Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Tom Felton, and Bonnie Wright discuss hormones and tragedy in the latest installment
The kids are all grown up, and so has the subject matter. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is vastly more mature than the previous films. There's a lot of sexual tension, done remarkably well I might add, and humor here. The dating misfortunes of the characters are expertly blended into a darker story, which is the set-up for the epic finale of 'The Deathly Hallows'; currently filming with a slated two part release.
The cast press conference was hilarious. They seemed to enjoy the spotlight and were quite clever with their responses, especially to all the damned dating questions. They've developed a great repoire over the years and know how to play to the larger audience. Emma Watson in particular was a hit. She sat center stage and lapped up the attention. I'm sure she'll be a star at Columbia University in the fall.
This film is much darker, but also the funniest of the series. How much time did you spend working on the balance between drama and the comedy?
Emma Watson: I think it was a nice break. I think if Hermione kept going at the rate she was going, in terms of the amounts of worrying she was doing, she might've developed a haemorrhage. So it's nice that she had just a bit of light relief for all of us. The books are pretty dark. They can be pretty heavy and pretty serious. Having some more of that I think actually heightened the pathos at the end where Dumbledore died.
Rupert Grint: I think it's one of the funniest ones for me. Jim Broadbent (Professor Slughorn) who I think is hilarious in it. Jessie Cave (Lavender Brown) as well, who's my girlfriend. I really enjoyed it.
Daniel Radcliffe: I have to say that this, in terms of the comedy, is Rupert's finest hour. He's absolutely brilliant in the movie and kind of reveals himself to be a fantastic application of physical comedy. You balance the dramatic stuff as well, but the scene on the broomstick in quidditch is something like Buster Keaton. It's absolutely brilliant. It was wonderful.
What did you learn most about your characters this time around?
Tom Felton: This was a great opportunity for me to dive a little bit deeper into Draco's head and discover that he really is a coward through and through. So it was fun to explore a bit deeper and make him more fundamentally three dimensionally.
Bonnie Wright: I think you got to more sort of look out with your character that comes. It's not just kind of one section at the beginning and then at the end of the film. It's going to continue with development and so I was able to take the character and sort of had more to do.
Emma Watson: I think in the film you see quite a strong Hermione, quite a girl power Hermione. She's the brains behind the operation, but in this one I think that you see a very different Hermione. She's much more fragile and vulnerable and emotional. She's experiencing her first heartache. I think she's very confused about 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 and vulnerable person. It was also fun to do a lot more comedy with Rupert [Grint]. That was great.
Rupert Grint: I like to think this is Ron's best year at Hogwarts. He gets a girlfriend. He joins the quidditch team for the first time. It was nice to have someone to really get stuck into. I really enjoyed it.
Daniel Radcliffe: The big change for Harry this year is his relationship with Dumbledore. Previously it's always been very much teacher and student. This year it kind of changes it to being his general, a favorite lieutenant. Harry's become a foot soldier in this movie and is happy to be so. Also, this year, he's actually being proactive and planning, actually trying to do something towards the ultimate destruction of Voldemort.
Daniel, how did you get into character when you had to take Professor Slughorn's portion and go into an altered state of mind?
Daniel Radcliffe: To be honest, I just let the more manic side of myself that I suppress for twenty three hours of everyday loose for a while on set. I just let him out and went mad for a few days. It was great fun to do. It is a kind of side to the character that hasn't really been seen before.
Emma Watson: I know that Dan won't mind me saying, but I think that drugged Harry is closer to Dan's real personality.
Daniel Radcliffe: I do think 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.
Ron has a stalker girlfriend in the movie who's impressed with is celebrity. For the three of you, has it gotten that strange, perhaps dating people who are more interested in your characters rather than yourselves?
Daniel Radcliffe: Well, fortunately I don't think that's the case for any of us.
Emma Watson: I'm dating my stalker.
Daniel Radcliffe: That's often the best way to deal with it. You just confront them with it then they often go off.
Emma Watson: He's always there when I need him. He's so into me.
What about you Rupert?
Rupert Grint: It sounds quite good really. Get a lot of attention, I suppose.
Daniel, one of the best parts of the movie is you dating with a magical twist. How do you manage dating in real life without the benefit of spells? Emma Watson: He doesn't need them.
Daniel Radcliffe: That's very kind of you, Emma. I don't know. 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 twenty something. I don't have that sort of life. I'm working. I'm happy to be working. In some cases I don't have time to have a girlfriend. I do. I'm like everyone else, I suppose, though. It's weird. People ask if being Harry Potter helps you get girls. I don't know. I was eight or nine when I started doing Harry Potter. So I don't know what it's like to get girls without having the aid of it. So I don't know. How have you all found it?
Emma and Rupert, there was apparently a kissing scene filmed that didn't make it to the movie. How disappointed were you guys about that? And Rupert, can you talk about your snogging scene, if you had any preparation for that beforehand?
Emma Watson: I think there might've been a small understanding. The kissing scene that they have is in the seventh film. So it wasn't that we did it and it was shit and didn't make it. We may have to edit for the last one yet, but we did that scene about two weeks ago.
Rupert Grint: It really wasn't something that we were looking forward to. It was quite a strange thing to kind of have to think about doing that. I think it was alright at the end though.
Emma Watson: David [Yates] doesn't really let us watch playback. Rupert and I were concerned that it might look ingenuous as we were desperate to get it out of the way. I think that 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, everything in like one moment. We had to ace it. I'm sure you'll critique it. Please be nice.
