The Harry Potter movies were great at bringing people into a magical world, but the films weren’t made of any magical power. Instead, it was almost an army of actors and creators working together to make one of the biggest movie series of all time. And it’s nice to see that so many people who worked on these films seemed to love being a part of Hogwarts. It makes the moments of heartbreak and friendship feel even more real, and it's something we really love about the behind-the-scenes material of these movies. They laughed and played around just as much as any other set of friends would. And sometimes it must have been hard not to, what with the frankly ridiculous looking props and settings before CGI can bring them to life.
Thanks to the sheer number of cameras being used around set for a major effects film like this, lots of shots were taken, showing the fun side of the actors and the silly reality behind filmmaking, even during some of the more dramatic moments in the story. Here are 15 pictures from behind-the-scenes of Harry Potter that will surprise even the most dedicated fan.
15 Three (actual) best friends
One of the best happy accidents that could have possibly happened to the production of the Harry Potter movies would be finding three child actors who not only were good at their jobs but had the natural chemistry together to convince the world they were inseparable friends. Somehow, they struck pure gold with Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson. The three got along quickly, with many behind-the-scenes videos and pictures showing the trio being truly chummy when the cameras weren’t rolling.
Both Grint and Radcliffe have admitted on separate occasions to having a bit of a crush on Emma, but it never seemed to get in the way of their friendships. And as they got older, the three have gone through periods of separation (as we all do with the friends we grew up with who ended up going to different places). But in an adorable move, Watson revealed to Us Weekly that she has a group chat with the main cast members of the movies and makes sure to hang out with them whenever they’re all in the same town. It’s such a cute, Hermione thing to do and it speaks to the real-life part of their friendship.
14 Close friends (despite the obvious conflict of interest)
The cast of Harry Potter have been close friends since they all started working together, despite their on-screen animosity. All the actors seem like nice people, so it makes perfect sense that they would get along. But also that kind of friendly relationship between the actors just looks kind of weird when they are still in costume. This photo looks like a friendly enough moment between four actors who had to be there for one of the most intense moments of the film and are just taking a moment of brevity amid all of the heavy stuff in this scene.
It seems like they all decided this was an important enough of a moment between all of them that they got together for a cute Kodak moment. It wasn’t the first (or the last) time that the cast would be seen taking time to just relax, even while they’re still in the Wizard World. It's sweet that they got along so well behind-the-scenes, but it just catches Potterheads by surprise sometimes when we see images like this. Also, and we need to stress this, Voldemort with a nose somehow looks even weirder than Voldemort without a nose. Hello, new nightmares that we didn’t expect to get today.
13 Teacher and student
Daniel Radcliffe has transitioned from the Harry Potter films into a successful career, growing into one of the most interesting actors of his age (even if some of his movies aren’t exactly the best). But playing Harry wasn’t his very first role in a major production. Before that, he had actually worked with an actress he would eventually get to know very well over the years when she also signed on for a beloved role in the Potter franchise.
Maggie Smith actually appeared alongside the young actor in David Copperfield and clearly left the project with a good impression of Radcliffe.
According to an interview Radcliffe gave during an event at the Journalism Education Association, he indicated that Smith remembered him during the casting process and pointed him out to director Chris Columbus when they were trying to find a young actor to play the titular role. This apparently helped Radcliffe stand out and eventually get the lead part. It's nice to see that kind of inter-generational friendliness in the entertainment business. This picture is a perfect visual of that cute bond between the two of them and a reminder that making a good impression can always help out down the line. Hey, it’s how we got into Harry Potter, after all.
12 Paint me, Jack
You have to love it when real life accidentally becomes a meme. It turns us all into Steve Rogers saying, “I understood that reference!” (hopefully, you do understand that reference). It’s always hilarious to see that kind of thing happen. If you think we’re exaggerating, we dare you to not laugh at this picture of Harry Potter laying across the ground during the filming of the Order of the Phoenix. He’s just leaning back and taking a second to enjoy himself on set, but he inadvertently ended up making a perfect meme moment by complete accident.
The “Paint Me Like One Of Your French Girls” meme comes from the film Titanic, taking the romantic moment where Jack draws a picture of Rose after she asks him to paint her like the drawings of French women she saw in his sketchbook. Even though this scene from the movie sees Harry at one of his most intense moments trying to fight back against Voldemort, that post just makes it hilarious. Just look at him! He wants to make sure it’s a good sketch of him and that’s just such a funny look on his face. He’s taking it so seriously in that moment.
11 The hand of Dumbledore
CGI effects have definitely improved over the years. You can see that for yourself just looking at the first films (which relied on more rudimentary computer effects and more than a few puppets) in comparison to the later movies, which got significantly more impressive. This picture from behind-the-scenes gives you an idea for how it looked on the set before any of those effects were added (that's usually done during post-production). By this point in the film, Dumbledore's hand has been turned into a broken and withering husk as a result of destroying one of Voldemort's Horcruxes.
You can see a tight green motion capture glove strapped onto his hand, which we imagine was somewhat distracting.
