True ‘Potterheads’ like to believe that they know every single detail about the Harry Potter series – the house of each character, the names of all of the magical animals, and even which spells do what. However, much goes on behind-the-scenes that Muggles rarely find out. Take a look at the things you didn’t know about the Harry Potter movies….
Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint first saw the Great Hall when they shot the Sorting Hat scene
Before filming began, the producer of Harry Potter didn’t allow them to have a look around the set. He wanted their reactions of the Great Hall to be authentic and real. If we saw floating candles, a night sky inside a room and a hat that speaks, we’d probably have that same face, Ron…
There was actually only one moving staircase made for the movies
This makes us sad. No more dreams of gliding around the Hogwarts set on the moving staircases and ending up where we shouldn’t. Set designers actually only made one set of stairs for the movie. The others that we see in the movies had been digitally produced.
The moving portraits in Hogwarts were based on the cast and crew of Harry Potter
As if Harry Potter couldn’t get any better, the moving portraits in the movies were designed by the art department to resemble the crew and cast at the time. Unfortunately, Chris Columbus (the director) doesn’t appear in any of the portraits in the movies as he did not want to be featured.
There were A LOT of different sets made for the full eight movies
Over 588, in fact. Bet you couldn’t list all of them. Many of them are now displayed in the Harry Potter Studios Tour near London, UK. This is Dolores Umbridge’s office in the Ministry of Magic. *hiss*
The Sword of Gryffindor is REAL
The Sword of Gryffindor was researched extensively before they eventually produced the end product. The Harry Potter designers looked into medieval swords and used ideas to create the jewel encrusted sword. You don’t need to be a Goblin or a Gryffindor to own it, though, as it has since been sold at auction.
The hands on the Weasley’s clock were made out of scissors
Because they’re magic, the Harry Potter designers can make anything out of anything. The prop masters bought a vintage grandfather clock before taking it apart, adding in some scissors, and pasting the faces of the Weasley’s onto the handles of the scissors. Smart, right?
To produce the kitten dishes in Umbridge’s office, they had a kitten photo shoot
We wish we could have gone to that party… 40 kittens were brought onto the set to produce the photos for Umbridge’s kitten dishes. After the photo shoot, all of the kittens were adopted and have found lovely forever homes. Aww…
Privet Drive is a real place
Number 4 Privet Drive is actually a real house in Bracknell, UK. The house and street were used in the first Harry Potter film, but the producers lost access to the house for the rest of the saga, and it was rebuilt on a set. In 2016, the real house was sold to a buyer for £475,000 ($590,000). Dibs on the cupboard under the stairs…
Hermione really was a smart cookie
Emma Watson was so similar to her character of Hermione that she actually memorized all of her lines for all of the Harry Potter films. Not only this, but she also memorized everyone else’s lines. There are even some clips of her mouthing other people’s lines during the film. Oops!
Thousands of handwritten letters were produced before they realized they were too heavy for the Owls
The graphics crew spent hours writing letters for the owls in the movie, but didn’t realize that the animals had a weight limit…. Moral of the story: check the postman can carry your packages before sending them.
It took six months to train the Owls
Even after the completion of the (correct sized) letters, it took trainers six months to train the owls to carry them correctly. If they hadn’t, a poor muggle could have received Ron’s Howler from Mrs. Weasley, and nobody wants that…
The Potions were really…soup
Sadly, Polyjuice Potion and Felix Felicis don’t actually exist. In the movies, when we see a character drinking a potion, they’re actually drinking a lovely concoction of soup. Perhaps a little bit of tomato soup? Pumpkin Soup? It is said that the favorite amongst the cast was Carrot and Coriander soup.
All of the outside shots of Hogwarts were of this model
Measuring a staggering 50-feet across, it’s difficult to imagine the incredible shots of Hogwarts coming from this model. But in fact, every single scene of Hogwarts in every single film was shot using it. It took over 40 members of staff and 7 months to complete.
The Bridge took nearly half of that time to make
The iconic Hogwarts bridge on this model took around 3 months to create. With the staggering amount of intricate beams and rickety structure, it’s no wonder it took that long. In the Battle of Hogwarts, Neville destroyed this lovely bridge…but it was to avoid getting killed, so we forgive him.
Rupert Grint and his ice cream
Ever since he was a child, Rupert Grint wanted to be an ice cream truck driver. While filming, Rupert reportedly bought his own truck and drove it to the set to hand out ice cream to his cast and crew members.
Six different hair pieces were required to make Hagrid’s beard
The beard game is strong with this one. Our favorite game-keeper had a lot of hair. A lot. Robbie Coltrane had to be bearded up with six different hair pieces to make Hagrid’s iconic face fluff. It is said that his beard was so big he sometimes got things stuck in it…like bats. Err….
