Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter And The Order of the Phoenix In Theaters
"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" starring Daniel Radcliffe, took in $45 million its first day in theaters, Wed 11 July.
In "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," Harry returns for his fifth year of study at Hogwarts and discovers that much of the wizarding community is in denial about the teenager's recent encounter with the evil Lord Voldemort, preferring to turn a blind eye to the news that Voldemort has returned. Fearing that Hogwarts' venerable Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, is lying about Voldemort's return in order to undermine his power and take his job, the Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge, appoints a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher to keep watch over Dumbledore and the Hogwarts students. But Professor Dolores Umbridge's Ministry-approved course of defensive magic leaves the young wizards woefully unprepared to defend themselves against the dark forces threatening them and the entire wizarding community, so at the prompting of his friends Hermione and Ron, Harry takes matters into his own hands. Meeting secretly with a small group of students who name themselves "Dumbledore's Army," Harry teaches them how to defend themselves against the Dark Arts, preparing the courageous young wizards for the extraordinary battle that lies ahead - "Harry Potter And The Order of the Phoenix."
STARRING: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Imelda Staunton, George Harris, Helena Bonham Carter, Natalia Tena, Kathryn Hunter, Evanna Lynch, Gary Oldman, Harry Melling, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, Sian Thomas, Jason Boyd, Richard Macklin, Charles Hughes, Susie Shinner, Auror Dawlish, Nick Shim, Ralph Fiennes, Apple Brook, James Walters, James Utechin, Alec Hopkins, Jason Piper
DIRECTOR: David Yates
STUDIO: Warner Bros.
RATING: PG-13 (For intense action sequences, mild language)
Nearly a dozen "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" posters, below
Wild About Movies Grade: B+
"Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix"
BEHIND THE SCENES
A NEW ORDER
The fifth year of study at Hogwarts School presents a turning point, not only for Harry Potter but for his friends and classmates as well. No longer children, they are suddenly faced with the choices and challenges of young adulthood...and the consequences that come with them. Harry--dealing with the return of Lord Voldemort and the death of his friend Cedric Diggory--has been forced to grow up perhaps more quickly than the others and is compelled to take on responsibilities he never could have expected.
Making his entrance into the world of Harry Potter, director David Yates remarks, "It was exciting to me that this story takes place at a time in the students' lives when they are maturing and everything is becoming more complicated. It is about rebellion and about understanding the limits of adulthood; it's about discovering how difficult the world can become and how sometimes you have to make your own way in that world. So it's a blend of all the magic and fun that J.K. Rowling puts into her books and all the wonderful and amazing things that have been set in motion in the previous films, together with issues and ideas that are a bit more complex and touching on things that are quite grown up."
David Heyman, the producer of all of the Harry Potter features, notes that the nature of the story was what led him to choose Yates--an award-winning British television director--to helm the fifth installment of the series. "David is a fantastic actors' director, and he has also shown that he can handle political subject matter in an entertaining way. This is not a political film, per se, but the politics of the magic world are very much at play here. We thought David would handle that brilliantly, and he has. He came in with a great passion for the material and a great sense of the emotional journey of the characters. He understood that, for all the spectacle, what we and the audience connect with are the characters.
"It was really rewarding how the kids embraced him and he them," Heyman adds. "Like their characters, they are growing up and David treated them as equals. He realized that they know their characters well and was always soliciting their ideas and getting them to bring more of themselves to their roles in ways they hadn't before. That was exciting for them and for us."
Returning in the role of Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe attests, "I loved working with David. He is a delightful man, very soft-spoken, and yet I have never been pushed as hard as I was on this film, partly because of the nature of the story and partly because of his directing. He never settled for less; he always wanted me to go deeper, which was exactly what I felt I needed. He is a brilliant director."
"David is wicked; we got on really well with him," agrees Rupert Grint, the actor behind the role of Harry's best mate, Ron Weasley. "He was quite a bit different from the other directors because he has a more relaxed approach, but he always gave great suggestions."
Emma Watson, who plays Harry's loyal friend Hermione Granger, adds, "It was really lovely because David listened to what we had to say about our characters. He was respectful of the fact that we have been playing these people for five films now. He appreciated the history and the special relationship that Dan, Rupert and I share because it adds truth to the friendship between Harry, Ron and Hermione. David really looks for truth in all of the characters."
