The streets of Universal Studios’ replica Hogsmeade seemed a little more authentic this weekend, with actual Weaslies and other wizards wandering about. Cast-members and filmmakers from the eight-film Harry Potter series assembled at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park in Florida for one last hurrah this weekend, just in time for the DVD and Blu-Ray release of the series’ final film, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.”
How much of a goodbye this really is isn’t clear, of course, as there are still a few Potter events on the calendar — Leavesden Studios in England will open its doors in March for special tours of key sets from the series, and a more comprehensive, extras-packed box set of all eight films will inevitably be offered up to consumers. And that theme park certainly isn’t going anywhere.
But the big party in Orlando still served as a send-off celebration of sorts, offering cast and crew a chance to reflect as well as look to the future. “In one way, it’s quite nice to come back and do one last thing, in a way, as part of the process of letting go,” says David Yates, who directed the series’ final four films. “It’s been all-encompassing. You just were completely immersed, and that has wonderful things about it and not-so-wonderful things. It’s a bit of an island, Harry Potter, in the sense that it was a very close-knit family and you work in this very intense, closed environment, and they never stop doing anything but just making Harry Potter. So it was a relief to get to the end of it and suddenly lift one’s head up and realize that there’s other things in life other than Hogwarts and wands.”
So what is Yates — who has won acclaim for his quieter TV work like “State of Play” and “the Girl in the Cafe” — looking to do next? The key is variety, he says. “Potter gave me so many opportunities, but it never gave me the opportunity to do something small between each movie, and now I want to make some smaller movies alongside some big tent-pole movies,” Yates explains. “That would be my ambition, to be able to get back on the big old bandwagon of a big global release one year, and a year later be making something that costs a tuppence and that probably a few hundred people will see, but which will allow me to stretch myself.”
Rupert Grint, who shot to fame as Harry’s pal Ron Weasley starting at age 11, did get that chance to branch out, popping up in indie fare like “Cherry Bomb” and “Driving Lessons” between semesters at Hogwarts. “It was really fun to do those other films, to see how other films are made and step out of this bubble and explore what else is out there. I’m really excited to do more of that,” he tells Metro.
As for saying goodbye to the series that made him a star, Grint is feeling mixed emotions. “It is kind of a bittersweet thing, finishing ‘Harry Potter,’ because as much as you miss it, it has been 10 years and it has really kind of taken over and controlled your life, really,” Grint says.
Checking in with the supporting wizards
Irish actress Evanna Lynch, who was a diehard Potter fan before landing the role of Luna Lovegood midway through the series, has already relocated to Los Angeles to push her career forward. “I’d love to just do a more challenging role,” Lynch tells Metro. “I mean, I loved Luna, but I think she was easy for me to play because she’s such a happy person and she never has much conflict in her. I’d love to do something just a bit more gritty, or I’d love to do animation. I often get told I have a good voice for animation.”
As for James and Oliver Phelps, who played twins Fred and George Weasley, have some projects lined up together and some without each other. “We won’t go out and say we have to do something together now,” says Oliver. “If anything, we did think at one point that we’d have to do something separate, but a few of the older cast-members from Potter were saying to us, ‘No, why are you casting yourselves out of stuff? Keep your options open all the time.’ Which is a great piece of advice.”
And Jason Isaacs, who tormented Harry Potter as aristocratic Deatheater Lucius Malfoy, he has a highly anticipated TV series, “Awake,” debuting soon. But mostly he’s looking for less villainous roles. “When I was shooting ‘Peter Pan’ in Australia, I nearly drowned — I went out boogie-boarding — and I had put my head up and hope the lifeguard could see me between these giant swells,” he tells Metro. “And I was aware that I hadn’t made enough videos for my eldest daughter, that all she would have left of me was ‘the Patriot’ and ‘Peter Pan’ and ‘Soldier’ and various other villains. So I determined to try and play some nicer parts.”