It’s week three of EW’s Binge of Harry Potter, and in keeping with the expansion of the wizarding world in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, creatures and objects are on the mind.
Notably, the Marauder’s Map is one of dozens of iconic objects in the series, and one of many created by Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima of the design team, MinaLima. For this week’s podcast episode, Mina and Lima got on the line with hosts Marc Snetiker and C. Molly Smith to look back on their approach to and execution of the magical, mischief-enabling item that had Harry saying, “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”
“We started off knowing what we didn’t want,” Mina explains of the map of Hogwarts that shows the location of those inside; it’s passed onto Harry by Fred and George Weasley and was made by James Potter (Prongs), Sirius Black (Padfoot), Remus Lupin (Moony), and Peter Pettigrew (Wormtail). “We didn’t want it to be a Treasure Island, burnt edges, whimsical in that sense piece. We thought about who would’ve created this, so these four characters were very cunning and intelligent and crafty in what they were doing with this map. We went back to look at some reference and I found some lovely, I think it was 17th, 18th century illustrations that were completely made out of words and that idea seemed to fit perfectly with what they might have done as these cheeky characters, as students.”
The duo also wanted to incorporate Hogwarts’ complex architecture. “In the early films, the kids are a bit confused,” Mina continues. “The staircases are moving left and right and they never quite know what floor they’re on and it’s overwhelming. We wanted to feel that, so the fact that it’s got these flaps and different layers that you can unfold and you’re never quite sure where you are was definitely a decision based on the architecture. If you look at the layout of the hand lettering that we did, it’s an exact trace in terms of form of the architecture that [production designer] Stuart Craig was drawing at the same time for the set, so that it does look credible as a map. It’s not just a load of lettering. If you look closely, you’ll see that there are walls, windows, shapes that actually reflect, for example, Dumbledore’s office. It needs to be anchored in a credible situation visually.”
As for the end credits sequence, which is a play on the map and has a pair of entangled footprints that seem to suggest students might be kissing, or more (bottom left corner of the gif below), Mina explains with a laugh that as much as she’d like to take credit, “I think somebody got a bit carried away there in post-production.” Lima adds, “It kind of illustrated what the map is all about.” (Here’s more on that from The Huffington Post.)
While the pair isn’t directly responsible for the famous, flirty footprints, they did sneak in some jokes and nods of their own, largely through filling copy for the Daily Prophet and textbooks with funny stories about friends and family. That’s partly because, “We learned quite early on that it just doesn’t work visually to write nonsense as copy,” Mina says. “If you write blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, you’ll see that it looks like that. We always thought we might as well put real copy, so all the articles in the Daily Prophet have headlines.”
Many appreciated having material to work with. “I remember one of the Weasley twins said to me, ‘I was so grateful to have books that had actual copy in because I felt like if someone had gone to the trouble of creating that prop for me that I could jolly well put in as much effort in my performance,’” Mina recalls, and same goes for Helena Bonham Carter and Alan Rickman. On the latter, Mina adds, “All that writing that happened in the potion-making book was his, and we thought about what his personality would be like. Would he write in a straight line, would he be messy, would he be completely spontaneous and impulsive in the delivery of his words? So all the time you’re thinking, Who wrote this? Who made this? It can’t be us.”
For more from MinaLima’s interview – including their memories of the “Have You Seen This Wizard?” posters, the time turner, and the challenges they faced while working on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (in theaters Nov. 18) – subscribe and listen to the podcast. Send your questions and comments on Twitter to @marcsnetiker and @cmollysmith, or email email@example.com. EW’s Binge is produced by EW’s Cristina Everett and edited by Will Malnati of At Will Radio.
BONUS: As part of the game played during this episode, enjoy an extended version of it below.