Yates was working from a script by another newcomer to the fold, screenwriter Michael Goldenberg. "I was thrilled when David Heyman called and asked me to be involved," Goldenberg recalls. "The great thing about working on a Harry Potter film is that it's something bigger than yourself, so there is no question of ego getting in the way. I know it's a cliche, but it's a magical thing to be a part of what has become this amazing phenomenon and to have a role in helping to bring it to the screen; I felt a great sense of responsibility in the best sense of the word. David Heyman made it fun, which is what a Harry Potter film should be, and Jo (J.K. Rowling) was incredibly sweet and could not have been more generous in giving us room to make the best film possible. David Yates was intent on keeping every moment of the story grounded in reality, and I think that's what makes the magic even more magical.
"Obviously, it was very important to stay true to the spirit of the book," Goldenberg observes. "This story, in particular, is so much about Harry's journey. It's about Harry coming of age and realizing that things aren't as black and white as they initially appeared...and the adults he idealized are perhaps more flawed and human than he thought. We wanted to examine those themes, not only with Harry but also with Ron and Hermione. All of the kids are dealing with a more complex world than when they first entered Hogwarts."
In "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," Harry's journey begins as he is enduring another interminable summer with the Dursleys. Making the time even more unbearable, he is feeling cut off from his closest friends, Ron and Hermione, who, inexplicably, have not written to him all summer--not only hurtful but odd, especially following the tumultuous and tragic events of the previous year.
Producer David Barron offers, "Poor Harry. After everything he's been through, he has been shut away in Little Whinging with absolutely no news from anybody. He thinks everybody is ignoring him--Ron, Hermione, even Dumbledore--and I think, coupled with the normal stresses of being a teenager, it's just a bit much for him to bear. It's a side of Harry we haven't seen before. He doesn't start out quite as level-headed as he has been in the past...not without justification, though."
With that in mind, the insufferable bully Dudley Dursley has chosen the wrong time to engage in his favorite pastime--trying to goad Harry--but their confrontation is abruptly halted when, without warning, a pair of Dementors attack and Harry is forced to produce a Patronus charm to save both their lives. Only moments later, a letter arrives at Privet Drive informing Harry that he has been expelled from Hogwarts for his illegal use of magic, a decree that delights the Dursleys even as it sends Harry to the edge of despair.
But hope is not lost. That night, a group of Aurors (Dark wizard catchers)--including Alastor 'Mad-Eye' Moody, Kingsley Shacklebolt and don't-call-me-Nymphadora Tonks--arrive at his door and whisk him away, telling Harry that Dumbledore has arranged for him to appeal his expulsion at a formal hearing at the Ministry of Magic.
First, however, they must take a detour to a secret location, where Harry will discover there has been a lot going on while he has been sequestered in Little Whinging. Arriving at number twelve Grimmauld Place--which, if you don't know is there, is not there--Harry is reunited with Ron and Hermione. And it is there that he is first introduced to the Order of the Phoenix, "a clandestine organization originally formed by Dumbledore to combat the forces of evil represented by Voldemort," David Heyman explains. "They meet in secret, in large part because Fudge, who is in charge of the Ministry of Magic, feels threatened by Dumbledore and is trying to repress stories of Voldemort's return. But those in the Order know that Voldemort is gathering followers and his power is growing."
Harry learns that his parents had been among the original Order of the Phoenix, and counted among its current members are Molly & Arthur Weasley, Remus Lupin, Severus Snape and, to his surprise and delight, Sirius Black, who has opened the Black family home as the meeting place for the Order of the Phoenix. David Yates says, "Sirius can't go out because he's still a wanted man. He can do very little to help, so the house is his gift to the Order."
Gary Oldman, who was introduced as Sirius Black in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," relates, "Sirius is a man very much haunted by being wrongly accused and imprisoned at Azkaban for so many years. He is emotionally rooted in the old days when they were the young Order. In some ways, his relationship with Harry is like reliving the past. Harry is so much like his father, James, who was Sirius' best friend, and Sirius is Harry's godfather, which is something he does not take lightly. They share a special relationship, which has progressively gotten stronger."
"It's similar for Harry," adds Radcliffe. "Sirius sees a younger version of James in Harry, and Harry gets to know more about his father through his relationship with Sirius."
Harry also sees the Order of the Phoenix as a way to connect to his past...and more. "Officially, he's not in the Order, but he already thinks of himself as very much a part of it because so many of his friends are in it. It means a lot to him because, of course, his parents were in the original Order. So it has quite an emotional importance to Harry, as well as giving him a chance to fight Voldemort," Radcliffe states.
