Entering Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (in theaters July 15), the filmmakers behind what’s certain to be one of the biggest films of the decade faced the challenge — and daunting pressure — of finishing strong, of sticking the landing, of simply not screwing up the ending. But director David Yates had more to sweat than just making sure that the final battle between Not-a-boy/Not-yet-a-man wizard-in-training Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and He Who Must Not Be Named/OH, BOO! IT’S VOLDEMORT ALREADY! (Ralph Fiennes) was certifiably magical. The climactic novel in J.K. Rowling’s blockbuster book series actually ends with an epilogue set 19 years after the Harry/Voldy apocalyptic wand duel, a memorable coda with the huge emotional moments worthy of a tissue or two. (Our guess is that most of you have read the book at least once – but SPOILER ALERT! nonetheless.)
The epilogue has married couples Harry and Ginny (Bonnie Wright) and Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) at Platform 9 and 3/4, sending their children off to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Yates first shot the scene at King’s Cross railway station in London during the middle of production on Deathly Hallows — Part 2 (filmed concurrently with Deathly Hallows — Part 1 over the course of 261 days), with Radcliffe, Watson and Grint made-up to look like the adult versions of their characters. Yet late last December, several months after shooting what they thought were their final moments together, the actors were summoned back to King’s Cross for a re-do. “I didn’t want older actors,” says Yates. “If you spent seven movies with these guys, you know these kids, and you want to end with them. We ended up with a scene that for all sorts of reasons, not just the make-up, just didn’t work. I asked the studio to have a second pop at it, with a very simple solution — simple make-up, which may be enhanced slightly with special effects — that’s really charming.”
Thus, shooting the epilogue — or rather, reshooting the epilogue — marked the official Last Harry Potter Thing That The Harry Potter Kids Ever Shot, and Yates says that in retrospect, it was only fitting; if he had to do it all over again, the director says he would have planned from the start to shoot the epilogue at the end of production. According to producer David Heyman, the new version of the scene was effective and affecting enough to change their minds about an idea for the filmmakers had about what to show on screen during the roll of closing credits. “We thought about a nostalgic look back at how the kids have grown over the previous films,” says the producer. “We decided against it because this ending captures all of that.” Heyman — who has produced all eight of the Harry Potter films and has a close rapport with Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint — says watching the young actors film the epilogue was emotional for him, not to mention surreal: “It was a funny day, seeing them made up to look in their late thirties. It really accentuated the reality of the situation. I knew it had been 10 years, but I didn’t realize they had aged that much.”
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