The Harry Potter reunion, titled Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return To Hogwarts, commemorated the release of first film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It has been over a decade since we last saw a proper Potter movie (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 came out in 2011 and the Fantastic Beasts spin-offs don’t count).
And still, judging by the reviews and fan reactions on social media, it appears Return to Hogwarts is a Basilisk-sized success. Potterheads are sharing snippets of their favourite moments online and celebrating the Wizarding World franchise that has faced a couple of significant setbacks in the last few years.
Return to Hogwarts brought together much of the main cast, including Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Tom Felton, Mark Williams, Helena Bonham Carter, Gary Oldman, Robbie Coltrane, Jason Isaacs, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Bonnie Wright, Alfred Enoch, Matthew Lewis, Evanna Lynch, and Ralph Fiennes.
Producer David Heyman and directors Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuarón, Mike Newell, and David Yates also appeared in the episode.
Here are five takeaways from the special:
1. The most challenging part was finding the perfect actor to play Harry Potter
The UK-wide hunt for the perfect child actor to play the main role of Harry Potter was a mountainous task for the casting directors and director of first two movies, Chris Columbus. Series author JK Rowling said in the archival footage included in Return to Hogwarts, “We couldn’t find Harry. We just couldn’t find Harry and it was getting kind of weird and panicky.” Columbus saw a BBC adaptation of David Copperfield and spotted Radcliffe, and “immediately, a lightbulb went off in my head.” Speaking of Rowling…
2. JK Rowling is very much present
Your opinion of JK Rowling’s recent comments about trans issues may vary, but she was very much there in the special episode. We saw her speaking about Daniel, Rupert and Emma through old footage and many of the cast members even honoured her for creating this world.
3. Emma Watson wanted to leave the franchise
The sudden and immense fame that comes a young person’s way when they are a part of a huge franchise like this can be too much to handle. And for a while Watson contemplated leaving the franchise. She said in the episode, “The fame thing had finally hit home in a big way.” But she overcame her misgivings and decided to see it through.
In the books and films, Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy may have a hostile relationship, but in real life, Watson was smitten with Felton. In the very first scene of the reunion, we see her enter the Great Hall set and hug Felton, a moment that is making waves on social media. Felton, however, saw her only as a younger sister since she was a couple of years younger than him. Watson said with Felton, she could be vulnerable, which was not true for everybody else on the set. Both reiterated that they still love each other very much. “Nothing has ever, ever, ever happened romantically with us. We just love each other. That’s all I can say about that,” she said cryptically.
5. Emma and Rupert’s kiss was a nightmare for the actors
When we witnessed the kiss between Ron and Hermione, it felt passionate. But for the actors, it was nothing short of a nightmare. They had grown up together and saw each other almost as siblings. The kiss felt very, very wrong. “Kissing Rupert is one of the hardest things I ever had to do. It just felt wrong, so wrong on every level because Dan, Rupert, and I are so much siblings. All three of us felt so matched in how much it meant to us,” said Watson. But it was director David Yates’s decree, and had to be done.
Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return To Hogwarts is streaming on Amazon Prime Video in India.