Nevertheless, before Harry can think about fighting Voldemort, there is the matter of getting reinstated at Hogwarts. Harry must defend his actions at a hearing at the Ministry of Magic. The decor of the Ministry's grand atrium is dominated by what production designer Stuart Craig describes as "a Soviet-style propaganda poster of Fudge."
The designer adds that, despite the fact that people are literally flying down the hallways and memos are sent by the wizards' own brand of air mail, "the Ministry is a bureaucracy. In England, government buildings tend to have a 19th century Victorian design, which is very decorative. The Ministry is also underground, so one of the first things we did was visit the oldest of the London Tube stations, many of which were done with an extravagant use of decorative ceramic tile. We put that into the mix and invented this underground world that is tunneled--because that's what you would do underground--and wrapped in polished black ceramic tile, which is very interesting photographically. It was also challenging for (director of photography) Slawomir Idziak because it's highly reflective."
The Ministry atrium represents the largest set ever built for the Harry Potter films, at over 200-feet long, 120-feet wide and 30-feet high. It took more than 30,000 tiles to cover it, all of which had to be individually placed. Onscreen, the atrium will appear even bigger through the use of visual effects.
Escorted by Mr. Weasley, Harry enters the Ministry through the visitors' entrance, which, for all intents and purposes, looks like an ordinary telephone box in the heart of London. "We thought it would be amusing to put the Ministry of Magic underneath the Muggle ministries, so we positioned the telephone box on the sidewalk very close to the Ministry of Defense. So, unbeknownst to the Muggles, underneath the British Ministry of Defense lies the Ministry of Magic," Craig smiles.
Yates asserts, "One of the most fun elements of Harry Potter is how the wizarding world exists right next to our own Muggle world. It is sometimes just next door or right under our feet, if we only took the time to look. In fact, the two worlds often touch without us realizing it."
At Harry's hearing, things don't go as Fudge had planned, thanks to Dumbledore and an unlikely eyewitness. Harry is cleared of all charges, but when he tries to talk to Dumbledore after the hearing, his beloved mentor rushes away, refusing to even make eye contact with the young wizard.
Reprising the role of Albus Dumbledore, Michael Gambon says, "Harry's view of Dumbledore is that he is Harry's rock, but he sees his rock is collapsing a bit in this movie. Dumbledore's power is severely threatened, but that makes him more human, doesn't it? It also gave me another level of his character to explore, which was an interesting experience."
Still troubled by Dumbledore's rebuff, Harry goes back to Hogwarts. But the test that awaits him, as well as his classmates, will be unlike anything they have ever faced.
PINK IS THE NEW BLACK
Returning to Hogwarts, Harry is met with suspicious glances and the headline in The Daily Prophet twists Harry's surname from Potter to "Plotter," accusing him outright of lying about Lord Voldemort's return. Feeling alone and ostracized, Harry even resists the overtures of Ron and Hermione to help and support him, believing that no one can understand what he is going through, including his closest friends.
Daniel Radcliffe acknowledges, "He is perhaps being a bit of a martyr, but I think that is part of what's so appealing about Harry--he is not perfect. He's a flawed character; that's what makes him an incredibly human character. He is a really good person, but one who is mired in self-doubt a great deal of the time, and I think most people can relate to that."
Yates says, "It's an interesting time in Harry's life because he feels vilified by The Daily Prophet, which is the newspaper of the Ministry of Magic, and people are starting to believe what they read. So when he comes back to Hogwarts, it doesn't feel as familiar and safe as it always has in the past. He feels like an outsider, and he has to make a choice whether he is going to be defined by that or if he is going to hold onto the friendships that have gotten him through so much during his school years. There are moments where you see he could go either way, and that is the emotional center of the story, for Harry in particular.
"It was also a really interesting journey for Dan as an actor because it was a complex piece of acting work," the director offers. "What's great about Dan is he is fearless and so determined. There were times we'd be doing take after take and I could see the determination in his eyes to do it better on every take. I love that about him; he just wants his performance to be the absolute best he can make it."
The start of the new year at Hogwarts brings with it a new addition to the faculty: Professor Dolores Umbridge, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, played by award-winning actress Imelda Staunton. Dressed in pink from head to toe, Professor Umbridge has a practiced smile and a honeyed singsong voice that belies her true nature.
Yates explains, "Fudge is paranoid about Dumbledore, who he thinks is after his job, so he places one of his most trusted lieutenants, Dolores Umbridge, at Hogwarts to act as his eyes and ears. She decides it's her mission to clear out all the deadwood and conform Hogwarts to a very proper, orthodox way of teaching, staying within the box that the Ministry thinks they should all fit into, which results in a brilliant collision of values."
