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From on-set crushes to fame woes: The biggest moments and secrets from the 'Harry Potter' reunion special

By AYIE LICSI Published Jan 03, 2022 6:10 pm

After all this time, the Harry Potter nostalgia is very much alive!

Two decades and eight blockbuster movies later, the iconic franchise brought back beloved stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, and more in a reunion special where they reflected on their time bringing magic to the big screen.

Accio some tissues and grab some Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans—let's take a look at some of the biggest moments and secrets spilled from HBO's Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts.

Jason Isaacs left Tom Felton in tears

Aside from Voldemort, the Malfoys were some of the biggest villains in Harry Potter. Jason Isaacs, who played Lucius, left his on-screen son Tom Felton (Draco) in tears after accidentally hitting him too hard with his cobra cane in the earlier movies.

"The very first scene that I shot was actually cut, it's on the deleted scenes. Draco touched something, and I used this cane and went, 'Don't touch anything, Draco," Isaacs shared.

"I didn't know how sharp the teeth were, they went right into little Tom's hands. He looked up at me, eyes welled with tears," the actor added.

Isaacs said he later apologized to his on-screen son. Felton even noted how sweet the actor was contrary to his vile character after the takes.

Richard Harris believed Fawkes was real

The late Richard Harris, who played the OG Albus Dumbledore, funnily did not know that Fawkes the Phoenix was a robot, not a real bird.

"You and I had one of our greatest laughs together with Richard Harris," director Chris Columbus recalled the Chamber of Secrets scene with Radcliffe. "It was this big, red bird that doesn't exist in real life...Richard came in and looked at the phoenix and said, 'Wow, they train animals marvelously these days.'"

"We never told him," Radcliffe laughed. The animatronic bird had cameras in its eyes, allowing it to interact with Harris. Who can blame the actor for thinking it was a real animal?

Alfonso Cuarón gave the cast homework

When director Alfonso Cuarón joined Prisoner of Askaban, he assigned the trio with homework where they had to write an essay in character to help him understand their roles.

In Hermione-like fashion, Watson wrote a 12-page essay. Meanwhile, Grint never did the assignment, which was very in character for Ron.

Alan Rickman was the only one to have a 'full picture' of what's happening

After all this time, Alan Rickman knew the fate of his character Severus Snape—something other cast members didn't get to know. Radcliffe said he only found out about plot points as each book was revealed, but Rickman had the full story.

"He had the inside line," the actor told Gary Oldman (Sirius Black). "He very, very early said to Jo [Rowling], he was like 'I think I need to know what happens.'"

Why author J.K. Rowling was absent

Rowling, creator and author of the massively popular Harry Potter books, was notably absent from the reunion, exept in archived footage from 2019. 

According to EW, an invitation was extended to the author but her team said the old interviews would suffice.

Sources close to Rowling insist that her controversial statements about the trans community—which Radcliffe, Watson, Grint, and Fantastic Beasts star Eddie Redmayne have condemned—did not play a part in her absence from the special.

Watson thought about leaving after Goblet of Fire

Can you imagine Harry Potter without Watson as Hermione? The actress almost didn't return after Goblet of Fire, saying she felt alone while struggling with the woes of fame.

"I could see that, at times, I was lonely," she said, speaking with Grint.

"I think I was scared. I don't know if you ever felt like it got to a tipping point when you were like, 'This is kind of forever now.'"

Grint also shared that he had similar feelings, while Radcliffe said that it never occurred to him to discuss these kind of struggles with each other because they were so young. "As a 14-year-old boy, I was never going to turn around to another 14-year-old and be like, 'Hey, how are you doing? Is everything okay?"

Emma Watson and Tom Felton have much love for each other

In the past, Watson and Tom Felton have opened up about their childhood crushes on each other. During the reunion, they rehashed this as they talked about their love for each other. Watson even recalled when she first saw Felton on set in the tutoring room.

"The assignment that had been given was to draw what you thought God looked like. And Tom had drawn a girl with a backward cap on a skateboard. I don't know how to say it, I just fell in love with him," she said. 

The actress also talked about how she would look for his number on the call sheet every morning.

"Emma and I have always loved each other, really," Felton shared. "I became very protected over her. I've always had a soft spot for her and that continues to the day."

The actors clarified that this love was platonic, though. Still a win for Dramione fans, right?

Radcliffe had a crush on Helena Bonham Carter

Speaking of crushes, the reunion revealed that Radcliffe had his own on-set crush: Helena Bonham Carter. The actress reminisced about asking for his autograph, which Radcliffe read aloud.

"Dear HBC," the 32-year-old actor read from Carter's phone. "It was a pleasure being your co-star and coaster in the sense that I always ended up holding your coffee."

"I do love you and I just wished I had been born 10 years earlier, I might have been in with a chance," he shared.

Grint and Watson's kiss was 'horrifying'

Ron and Hermione shippers finally got the kiss they've been hoping for in Deathly Hallows Part 2, but it wasn't as romantic behind the scenes as it was on screen.

"Obviously us kissing was the most horrifying thing either of us had to go through," Watson said.

“I think I blacked out. I just remember your face getting closer and closer,” Grint added.

The actress explained that it "felt wrong" because they treated each other, including Radcliffe, as siblings.

'The ones who love us never really leave us'

The reunion special also paid tribute to the legendary actors and crew members the franchise has lost over the years, including Richard Harris, Alan Rickman, Helen McCrory (Narcissa Malfoy), Richard Griffiths (Vernon Dursley), and John Hurt (Garrick Ollivander).

"She taught me a lot," Felton said of his on-screen mom. "She had this ability to show such empathy in her eyes. It was a real treat to work with her."

"Rickman never talked to me like I was a child," Watson shared. "He always took my thoughts and opinions very seriously, which I was touched by."

Voldemort actor Ralph Fiennes called Rickman a "dear friend" and said he was "a little intimidated by his precision" and "expert delivery of lines."

There are many other moments from the reunion special to watch for like the throwback photo mistake where a photo of Emma Roberts was used instead of Watson, the Phelps twins' antics on set, and more.

The Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts special is available to stream on HBO Go.