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What The Final Days On The Set Of The Last Harry Potter Film Were Like

For more than two decades, the "Harry Potter" phenomena has swept the global pop culture landscape like no other. From the books by J.K Rowling that started the whole thing and the movies that broke record after record at the box office to the spinoffs, sequels, fan tributes, and critical analysis, people have embraced Harry, his friends, and the larger world of Hogwarts with open arms.

Of course, that success was never a complete guarantee. So many franchises that start great have a problem with sticking the landing. Thus, when the last movie in the "Harry Potter" series was being made, fans were anxiously wondering whether the cast and crew would be able to do justice to the final novel, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."

The cast and crew was aware of the burden of expectations, as well as the realization that their journey within the franchise was drawing to a close. This created a filming experience unlike any other on the previous installments of the series. Let's take a look back at how the people who worked on "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2" wrapped up the iconic franchise in their final days on set.

Snape and Neville finally made up

One of the most tortured relationships in the entire "Harry Potter" canon was between potions master Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) and timid student Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis). Snape was notorious for bullying Neville incessantly, with the latter shown to be deeply terrified of his teacher.

In real life, of course, Rickman was nothing like Snape. But he was still a highly accomplished and successful actor, while Lewis was trying to find his way as a budding performer. In an interview for the Inside of You podcast, Lewis admitted he used to be terrified of Rickman. He also recalled Rickman's last day of filming, when he went to Rickman's trailer to wish the senior actor goodbye, saying, "Hey, I know it's your last day, and I just wanted to say this has been incredible to have worked with you for this long. I just want to say thank you for allowing me to work with you for 10 years and not ever shouting at me or treating any of us as anything less than your equal."

Rickman's reaction was something Neville could only have dreamed of with Snape. Rickman invited Lewis into his trailer. There, they had a cup of tea and chatted about the direction in which Lewis hoped to take his career, with Rickman freely offering his personal advice for the young actor's benefit. 

Even the producer got emotional

While the actors were the faces of the franchise, there were plenty of behind-the-scenes players who made the "Harry Potter" films a reality, and they all felt the pangs of parting as the series drew to a close. One person who particularly felt those pangs was David Heyman, who'd been producing the movies from the start. 

When it was time to film Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson for the final epilogue — in which Harry, Ron and Hermione send their children to Hogwarts — Heyman was present on the set. "It was a funny day," he later explained to Entertainment Weekly, "seeing them made up to look in their late 30s. It really accentuated the reality of the situation. I knew it had been 10 years, but I didn't realize they had aged that much."

What made the scene an even more stark reminder of the passage of time was that the lead actors had been made up to look decades older with prosthetic makeup. Heyman described the experience of watching the tiny tweens he'd first met while making "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" now playing middle-aged parents with tweens of their own as "surreal".  

The snogging scenes weren't all they were cracked up to be

As popular as the series has been, romance was never a big part of "Harry Potter," despite the central relationship between Harry, Ron, and Hermione leaving itself open to a juicy love triangle. After all, the relationship between Harry and Hermione was always that of a brother and sister, and it took Ron and Hermione until the final movie to profess their love for each other with a kiss.

But as exciting as that kiss was for fans to watch, filming it was not fun for Rupert Grint or Emma Watson. In an interview with People Magazine, Grint explained, "I've known Emma since she was literally 9 years old, and we had this very brother-sister relationship." Watson concurred, telling Movies Ireland, "It's purely the fact that he's like my brother, and we were both totally in the same boat. I'm sure he will tell you exactly the same thing. It was very strange and very weird."

The troubles didn't end for Watson, who also had a kissing scene with Daniel Radcliffe. Once again, there was the whole "brother-sister" feeling to get over for the two actors, and the presence of Rupert Grint proved distracting. "When they were there actually filming that kiss, they did actually want me there to kind of play off something, but I just found that too funny," Grint told J-14. "Emma sent me out because I kept laughing. It just looked really strange."

Looking towards a life beyond Harry Potter

As emotional as the last days of filming "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2" were, it was also a time for the young cast to look forward to a career beyond the walls of Hogwarts. As the lead of the franchise, Daniel Radcliffe faced the biggest challenge of convincing audiences that he could play something other than the Boy Who Lived. 

Radcliffe himself was fully aware of the challenge, telling The Mirror, "There will be some people who always see me as this character, I know that and understand that. That's fine. As long as they are not casting directors and filmmakers, hopefully it won't hold me back. That's my attitude to it."