The actor who played Dumbledore wasn’t the biggest fan of the franchise overall in public, but he still came to set every day and brought all his Shakespearean taught talent to try and make the CGI and his performance blend together perfectly. Other actors had more trouble adjusting to the realities of special effects movies in the modern day, but, as seen here, the actor never let that slow down his performance. We do have to point out it's easier pretending your hand is out of commission than imagining that a tennis ball is actually a dragon.
10 But he still could prank like no one else
Michael Gambon, who played Dumbledore, earned some real points by proving to be the best prankster on the Potter set. Considering that the actors who played Fred and George were running around, that’s saying something. But as the behind-the-scenes footage has revealed, Gambon was just as silly as Dumbledore when he wanted to be. According to Daniel Radcliffe, the perfect moment happened during the filming of Prisoner of Azkaban.
In the scene where all the students have to sleep together in the Great Gall for safety after Sirius Black breaks into the castle, Radcliffe made it known that there was a specific spot he wanted to be in. He revealed that it was because there was a female extra that he thought was cute and he wanted more time to be near her to talk to her. The director agreed, but Gambon (alongside his surprise buddy in comedy, the late and great Alan Rickman) took the opportunity to poke fun at him in front of this crush. So, Dumbledore and Snape basically plugged a fart machine under his sleeping bag that they could activate remotely to mess with Harry. The pair of them then laughed constantly as Radcliffe apparently tried to convince that girl that the sounds were coming from his sleeping bag, not from him.
9 Ms. Lestrange and Mr. Potter
Bellatrix Lestrange is one of the most dangerous villains of the Harry Potter series and proves to be a real threat to our heroes multiple times during the events of the series. She even manages to off a couple of the heroes over the course of the story before she's finally brought down by an angry Molly Weasley. But the actress who portrayed the villain, Helena Bonham Carter, has proven to be a kind woman with the rest of her cast.
She was a strong source of inspiration for Watson, with the two being paired on screen together and working together in a few scenes.
She even made sure to embrace Watson after they filmed their torture scene together for The Deathly Hallows Part 1, actively being worried that she had gotten out of hand with the younger actress. This picture shows that she wasn't just close with Watson but was close with Radcliffe as well, thanks to their extended time working together during Order of the Phoenix. The actress has experience in both Shakespearean and more modern films, so she was probably a great mentor to the cast. If anything, she was obviously a friend and you can never have enough of those.
8 The Burrow
The wedding at the Burrow between Bill Weasley and Fleur Delecor makes for one of the last truly happy moments of the story, before the main trio have to head out together on the run to find and destroy the various Horcruxes that were created by Voldemort. The wedding was a sweet moment between the various Potter characters in their last time together before many of them went to battle. While the scene in the movie felt like a grand and broad party, in reality, the filmmaking process kept the event confined to a much smaller space than anyone expected.
But even with the commitment to the blue screen effects, they also made sure to set up all the farm, which needed to look like it had regrown since the events of the previous film. The scene was filmed indoors to keep things under control, partly for the sake of the film or just to help keep some privacy for the production that would have otherwise gotten out of hand for the big final movies of the series. The stage worked beautifully for the event and the wedding was still one of the strongest moments of that first part of the final stage in the Potter saga.
7 He just seems so giddy about it!
Being in the Harry Potter films must have removed a certain amount of the majestic feeling of the series. Like, the rest of us at least have some level of disconnect that allows us to give into fantasy and forget even for a second that magic isn’t actually a real thing. So that’s what makes seeing the actors just enjoying themselves seem so very nice.
Rupert Grint here was on-set for the seventh film, specifically the airborne chase that takes him and the rest of their closest allies through an intense race away from Death Eaters.
It’s a high intensity moment in a movie that's full of such scenes and it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that the actors embraced the grim emotion of the moment. Clearly, some were just having too much fun remembering what it’s like to play pretend on a flying broomstick. Grint has a huge grin on his face and we find that incredibly infectious, especially since it’s from a movie that probably needed a few more laughs to distract from the overwhelming melancholy of the setting. Come on, after the Dobby stuff, they probably all just wanted to pretend to fly around for a bit.
6 Catching up like old maids
Within the context of the Harry Potter franchise, one of the most dangerous rivalries in the history of the magical world comes from the animosity between Voldemort and Dumbledore. The former student of the kind wizard, Voldemort, has embraced his dark impulses and become a recurring threat to the kind of peace that Dumbledore had been seeking to bring to the world. Their animosity went beyond generations, with both sides rallying armies to go to war with the other. Their battle lasted through several generations and even transcended the laws of mortality itself. It was a foundation of the series and makes for some of the most memorable parts of the movies.
But in real life? Turns out Voldemort and Dumbledore actually get on swimmingly. The pair (or rather, their actors Ralph Finnes and Michael Gambon) can be seen here hanging out together during a down moment of filming. They aren’t just sitting next to one another, they’re actively talking, chatting and just having a good time hanging out together. The two actors had worked together previously and would again after the Potter films, so it’s nice to see their on-screen rivalry completely left by the side as soon as filming would stop.
