29th May2014

Six amazing facts about Harry Potter…

by Kat Wheat


Who doesn’t love the wonders of the wizarding world of Harry Potter? The boy wizard has captivated audiences since the first book was published in 1997 and the movies have not only brought new fans to the novels, but have also cemented the series’ place as one of the most popular fictional tales of all time. However, although you might think you know the books from cover to cover, or the films from Philosopher’s Stone to Deathly Hallows: Part II, there are still some secret things about the much-loved characters you may not be aware of.

Here are some of the most amazing facts about Harry Potter:

1) Raucous Ron Weasley?

When J.K. Rowling first started developing the characters for the Harry Potter series, it was her intention that Ron Weasley would swear a lot. While there were plenty of “bloody hells” in the films, the language could have been much more colourful if Rowling had got her way. However, her publishers advised her against the use of swearing in the books, as it would not have been appropriate for a younger readership.

2) The Great Hall: Let there be light

The candles seen in the Great Hall in the first movie, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, were actually real when filming first began. However, as you can imagine, they soon caused problems for people on set. The candles burned through the wires they were hung from and started falling from the ceiling. Not only was this detrimental for filming, it was obviously a health and safety hazard for the actors involved! The candles were therefore added to the film digitally in post-production. Never mind the troublesome candles, the Great Hall is a pretty marvellous place. You can experience the magic for yourself at the Warner Brothers Studio tour in London. Get inside the making of Harry Potter by wandering round the place where they actually filmed scenes for all the movies the Great Hall has featured in! There are also a number of costumes on display as well as the tables where all the students sat for dinner and assemblies.

3) Voldemort: You’re saying it wrong!

Despite ‘He-who-must-not-be-named’ being regularly mentioned in the books and the films, the pronunciation on the big-screen is a little bit off the mark. You’ll notice that basically every character says ‘Voldemort’ when they mention the frighteningly powerful wizard, but in fact they should be saying ‘Voldemor.’ The name actually derives from French, and quite literally means ‘flight of death.’ As such, the characters should have been pronouncing his name with a silent ‘t’ for cultural authenticity. Pretty mind blowing, isn’t it? Somehow we think his image wouldn’t have been as quite scary and intense if it had been said correctly.

4) Snape knows best

During filming, Alan Rickman was the only actor who knew the fate of his character, Professor Snape. According to sources, J.K. Rowling herself personally told him what became of the Potions Professor. This means that before the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows novel was released, the English actor knew what was going to happen to the sinister, strict and serpent-tongued teacher. It allowed Rickman to really understand Snape’s motives and history which improved his performance during the films.

5) Like characters, like actors

Another way to try and get the actors to engage with their characters was tried by Alfonso Cuaron, director of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The man who would later go on to take many plaudits for his film Gravity (2013) asked his three young stars (Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint) to write an essay about their respective characters. In true form, Emma Watson delivered a 16-page report on top-pupil Hermione Granger, while Radcliffe offered a solitary page on his impressive, albeit academically uninspired, Potter. However, their efforts truly outshone Grint, who never actually handed in his essay for his lazy character of Ron Weasley. You could say that the task actually worked for all three!

6) Plentiful props

The filming of the movies obviously required a great number of props, but the amount of multiple objects that were created is pretty staggering. For example, forty versions of Salazar Slytherin’s locket horcrux were created due to the number of times Radcliffe and Grint failed to destroy it during filming. In the scene where the characters visit Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault at Gringotts, some 210,000 gold coins were created for the filming process. The famous round glasses of Harry Potter were also numerous. It is said that Radcliffe went through 160 pairs of the specs throughout the films. Radcliffe was also a notable user of wands, wearing out over 60 of the magical sticks!


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