Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was first released in June of 1997 and has since grown into a seven book series. But these aren’t just books—Harry Potter is a multi-billion dollar brand. (Yeah, that’s billion with a “B”.) With over 400 million printed books in shelves all around the world, eight motion pictures, and and one very charitable and wealthy author, the world of Harry Potter has reached unmatched levels of fame. And with the amount of fame these books, movies, and actors have, comes a whole lot of fun facts we never knew before. Whether it’s about the actors who play our favorite characters, the author who creatively developed the series, or about the brand as a whole, we have some of the most fascinating things we never knew bout everyone’s favorite wizards.
15. J.K. Rowling Told Alan Rickman Secrets
It’s hard to look at Snape at times. In the beginning, he was kind of like that person we loved to hate and never knew what his deal was. Although we (as the readers and viewers) didn’t know what his deal was (at the time), Alan Rickman (the actor who played Severus Snape) certainly did.
Author, J.K. Rowling, obviously knew the secrets behind Snape’s character and slowly revealed them to Rickman during production. In an interview on the Blu-ray/DVD of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Rowling said, “I told him really early on that Snape had been in love with Lily, that’s why he hated James, that’s why he projected this amount of dislike onto Harry…” Knowing this kind of information is what made Rickman’s performance go above and beyond expectations. After watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, his entire behavior became justified.
14. Dementors Were Created After Rowling’s Battle With Depression
After hearing and seeing our first dementor, it was scary enough to haunt our dreams. They moved quickly yet carefully and infested their dark powers on wizards and Muggles alike. With a force that’s so soul crushing – what was J.K. Rowling’s inspiration for these soulless creatures?
Before J.K. Rowling hit the big bucks, she was a poor, struggling author who was actually homeless. According to Biography.com, Rowling was batting depression at the time, which later transpired into dementors being a metaphor for depression. However, she was able to break free from her depression by substituting positive memories instead of bad. In the book, the only way to defeat a dementor is by using the Patronus charm. And in order to produce the charm – one has to concentrate on their happiest thoughts and memories. The longer the thought – the longer the guardian stays. In all, when those bad thoughts creep in, focus on the positive to rid our personal dementors. #Genius.
13. J.K. Rowling Shares A Birthday With Harry
Happy Birthday J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter! The two share a birthday on July 31. Rowling was born in 1966 and Potter was born in 1980. (I guess that’s one way to never forget her most popular character’s birthday.) I can just imagine all the birthday envelopes being shoved through the Dursley’s mail-slot now.
Although Rowling claims Potter’s birth year is 1980, PotterHeads everywhere are quick to question her claim. A fan’s theory from Info Please states; “Near the beginning of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, it says that ‘tomorrow, Tuesday, was Harry’s eleventh birthday. July 31 doesn’t fall on a Tuesday very often. Most readers of that first book assumed that, because it was published in 1997, Harry attended Hogwarts during the 1990s. In 1990, July 31 fell on a Tuesday. This would mean that Harry was born in 1979 and would turn 23 in 2002.” Hmmm, either my mind is blown or Rowling is hiding something…
12. Ron Weasley Was Supposed To Curse…A Lot
I love looking back at old photos of the cast! Look at little Ruper Grint cheering on set as his beloved character, Ron Weasley. Ron was definitely a crowd favorite in the series. As the best friend of Harry Potter and love interest of Hermione Granger, Ron was the young, savvy character that brought a much needed comedic relief to many scenes. But imagining him spitting out cuss words would be rare, to say the least.
According to Acacia-Quote, J.K. Rowling said “My editor won’t let any of the characters swear. Which is sometimes difficult because Ron is definitely a boy who would swear. So you will have noticed that I get around that by having him – Ron – use a word that made Hermione say ‘Ron!’. So I do that quite a bit with Ron.” I can just picture him dropping the “F-bomb” every time Draco’s name came up. Or saying “oh s**t” every time a piece of food fell out of his mouth. But in all, it was probably better that Ron didn’t curse. We can’t have children not being able to read this series due to a few cuss words.
