November 20, 2010

Cast bids adieu to decade of “Potter” films

Posted in Between Us column, Entertainment, Movies, Relationships at 12:24 am by dinaheng

For fans of the film franchise, watching “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1” will be both exciting and sad, for those who have loved the adventures of “the Boy Who Lived” know that the story is coming to an end.

For the young cast who grew up inhabiting those roles for nearly half their lives, the end of the story is bittersweet. Now that filming has wrapped on the final installment of the movies based on J.K. Rowling’s epic fantasy, being with the professional family that created those   adventures each year has also come to an end.

David Heyman, producer of the film franchise, says the three principal actors — Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson — have always been the heart and soul of the movies.

“They’ve grown,” Heyman says, the day after the London premiere of “Deathly Hallows, Part 1.” “They worked for Chris (Columbus), Alfonso (Cuaron), Mike (Newell), and now David (Yates) and directors on other projects. They’re more mature, and are able to bring love, loss, heartache, and pain to the screen.

“How lucky we are that they have been able to embrace it all and enjoy. They’re bright young people who have been able to maintain their humanity. We’ve been there together for so long, no one can get on their high horse and get away with it.”

The journey the cast has taken on screen is intertwined with the personal journey that each has made through the stages of childhood. In this latest film, Harry, Ron and Hermione have come to the point where there are no adults to guide them through the dangers of this final adventure.

Likewise, the actors who play them are now on their own, free to define who they want to be moving forward. And it isn’t just the three stars who are facing this transition.

“It’s exciting because we’re free to roam the world, yet it’s scary,” says Tom Felton, who portrays Potter’s nemesis, Draco Malfoy, in the films. “It’s taken me from 11 to 20, and it was very strange to say good-bye to it, but we think these last two films are the high note of the saga.”

Felton, whose upcoming films include “The Apparition” and “Rise of the Apes,” says he’s looking forward to playing other villains on screen, as if the industry has taught him that typecasting is the rule of the day. But when a reporter reminds him that he could also be offered the part of a future James Bond, Felton smiles and adds, “Well, I certainly wouldn’t turn that down.”

The question of personal identity is a complex one for any actor. Listening to the actors who have grown up in the Wizarding world talk about their futures, it’s clear that the uncertainty of life as an adult is just starting to hit them.

“I’ve known Ron for 10 years now, and we’ve kind of become the same person,” says Rupert Grint, 22, whose infectious smile seems the most open of the young actors. “It’s only when I go back and look at the older films that I realize the changes. It’s hard to relate to that little boy now. It’s like having these really expensive home videos.”

He’s taking some time off to decompress and think about the future, a decision that many adults could learn from.

“It’s going to take me a while to grieve,” he says. “I think I’ll always miss it because it’s been such a massive part of my life. I’m keen to move on next year, though. It’s quite freeing because I’ve never had full control… over my hair, or anything.”

Hair today, gone tomorrow, can be seen in Emma Watson, who’s now sporting a chic pixie haircut that’s done away with the girlish long locks of Hermione Granger. The actress, who’s  enrolled at Brown University, says she’s taking a break from acting for a while.

“I want to be a Renaissance woman who’s good at a lot of things,” she says. “I’m taking it slow, and want to be sure that acting’s the right thing for me.”

Over the years, working with different directors, has honed the way she looks at the craft, and at life. Not only does she have a great appreciation for the process of acting, she understand the responsibility that comes with stardom.

“At first, directors had to tell us everything,” Watson, now 20, says. “ ‘Eyes wide.  Look terrified.’ Now, I have a ‘heady’ approach to the way I act. Having the time to be clear in my  head about what everything was about helped.

“I have younger siblings, and they watch other movies over and over, and can quote what the characters say. When I realized that other kids are probably impersonating everything I do, I realized this is a big deal.”

In many ways, going to college is the new adventure that’s helping her to adjust to life without Potter.

“I go through periods when I’m busy at school, and it feels fine,” Watson says. “Then there are times I just feel lost. My life was scheduled by a call sheet for so long. It’s nice taking a break. And when Daniel comes to New York next year, I’m sure we’ll get together there.”

Radcliffe, now 21, has pushed forward with several projects to establish credits beyond Harry Potter, and will make his singing debut on Broadway next spring to star in the revival of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”

He talks of the sadness that comes with ending this stage of his life, yet takes a practical view of things.

“Life is life,” Radcliffe says. “It doesn’t stop, ever. I could go on playing Harry Potter for the rest of my days, or advocate for sequels, or mope that my childhood is over, or try to embrace adulthood. I feel like I’ve landed on my feet post-Potter.”

Smiling, he adds, “I still have the mindset of a 14-year-old. I think most men do.”


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