The first Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was published in the United Kingdom 20 years ago today. The internet is full of tributes to J.K. Rowling’s magical book-turned-movie series, but one of the best stories comes from Paula DuPré Pesmen. She produced the first three Harry Potter movies, Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, and Prisoner of Azkaban, and according to the Huffington Post, “took it upon herself to be the point person for organizing set visits for terminally sick children.”
DuPré Pesmen praised the entire cast for being “so gracious” during the visits, but she singled out something Alan Rickman did for Jay, a child diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma, during the filming of Prisoner of Azkaban as being particularly kindhearted. Jay “wanted was to be in the film, not just visiting,” she said. “I said, ‘Well, we can’t really do that, and you’re already here.’ Alan came over and introduced himself to Jay, and Jay was so happy to meet him. He was really knowledgeable. He was about 15 at the time, and he knew a lot about Alan’s other films, and Jay mentioned to Alan that what he really wanted to do was be in the film.” So Alan put him in the film.
“Alan [kind] of went into his Snape-mode in costume, and said, ‘Why isn’t this child in the film?’” recalled DuPré Pesman. “Everyone had a good laugh, and Alan took him by the hand and put him into the crowd of kids as they were panning across. The back of him is actually in a shot… Alan put him in, and it was from the back of the classroom looking over the backs of the kids.” (Via)
Jay’s scene didn’t make it into Prisoner of Azkaban‘s final cut, but DuPré and Christopher Columbus, who directed the first two Harry Potter movies, later put him in Rent (which Columbus also directed). Unfortunately, Jay, like Rickman, has since passed away, but he helped inspire There With Care, which “provides a wide range of thoughtful and fundamental services to children and families during the critical phase of a medical crisis.”
(Via The Huffington Post)