The actor's career after "Harry Potter" has borne testimony to his determination to be seen as a serious actor instead of a one-hit wonder. Free of any concerns about the next paycheck, Radcliffe has branched out into indie and experimental cinema, from "Guns Akimbo" and "Swiss Army Man" to "Escape From Pretoria."

Emma Watson felt like she was saying goodbye to her sister

The "Harry Potter" movies are filled with some inspired casting choices. But perhaps none are more fitting than Emma Watson in the role of Hermione Granger. J.K. Rowling herself told Daniel Radcliffe in an interview that, upon her first conversation with Watson, the then-tween actress "spoke for, like, 60 seconds at least without drawing breath," prompting Rowling to respond, "Emma, you're perfect."

Right from the first moment Watson appeared as Hermione in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," fans knew it was a match made in heaven. And Watson felt the same way herself, often speaking about how glad she was to play a character that was so smart and brave and an inspiration for little girls the world over. 

When it was time to say goodbye to Hermione after "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2," Watson admitted that parting with her witchy alter ego was going to be hard. In an interview reported by Metro UK, the young actress praised her character's mental fortitude, explaining, "Hermione has so much strength and heart. I'm sure I will find a character I enjoy playing as much, but I don't think I will ever play one I love so much. Hermione is like a sister."

Mark Williams had a difficult time letting go

For the younger actors, saying goodbye to the world of "Harry Potter" was tough, but there was also excitement over being able to move on to adult roles and expand their horizons as performers. But the older actors were perhaps more acutely conscious of the gap that would be left in their lives after the movies ended, none more so than Mark Williams, who played the role of Arthur Weasley.

In an interview with Teen Vogue, the actor spoke about wrapping up filming on "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2" with a very long shoot, explaining, "The last scene took months. Months! Most of us finished at different times, but when I finished I was like, 'Yes!' and felt this huge sense of accomplishment." 

But that sense of satisfaction didn't last long, as Williams started to come to grips with what filming the last scene meant for his journey as Arthur Weasley. "The thing is, I'm getting more and more emotional the more I talk about it," he continued. "I think that's a factor of me being 52, and they're all 19. They're all like, 'Oh yeah, whatever, moving on...' and I'm looking around thinking, 'Oh, they're gone!'"

Emma Watson had her worst experience during the final days of Harry Potter

Of course, not every part of filming the two-parter "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" was sweet nostalgia and emotional goodbyes. Sometimes the scenes were extremely difficult to shoot because so much of the two films, which were filmed back-to-back, were shot outside of Hogwarts. In fact, Emma Watson revealed that the scene depicting the escape of Harry, Ron, and Hermione from Gringotts atop a dragon was the worst thing she'd ever filmed for the series.  

"I can tell you the worst [filming experience] right now," the actress told ComingSoon.net. "It was on movie #2, we get dropped by a dragon into the lake, and I think it was January or February. The lake wasn't heated, and because we had to get changed as part of the next scene, we couldn't wear anything underneath." 

According to Watson, she was slightly better off than the other two because she was wearing some thermals, but it was still far from a fun day at work. "It was so cold. I think Rupert thought at one point that his heart had stopped beating. I hate being cold more than anything, so that was my most memorable day. I was like, 'I can't wait for this to be over!'"

Tom Felton felt unnerved by Voldemort's unexpected move

In a franchise filled with dark and dangerous creatures, Ralph Fiennes had the task of playing the biggest, baddest threat to the wizarding world, Lord Voldemort. The two "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" films saw Voldemort cutting loose like never before, launching a direct attack on Hogwarts with his army of Death Eaters, which included Draco Malfoy, played by Tom Felton.

Near the end, Voldemort calls Draco to join him and unexpectedly hugs the nervous young wizard. According to Felton, Draco's look of shock at the hug wasn't a performance because that part wasn't planned. "The hug was never in the script for that scene, and Fiennes only decided to do it once during all of the takes," the actor explained during Dragon*Con 2011. "I was standing there like, 'What the hell is he doing? Why is he hugging me in this weird fashion?' It was very strange; it was a surprise for me."

Felton went on to describe the moment as "pretty menacing" since his character was in a highly emotional state at the moment, and the hug made the situation even more confusing, which was what Fiennes had intended. "It was pretty terrifying to be honest with you. That wasn't in the script. ... It was a one-off thing that he just threw at me."

Rupert Grint's tears made Daniel Radcliffe cry

The various people involved in making the "Harry Potter" films dealt with the end of the franchise in their own ways. For Daniel Radcliffe, wrapping production on "The Deathly Hallows" meant saying goodbye to a role he'd played for the majority of his budding career.