"She's definitely a wolf in sheep's clothing," Barron affirms. "She is nowhere near as 'pink' as she appears. I don't think Fudge realizes quite what he's doing by sending her there. I'm not sure even he knows what she is truly capable of."
"She is all about control; order is paramount," says David Heyman. "Anything that veers from her almost fascistic view of the way things should be has no hope of surviving in her world. She doesn't believe that her students' minds are vessels to be inspired but rather to be filled with the thoughts and ideas of the Ministry."
The students at Hogwarts are not the only targets in Dolores Umbridge's sights. The professors and staff are not any safer from her withering assaults. The Professor of Divination, Sybill Trelawney, played by Emma Thompson, could not have foreseen that Umbridge would dismiss her without a moment's thought, while Charms Professor Flitwick, played by Warwick Davis, also falls short of Umbridge's standards. Even the most respected professors, like Severus Snape, played by Alan Rickman, and Minerva McGonagall, portrayed by Maggie Smith, hold no sway over the pink-clad High Inquisitor. No one is safe from Umbridge's relentless power grab. Not even Headmaster Albus Dumbledore.
Heyman adds, "Her overriding aim is to discredit Dumbledore and seize control of the school in the name of the Ministry. Nothing will stand in her way. And Imelda plays that with a smile."
Staunton states, "There are many people like that, who are outwardly charming but there is a lot going on beneath the surface, which is a nice challenge to play. I don't believe for a moment Dolores thinks she's doing anything wrong. She believes she is doing what's best and, of course, those are always the more frightening people because they don't see any other side. There is no compromise."
"Imelda just ate up this character," Yates declares. "She is an incredibly gifted actress with wonderful comic timing. She was able to make Umbridge a woman of real complexity and not a caricature in any sense."
Based on the way the character is described in the book, Staunton might have taken umbrage at being cast as Umbridge. "In the book, she is said to be very ugly and toad-like, so when people would tell me, 'You'd be great for the part,' I'd say, 'Well, thanks very much,'" she laughs. "But it was great being asked to do this because the role is a gem and it is heaven to be a part of this world...not to mention I have a much higher status with my 12 year old at home now."
Staunton also worked closely with costume designer Jany Temime to craft Umbridge's look. "We had a lot of fun creating this sort of little round person, who's not very nice," the actress says. "I didn't want her to have any hard edges. I thought it was important for her to appear soft and warm because, of course, she is neither."
To physically suggest Umbridge's softness, Temime reveals, "We gave Imelda a lot of padding because she's actually a very thin woman." The designer also used soft, fuzzy fabrics for Umbridge's costumes to add to the illusion of softness and warmth.
The color of the costumes, however, was predetermined by the book: pink, pinker and pinkest. "Every time we see her, she is in a different shade of pink," says Temime. "As she gains power, the color gets stronger and more atrocious until she winds up in the deepest shade of cerise."
The color scheme was carried over to Umbridge's office, which Stuart Craig and his team decorated in shades of pink, and adorned with accents of lace and velvet and cute little knickknacks all around. The furniture style is French, which the designer says "is curvy, but has a sharpness to it," a none-too-subtle hint to its owner's real personality. The most distinctive feature in the office is the display of some 200 kitten plates on the walls, some of whose feline inhabitants are decidedly vocal and active.
By contrast, Umbridge's classroom is much more austere, in keeping with her style of teaching, which is severely limiting to her students, right down to the remedial textbook she gives them. Rupert Grint observes, "Umbridge has a rather strange teaching technique for a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. She believes progress should be discouraged and we should study theory with no practical application, which is ridiculous in a school of magic."
Emma Watson agrees. "They are not really Defense Against the Dark Arts lessons anymore because the students are not allowed to use magic. And for an eager mind like Hermione's, it's like a slap in the face. She just can't bear to sit there and be treated like an idiot; it just makes her blood boil because learning is everything to her. For the first time, Hogwarts, which has always been this very secure, stable place for Harry, Ron and Hermione, is not safe. It's scary and it's dangerous."
Dangerous because the students are not being prepared to fight or defend themselves...especially in a world where the Dark Lord is again at large.
As Professor Umbridge wields her escalating power at Hogwarts, new and ever-stricter Educational Decrees are posted, each one more limiting than the last. Almost daily, new proclamations are hammered onto Hogwarts' stone walls, banning anything she deems to be subversive. But all her plotting backfires, as her stranglehold on the school only serves to strengthen the students' resolve to somehow defy her authority.
