Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Harry Potter to take our mind off death


Quidditch World Cup clip
A 50-second clip of the Quidditch World Cup scene from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire has been posted over at

First clip of Voldemort speaking has recently been updated to include a new "Wireless" section, where you can download ringtones for your cell phone. One of the tones is of Ralph Fiennes speaking as Voldemort near the beginning of the fourth movie. EDITOR'S NOTE: IT AIN'T DARTH VADER, BUT IT'S STILL KINDA COOL.

Check it out here, (BELOW)

In case you can't tell, he says, "Step aside, Wormtail, so I can give our guest a proper greeting."

Goblet of Fire Enter-to-Win Sweepstakes!
MuggleNet, Warner Brothers and the Noble Collection have teamed up to bring you a great sweepstakes filled with 27 prizes all relating to the Goblet of Fire movie.

Full details can be found right here (SEE BELOW)

The contest will run between now and November 20th, and winners will be announced on November 30th.You must be 14 or older and live inside the United States to participate. We have implemented several different security measures to avoid any kind of cheating. Anyone who does not follow the rules will be automatically disqualified. EDITOR'S NOTE: SO WEASLEY TWINS, DON'T EVEN BOTHER! Good luck to everyone!

Teen and Ellegirl magazine scans
Emma Watson is featured in the winter 2005 issue of Teen magazine. It includes some great new pics and quotes.

Exclusive Interview : Ralph Fiennes
Ralph Fiennes sits back in his Beverly Hills hotel room, a half smile creeping on a face that tends to reveal little.

That is until we discuss his big scene with "Harry Potter" star Daniel Radcliffe in the latest Potter adventure, Goblet of Fire, in which he plays the prince of all literary villains, Lord Voldemort.

The poor guy had to be sort of in the grip of a statue of death holding him, while I pranced about telling him how evil I was and the genius I was, threatening him and he had to go “aagh, aagh, aagh,” and I had to go ha-ha-ha-ha,” he says, with a self-mocking evil laugh.

Hearing the esteemed actor regale one with tales of Potter goings-on, it is clear that the star of such less mainstream fare as "The English Patient", "The Chumscrubber", "Spider" and the upcoming "The White Countess," is occasionally more than content to occasionally slip over into Hollywood’s veritable dark side.

The actor says that there is a clear difference between working on something such as "The White Countess", the new film from Merchant Ivory, and the latest multi-million dollar installment in the Potter franchise.

Well, the atmosphere of the movie is completely different, in that they have so much money on Harry Potter that they can take their time. You can get three or four set-ups a day and things are very leisurely and it’s also compounded by the fact that the children have different hours to the adults, so, it’s a whole different ballgame,” explains the actor., further conceding that he enjoyed the fact that on Potter, “I was grateful to have two weeks to shoot this one scene in Harry Potter.”

Fiennes is referring to the film’s climax, in which his demonic Lord Voldemort is fully revealed, with bald head and sweat pouring down an evil visage. “It’s a big, big scene, but they have to deliver and, as I’m continually being made aware by everyone I talk to, they have high expectations.”

It’s quite a moment for Potter films, and he hopes for the desired response from his target audience. “I have no doubt children will be afraid of me now if they weren’t before,” he says, with a dry chuckle.

As for the pressure and hype of being the major antagonist in the latest Potter yarn, Fiennes’ philosophy is to “kind of” ignore the hype and get on with the business of acting. “I don’t really feel the hype for this particular Harry Potter film. I mean, I’m told about it, but I don’t have a fan’s investment in the books myself. I like them, I admire the world of the books, and the characters that she’s created, but I’m not, as it were, an addict of Harry Potter so I guess I don’t feel that sort of thing where you feel slightly possessive about something.”