Daniel Radcliffe: I think, to be honest with you, we're going to come out very well because poor Bonnie [Wright] who's sitting at the other end of this table has to kiss me. I saw the film again a couple of nights ago at the premiere. My God, my lips are like the lips of a horse. They're like distending independently away from my face and trying to encompass hers, so I apologize Bonnie.
Bonnie Wright: I didn't notice. Don't worry.
Back to the sexual tension. These kids are expert wizards that can control their magic, but can't control their feelings. How do you intend to reconcile those things going forward?
Daniel Radcliffe: I think it's kind of a wonderful thing in the film. I find it particularly endearing with Harry that he's this kind of very, very acclaimed wizard and he's crap with women. I think it's a wonderfully endearing quality that he has. In terms of this film, I think there are basically two types of teenage relationships. One, mine and Bonnie's, which is that kind of teenage thing where you're in love and it's pure and it's innocent and it's all that matters in your life. Then there's the other kind which is more carnal and energetic; which is the one that Rupert was lucky enough to have.
Emma Watson: I think that particularly with Hermione she's such a control freak. She wants to control everything about her life. 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've chosen who to fall in love with it certainly wouldn't have been Ron, in the nicest possible way. She would've chased someone much more serious and much smarter and much more suited to her. You can't help who you fall in love with.
Emma, you have college in the fall. Have you thought about the idea of living with a complete stranger?
Emma Watson: 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.
Daniel Radcliffe: Haven't you been listening, she's dating a stalker. I really hope they are massive Harry Potter fans. I hope when you walk in, the first thing you see is your face on a doorway.
Emma Watson: I will be fine. I will be happy. We'll see. 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 normalcy for a while.
Daniel Radcliffe: It was very much exaggerated in the press recently, wasn't it?
Emma Watson: I think the media found it confusing that I wanted to go to university. I'm very excited. I'm really looking forward to it. I've managed to 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.
Bonnie Wright: It's the same for me. I'm going to also go to film school in September. I'm kind of interested in the wider elements, like directing and cinematography. I think this film has definitely been a big inspiration for me.
What film school?
Bonnie Wright: I'm staying in London and going to film school at University Arts London, the main sort of art school.
How would you characterize working with David Yates compared to the other directors you've worked with on these films?
Daniel Radcliffe: I have nothing but great things to say about David. We get closer every year. We get on very, 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 where he can say cut and I will immediately know without having to see or hear.
Emma Watson: David is great in the sense that he won't let you do anything other than the very best that you can produce. Sometimes that means being quite a hard task master. I think that David can tell whether I'm acting or not by looking at my back, genuinely. He's that scary. He just knows when you're really there and in the moment and trying and when you're not. A year ago he would say things to me, like, 'That was really great. A very good performance, but you're acting.' He won't settle for anything less than a truthful, honest performance. He's very generous with his time. If you want to talk something over he's more than willing to help you. He's very patient.
Rupert Grint: He's patient, which is quite a good thing to have when you're working with me and Dan because we laugh a lot. It must get annoying. He's my favorite that we've had.
Tom Felton: He actually does that five year old thing where he gets a shot that he likes and does this [jumps around]. We know he's happy then. He's incredibly gentle natured and he certainly got me through this film.
Tom, how did you take Draco from cocky to vulnerable in this movie?
Tom Felton: This links with David, really. I was terrified before starting the film about approaching this in a whole new light. He was very two dimensional in previous years and I've yet to sort of take a new angle with it. David was very, very clear and concise with what he wanted. He did some rehearsals, which I was shitting myself massively before doing; but he's like a father almost. He sort of made sure that it was all okay. So, certainly any praise that I get is down to his direction.
Daniel Radcliffe: I think for Tom to come in on this film having, if we're honest, not been asked to do a great deal in the last years, to come in and give the performance that you give in the sixth one is remarkable and fantastic.
Tom Felton: You are too kind, sir, thank you.
Are you guys happy with the way the next film is shaping up?
Daniel Radcliffe: I couldn't be happier. 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 Watson: Yeah. 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. The other films have this structure and it's like we come into the great hall and then we have this talk. There's a kind of structure that everything goes through and that's just kind of gone. It's going to be great.
Can you talk about the process of reading these books and knowing what these characters will be doing in books six and seven?
Emma Watson: 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. 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.
Tom Felton: I'm quite the opposite. I read it and I revel at the page whenever I see Draco's name I think. When the second one came out I think that I read it within probably twelve hours of it coming out. I didn't actually cue up outside, but I had a friend who was doing it for me. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Bonnie Wright: I think that also the relationship from my perspective with Ginny is also 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 if you're playing the character. I think that you have to forget what happens in the final one, assuming that you've all read it and know what happens.
Daniel Radcliffe: My reading of the books was always like, "God, another one of us is dead." 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.
Has it really set in for you guys that this is all truly ending?
Daniel Radcliffe: For me, it hadn't until this week when everyone seems to be telling me that it's almost over. I was actually getting along quite nicely until people started saying, "So, your dream is coming to an end." To be honest, I think speak for most of us when I say that we've got a year left on seven. It's a long way to go. Then we have to do a lot of publicity and meet up with all of you lovely people twice more. That sounded sarcastic. It wasn't.
Emma Watson: I think we all feel as if Harry Potter is never really going to die. I think it's so big and so loved. We have a theme park coming out in 2010 and I think that kids are going to keep reading the books and new generations of the kids are going to keep watching the films. I think it's got longevity.
Tom Felton: I don't think when they finish filming that that'll be the end of us portraying the characters. I think there will always be a little bit of that inside of us that will remain. I'm going to make the most out of it and certainly cry my eyes out when it's finished.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, Jim Broadbent, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Warwick Davis, Michael Gambon and hits theaters nationwide on July 15.