Yates notes, "What's interesting is that, in trying to achieve complete control, Umbridge ultimately achieves the exact opposite."
It is Hermione who is the first to act, rallying her fellow students to take matters into their own hands. Watson states, "They know that if they are not learning spells then they will be unable to defend themselves. And while the Ministry is in denial that Voldemort has returned, they are not. They believe Harry; they know there is something dark and scary out there. I think that's the reason that, for the first time in her life, Hermione feels the need to rebel. It's the first time she realizes that doing what you're told all the time doesn't quite work. You can't always trust authority; sometimes you have to trust yourself."
With Hermione and Ron's encouragement, Harry agrees to step up and take on the responsibility of teaching the Hogwarts students the spells they will need to know to defend themselves against the Dark Arts. Radcliffe acknowledges, "At first Harry is reluctant, but he is talked into it by Hermione, who, as usual, is irritating but happens to be right on this occasion," he laughs. "So we go underground and form Dumbledore's Army. Harry becomes their teacher, using the knowledge he has gained to train up the students and teach them how to fight. The way he looks at it, there is a war coming, and there is a sense of growing danger. If Umbridge isn't teaching us what we need to do, we won't stand a chance when we are called upon to fight."
David Heyman remarks that Harry going from classmate to teacher represents a critical moment in the arc of the character. "We see Harry start out being a bit of an outsider, feeling like people do not trust him, do not believe him, thinking he doesn't belong anymore. Then, ultimately, he finds out that he does belong. And not only does he belong, but he has people who are willing to follow him. That's a really powerful and moving thing--watching Harry go from feeling isolated, even within his group, to becoming a leader of that group. Moreover, he is a better teacher than some that he has had."
One member of the group is the ethereal Luna Lovegood, a soft-spoken girl with a somewhat quirky personality, who is unfazed by what anyone else thinks of her. The character is making her debut in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," just as the young actress playing her, Evanna Lynch, is making her acting debut in the coveted role.
Luna's unique qualities made the part one of the most challenging to cast. Casting director Fiona Weir and the filmmakers met dozens of contenders, but none were quite what they had visualized for Luna, so they decided to hold an open call. More than 15,000 young hopefuls from all over the U.K. lined the blocks, standing for hours and hours for their chance to audition. One of them was Evanna Lynch, an avid Harry Potter fan who had fallen in love with the character of Luna when she read the book Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. "I loved her immediately," Lynch states. "She is so cool because she is so honest with everyone, including herself. She is funny and free and kind of floats through life so everyone thinks she's a bit dotty and silly, but she's not. She's really clever and wise in her own way, and she has a good insight into things."
Lynch felt an instant connection with Luna when she was introduced to the character in the book, going so far as to put herself on tape reading Luna's dialogue and even sending the tapes in for consideration. Shortly after, she learned there would be an open audition and declares, "I had to go...I was meant to go." Persuading her father to take her, she traveled from her home in Southern Ireland and joined the queue with thousands of other candidates who shared her ambition but not her confidence. "I wasn't nervous because being Luna was natural to me," she asserts.
The filmmakers agreed. David Barron recalls, "Fiona Weir met all 15,000 of the girls and eventually distilled the choices down to 29, who she put on a DVD and sent to us. She told us there was one girl to watch for, but didn't tell us which one. I got as far as the ninth one and rang Fiona and said, 'It must be number nine,' and it was. It was Evanna. She was just fantastic."
Heyman attests, "The difference between Evanna and all the other girls we interviewed for the part is the others could play Luna; Evanna Lynch is Luna."
Jany Temime adds that Lynch even contributed to her character's costume. "She was very specific about certain details. I made earrings for her that were red radishes, and she insisted that they had to be orange. That's how well she knew the character. We wanted to make sure that Luna's costumes reflected a girl with very individual tastes and her own special interests, but not so completely different that she would not fit in with others."
Another member of Dumbledore's Army, Neville Longbottom, played by Matthew Lewis, has had his own troubles fitting in with his classmates, but he proves his mettle when he uncovers the perfect spot for the group to train in complete secrecy: the Room of Requirement. As its name suggests, it is a room that only appears to those who need it, taking on whatever form is required but remaining invisible to anyone on the outside.
Stuart Craig offers, "We gave the Room of Requirement a default or neutral state in which the walls are mirrors and you cannot determine where the real space ends and the reflection begins. I thought it was appropriate that reflected you and your need back to yourself. But, being the Room of Requirement, if they needed books and cushions or dummy Death Eaters to fight, they would appear, as in the novel."