Fiennes read the novel Goblet of Fire when cast in the film version, but laughingly concedes “I was only interested in my scene, and I had to go through thousands and thousands of other scenes which I did, dutifully, until I got to my scene and I read it many, many, many, many, many times and that was my research.” EDITOR'S NOTE: AND THAT DIDN'T EVEN MAKE HIM CURIOUS ABOUT THE BACK-STORY? (I JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND NON-DWEEBS.....)

He recalls being on the Potter set, as so much larger than life. “I think a bit of me on the Harry Potter set is like a kid sort of entering into the fantasy set that when you’re young you watch those movies, and it all becomes so remarkable. The Harry Potter sets are brilliant and when you walk on to them they just are amazing, so for a second you do get transported.”

Fiennes says he has the greatest respect for the film’s director, Mike Newell, the first British director on the franchise. “That was one of the blessings of a part like this, where you’re meant to be playing the distillation of evil, which can be anything, so I got lots of takes. I think the one thing we were aiming for was a sort of question, a certain amount of unpredictability in him so no one quite knows what he’s going to do next or say next which I hope makes him slightly sort of dangerous.” EDITOR'S NOTE: 'SLIGHTLY'? WONDER WHAT FIENNES WOULD CONSIDER FULL-ON DANGEROUS?

It’s quite a time for Fiennes, what with Harry Potter and another family film doing nicely in theatres, albeit slightly different, as one of the voices in the new Wallace and Gromit film.

Of course it’s pure coincidence that the actor would find himself in two family films. “It’s just weird how things have happened. I was approached about Wallace and Gromit maybe two and a half years ago now and they started recording the voice then and the release of it seemed years away, so it’s just timed out that it’s the same. I don’t think when I committed to Wallace and Gromit I almost certainly hadn’t committed to Harry Potter, so there’s no plan to it, it’s just that last year, from summer, April ‘04, through to this last summer finishing Julius Caesar, just one year was just packed with a lot of things to do.”

One of those was the James Ivory-directed "The White Countess", starring Natasha Richardson and Vanessa Redgrave, in which he plays a blind, American diplomat in 1930s Shanghai. He says he was attracted to this quietly evocative tale simply because he “just liked the screenplay Kazuo Ishiguro wrote. It’s very complex, develops rounded characters and an interesting background.”

Fiennes says he also identified with his character’s sense of idealism. “He’s a bruised idealist and I could identify with that.” Fiennes says that his own sense of ‘bruised idealism’ has to do with the futility of war. “I think we’d all like to believe, as Jackson does, that perhaps people could stop killing each other for a start. When you get to over 40 and people are still killing each other around the world and blowing each other up it gets a bit sort of depressing.” EDITOR'S NOTE: OH. I GET IT. HE'S BRITISH. ALL ADJECTIVES ARE MUTED.

So Fiennes escapes that reality by turning to a profession with which he has immersed for over a decade, choosing his roles, on screen or stage, as carefully as he can. “It matters to me that I feel happy about what I’ve chosen to do,” including the theatre, which he returns to as often as he can. “I started work as an actor in the theatre, for five years solid and when I wanted to be an actor I was only conscious of wanting to be in the theatre. I guess it never occurred to me that films and “Hollywood” would enter into my life, as I just thought that was another world away. Then I wanted to be an actor because I was a Shakespeare fan.”

Fiennes will remain in the US to shoot “this film with Susan Sarandon in New York starting in two weeks time, called Bernard and Doris. It’s about Doris Duke who left her estate to her butler, an Irishman, and it was a big scandal at the time as to whether he had maneuvered her or manipulated her into doing this and it’s really a look at what that relationship might have been.’

Then Fiennes returns to the stage, “in Dublin where I’m doing a Brian Friel play called Faith Healer which is a revival of one of his great plays which we’re starting in Dublin and taking it to New York.”

Then perhaps he’ll return to the fantastical world of Harry Potter? Fans will have to wait till 2007 to find out. EDITOR'S NOTE: SURELY YES? I MEAN, THEY WOULDN'T SIGN SOMEONE FOR SUCH AN IMPORTANT ROLE AND NOT MAKE CERTAIN THEY WERE IN FOR THE DURATION, WOULD THEY?

