Here at last are the final “Harry Potter” interviews I conducted during my recent trip to Orlando for the press day they held to celebrate the release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” on Blu-ray.
If you didn’t read my first few pieces, let me paint the picture of how these interviews were staged. We were actually in the park, in the section of Universal’s Islands Of Adventure that is known as “The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter,” and it’s a remarkable recreation of the world that Jo Rowling and her film collaborators have created over the past decade. It is also wildly successful, so even on a regular day, the park is totally packed. The weekend we were there was part of a major Harry Potter event, though, so it was busier than normal.
That means that every single spot where we were supposed to do interviews was also occupied by about 10,000 screaming Harry Potter fans. I’ve never really done press in a fishbowl like that, and it’s a disconcerting way to try to conduct what is already an exercise in forced and immediate intimacy. Conversations aren’t meant to be a spectator sport, but on this particular day, that’s exactly what it felt like.
There are some other issues with this footage. I think by the time I got in front of the camera, the junket crews were burned flat, because they seem to have had some fairly elementary problems with things like focus and headroom. Even so, there was enough there to share my time sitting down with the actors who played Lucius Malfoy, Mr. Weasley, and the charmingly daffy Luna Lovegood.
I’ve interviewed Jason Isaacs several times over the years, and I think he’s one of those invaluable resources for directors, a talented, versatile actor who seems to me to be relatively ego-free about the work. He makes interesting choices, and he doesn’t seem hung up on the size of a role, but rather what he can make of it. Whether it’s a brief appearance in “Green Zone” or two leading roles in “Peter Pan,” Isaacs digs in and always brings something special to the roles he plays.
Mark Williams is a really wonderful performer, and I think he and Julie Walters were inspired casting as the heads of the Weasley family. They are both deeply appealing performers, above anything else, and they were able to convey the eccentric warmth of the Weasleys even without a ton of screen time. And Evanna Lynch is one of those actors you must pray for when you set out to make a series of films like this, perfect casting to such a degree that it feels like Rowling based the role on her. Of all the cast members I saw at the park that day, Lynch was the one who seemed most engaged with the fans. She went out of her way to sign autographs, shake hands, and generally be available to the crazy crowd that surrounded us. She seems grateful, more than anything, and it’s hard to dislike someone who is so aware of the fleeting, transitory nature of success, especially when the humility doesn’t feel like an act.
The Blu-ray is gorgeous, and I suspect that while the Potter films are finished with production and release, the public is far from finished with the films. They’re going to have a long and fruitful life on home video, and I suspect that the films will be rewatched and passed down. It was nice to spend a day putting a button on this journey in terms of press days and interviews, but I would hardly say Harry Potter is “over.” When you visit that park and you see those fans and you get a sense of just how passionate and engaged they all are, it’s very clear that Harry Potter is not just The Boy Who Lived, but also The Series That Will Live On.
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” is on Blu-ray and DVD now.