As a movie set, however, the mirrored room came with its own set of requirements. Craig acknowledges, "Obviously, the mirrors made it enormously challenging because they not only reflect the actors but the camera, the crew, the lights... We were constantly changing the angles of the mirrors for each shot and, in some cases, we used a dulling spray to kill a reflection."
To minimize one concern, Craig and director of photography Slawomir Idziak devised an ingenious under-floor lighting system with which they could light the set from beneath grilles built onto the floor. For a time it looked like the system might not work as planned as "it lit the soles of people's shoes in a rather unfortunate way," Craig relates. "We ended up covering the soles of their shoes with black velvet and had everybody on the crew or not in the shot wearing little blue surgical shoes to prevent them from treading dust onto the floor of the set, which had to be black so as not to expose the under-floor lighting."
When Hogwarts adjourns for Christmas vacation, Harry's underground class reluctantly breaks for the holiday. But as the students part company, one stays behind: the lovely Cho Chang, played by Katie Leung. Cho had first caught Harry's eye in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," and though they shared a tentative attraction, their relationship has been made more complicated by their mutual connection to Cedric Diggory, the young man who was Lord Voldemort's first victim upon his return. Knowing what was in their hearts, however, the Room of Requirement provided a sprig of mistletoe, leading to an eagerly anticipated moment for Harry Potter fans everywhere--Harry's first kiss.
"I was slightly nervous because I knew Katie was nervous," Radcliffe admits. "It's not just about the kiss; it's about the complex relationship that Cho and Harry have. But we did it a few times and after that it was not a big deal really. It was cool. We had fun."
"I was so nervous because it was my first onscreen kiss, but David Yates was great. He told us exactly what he wanted, and that made it less intimidating," says Leung. "It was a bit awkward in the beginning, but Daniel made it easy for me, and it went great. I really enjoyed it...and Daniel is a very good kisser," she smiles.
Yates notes, "We wanted Dan and Katie to feel as comfortable as possible, so we cleared the set and tried to keep the atmosphere as intimate as possible."
The director's preparations might have helped the two actors, but they did little to assuage the nerves of many of the crew, who had virtually watched Daniel Radcliffe grow up over the course of the Harry Potter films. Heyman states, "Many of us have known Daniel since he was 10 years old, have seen him grow up before our eyes, care for him so, and are protective of him. And here we were watching him have his first screen kiss. It was so strange. I kept thinking, 'I shouldn't be watching this,'" he laughs. "But it was perfect, and I think it will be a tender and beautiful moment for audiences."
Heyman continues, "One of the great pleasures of working on the Harry Potter films has been watching the kids grow up and seeing their talent blossom. They are all great young people--curious, kind, sensitive, bright--and I think the performances you will see in this film show how much they have developed as people and as actors."
ALL CREATURES GREAT AND NOT-SO-SMALL
When classes reconvene, Umbridge is more determined than ever to track down the rebellious students and put an end to their subversive activities. Long-suffering caretaker Argus Filch isn't having any luck, so she enlists the students of Slytherin House, led by Harry's nemesis Draco Malfoy, to spy for her. Tom Felton returns in the role of the young Malfoy, who is all-too-eager to earn extra credit as one of Umbridge's Inquisitorial Squad, with the added bonus of one-upping Harry Potter. Meanwhile, as Umbridge's rise to power goes unchecked, she makes no secret of those she feels have no place at Hogwarts.
Knowing it is only a matter of time before he, too, is banished from Hogwarts, gamekeeper Rubeus Hagrid asks Harry, Ron and Hermione for a special favor. In his absence, he will need them to look after his half-brother, Grawp, who just happens to be a 16-foot-tall giant.
Bringing Grawp to the screen involved a combination of design, motion capture, visual effects and the talents of an actor named Tony Maudsley. Heyman says, "We decided that Grawp should be a true innocent with a very short attention span. We brought in Tony Maudsley, and he and David Yates spent a lot of time developing the performance that would become Grawp through motion capture."
Yates asserts, "Tony Maudsley really became the part and imbued every movement with reason and rationale so, although the final character is more of a visual effect, Tony gave him a heart and soul."
Grawp's heart can be seen when he is instantly taken with Hermione, who can't help but be flattered. "For Hermione, there is something sweet about Grawp," notes Emma Watson. "He is quite endearing in the way he has a soft spot for Hermione, and she seems to be the only one who has any control over him, which is pretty funny. I know he is mostly made of special effects, but they somehow managed to make him feel so real. He had such puppy dog eyes; I couldn't help but fall in love with him."