Exclusive Interview : Mike Newell
Mike Newell has come a long way since his "Four Weddings and a Funeral".

A film director of sure hand and considerable range, Mike Newell credits his ability to juggle numerous genres and subject matters to his diverse assignments and early experiences in British television.

Generally shunned as a redheaded stepson to film, Newell considers television a key component in the scheme of the entertainment industry, claiming that his work at Granada Television fuelled his versatility by allowing him the room for experimentation that the non-existent British film industry of the late '60s and early '70s couldn't provide.

Born in England in March of 1942, Newell studied at Cambridge, later moving on to work at Granada Television as a trainee in 1963, where he worked in various aspects of production for several years before making his TV directorial debut. Spawning such contemporaries as Ken Loach, Stephen Frears, and Michael Apted, television work provided the creative outlet that many young filmmakers of the time so desperately needed.

Newell's U.K. television feature debut, "The Man in the Iron Mask" (1977) served as his springboard to international success, finding theatrical release in the U.S. Continuing with work in television in the following years, Newell began to concentrate on his attempts to move into feature territory in the late '70s.

Newell's first theatrical feature "The Awakening" (1980), a U.S./U.K. co-produced adaptation of Bram Stoker's "Jewel of the Seven Stars", earned mixed reviews, though it began to cement Newell's reputation as a talented and versatile director with a gift for getting the best performances possible from his actors.

Following "Awakening" with "Bad Blood" (1982), a disturbing study in small town alienation set in New Zealand, Newell continued to refine his gift for darkly enchanting, personalized films on a feature level.

Working through the remainder of the decade in multiple genres, including crime (Dance With a Stranger, [1985]), drama (Soursweet, [1989]), and the activist sports drama "Amazing Grace and Chuck" (1987), Newell proved time and again that his sure directorial hand and sharp eye for storytelling transcended genre restrictions in favour of deeply rooted character studies.

Though he had over 54 credits to his name upon entering the final decade of the millennium, the 1990s proved to be the decade in which Newell began to gain the international recognition that he so richly deserved.

Making his '90s theatrical debut with the charmingly romantic "Enchanted April" (1992), EDITOR'S NOTE: OOOO..I HAD FORGOTTEN THIS ONE WAS NEWELL. CHARMING, LOVELY MOVIE. Newell continued with a critically praised melancholy family fable in 1993, Into the West, before making his breakthrough with the influential romantic comedy "Four Weddings and a Funeral" (1994).

Offered directorial hand on a slew of similarly themed romantic comedies in the wake of the success of "Four Weddings" (including Notting Hill, [1999]), and taking advantage of one such offer with the less successful Hugh Grant comedy "An Awfully Big Adventure", Newell proved his versatility and struck gold again in 1997, with "Donnie Brasco".

n 1999, Newell spun a tale of dysfunctional air-traffic controllers with Pushing Tin, "a movie about people crashes, not plane crashes." Last year he helmed what was to be the last significant role for Julia Roberts on film, "Mona Lisa Smile", followed by his own ‘awfully big adventure, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire".

In the fourth and most ambitious film of the "Potter" franchise, Harry faces his greatest challenges and dangers yet.

When he is selected under mysterious circumstances as a contestant in the Tri-Wizard Tournament, Harry must compete against the best young wizards from schools all over Europe. But as he prepares, signs begin to point to the return of Lord Voldemort. Before long, Harry is playing not just for the Cup, but for his life.

At the end of a frenetic day at the Potter junket in London, a still upbeat Newell took time to talk to PAUL FISCHER.

Paul Fischer The last time I met you was at the junket for Mona Lisa Smile where you talked briefly about this film. I was struck by the fact that you are a filmmaker whose work is defined by character-based comedy or drama films that are of a slightly smaller scale to this.

