When the final Harry Potter film adventure opens on Friday, the rival forces of the wizarding world will meet for an all out war where no one and nothing is safe. It’s the motion picture event of the year, and the epic series is going out with a bang. CAHIR O’DOHERTY sees the film and meets the stars and the director as the beloved series reaches its final reel.
Ten years ago the whole world watched young Harry Potter receive a letter from the Hogwarts School informing him he was a wizard. Since then millions of moviegoers been thrilled by the eight part epic series that finally concludes this Friday with the release of the long awaited final film.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 steps out with a number of gifted Irish actors in the main roles (including our own Ciaran Hinds, who plays the brother of Hogwarts school master Professor Dumbledore, and Evanna Lynch from Co. Louth, who plays Luna Lovegood), and it’s a deeply satisfying conclusion to the decade long magical tale.
Billboards all over the world have been promising “it all ends” this Friday -- and the lucky few who have already seen it know that it ends very well.
True fans know what to expect -- a big showdown between Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his evil nemesis, Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). It’s the final battle for control of the wizarding world, and it’s a duel to the death between the two sworn enemies.
Along the way there are battles and dragons and giant spiders to contend with, but at heart Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is about what Potter has always been about -- the deep friendship between the brave trio Harry, Ron and Hermione, and the power of love to overcome just about anything the world throws at you (and poor old Harry, as any fan knows, has a lot more to contend with on that score than most people).
Potter fans who have stuck with the books and the films since day one will be expecting a dramatic finale and they won’t be disappointed – the final film is bigger, darker and more pulse pounding than anything previously seen in the series. This is Harry at war, and the film pulls no punches about what it costs him and his friends.
Director David Yates tells the Irish Voice he always knew he had to deliver the goods, but he never allowed himself to be intimidated by the pressure.
“The minute you start over thinking that it would cripple you,” says Yates. “I just went to work trying to make the best film possible without thinking about its place in history and without thinking about how people would respond to it. I just wanted to tell the best story possible, and that’s how I dealt with the pressure.”
Yates is speaking at the press event at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York on Sunday, but like the rest of the cast he’s not actually staying at the hotel. Potter fans got wind the cast and crew would be darting in and out of the famous hotel all day doing interviews, and a completely obsessed bunch of them are already waiting at the hotel’s side entrance to catch even a glimpse of their heroes. Each time the doors open, even for the taxi drivers, they scream and wave their Potter books.
If the fans are hardcore about chasing down the actors, the photographers are much worse. This becomes apparent when Emma Watson, 21, the striking young actress who plays Hermione Granger, sweeps into the hotel.
Watson has already been world-famous for half her lifetime, and wherever she goes now cameras follow. There isn’t a place on the planet where she isn’t instantly recognized, and that fact became abundantly clear to her when she was touring the back streets of a shantytown in Mumbai, India last year.
“You’re the girl from Harry Potter!” shouted a little kid in a neighborhood that had neither electricity nor running water. “Wow, I must be really famous if even he knows who I am,” she wistfully told the Irish Voice.
Today Watson is wearing a white strapless dress with long dangly earrings, and she’s rocking a dramatic new bob haircut. In the last three years she’s become an unlikely fashion plate (Burberry recently made her a spokesmodel) and you can see she’s making determined first steps into her post-Potter career.
But far from being a forbidding fashion victim, the insanely rich young actress is surprisingly shy in person, and when she passes through the wall-to-wall scrum of photographers and gawkers on her way to the interview chair she’s clearly bowled over by all the fuss.
It’s easy to see why she was such a good fit for the role of Hermione, and she admits as much herself.
“We both have an earnestness, an eagerness to please and do the right thing, we’re both terrified of getting into trouble. And I’m very heady the same way she is,” Watson says.
“I’m constantly thinking three or four moves ahead. I’m determined like she is and I like to think I’m very loyal. I’m also a bit of a feminist in the same way she is. I think so much of her went into me and so much of me went into her.”
With the Potter films finally coming to an end, it must feel like the end of an era to her, and since she essentially grew up on the set, it must feel a bit like the end of her childhood too?
“It does, it does. The very last shot we did was when Harry, Ron and I dive into the fireplace at the Ministry of Magic. It was all green screen and we each took a turn diving onto a huge mattress,” she recalled. “It was like leaping into the unknown, and it was just a perfect metaphor for what we were about to go into.”
Watching the Hogwarts School reduced to rubble in the final battle was wrenching for the three young stars.
“It was quite difficult to see,” says co-star Rupert Grint (who plays Hermione’s romantic interest, Ron Weasley). “We grew up on those sets. The idea of everything taken down permanently felt a bit tragic. But the Harry Potter experience was an amazing time in my life and something I’ll never forget. I’m so proud to have been a part of it.”
Watson admits she is deeply impressed by co-star Daniel Radcliffe’s decision to star in a Broadway show -- he’s currently the lead in the musical How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. It’s a venture of Radcliffe’s she calls “incredibly ballsy.”
But she says she’s not ready for that kind of scrutiny just yet herself. First she wants to finish her studies in English at Oxford University and then see where her career and life take her, but like her co-star Grint she has no regrets.
“I don’t consider it over because it will always be a part of who I am, and I feel so blessed to have shared it,” she says.