Creature & Make-Up Effects Designer Nick Dudman reveals that they did build a full-size head for Grawp to "act" opposite the actors on the set, as well as to provide a 3D model for the visual effects team to scan into the computer. "We needed to establish the hair, the eyes, the teeth, all of which were controlled by us."
"The scenes with Grawp were amazing," Rupert Grint states. "They had this massive head and shoulders on the set and you could almost forget he wasn't all there. They were some of my favorite scenes to do because when Grawp takes a fancy to Hermione and picks her up, Ron gets jealous and tries to come to her rescue. He tries to play the hero and beat up a giant and you can guess how that turned out," he grins. "It was fun because I got to do a little stunt work when he sent me flying."
Hagrid hides Grawp deep in the Forbidden Forest, where the Centaurs also make their home. The visual effects team, headed by Visual Effects Supervisor Tim Burke, collaborated with Dudman and the design team on the creation of these noble creatures, who were first introduced in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." Burke offers, "We had Centaurs in the first film, but I think audiences will see that they have come a long way since then. They aren't a half-man/half-horse combination. They are beings unto themselves."
"The Centaurs are creatures of the forest, who are powerful and proud and very protective of their land. They also represent everything that Professor Umbridge loathes because she only sees them as half-breeds," Heyman says.
A new addition to the world of Harry Potter, the skeletal winged creatures called Thestrals also bear some equine traits, but they are decidedly not horses. Looking like a curious combination of horse and dragon, the Thestrals can only be seen by those who have witnessed death firsthand. Having witnessed Cedric's death, Harry sees for the first time that it is the Thestrals who are pulling the carriages that take them to Hogwarts. Luna Lovegood, who as a child saw her mother die, can also see them and considers the gentle creatures to be her friends.
Although the Thestrals would primarily be brought to life through visual effects, Dudman and his team built a full-size maquette of the creature so the filmmakers could visualize them in relationship to their surroundings. "It's easy to say a Thestral has a 30-foot wingspan," he explains, "but what does that mean? How will it fit in the set and how will it relate to the actors? Also, because the Thestrals are black and seen at night, a lot of discussion went into what their texture was and to determine exactly the right black-on-black color scheme."
Despite being invisible to all but Harry and Luna, the Thestrals prove to be invaluable in carrying Dumbledore's Army into their first battle--one that will try their courage and test every spell in their newly acquired arsenal.
Despite his newfound confidence as a leader and his open defiance of Umbridge as a teacher, Harry is still plagued by nightmares. Even more terrifying, his nightmares now seem to be foretelling actual events. But what troubles Dumbledore is the growing realization that Harry's nightmares might not be dreams at all but, rather, an attempt by Voldemort to use Harry's own mind against him. Dumbledore enlists Professor Snape to teach Harry the art of Occlumency, which will enable him to block the Dark Lord's attempts to infiltrate his mind.
The lessons are both grueling and revealing in ways neither Harry nor even Snape had anticipated, but they are to no avail. Voldemort's mind games prove too strong for the young wizard.
Harry awakens from a terrible nightmare in which he sees Sirius being attacked behind a door he remembers seeing when he was summoned to the Ministry for his hearing. He knows there is a chance that the nightmare was actually a trap meant to lure him to the Ministry, but he cannot take that chance. Sirius is the only family he has left.
But Harry will not be going alone. Despite his initial protestations, he is joined by five courageous members of Dumbledore's Army: Hermione, Ron, Neville, Luna and the youngest Weasley sibling, Ginny. If Harry is willing to risk everything to save Sirius, they are willing to risk everything to stand by him.
Arriving at the Department of Mysteries in the Ministry of Magic, the six young wizards make their way into the Hall of Prophecy--a seemingly infinite room filled with prophecies that have each been encased in a myriad of individual glass orbs and then catalogued and stored on endless rows of shelves. Stuart Craig says the original plan was "to physically manufacture 15,000 glass spheres and place them on glass shelves. The whole thing was going to be a crystal palace covered in cobwebs and dust. But then we realized that when the shelves came crashing down, it would be a one-take deal. It would have taken weeks to replace and reset the orbs." Practicality won out, and the entire sequence was instead shot against a green screen, making the Hall of Prophecy the first-ever completely computer-generated set in a Harry Potter film.
Harry instantly recognizes that he has seen the Hall of Prophecy before, but as they makes their way down the rows of numbered shelves, it is Neville who makes a startling discovery. The label for one of the glass orbs bears the name Harry Potter.