Newell: I guess you could say that.

P.F: Why did you decide that the time was right for you to leap out and tackle something of this scale?

Newell: Well, there are some human factors and there’s also one big kind of, ah, professional factor. The human factors are that it’s, it’s likely to be one of the most famous franchises that there has ever been. For heaven’s sake, why not – you know? I’ve never made a film like this before and I’ve never made a film even a quarter as big as this before. And, you know, you’re always waiting – I think any of us, but certainly in my trade – for the moment where you fall off the twig. I mean, you promote yourself and you climb the ladder and there is bound to be a rung, finally, you know, at some height up that ladder that you’re going to fall off. So it’s pretty interesting. It’s what is curious about when that will happen. And so the scare of the thing is very attractive, you know. It’s just… it’s big. Why not do big?

Also I have a 10-year-old son and it’s very good to be doing this film with a 10-year-old son, because he sure as hell gets a lot of credit out of it, but the most significant thing of all it was this, that… what Warner Bros. and the producers said to me was, if… this is a 760 page book, it’s nearly double the length of number 3, which in itself is nearly double the length of either the others and they originally – Warner Bros. – were intending to make two movies, and wisely I think didn’t because they saw that there wasn’t actually quite enough story for two movies. And so they said to me, if you can see a way in which your conviction, your storytelling convictions can survive the impact of 760 pages then it’s worth us having a conversation, but if you can’t see a way of cutting the material down to single film length – then you’ve just got to be straight with us and we’ll move on.

So I read it and what I saw – this was the big, big come-on for me – was that I could see that there was, to my eye, an absolutely classical thriller at the base of this which was like North by Northwest. It has a hero, Cary Grant – or Harry Potter who at the beginning of the story knows absolutely nothing except some weird stuff begins to happen…But of course the audience knows that James Mason is behind all this – or Ralph Fiennes. Then the progress of the film is a matter of the hero finding out just how bad a jam he is in, and only just managing to avoid it. So that… you know, to have that absolutely classic thriller structure really successfully set down in the book was... and I said to them, I said, I can only make this if you will agree that what we’re making is a thriller and we will ruthlessly take out stuff that doesn’t go to that, to that way of telling the story. There’s a lot of stuff in the book that doesn’t go – sorry, they were happy with that. They said don’t forget to be funny, will you, but that’s okay with me. You know, I mean I’ll tend to try to be funny anyway.

And then I had an immensely happy experience with Steven Kloves, who was one of the most wonderful collaborators that you could possibly have and who was game really for anything – and absolutely could see where I was at and came along every step of the way – sometimes I would lead, sometimes he would. But you know, it was very good to work with him. So that’s why – the reason is why is that I can see how.

P.F:Now, Mike, that’s all very well, but on the other hand you also have to deal with the pressures of the audience for this franchise, which can be very, very critical, how mindful were you of that?

Newell: Well quite, and then, you know, as things progressed more and more… I mean for instance quite recently, I saw a piece that appeared n a chatroom that was, was outraged that we had changed Hermione’s ball dress from the blue of the novel to the pink of, of the film. Outraged! And a very, very lively and tense chatroom discussion sprang off that.

Now I knew about that to start with, I knew that there was an audience that was rabid to a degree, and that we of course could not disappoint them. So there were two things that I had to address, one is when I could do one of the great set piece sequences that everybody’s is expecting from the novel I would, and that meant things like flying carriages and other watersheds; and, it also meant that as much of the Quidditch World Cup as one possibly could and the competition stuff – all of that. So I was very, very mindful that when I could, deliver to this hungry audience I should do so. But the other thing was that when I wasn’t doing those sequences that I felt belonged to the movie there were sequences and things like that I should simply be making the film with such a force and drive that they wouldn’t care. EDITOR'S NOTE: AND THERE IS A POINT AT WHICH YOU HAVE TO HOPE THOSE PEOPLE (THE ONES WHO CARE WHAT COLOR DRESS HERMIONE IS WEARING) GET HELP, OR MEDICATION, OR SOMETHING. WE...THOSE OF US WHO CAN AT LEAST SEE SANITY FROM WHERE WE ARE STANDING...WANT A GOOD MOVIE AND ONE THAT IS TRUE TO THE BOOK. (BUT NOT NEEDING IT TO BE SLAVISH).

