17 Harry Potter Movies: Behind-the-Scenes Secrets

It’s been a whole six years since the last Harry Potter movie was released, but the franchise is still as popular as ever. I don’t think the original millennial Potterheads will ever tire of watching their favorite childhood wizard’s antics. Likewise, each new generation is still being inducted into the Potter fandom thanks to the continuation of the franchise in the Fantastic Beasts films and the stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Childhood nostalgia kind of makes all of us hope that the public’s ardor for Harry and his pals never dies down.

There are a lot of people out there who would consider themselves bona fide Potter experts. They know every book cover-to-cover and have seen each film at least ten times. However, even the most dedicated Potterhead might have missed out on some of the behind-the-scenes gossip from the sets of the films. Which actor had to quit after being arrested? Who secretly battled cancer while Half-Blood Prince was filmed? Read on to find out the answers to these burning questions, as well as other bits of secret Potter knowledge…

17. Diagon Alley’s Set Was Reused as Hogsmeade

When you’re working on movies as visually complex as the Potter films, you’re going to want to cut some corners. That’s exactly what the set builders did in Prisoner of Azkaban when they needed to construct the magical village Hogsmeade! Instead of building another set from scratch, they instead reused a number of pieces from the Diagon Alley set. It helped to cut costs and saved a hell of a lot of time! All they needed to do was dust some fake snow on it and they were sorted. To be fair, they did a good job of making the two locations look totally different. It’s hard to tell that the two sets are the same!

16. Daniel Radcliffe Would Show Up On Set Drunk

Okay, before you panic, this was in the later films. Daniel Radcliffe wasn’t drinking alcohol when he was a mere child starring in Sorcerer’s Stone! However, when the Harry Potter actor filmed Deathly Hallows he was over England’s legal drinking age. He would go out partying with his friends on a night out then roll up to the film’s set the next morning still a bit drunk. This wasn’t ideal for filming dramatic scenes, but Radcliffe pulled through. However, he eventually realized that his alcohol consumption was problematic for his health and his lifestyle, so he gave up drinking altogether in his post-Potter days. Good for him!

15. Michael Gambon and Alan Rickman Pranked Daniel Radcliffe With a Fart Machine

Remember that scene in Prisoner of Askaban where the Gryffindors have to sleep in the Great Hall after the Fat Lady’s portrait is slashed? Well, Dumbledore and Snape actors Michael Gambon and Alan Rickman decided to have a bit of fun during this section of filming. They used a fart machine to prank poor, unsuspecting Daniel Radcliffe, who was utterly mortified. Flatulent noises kept coming from his sleeping bag, and everyone was led to believe he was the culprit. It’s a great prank, but the poor teenage actor must have been mortified! Still, you wouldn’t think that Snape would have that kind of a sense of humor!

14. Helena Bonham Carter Punctured Matthew Lewis’s Ear Drum

When filming the big fight scene at the end of Order of the Phoenix, Bellatrix Lestrange actress Helena Bonham Carter got a little bit too into her character. There’s a point where she’s holding Neville Longbottom captive and jams her wand into the side of his face. Bonham Carter acted this so enthusiastically that she ended up puncturing Neville actor Matthew Lewis‘s eardrum! She didn’t realize at the time that he was in genuine pain, and was obviously devastated when she heard about his injury. Poor Matthew! Still, that’s a story and a half to tell at parties. How many people can say they’ve had their eardrum injured by an Academy Award-nominated actress?

13. Both Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint Fancied Emma Watson… But She Had A Crush On Tom Felton

With a bunch of tweens and teen actors all crammed together on a film set for months on end, it’s inevitable that raging hormones would produce a few inter-cast crushes. As Emma Watson got older and matured into a beautiful young woman, she was breaking hearts all over the place. Both Rupert Grint and Daniel Radcliffe had crushes on her at various points in time.
Her heart was otherwise occupied, though – she fancied Draco Malfoy actor Tom Felton! Unfortunately, Felton didn’t reciprocate Watson’s feelings. I wonder if he’s kicking himself now? Either way, those two having a relationship would have thrilled all of the Hermione/Draco shippers out there.