11. J.K. Rowling Is Not Her Legal Name
I suppose this isn’t much of a surprise. It’s not everyday we meet a woman named J.K. without some kind of explanation or truth behind the name. As it turns out, J.K.’s real name is Joanne Rowling. So, where did the “K” come from? And interview with Oprah explained, “well, it’s because my British publisher, when the first book came out, thought ‘this is a book that will appeal to boys,’ but they didn’t want the boys to know a woman had written it. So they said to me ‘could we use your initials’ and I said ‘fine’. I only have one initial. I don’t have a middle name. So I took my favorite grandmother’s name, Kathleen.”
Rowling was born without a middle name, hence borrowing her grandmother’s. Who knew Joanne Rowling from the United Kingdom would become billionaire, J.K. Rowling? What a sweet ode to her grandmother; she must be proud.
10. Rupert Grint Made A Rap For His Audition
At just 11 years old, a young English boy named Rupert Grint became the ever loved Ron Weasley. At such a young age, it’s hard to picture him (and the rest of the cast) auditioning for such an enchanting and serious franchise. However, before auditioning for the beloved Harry Potter movie, Rupert had never acted professionally before! He only performed in local plays in his home town. Not knowing how to fully audition, Rupert heard he could send some information of himself into casting. But instead of just sending a headshot in, he took it a step further. He told Newsround, “I did my own video with me, first of all, pretending to be my drama teacher—who unfortunately was a girl—and then I did a rap of how I wanted to be Ron and then I made my own script thing up and sent it off.”
9. The Meaning Of Voldemort
“He who cannot be named” has finally made our list (sorry – we had to!). Lord Voldemort is the persistent antagonist in the Potter world. I think the creepiest thing about Voldemort is he doesn’t need to be present in the scene for characters to get the chills. Simple memories or flashbacks of the Dark Lord are evil enough. Though, we try not to say his name, CNN Entertainment broke the news that the “T” in Voldemort is supposed to be silent (according to her tweet). His name should sound more like Voldemore. What’s even more intriguing is the origin of the name. J.K. Rowling seems to have a reason for just about everything, and Voldemort means “flight of death” in French. Which, as we know, is very telling of his character and just about everything he portrays.
8. Nice Try, Tom
Look at little Tom Felton and Daniel Radcliffe! It’s images like this that make us forget how fast time goes by. I feel like this movie just came out! Nevertheless, although we loved to hate Draco Malfoy, it was never Tom Felton’s intention to take on Draco’s character. In fact, Draco first auditioned for the roles of Harry and Ron, before being ultimately chosen to play Draco Malfoy: Harry and Ron’s rival. It had to have been a tough auditioning process. Harry, Ron, and Draco are all vastly different in more ways than one.
Years later, however, Felton is relieved he was never chosen to play Harry. He told MTV News, “I’m very grateful I am in the film at all, but even more grateful that I got the character of Draco…’ I think Rupert and Dan, there’s no question in my mind, there’s no one else in the world that, A) could have played the character better, but B) could have handled the behind-the-scenes pressure those guys have dealt with over the last decade.”
7. J.K. Rowling Is the First American Billionaire That’s An Author
J.K. Rowling is such an inspiring woman in more ways than one. Where on Earth do we start with her? She had a vision and put it to life, and now that she has reached a success that she had never even dreamed of, her heart is still the same.
In 2012, Rowling became the first billionaire novelist. Though that title sounds pretty cool, Rowling had other plans. She donated so much of her earnings to charities that she actually lost her billionaire status. I mean, c’mon, she’s still a millionaire! According to Huffington Post, she once said “You have a moral responsibility when you’ve been given far more than you need, to do wise things with it and give intelligently.” This woman is amazing. It warms our hearts to see someone do so much good with the earnings she made from something that is loved so much. You go, girl.
6. The Stars Are More Like Their Characters Than We Thought
These GIFs give me the chills! Although Harry Potter is just a story that was created into a book and then a movie, these actors have been along for the ride since the first showing in 2002. They were just around ten years old and almost spent another ten years filming the franchise together. They grew up together and likewise, we grew up watching them.
So when we heard from the Huffington Post that these beloved actors were more like their characters than they let on, we were pumped. Rupert Grint said (while laughing) that it was true that Director, Alfonso Cuarón, had each actor (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson) write an essay about their characters—to become more familiar with their role. And as it turns out, they’re more like their characters than we thought. “Watson, in true Hermione fashion, turned in 16 pages. Radcliffe turned in a solid one-page composition. And Grint, well, he didn’t do his.”