P.F: Now you’re also, which is rather extraordinary when you think about it, the first British filmmaker to have tackled this franchise. Do you think that gives this film a very different tone than the ones directed by your predecessors?

Newell: Well, I mean that would depend on a comparison and I don’t know that I’m the man to make that comparison, but I would have thought logically, yes, absolutely – how could it avoid being very different.

And there are all sorts of points at which it would be different.

To start with, of course I went through this sort of education. In fact, I wasn’t at a boarding school I was in a day school, for which I’m very grateful but there’s an enormous body of literature books for children that are school stories in this country and I had read all of those, and I’d been to a school just like it where you were beaten with a cane. I remember some of the teachers being really quite violent and hurling things about the classroom – all of that one took to be the universe of the school, and of course the details of that and how English kids would respond to that, that is absolutely in my experience and could not possibly have been for either Chris or Alfonso, and so, yeah, you bet.

It’s quite inevitable that it would have been enormously different, and I think that in the end what I wanted to bring to it was that I remember my own school days as being really anarchic. Sometimes I was very scared, sometimes I was hysterically amused by what was going on around me but I kind of knew that this was… that school was kind of a world, that it was like the outside world only smaller, and it had a headmaster of whom one was likely terrified and then a descending order of authority figures, and then there was… and then there was us. And it was just like a world – we were learning to live in a world. It was a practice world. And, you know, a lot of that was very, as I say, it was very anarchic, and I wanted to bring that to it. I don’t see how anybody who hadn’t gone through that, who wasn’t English, could possibly have suspected that.

P.F: What about your sense of humour, though, because there seems to be a lot more high comedy in this work than in the other films. Do you think that also plays a role in a change of tone?

Newell: Well, yes, I’m quite certainly it was, and I remember going along and seeing Alan Horn, who is the boss of bosses at Warner Bros., and him saying, okay, tell me how you want to make it, and I stumbled along through my thriller pitch, at the end of which he said, you won’t forget to be funny will you, because that’s why we’re really interested in you, and I thought, oh, no, no, of course not…

And of course I hadn’t thought it was a comedy at all. But then when you get on the ground with these wonderful characters, and particularly the kids playing the characters, you know, you find that… the kind of eccentricities that you get in children. They are wildly eccentric, children. They start to push themselves to the fore, and quite inevitably that makes things… that, that makes comedy, makes it funny.

P.F:Are you surprised at how good these kids have become as actors?

Newell: Slightly, yes, I am. I was… there were two things that surprised me about them, one is that these are films like no other in which, you know… this is not like Mary Poppins. In the end Mary Poppins, it may be a film for children but it certainly isn’t a film about children, it’s about the adults, whereas this is not that at all, this is a film that is for and about kids. They are simply the stars. You know when I look at this, um, schedule of these interviews that I’m doing today, Daniel Radcliffe comes first, Emma Watson comes second, Rupert Grint comes third and only then do I come… (Laughter)

You know… they’re, they’re way out ahead. They’re huge, huge world stars. And what I was surprised by was how completely level-headed they were. I didn’t get any kind of backchat from them, no kind of mulishness or rebellion. I was prepared to talk to them and convince
them, as I would with any other actor, but I was very surprised, and nicely surprised, by that.