12. The Set Directors Built A Coffin For Emma Watson’s Hamster

A major tragedy struck during the filming of the very first Harry Potter film. Emma Watson’s beloved hamster Millie passed away on the set. The young actress was understandably devastated. However, her cast and crewmates organized an adorable gesture to honor her pet’s passing. The set designers constructed a miniature mahogany coffin for Millie, complete with a velvet lining and silver coffin plate. They really gave her the send off she deserved. Watson was truly touched and still brings the event up in speeches sometimes. The Harry Potter crew certainly was a kindly bunch!

11. The Filming of Chamber Of Secrets Was Halted By Head Lice

There’s a saying in Hollywood that you should never work with children or animals. Unfortunately, the filming of Chamber of Secrets seems to prove that! Alongside the more famous child actors on set, there were hundreds of young extras playing generic Hogwarts students. At least one of them came onto the set with head lice, a bug which is notorious for being passed easily to large groups of children. That’s exactly what happened on the Potter set! Soon, everyone from adult actors to the production team was scratching their heads and being overrun with the little critters. Eventually, filming had to be halted until the lice was contained. Of all the reasons for a film to be delayed, this has to be one of the strangest!

10. Jason Isaacs Got Caught Stealing Props

The sets of every Harry Potter movie were filled to the brim with beautifully crafted and painstakingly arranged props. From tiny magical trinkets to the more obvious objects like wands, hundreds of thousands of items were created or acquired especially for these films. For the actors who were surrounded by these unique odds-and-ends on a daily basis, the temptation to pinch one as a piece of memorabilia must have been high. Not everyone managed to resist it! Jason Isaacs, the actor who played nefarious Death Eater Lucius Malfoy, was caught trying to sneak out copies of the Daily Prophet. He later tried to take home his character’s wand, which kind of seems fair – it was his, after all! Unfortunately, the set designers didn’t see it that way.

9. Matthew Lewis Had To Wear A Fat Suit

In the first few Potter films, young Gryffindor Neville Longbottom was the goofiest-looking student in Hogwarts. His adorable chubbiness, sticking-out ears, and crooked teeth made him endearingly awkward. However, basically all of this had to be fabricated by the films’ costume designers in later installments. Neville actor Matthew Lewis was actually a slim, normal-looking child, which posed a bit of a problem for his role! He ended up having bits of cardboard stuck behind his ears to make them look more prominent, and had to wear false teeth to disguise his usually straight and pearly-white grin. He also had to wear a fat-suit to achieve the larger frame of his character. Poor Matthew! Everyone always just thought that’s how he actually looked!

8. Maggie Smith Fought Cancer During Filming

Minerva McGonagall actress Maggie Smith is a British national treasure. Like, she’s basically as well-loved as the Queen. It’s a testament to her incredible strength and unbreakable spirit that the actress continued to film the Harry Potter series while working in pretty challenging circumstances. In 2009, she admitted that she’d been battling breast cancer during the filming of Half-Blood Prince. Despite undergoing grueling chemotherapy treatment, she still turned up to the set and absolutely nailed all of her lines. When asked how she got through such an undoubtedly difficult time, Smith simply replied that “shit happens,” and you have to find a way to get through it. How true! Get through it she did – Smith has been in remission ever since her initial treatment.

7. Rupert Grint Got Kicked Out Of The Harry/Hermione Kiss Scene For Laughing

Remember that weird vision scene in Deathly Hallows: Part One where the Horcrux locket shows Ron an image of Harry and Hermione making out while topless? Turns out that it was incredibly hard to film. This wasn’t because Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe felt awkward about it. They simply powered through and nailed the scene.
However, filming was stalled when Ron actor Rupert Grint found the whole situation too hilarious to bear. He found the sight of his two co-stars snogging so amusing that he eventually had to be removed from the set. We always got the sense that he was the real joker of the main trio.

