A Christmas story with the usual sweetened tone of these stories. That’s “Harry Potter: Return to Hogwarts”, the HBO Max special that premieres this January 1 to celebrate 20 years of the film saga and that will delight fans with the memories and curiosities of its protagonists.
Because beyond seeing them today ( “It seems that time has not passed but at the same time a lot has passed, “ says Emma Watson / Hermione in a moment of the special), little secrets are discovered that do not change the history of the saga but they will be liked by the followers of the characters created by JK Rowling.
Rowling’s little presence is precisely one of the highlights of this program. He appears briefly talking about the difficulty of finding the actor who would play Harry – until Daniel Radcliffe arrived – but they are statements taken from a 2019 interview.
And all the participating team members barely mention the writer. Behind this absence is the controversy that arose in 2020 when Rowling was accused of being “transphobic” for saying that men who do not have surgery should not be legally recognized as women. An opinion was criticized by Radcliffe and Watson.
The two, along with Rupert Grint (Ron), are the protagonists of this special, as they were in the saga, and they chat in one of the Hogwarts rooms recalling details of the casting process, of the filming, of their relationship with him. rest of the team or their times of crisis, burdened by fame.
The most specific about her feelings is Watson, who assures that at the time of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” when she was 17 years old, she felt alone and terrified by the growing repercussion of the Harry Potter phenomenon, so she thought seriously in giving up. And Grint also admits to having reflected on what his life would be like without being in the films.
Although they also point out that the general balance of being part of the films is more than positive. “I wouldn’t be who I am without a lot of these people,” says Radcliffe resoundingly, who has conversations with some of the saga’s iconic characters, such as Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange) or Gary Oldman (Sirius Black).
With Bonham Carter, Radcliffe shows special chemistry and the actor admits that he had a crush on her. As Watson was from Tom Falcon (Draco Malfoy). “But never, never, nothing happened between us,” says the actress amused, who felt “vulnerable” when she was with her co-star.
Watson also describes as “horrible” the experience of kissing with Grint, whom he considers a brother and with whom he ends up hugging and crying between memories and mutual praise.
Through the special, which lasts almost two hours and is structured like a trip to Hogwarts starting from the famous platform 9 and 3/4, James and Oliver Phelps (the Welsey twins), Bonnie Wright (Ginny), Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort) pass. , Robbie Coltrane (Rubeus Hagrid), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom), or Jason Isaac (Lucius Malfoy).
Fiennes laughs at how he doubted whether or not to accept the role of the evil Lord Voldemort. It was his nephews between the ages of 10 and 12 who forced him to join the project.
The directors also appear Chris Columbus -responsible for “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (2001) and “The Chamber of Secrets” (2002) -; Alfonso Cuarón – “The Prisoner of Azkaban” (2004) -; Mike Newell – “The Goblet of Fire” (2005) – and David Yates, who handled the last four – “The Order of the Phoenix” (2007), “The Half-Blood Prince” (2009), and the two parts of “The Deathly Hallows: Part 2” (2020 and 2011).
For Columbus, “the smartest on set” was Emma Watson; Cuarón highlights that his contribution was to make the story more complex with the entrance of the protagonists in adolescence; Newell is shown as the most hooligan of the filmmakers – he even broke a rib teaching one of the Phelps twins how to fight – and Yates remembers the titanic task of closing the saga.
And in the special, there is room to remember some of the essential members of the saga, now deceased: Richard Harris, who played Albus Dumbledore in the first two installments; Alan Rickman (Severus Snape); Helen McCrory (Narcissa Malfoy); John Hurt (Garrick Ollivander), or Richard Griffiths (Vernon Dursley).
A very large cast that also included Maggie Smith (Minerva McGonagall), Michael Gambon (Dumbledore after Harris’s death), or Emma Thompson (Sybill Trelawne).
The whole “aristocracy of British acting”, as Columbus describes them, believes that children did not realize at first who they were working with.
A precious return to Hogwarts for lovers of stories that have sold more than 500 million copies in their written version and that in the cinema has raised -according to data from the specialized website BoxOfficeMojo- $ 7,738 million with its eight feature films.