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‘Harry Potter’ stars reflect on ‘big problem’ while filming 1st film

Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and their peers were all preteens when they started filming the first "Harry Potter" movie.
/ Source: TODAY

Get excited because HBO Max's “Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts" special is almost here!

The special, slated for a New Year's Day release, will feature the original movie series' cast and crew, including Chris Columbus, who directed 2001's "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."

In a preview for the special, Columbus reflected on a dilemma he experienced while working with the child actors on the first "Harry Potter" film. At the time, Daniel Radcliffe was 11 years old when he played the titular character, Emma Watson was 10 when she portrayed Hermione Granger, and Rupert Grint was 12 when he started playing Potter's loyal bestie, Ron Weasley.

From left to right, Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley, Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, and Emma Watson as Hermoine Granger, on the set of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."
From left to right, Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley, Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, and Emma Watson as Hermoine Granger, on the set of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."Alamy Stock Photo

“They’d say a line and then they’d smile at the camera or they were just so happy to be in a 'Harry Potter' film that they couldn’t contain their excitement long enough to focus on an entire scene," Columbus said in a sneak peek video.

Watson also agreed that she and her co-stars had a "big problem" keeping their focus at work.

"A big problem was like, throughout a take, our attention would like wane and come and go," she explained.

However, Radcliffe noted that Columbus and the rest of his team probably made "their jobs harder for themselves" by letting him and the other child actors, which included Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy, Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom, Jamie Waylett as Crabbe, Josh Herdman as Goyle, and many more have "as much fun" as they wanted on set.

"It distracted us from you know, the work we were supposed to be doing," he shared.

In the “Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts" special, fans can see Radcliffe and his buddies fooling around in between takes by slapping each other's hands and playing little games. But once the cameras started to roll, they all had to act like serious Hogwarts students once again.

In 2009's "Creating the World of Harry Potter, Part 1: The Magic Begins" docuseries, Columbus explained that he and his team would use multiple cameras to get the scenes that they needed from Radcliffe and the other child actors.

“It was important for me to always have a camera on one of them, in case one of them was coming down off of a chocolate rush, or they lost their energy, or they were getting tired, or they were looking into the camera. God knows there were a million things going on,” he said.

“And the key was, for cinematographer John Seale, was shooting multiple cameras because I never knew when the kids were going to deliver the performance that I needed,” Columbus continued. “So, if you look at the first film, you see it’s very cutting. In other words, we cut to a close-up of a kid and then I cut away to someone else. We were incapable of getting an entire scene in context.

“So John’s philosophy of shooting three cameras basically helped me to obtain a performance here and a performance here, unlike any other way I would shoot a movie. It’s almost documentary style and John really knew how to do that, and I had always admired his work and this was a really golden opportunity for me to work with him.”

“Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts” will premiere on HBO Max on Jan. 1, 2022.