6. Butterbeer Was Actually Just Apple Juice

Butterbeer is the favorite tipple of many a wizard. The drink is first introduced in Prisoner of Azkaban and is served in the Three Broomsticks Inn in Hogsmeade. Presumably, drinking laws are slightly different in the wizarding world, as some pretty young witches and wizards drink this ‘beer.’
However, the actors and actresses in question definitely hadn’t reached England’s legal drinking age of 18 when it was time to film those scenes. Instead of serving the cast alcohol, which would have been most definitely inappropriate (and illegal), the set designers filled the inn’s huge flagons with hot apple juice. It was a harmless enough substitute for the young cast to enjoy!

5. Vincent Crabbe’s Actor Lost His Part After Multiple Arrests

Eagle-eyed Potterheads will have noticed that Draco Malfoy’s plump Slytherin crony Vincent Crabbe didn’t appear in Deathly Hallows: Part 2. His part was merged with that of lesser-known evil teen Blaise Zabini. The reason behind this is Crabbe’s actor, Jamie Wyatt, getting into severe trouble with the law. He was initially convicted of growing cannabis in his mother’s house and got six weeks in a young offenders’ institute. He then made things worse two years later by taking part in the infamous 2011 London Riots. Wyatt was allegedly spotted holding a petrol bomb and definitely drank stolen champagne. He was imprisoned for two years that time. You can see why the Potter producers axed him!

4. Film Harry Didn’t Have Green Eyes Because of Daniel Radcliffe’s Allergies

In the Harry Potter books, it’s really rammed home that Harry has the same green eyes as his mother, Lily. Like, basically every character mentions it at least six times. J.K. Rowling really, REALLY wanted us to know that Harry’s eyes were green. However, film Harry’s eyes are decidedly blue, just like his actor Daniel Radcliffe. The original plan was for Radcliffe to wear green contact lenses to match his character’s book description. However, this failed when the young actor turned out to be highly allergic to the lenses and unable to wear them. The producers had to settle for Radcliffe’s natural color. They messed things up even further when they gave young Lily Potter’s actress brown eyes. How is that even remotely similar to film Harry?! Bit of a continuity error there, guys.

3. There’s A Reason Harry Doesn’t Dance Much At The Yule Ball

As a part of the Tri-Wizard Tournament that takes place in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the students of Hogwarts have to attend the Yule Ball. This event is firstly an excuse for Hermione to have a Princess Diaries-esque transformation and have Ron get all hot under the collar. Secondly, it lets all of the young characters embarrass themselves through the medium of ballroom dancing. However, our leading man Mr. Potter doesn’t actually do much dancing in this scene. Daniel Radcliffe missed the dance lessons that the rest of the cast had due to filming commitments and consequently had no idea how to do the dances required of him. Filmmakers fixed this by either just showing him from the waist-up to disguise his two left feet, or not requiring him to dance at all.

2. Emma Watson Nearly Quit After Film Four

It’s impossible to imagine anyone other than Emma Watson portraying the childhood version of brainy witch Hermione Granger. Watson truly made the role her own, and has us all from the line “you could get killed, or worse, EXPELLED.” However, for a while, it looked doubtful that she was going to remain in the Potter cast for the entire film series. Watson very nearly considered quitting the franchise after Golbet of Fire due to its grueling filming schedule. That’s fairly understandable – it must be a lot of pressure, especially for a teenager! However, Watson ultimately decided to stay on, a choice we’re all eternally grateful for. It would have been so weird for Hermione to be recast midway through the series.

1. Alan Rickman Got Very Protective Of His Car

The whole world was devastated when Severus Snape actor Alan Rickman passed away in January 2016. He was known for being an incredible actor, a joy to work with, and a generally nice guy. It also turns out that he was incredibly protective of his car while on the set of Harry Potter! During the filming of Order of the Phoenix, Rickman let the then-teenage Rupert Grint and Matthew Lewis take a spin in his expensive BMW. However, the two somehow managed to spill milkshake all over the car’s interior and were consequently never let anywhere near it again.

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