th film is remarkable. It's a fantastic performance.
Tom: You are too kind, sir. Thank you.
TeenHollywood: Dan, can you describe the effects sequence in the water? Was that CGI or you were actually underwater breathing out of a tank?
Dan: I was holding my breath, certainly. To be honest, it was quite easy going, this particular underwater scene in comparison to what we did on film four where I was underwater for about forty-one hours over the course of a month. This one, I was only under maybe two days with the filming underwater. It was a stunt woman who was wrapping herself around me. It was actually one of the coolest moments of my career, bursting through the surface of the water being surrounded by this circle of real fire.
TeenHollywood: Yeow! How does that work?
Dan: They have a little pipeline just underneath the surface of the water which shoots up bubbles of kerosene, or whatever, propane. Then they kind of ignite it just on the surface. So the surface of the water goes just black with soot and it's kind of horrible but it's also great fun. Then I get to climb up onto to the kind of central island where I look up and see Michael Gambon there looking like God or Moses, with fire swirling high around his head. It was one of those moments where, it does not matter how many more films I do, I will never have this scene or anything like ever again.
TeenHollywood: Are you happy with the way the next film is shaping up?
Dan: I couldn't be happier, personally. I'm so excited about the seventh film. I don't know if anyone else has had the same experience as me over the last couple of days, but seeing the sixth film again we are doing something very, very different. We're not at Hogwarts. The difference that makes is extraordinary.
Emma: Yeah. It's not very often that, in the middle of filmmaking, you stop and go, 'This is going to be awesome.' I've done that on a number of occasions. We've just done this amazing scene in the forest where I'm being chased by the Snatchers. I've never done anything like it, nothing even close. I've never done any serious stunts or any real action. It's so exciting and just really dynamic. I think because all of us are finished with school and we're all just totally focused on this finale and it's out of Hogwarts and just about the three of us, it's just going to be...or I hope it's going to be brilliant. It feels totally different. I feel like I'm on a different film. The other films have this structure where we come into the great hall and then we have this talk. That's just kind of gone. It's going to be great.
TeenHollywood: How do you feel when author J.K. Rowling visits the sets and have you talked to her much about your characters?
Tom: I haven't seen her for a while on set but I had the pleasure of seeing her two nights ago at the London premiere and, obviously, as an actor in a part of her project, you do what to hear what she's got to say and she was very complimentary about the whole film which, honestly, is the ultimate honor at the end of it, really. For her to be happy with the performances is truly great for us.
Dan: Absolutely. She's always been very, very good at letting go of the films and realizing that they're totally separate entities from the books. So she's not been too precious about anything. She realizes that things have to be cut in order to make them viewable. So she's always been very good and when she comes out to the set it's a pleasure. It's a rare treat because I don't think she wants us to feel that she's come kind of prying. She's always been wonderful and is an incredibly gracious and lovely woman.
TeenHollywood: Was she okay with anything added in the films?
Dan: Just for the record, it might be interesting to note that the only thing thus far, in six films, that has been onscreen which is not in the books that she said, 'I wish I thought of that -' was a thing that Alfonso Cuaron had on the third 'Potter' film: To make the temperature drop when the Dementors came by so that you would see the water freeze over. That's the only thing that she's gone, 'Oh, God. I wish I thought of that.' Just a little bit of 'Potter' trivia for you.
Bonnie: I also admire the sense of trust she's given a lot of people, like the people in the art department and costume and the whole idea of the visual aspects of the film, I think it shows that she trusts the creative perfection everyone seems to put in these films. Everyone never leaves out any description at all. But, I think, unfortunately, a lot of her world is not seen in the films.
TeenHollywood: So, Rupert how is the swine flu now. Are you okay now?
Rupert: I'm fine now, yeah. You're all safe.