P.F: Now what were the challenges of doing these bigger set pieces, … the stuff on the water for example, were those much more intimidating to you than

Newell: Well it was because that was the bit of it I knew least – I didn’t know how to do that stuff, you know. I had to learn on the fly and it’s a very, very steep learning curve. EDITOR'S NOTE: THAT MUST HAVE BEEN RATHER TERRIFYING. I MEAN, THOSE BIG FX-LADEN SET-PIECES MUST HAVE BEEN ALMOST LIKE A WHOLE DIFFERENT MEDIUM TO WORK IN.(WONDER IF HE GOT ANY TUTORING OR ADVICE FROM HIS PREDECESSORS?)

P.F: Are you gratified that this movie could be a kind of crossover movie in a way that in fact you don’t really need to have read this book to know… to understand this – I mean apart from perhaps, ah, the Ralph Fiennes component?

Newell: I don’t even dare hope that, you know. I mean of course that’s what you fantasize about. I would love that.

P.F: And what can you possibly do now as an encore? I mean, do you have any plans… (Laughter)

Newell: Something really intense and small and character driven with not a single foot of visual effects in it. I have no idea what I’m going to do next.

P.F: Would you ever be persuaded to go back to Potter again?

Newell: Oh, yeah – you know, I think when it comes to the last one there’ll be queue a mile long. I’ll certainly be there. EDITOR'S NOTE: A HAPPY CAMPER. NO WHINING. THAT'S THE TICKET!

Growing Up Potter
Daniel Radcliffe was 11 when he was cast as the boy wizard. Now he's 16. He and his co-stars have gone from kids to teenagers in front of millions.

What's it like to be raised in J.K. Rowling's world?

The Harry Potter movies are filmed primarily at a former airplane factory 20 miles outside London.

Inside Leavesden Studios, as it's called, is a dreamlike mishmash of Harry Potter's past: bits and pieces of the Whomping Willow, signs from the stores in Diagon Alley, the smashed-up remains of giant chess pieces from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Honestly, is this any place to raise a child?

But that's what's been going on at Leavesden for the past five years.

When Daniel Radcliffe was cast as Harry (after a small part in The Tailor of Panama), he was only 11. Emma Watson (who plays nerd-girl Hermione Granger) was 10; Rupert Grint (Potter pal Ron Weasley), almost 12.

Now, with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire set to open in two weeks, they've spent a third of their lives making movies. They've gone from children to teenagers entirely within the weird, closed bubble of the Potterverse.

Radcliffe, now 16, seems to be aware of what a strange childhood fate has consigned him to, but having nothing else to compare it with, he isn't that bothered by it. "I've got quite a surreal mind anyway, so I don't think it's made much difference to how I see everything," he says amiably. "That's what's weird: I don't think of it as being that bizarre."

A lot has changed for him since he first picked up a wand. He has got taller and lost his round little-boy's face. He has gone through puberty, and his voice has broken. He's dealing with some complexion issues, and he's working on some beginner's stubble.

For Goblet director Mike Newell, shooting him is like shooting a moving target. "I've just been working on a scene which we shot in our first week, and Dan still looks the little kid that he was in Sorcerer's Stone," says Newell, who's probably best known for Four Weddings and a Funeral. "Now, 11 months later, he doesn't look like that at all. And that scene of him comes two-thirds of the way through the movie. So he starts as a kid of 15, then he gets younger, then he gets older, then he gets younger." EDITOR'S NOTE: HERE'S A DRINKING GAME FOR KINKY DWEEBS....GO SCENE BY SCENE THRU GOF AND PICK THE RELATIVE AGES OF THE KIDS. (EARLY FILMING? LATER? LEGAL YET?)

When Warner Bros. set about filming the Harry Potter books, it wasn't exactly uppermost in everyone's mind that the company would essentially be opening a boarding school for child actors (who must spend three hours a day with an on-set tutor). "When you start, you don't really anticipate that it will last seven films," says David Heyman, who has been a producer on all four movies (he calls himself "the longest-standing student at Hogwarts"). "It is its own universe. But we try to maintain a real normalcy about it."