Unaware that the prophecy holds the key to the connection between him and Lord Voldemort, Harry takes it in his hands...and the trap is sprung. The teenage wizards are surrounded by a group of Death Eaters, led by the treacherous Lucius Malfoy. Reprising the role of Lucius, actor Jason Isaacs notes, "At that moment, Lucius' mask of civility is gone forever. The battle lines have been drawn and there is no pretending which side he is on."
One of Lucius' allies is Sirius' sadistic cousin, Bellatrix Lestrange, a recent escapee from Azkaban Prison and a devoted follower of the Dark Lord. It was she who put a Cruciatus Curse on Neville's parents, torturing them to insanity--a fate Sirius calls "worse then death."
Her appearance gives Neville a new reason for being there. Matthew Lewis, who has played the role of Neville in all of the Harry Potter movies, comments, "Neville turns out to be a lot braver than even he thought. To take this character on a journey from being this child who you would never think could fight, let alone against Death Eaters, to being a man who will fight to avenge his parents...it was just unbelievable."
Joining the Harry Potter ensemble for the first time, Helena Bonham Carter relished taking on the role of the evil Bellatrix Lestrange. "If somebody asks you to be in a Harry Potter movie, you have to do it, and I really had fun with this role. Bellatrix obviously has a personality disorder," the actress laughs. "She actually gets a kick out of being evil. I think she is in love with Lord Voldemort; she was willing to go to prison for him for 14 years. Now that she's out, she is even more fanatical."
The six young wizards fight valiantly, using their wands to cast spells that most of them have only just learned. But they are no match for the more experienced Death Eaters. Just as the teenagers are on the brink of death, the Order of the Phoenix sweeps in, with Sirius Black leading the charge and ordering Malfoy, "Get away from my godson!"
The battle is on and despite the danger--or perhaps because of it--Sirius seems to be enjoying the moment. Gary Oldman remarks, "Sirius has been so frustrated, first being in prison for 12 years and, since then, hiding at Grimmauld Place. He has been chomping at the bit to get his hands dirty and now he's back. It's like the old days."
Screenwriter Michael Goldenberg says that scripting the pivotal battle between the Order of the Phoenix and the Death Eaters was his most daunting challenge. "Trying to capture the essence of what was in the book and shape it for the screen was a real balancing act. We wanted to make sure there was a real sense of the danger--that anything could happen and anyone could live or die. That's what keeps people on the edge of their seats."
To stage the battle scenes, David Yates enlisted the help of choreographer Paul Harris to infuse the wand-to-wand combat with a style reminiscent of fencing. "David wanted me to set rules of engagement for fighting with the wands, which had not been established in the previous films," Harris explains. "He wanted a range of movements and positions from which the spells could be delivered, but they had to be unique to the world of Harry Potter."
In addition to outlining a basic set of movements, Harris worked with the actors to develop their individual techniques. He offers, "Jason Isaacs, for example, has a very formal, pure style, whereas Gary Oldman's style is a lot more 'street,' which befits the character."
As the battle escalates, there are triumphs and tragedies, all leading to a climactic showdown between Albus Dumbledore and Lord Voldemort. Yates asserts, "The battle between Voldemort and Dumbledore needed to be epic and visceral. I wanted audiences to feel that they were inside the battle, experiencing it firsthand, so we tried to use a hand-held camera whenever possible."
In keeping with the fact that this was a fight between two powerful wizards, visual effects supervisor Tim Burke adds, "David Yates came up with the inspired idea to keep everything grounded in the elements--fire, water, sand... It's all very logical and, at the same time, astounding."
The director remarks, "Ultimately, when you are watching this great battle between Dumbledore and Voldemort, it is the climax of the first five stories thus far. We had a duty to make it the most spectacular battle between good and evil, with Harry at its center."
"What they are ultimately fighting for is Harry's soul," David Heyman agrees. "And in the midst of that, Harry, who had begun the story feeling completely isolated and alone, even among his friends, finally sees that he has been given a priceless and irreplaceable gift in the people in his life."
Daniel Radcliffe offers, "What Harry realizes is that Voldemort may have the followers and the power, but, ultimately, he will never have what Harry has, which is the true and unconditional loyalty of his friends."
Heyman adds, "And Harry has been given something by his mother and by his friends that Voldemort will never have--the gift of love."
Yates concludes, "'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix' deals with some complex and demanding themes, but I think the most striking is the power of friendship and loyalty."