5. Hermione Is J.K. Rowling’s 11 Year-Old Self
Finally, a blurb dedicated to the lovely Hermione Granger. This brilliant young lady was known for being studious. But she was more than just a bookworm. She was loyal. She was powerful. And she was strong. She was every young girl’s hero. Who needs a Disney princess when we have Hermione Granger?
When J.K. Rowling was asked if these characters were based off real people, she’s hesitant to say who and why. But when it comes to little Hermione, Rowling admitted to Amazon that Hermione was just like her when she was 11 years old, “though much cleverer.” Which makes perfect sense. Rowling is also a strong and bookish woman who stands up for what she believes in and gives back to those who need it most. In an alternate universe, I think Hermione would be proud of the woman J.K. transformed into.
We love hearing secrets and small tips about movies that go unnoticed but are worthy of knowing. After seven books, eight movies, and a ton of lovable characters – there are bound to be some secrets that clear the surface eventually. Take this scene from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. When Arthur Weasley escorts Harry into the visitor’s entrance (the telephone booth) to get to the Ministry of Magic, he enters in a special code into the keypad. Nothing too out of the ordinary right? Except fan based website, Harry Potter and the Art of Spying, noticed the number, 6-2-4-4-2, that Mr. Weasley dials ends up spelling “magic”! It’s small things like these that totally go unnoticed while we’re watching the film, but when they finally surface, we fall even harder in love.
3. Inspiration For The Houses
I love how in modern day the names of the houses for Hogwarts are still being passed around. There tons of article online that ask fans what house a celebrity would be in. Or what their pet would most likely be asked to be in. And of course, what house we would like to be a part of! But with names like Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin, we can’t help but wonder how J.K. thought of these names and what made her make each one so distinct. In 2000, Biography.com explained how a child once asked Rowing what made her think of the house names. She responded with, “I invented the names of the Houses on the back of an airplane sick bag! This is true. I love inventing names, but I also collect unusual names, so that I can look through my notebook and choose one that suits a new character.”
2. Quidditch Was Created After An Argument
Quidditch started as a fictional sport involving its players to be on flying broomsticks. But now days, it’s an actual competitive sport that can be played across the globe. I think it’s safe to say Rowling did not see this one coming. It consists of two teams of seven and four balls. Unfortunately for us Muggles, we cannot fly. So the game today requires us to run while riding broomsticks. (Trust me, it’s more fun than I’m describing it!) With a game that’s so original and out of the box, how the heck did Rowling come up with the sport? As it turns out, online site Express, released photos of Rowling’s personal notes of when she brainstormed the sport.
The page states: “Quidditch – was invented in a small hotel in Manchester after a row with my then boyfriend. I had been pondering the things that hold a society together, cause it to congregate and signify its particular character and knew I needed a sport. It infuriates men, in my experience (why is the Snitch so valuable etc), which is quite satisfying given my state of mind when I invented it.”
1. Moaning Myrtle Was Not A Young Girl
Consider our minds BLOWN. We all remember little Moaning Myrtle. the poor ghost of a girl who was killed, and continues to haunt the Hogwarts bathroom. In the movie, Myrtle is just 14-years old. But the actress, Shirley Henderson, who played Moaning Myrtle was 36-years old at the time! She told BBC that portraying a ghost was rather difficult. “Because of all the technical stuff it involved. I had to be strapped up to this harness so it looked as if I was flying and so I could be pushed through the air and twisted and turned over and over again. It’s physically very tiring on your body. It also requires a lot of concentration, because there’s all kinds of people shouting stuff like ‘Turn, do this, look at this’ so they can do all their stuff with the computer effects while I’m trying to act it out. But once you block all that out, it’s great fun. Really good fun.”
As insane as it is that a 36-year-old woman could pull off such a realistic 14-year-old girl, it’s probably better that whoever played Moaning Myrtle was a little older than a teenager. With all of the effects and training she put her body through, it was better to have someone a little older to take the heat, rather than a young girl.