There were 1000 potion bottles made for the Potions classroom
Set designers spent hours labeling each potion bottle in the classroom with a different name and filling them with various liquids. You can’t read what they say in the movies, but it’s a nice touch nonetheless…
Harry was only filmed from the waist up at the Yule Ball
If you look closely, you’ll notice that in most of the Yule Ball scenes, Harry is only filmed dancing from the waist up. While the other characters received almost three weeks of dancing classes, Radcliffe’s busy filming schedule meant he only managed to have four days. We still love you even if you’re a bad dancer, Harry…
The Wizard Chess pieces were actually really, really heavy
In the first Harry Potter film, we see Harry go off to fight Lord Voldemort (what’s new?), and Ron and Hermione play the violent Wizard Chess. It is reported that each chess piece weighed 500 pounds. Good job they move themselves…
Dobby’s ears were designed after a dog’s ears…
Dobby’s death is something we will never get over. The ears of our favorite house-elf were actually based on the art designers’ dog that used to sit under their desks as they were working. The dog’s name was Max…Max has no master, Max is a free dog.
Hogwarts snow was actually salt
When you see the snow shots of the beautiful Hogwarts, you’re actually just watching salt showers…kinda loses its magic. The salt had to be removed as soon as filming was finished, otherwise, it would affect the structure of the model.
The Gringotts’ magical doors are fully operational
The doors in Gringotts are notorious for their complexity and magical locking mechanisms. For the movies, they were actually made to work for real… It took the creators three months to make the door a fully operational door. Who else wants this for their house?
There were two sets for Hagrid’s hut
Ahhh, so that’s how they did it… As a half-giant, Hagrid needed a hut suitable for a half-giant. There were two sets used while filming his abode. An oversized one with oversized props to make other characters seem smaller, and a normal sized hut to make Hagrid look like a half-giant.
Dumbledore’s books were phone books
We have always been jealous of Dumbledore’s book collection…now not so much. The books on set were just old phone books that were rebound and made to look old and dusty. I mean, who uses phone books anymore anyways? Just use the Floo Network.
The Knight Bus was extremely top heavy and had to have weight added to the bottom level
It’s gonna be a bumpy ride… The three-story high Knight Bus had to have 4 tons of weight added to the lower part of it to ensure it didn’t fall over. It was so tall they couldn’t film it on any low bridges. In fact, shooting the Knight Bus scene in The Prisoner of Azkaban shut down a whole neighborhood in London for a week…
Over 20,000 items were made for the windows in Diagon Alley
From cauldrons to carrots, set designers created over 20,000 goods and items to fill the windows of Diagon Alley to improve the authenticity of the set. Each was handmade, and it took several months to finish them all. We appreciate your effort, crew.
Tennis balls were used as the ghosts
As much as we wish that Nearly Headless Nick and the Grey Lady were real, we have to wonder how the characters communicated with the ghosts during filming…as they weren’t added digitally until later. It is said that during filming, the crew used tennis balls on strings as a marker of where the ghost would be.
All of the food in the Great Hall was real
The feasts in the Great Hall were spectacular and guaranteed to make you salivate. Chris Columbus made sure that all of the food in these scenes were 100% real to capture the sheer grandeur of the feasts at Hogwarts. Mmm…Tuck in!
The Whomping Willow took the lives of many cars…
To get a take that everyone was happy with, 14 Ford Anglia’s were written off before Ron and Harry finally crashed into the Whomping Willow with…err…style? They could have just used the Reparo spell…
The ‘Seven Harrys’ scene was incredibly complicated
In The Deathly Hallows Part 1, we see Dumbledore’s Army use Polyjuice Potion to transform into the seven Harrys. This scene required 90 different takes, multiple costume changes and a lot of time to ensure the scene was captured effortlessly. As much as we love Harry Potter, seven of him is just creepy…
Daniel Radcliffe went through 160 pairs of glasses throughout the filming of Harry Potter
Harry’s glasses were always getting broken, smashed or just dirty, but Hermione was always on hand to repair them. During filming, real-life Harry didn’t do so well with his glasses either. Good job they weren’t prescription….
And he went through 60+ wands
Harry was so into his magic that throughout the filming of the Harry Potter series, Radcliffe managed to break over 60 wands. Luckily, they were made on-site so he could easily get them replaced. That’s a lot of Phoenix feathers to use…
The producers tried to keep to the book descriptions of Harry and Hermione, and it didn’t go so well
In the books, Harry has green eyes and Hermione has buck-teeth. The Producers tried to keep this the same and gave Daniel contacts. He had an allergic reaction and had to stop wearing them. Emma was given false teeth but couldn’t speak with them in, so they scrapped them. Probably for the best.
So, Harry’s eyes had to be digitally altered
Because of the contacts issues, Harry’s eyes had to be digitally enhanced in the scene where he is possessed by Lord Voldemort in The Order of the Phoenix. Just to make the best of a bad situation.
Ron didn’t have to pretend to be afraid of spiders
Ron’s arachnophobia made the prospect of him being your boyfriend less inviting…who would catch the spiders? When filming scenes with spiders in, Rupert Grint didn’t really have to act, as he was actually deathly afraid of them himself.
A giant swing was used in Quidditch
But they do actually fly…right? To show the portrayal of Quidditch in the films, producers used a giant swing to propel the characters when they fell off their brooms, and used a harness to create the flying motion.