Heyman insists that things have never got out of hand. "It's like school, so you have people getting closer and people growing apart, but we've never had a fight."

And what about puberty, a specter almost as unmentionable as He Who Must Not Be Named?

"There are crushes and romances here and there, but nothing to do with the central characters," Heyman says. "I've never caught anyone making out behind one of the backings or anything like that. I'm sure it's probably gone on, but I don't want to know about it." EDITOR'S NOTE: JUST LIKE MANY OF THE KIDS' REAL PARENTS, NO DOUBT.

In that respect, life distinctly imitates art: Goblet of Fire is the first of the movies to deal explicitly with sexual tension between the characters, especially Ron and Hermione. It's also the first movie in which a major (all right, sort of major) character dies.

Newell, the series' third director, has crafted the movie to reflect the edgier, scarier material: "It's very, very dark and sort of a classic thriller," he says.

Social life on Planet Potter doesn't always mirror that in J.K. Rowling's books. Radcliffe and Grint aren't actually very close. "Rupert I don't know that well," Radcliffe admits. "Which is weird. I think it's partly because he finished school before I did. Emma, I do know exceptionally well. Very, very well." EDITOR'S NOTE: WELL RADCLIFFE AND GRINT'S CHEMISTRY IS GOOD ON SCREEN, SO ACTING WORKS, EVEN IF THEY'RE NOT CLOSE OFF-SCREEN.

Um, so did they ever, like ... you know? "No. But I had a big crush on her when I first met her, definitely. But she's more like a sister now, so it would be a bit incestuous. It's too weird."

Radcliffe's best friend at Leavesden is, of all people--well, let him explain it: "Will Steggle, who's my--I hate to use the word, because I'll sound like a precocious child star--but he's credited as being my personal dresser. He is in actuality my best friend in the world. And he's 39. Which is upsetting, because he is so much older, and it means he's gonna die probably before me." EDITOR'S NOTE: WELL...IT'S KIND OF POTENTIALLY UPSETTING/DISTURBING FOR OTHER REASONS I'D PUT IN LINE AHEAD OF LOOMING DEATH SEPARATION. (BUT THANKS FOR BEING A RATHER MORBID LITTLE KID, DANNY).

Life on set can be tough on adults too. The Goblet of Fire shoot took 11 months, an eternity in Hollywood time, partly because kids can legally work only four hours a day.

"Every moment that they're in front of the camera is precious," says Newell. "So rehearsals--which for somebody like me are absolutely vital--you get none of it."

Though with the kids getting older, they do have more of a personal life to draw on, especially the dating part. "Mike really brings out how awkward and awful and how embarrassing the whole situation is," says Watson, who's now 15. "All of the younger actors played on their own experiences to make that feel as real as we could."

The Harry Potter set is an exclusive microcosm, one that comes with its own delights and its own dangers--in other words, it's not all that different from Hogwarts.

"There's never been a day when I've thought, I really don't want to be here," Radcliffe says. "Because for me, it's this or it's school. And I've never really loved being in school that much."

He does leave Leavesden from time to time. This month he's acting in an Australian coming-of-age movie called December Boys. But the outside world can take a little getting used to. After all, he's a star. "I don't think about it because when you start to think about it, that's when it gets a bit weird and you put up perimeter fences and things."

If there's a real downside to growing up Potter, it's that your adolescence is on display in multiplexes the world over, in excruciating close-up.

"When you see [the film] sometimes you can think, Oh no, they used that bit!" says Bonnie Wright, 14, who plays Ron's little sister Ginny. "I think everyone sometimes feels intimidated by themselves when they see themselves on the screen."

After all, it's hard enough figuring out who you are when you're a teenager. How much worse is it when you spend all day pretending to be someone else? EDITOR'S NOTE: MIGHT MAKE IT EASIER. (IT CERTAINLY DOES AT OLDER AGES, SO WHY NOT THEN, TOO?)



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