Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley have faced some formidable challenges, but there’s one obstacle that may be harder to overcome than Lord Vol — oops, He Who Must Not Be Named. And that’s puberty. The actors who play the three student wizards on film — Daniel Radcliffe (Harry) and Emma Watson (Hermione) are 12, and Rupert Grint (Ron) is 13 — are getting a bit long in the tooth to play the youngsters the franchise requires. Plus, there’s the grind; by the time they finish shooting the third movie, ”Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” in late 2003, they’ll have been working on the Hogwarts sets for three years straight. So it’s no wonder that Chris Columbus, who directed the first two movies, expects them to quit after the third.
”If I were a betting man I’d say they’ll probably stop after three,” Columbus told Reuters. ”If they ask my opinion, my advice would be to go back to being kids.”
Columbus is taking his own advice and calling it quits after just two movies, last year’s ”Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and ”Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” which opens Nov. 15. He’s said he wants to spend more time with his family, so he’ll step into a less hands-on producer’s role for ”Azkaban,” which Alfonso Cuaron (”A Little Princess,” ”Y Tu Mama Tambien”) will direct, starting in early 2003. As for whether the actors plan to go beyond the third movie (there are ultimately expected to be seven, which is how many Potter novels J.K. Rowling plans to write), Radcliffe addressed the question at a news conference on Tuesday. ”We’re all definitely doing the third film,” he said. ”After that, who knows?”