5 Dueling Club
The duels that take place within the films are usually treated as big physical showcases for the actors. Even if they are for the most part just whipping spells at one another, many of the best fights in the movies manage to come from the way the different actors go about bringing those battles to life. And for a lot of them, it takes a serious amount of practice and rehearsal to get to the point where the actors can be in control of the battles. So seeing something like this picture is actually really interesting. Seen here are Gary Oldman and Jason Issacs, who play Sirius Black and Lucius Malfoy respectively.
The two finally shared a scene during the battle within the Ministry of Magic, with Sirius’ last-minute save of Harry proving to be one of the biggest fist-pumping moments in the film.
The two actors have plenty of experience in stage combat and they brought that expertise to the screen by figuring out how to best play off one another in a dueling scene. While this picture may lack some of the sparks and flurry that the movie would go on to showcase, those big moments couldn’t have come to be without little moments like these.
4 Give us a thumbs up, Mr. Potter
The Second Task of the Triwizard Tournament (i.e. part of the driving conflict in Goblet of Fire) must have been one of the most daunting sequences that the filmmakers had to try and bring to the screen. The entire trial is based underwater and sees Harry using his gillyweed powered gills and webbed appendages to try and save his friends. That’s a lot to try and film, even before you remember that gillyweed is not, in fact, real and they couldn’t just give Radcliffe gills for the day and be done with it instead. But to their credit, they all went for it and helped make the scene a standout within the film.
To achieve this, the filmmakers used a giant pool fitted with blue screens to simulate the darker depths of the lake. The crew all went underwater with their equipment fitted for the situation, using scuba gear to make up for their lack of real magic. Radcliffe himself joined them, but without the same access to the equipment. Instead, he was forced to take deep breaths when he could from an oxygen tank, do a shot, then try to get more air before he panicked. But the young actor not only excelled in the scene but seemed to even be having some fun with it by the end, if this photo is anything to go on.
3 The true Chosen One
Look, we’re not going to lie. We were totally in that camp that believed that Harry was going to be revealed to be an extended shell game by Dumbledore, hiding the true chosen one (the dopey but courageous Neville Longbottom) from Voldemort’s sight so that he could come out of nowhere to save the day. While he did prove to be absolutely vital to the victory of good in the end, with Cursed Child revealing that without Neville, the heroes would have never destroyed the second to last Horcrux and saved the day.
We can’t lie, this picture just makes us even sadder about it.
Just look at that face! This behind-the-scenes picture of actor Matthew Lewis looking down at the miraculous Gryffindor sword like that just gives us chills. In our heads, he never returned the sword after beheading the giant snake Nagini. Instead, he kept it both in the Harry Potter universe (where Neville had proven he was worthy of the blade by being a true Gryffindor) and in the real world (where we hope Lewis did everything in his power to slip off set with that sword tucked away in his car). Come on, let us have this one.
2 It really is that unmanageable
Hagrid is the best. In a world where jerks are all too common and even well-meaning people like Ron can often end up putting their foot in their mouths, the sweet and unassuming Hagrid is practically a saint. He’s been saving Harry since the Boy Who Lived was just a baby and his shaggy look proved to be a reassuring presence throughout the entire series. But that look didn’t come easily, as this picture of Hagrid trying to get ready for a shoot can attest.
A major part of his look comes from the overall wild man effect he creates, hiding his soft heart under a couple hundred pounds of half-giant strength. So to properly achieve that look, makeup artists had to work to make sure that his hair looked wild, while still being functionally controllable. But Hagrid is such a big guy (and happens to have just, just so much hair, you guys) that it takes two people working together to properly contain that mane. How many combs do you think broke in those locks? And we kind of love that, especially when compared to Tom Felton right next to him, getting his bleach blonde locks straightened out instead by a single person.
1 The hands tell the story
The library inside Hogwarts proves to be a favorite hideaway for Hermione over the years. As she grows more accustomed to it, the magical room seems to like her more. By the later movies, books will just float off the shelves to meet her grasp, which we kind of find hilarious. But that kind of moment was only able to appear on screen thanks to the talented work of the filmmakers and the special effects team. Because without their work, we’d get more shots like this picture, which seems to suggest that the library just has a couple of long, weird green arms to hand out books to some of the students.
Sure, that would have been hilarious, but probably less visually impressive.
As we’ve been through with this article, there’s a lot that goes into bringing the magic we see on screen to life, and pictures like this really drive home how much went into making the magical world of Harry Potter seem even a little bit more real. Also, unrelated slightly, but straight up kudos to Emma Watson for not cracking up at the sight of those green arms. We would have been giggling about it all day...and this is why we’re not allowed to be Hermione Granger.
References: Us Weekly.com, Telegraph.co.uk, Hollywood.com, SnitchSeeker.com, KnowYourMeme.com, FanPop.com, Yahoo.com, ScoopWhoop.com, Pottermore.com, Youtube.com, Quora.com, HeroComplex.LATimes.com, Youtube.com, Rebrn.com,