The end begins

MY mother once joked that my death certificate would cite “too much reading of J.K. Rowling’s insanely thick Harry Potter books” as the cause of death.

Fast forward a few years and I did not only survive reading (and re-reading) all seven books in the series, I also got the chance to meet Harry Potter!

Well, I didn’t exactly talk to “Harry Potter” but I did interview Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who plays the young wizard, at the Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 media screening in London last week.

On the day of the interview, I was sleep deprived (the journey from Malaysia to London took about 18 hours) and couldn’t feel my fingers because it was so cold. However, the thought of talking to Harry … erm, Daniel, kept me going.

So there I was, at the upscale Claridge’s hotel in Mayfair where the interview was held, sipping a hot cup of coffee (I tried to do it the English way and have tea instead but coffee was better) when I turned to my right and saw Daniel already sitting a seat away from me.

“Erm, when did he get in?” I thought. “And why the heck is he so small?”

Seriously, Daniel Radcliffe is a tiny, tiny guy.

Seriously, Daniel Radcliffe is a tiny, tiny guy.

Though small in size, Daniel’s presence definitely made an impact on almost all the journalists present at the interview.

“I am a lot more happier working than relaxing because what I’ve always done is work. I am more comfortable at a movie set,” said Daniel when asked why he’s not away relaxing at a remote island now that filming for the movie franchise was finally over.

Making magic

Daniel was only 10 when he signed on to play the title character in Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, the first movie in the series. He, together with Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and most of the other main actors in the film, has been in all the Harry Potter movies. They became household names almost instantly after the release of Philosopher’s Stone, although, most people would probably recognise their character names more.

Just mention Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley to any young person and there’s a chance they know exactly who you’re talking about.

Just mention Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley to any young person and there’s a chance they know exactly who you’re talking about.

However, unfortunately for Daniel, Emma and Rupert, it is quite hard for some people to separate the actors from their characters.

While Rupert is fine with being remembered as the gangly and awkward “Ron from Harry Potter”, Daniel and Emma hope to leave their characters behind once everything is over and done with.

“There will be a certain proportion of people who will never see me as other than Harry Potter. But I also credit the majority of people with more imagination and intelligence than that. It may take a couple of films or 10 years, but people will see me as an actor rather than just this one character,” said Daniel.

While Emma hopes that she is good enough of an actress to make people forget that she ever played Hermione, she doesn’t want them to erase her from their memory either.

“She is such an amazing role, I don’t really want people to forget that.”

Well, Harry, Ron and Hermione are amazing characters and it will take a long time before anyone forgets them. They are best friends in the stories, and from what we see and hear about them on the Internet, the actors share the same camaraderie off screen as well.

Rupert, whose first professional acting gig was Philosopher’s Stone (he was 10 then), is hopeful that the cast members would make an effort to stay in touch after the mania has ended.

“We’ve been through this unique experience together, so yes, I think we’ll always keep in touch. It’s going to be a little tricky but it will be worth it,” said Rupert, now 22, who with his shaggy hair and crumpled outfit, didn’t seem all that much different from Ron.

Not so different from Ron after all...

Not so different from Ron after all...

It is indeed going to be tricky for the cast members to keep in touch as most of them are all over the world pursuing different interests.

Twenty-year-old Emma is currently completing her tertiary education at the prestigious Brown University in Rhode Island, United States, and claims that like Hermione, she, too, is addicted to knowledge.

“I just love learning. I’m just addicted to learning. I just want to know as much as I possibly can. It’s never enough for me, I’ll just never stop … but I like to think that I’m a little bit more relaxed and fun than Hermione,” said Emma.

“My education is my number one priority at the moment, and the idea of sitting down in my dorm and having a glass of wine (kind of illegal for her to drink in the US, but not in Britain) and pizza is wonderful to me. It’s fun,” she added.

But unlike her talkative and know-it-all character, Emma was quite reserved and didn’t speak much during the interview compared with the others.

Still, the young actress, whose Twiggy-inspired pixie cut hairstyle created a worldwide buzz recently, simply looked fresh and stunning in person.

Still, the young actress, whose Twiggy-inspired pixie cut hairstyle created a worldwide buzz recently, simply looked fresh and stunning in person.

Daniel, on the other hand, is busy filming a movie adaptation of the novel The Woman In Black, and is also undergoing lessons for his Broadway debut.

“I’m going to do How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying On Broadway next year. I love singing, though dancing is a much harder discipline. I’ve been going for singing lessons for three years and dance lessons for two. Hopefully by the time I get out there, I’ll be ready,” he revealed.

As for Rupert, he has been signed on to play Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, Britain’s first ski jumper to enter the Olympics, in the biopic Eddie The Eagle. The film is set for a release next year, which is also when the second part of Deathly Hallows will premiere.

Hallows and goodbye

Playing characters that millions of fans worldwide have grown so much to love/hate can sure put a lot of pressure on an actor. Daniel, like his co-stars, have always tried his hardest to live up to the expectations of not only fans, but the bookss author herself.

“Bizarrely, we never felt much pressure until this last film. We all started going, ‘If we don’t get this right, we don’t have another chance.’ But no one took that pressure more graciously than David Yates (the director for Deathly Hallows), who was so fantastic at handling it because the rest of us would panic sometimes,” said Daniel.

It was definitely a sad day for the cast and crew on the final day of shoot for Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows. According to the young actors, there were lots of tears and hugs among cast and crew, many of whom have worked together for over 10 years to create one of the most successful film franchises of all time.

“I was sad for the series to end but the last movie took 18 months to film and took a lot out from all of us. So by the time the 18th month rolled around, we were all kind of like, ‘Are you ready to finish? I’m kinda ready.’ So it was nice because we were all tired by the end,” said Daniel.

Of course, they were not too tired for a celebration, something to cap off the decade-long project.

“It was the first England game in the World Cup 2010 so people were keen to go home, but we had a barbeque and I brought my ice cream truck and served them ice cream. It was a nice day, but it was quite sad,” Rupert recalled.

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