Bonnie Wight © Warner Bros

On July 9, 2009, a famous group of wizards gathered at the Waldorf Astoria, a muggles’ hotel situated in New York City, to discuss their new movie Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. On the panel were Harry Potter (aka Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (aka Emma Watson), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) and Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright), but they let their Muggle counterparts speak for them.

What did you learn about your characters this time around and Bonnie how did you feel coming into this more in a big way?

Tom It was a great opportunity for myself to really dive a little bit deeper into Draco’s head and discover that he really is a coward through and through really [laughter]. But, no, it was great fun to really explore a bit deeper and make him more three-dimensional.

Bonnie Wight © Warner Bros
Bonnie Wight © Warner Bros

Bonnie Yeah, the same for me. When you’ve got more to look at with your character and it’s not just in one section at the beginning and then at the end of the film, it’s a continual development so I was able to take the character further and have more to do.

Emma I think, in the film, we see quite a strong Hermione, quite a kind of girl-power Hermione. She’s the brains behind the operation dragging the guys around with her but also, but, in this one, I think you see a very different Hermione. She’s much more fragile and vulnerable and emotional. She’s experiencing her first heartache, really. I think she’s very confused by how she feels about Ron and how upset she is when he kisses someone else so it was a challenge for me to play this much more emotional, vulnerable person. It was fun to do a lot more comedy with Rupert [he laughs] which was great. I actually had a lot of fun doing this one and I loved it a lot.

Rupert Yeah. I liked to think this is Ron’s best year at Hogwarts, I think. He gets a girlfriend, joins the Quiddich team for the first time. And, yeah, it was nice to have something to really get stuff into and I really enjoyed it, yeah.

Daniel Radcliffe and Michael Gambon © Warner Bros
Daniel Radcliffe and Michael Gambon © Warner Bros

Daniel For me, the big change in Harry this year is his relationship with Dumbledore. Previously, it’s always been very much teacher and student and this year it changes to being a general with his favorite lieutenant. Harry becomes foot soldier in this movie and happy to be so. Also, in all the other ones, you see Harry as being, he’s going ‘yeah! We’ve got to get Voldemort. We’re gonna kill him’ but he never really does anything towards it but this year he’s actually being pro-active and planning and trying to actually do something towards the ultimate destruction of Voldemort. That’s the difference in Harry this year.

You hear stories that you guys are filming and people are taking pieces of the set. Has it set in for you that it is truly ending?

Daniel Radcliffe at the New York premiere © © Warner Bros
Daniel Radcliffe at the New York premiere © © Warner Bros

Daniel For me, it hadn’t until this week when everybody seems to be telling me that it’s almost over. I was actually getting along quite nicely until people said ‘well, so, your dream’s coming to an end. But, I think I speak for most of us, we’ve got a year left on seven. It’s a long way to go then we’ve got to do lots of publicity and meet up with all you lovely people twice more. That sounded sarcastic. It wasn’t. So there’s a long way to go to be honest certainly for us so I’m not contemplating the end too much these days.

Emma Aside from that, I think we all feel as if Harry Potter is never really going to die. I think it’s so big and so loved and we have the theme park coming out in 2010 and I think kids are going to keep reading the books and new generations of kids are going to keep watching the films. I don’t really feel like it’s ever really going to go away. I think it’s got longevity.

Tom Yeah. I don’t think when they finish filming that will be the end of us portraying the characters.  I think always be a little bit inside of us that will always remain so to speak. But I’m certainly enjoying it rather than looking ahead and getting a bit sad about it. I’m gonna make the most of it and certainly cry my eyes out when it’s finished.

Michael You can’t take anything off that set. We’ve all tried. The prop men are so tough on you. Everyone wants a wand, but you can’t get a wand. You can’t get anything. I think the only successful guy at that is [Alan] Rickman really.

Michael, will you miss wearing Dumbledore’s costume?

Michael I’ll miss everything about the costume. Richard Harris, when I saw the first two films, he wore very heavy costumes. Really, you can see the weight of them. My costume is made of silk. It’s very fine, It’s so easy to wear. It goes on in two seconds. I’ll miss that [he laughs]. I hide my cigarettes inside that gown. Very clever. I got the wardrobe department to put in little pockets inside it.

Emma and Rupert, was there a kissing scene filmed that didn’t make it to the movie?

Emma I think there might have been a small misunderstanding. The kissing scene that they have is in the seventh film and this is the sixth one so it wasn’t that we did it and it was shit and didn’t make it [laughter]. We’ll see after the edit. But, yeah, we did the scene about two weeks ago.

Rupert Yeah.  We did it. [laughter]. It was not something we were looking forward to. It was quite a strange thing to think about doing but I think it was all right in the end.

Emma David doesn’t really let us watch playback but he let us watch playback in this circumstance and Rupert and I were quite nervous that it might look ingenuous as we were so desperate to get it over with. I think Rupert and I felt the pressure of this kiss. There’s so much media interest and also the fans.. this is like 10 years-worth of tension and hormones and chemistry and everything in one moment and we had to ace it. So, it was like ‘oh, God’. But, hopefully we did. I’m sure you’ll critique it in a couple of years. Please be nice.

Daniel I think to be honest with you I think you’re probably going to come out very well. But, poor Bonnie, who is sitting down at the other end of this table, who has the kiss with me, I saw the film again a couple of nights ago at the premiere and I really watched it and my God!  My lips are like the lips of a horse [laughter] kind of distending independently away from my face and trying to encompass the lower half of hers. I apologize, Bonnie.

Bonnie I didn’t know what to say. Well, I didn’t notice so don’t worry.

More tomorrow…


Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.