According to Radcliffe, the full import of the occasion didn't strike him until he saw Rupert Grint crying while filming the last few scenes. "We were all in bits," Radcliffe explained to OK! Magazine (via the Irish Examiner). "I've never seen Rupert Grint cry in my life, but it was really emotional. When I saw him cry, it made me cry more." 

Additionally, Radcliffe's connection to Harry went much deeper than simply playing a part, as the actor went on to explain, "It's come to stand for my childhood, which I've said goodbye to. That innocent small boy has gone."

Dame Maggie Smith was fighting her own personal battle

From the start of the series, Professor McGonagall had been one of the few positive authority figures in Harry Potter's life. The strict but fair Hogwarts professor was played in the films by Dame Maggie Smith. But in the middle of filming the final two films, the actress revealed she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer, which had taken a huge toll on her body.

"I was hairless," Dame Smith explained to an interview for The Times (via The Leaky Cauldron). "I had no problem getting the wig on. I was like a boiled egg." The hair falling out was a result of the chemotherapy treatment that the actress was undergoing at the time, leaving her feeling run down and exhausted during filming. 

"It was hideous ... not so good," Dame Smith continued. "[The chemotherapy] was very peculiar, something that makes you feel much worse than the cancer itself, a very nasty thing." Fortunately, the treatment worked, and Smith was able to finish her work on the franchise, including a memorable fight between McGonagall and Snape during the climax. 

Auditioning the next generation of Potters

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2" may have shown Harry's last stand against Voldemort, but the Wizarding World didn't end with the demise of the Dark Lord. The epilogue of the film saw Harry and his wife, Ginny, sending their children off on the Hogwarts Express. Bonnie Wright, who played Ginny, described the process of auditioning tween actors to play their offspring as "bizarre." 

"Dan and I sat in a room, and they came in one at a time." Wright explained during Dallas Comic-Con 2015. "We sat around a table like a family. They wanted to make sure that dynamic between us and the children felt real, and so we spent a lot of time with them, getting to know them." 

According to Wright, what made the audition process particularly bizarre is that the scene was set at the famous Platform 9 ¾, which brought back memories of when Wright herself first joined the "Harry Potter" franchise. "The littler girl that was playing the youngest was, you know, close to 10 I think, so nearly close to the age I was when I started so it was bizarre, kinda full circle." 

Robbie Coltrane had mixed feelings about saying goodbye to Hagrid

The gentle giant Rubeus Hagrid was the very first friend that Harry ever made. So what did Hagrid actor Robbie Coltrane think about the franchise coming to an end?

"We were all going, 'Yeah, it's gonna be tough on the kids,'" Coltrane revealed to the Radio Times regarding the sentiments of the older actors. "Then eventually we were all saying, 'Yeah, it's gonna be pretty tough for me too.'"

Despite feeling the pangs of separation at the prospect of saying goodbye to the franchise, Coltrane admitted he was happy to bid adieu to the bushy beard and mustache combo that the character always required him to wear. "It's all horrible," the actor declared, referring to the facial prosthetics. "But at the end of the day, they take it off, and then two girls come to my trailer with a pot of hot oil, they dissolve the beard, rub my face with oil."

Tom Felton felt he wasn't done with Harry Potter

Draco Malfoy is a character that fans love to hate, and Tom Felton did a great job playing the bully. However, his final day of filming "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" left a lot to be desired. 

"I was expecting this big emotional breakdown," the actor admitted to the Press Association (via Digital Spy). "But instead the first AD (assistant director) got out the microphone and listed the names of people who it was their last day and forced the crew for a ripple of applause and then we walked off and that was it."

Of course, different actors complete their scenes on a movie at different times, so it can be difficult to organize one day for a grand farewell for everyone involved in a project. Plus, for Felton, there was a feeling of there still being some unfinished business left even after he'd completed his last day on the set of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2." As the actor went on to explain, "The reason why it perhaps hasn't sunk in yet is because we always feel like we're going to be asked back for something or other, I'm sure it's not the last time we've seen those studios."

Filming ended with the cast serving everyone ice cream

As the final day of shooting drew nearer for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2," the cast and crew were struggling to find ways to express their emotions. But Rupert Grint discovered the perfect way to thank everyone who'd worked on the project without having to say anything when he brought his personal ice cream truck to the set.

"I brought my ice cream van to the set on the last day of filming," Grint explained to Radio Times. "Me and Emma served everyone ice cream." When you think about it, there really aren't many better ways to end a hard day at work than with an impromptu ice cream party, even if the execution of the idea was far from perfect. As Grint admitted to MTV News, "I haven't quite perfected the technique. [The ice cream] kind of came out in a jet."