THE FI­NAL BAT­TLE

For the fi­nal en­try in the eight-film saga, all eyes were on the cli­mac­tic bat­tle. As the film was about to hit cinemas, Em­pire gath­ered the cast and crew to­gether to ask: “How on earth did you pull it off?”

Empire (UK) - - HARRY POTTER: AN EMPIRE HISTORY - HE­LEN O’HARA, OWEN WIL­LIAMS 43

With the last film just weeks away, we gath­ered to­gether the cast and crew to tell the story of how they filmed the cli­mac­tic Bat­tle Of Hog­warts.

AF­TER SEVEN FILMS build­ing up to it, Harry Pot­ter And The Deathly Hal­lows — Part 2 fi­nally shows us the ul­ti­mate show­down be­tween the forces of good and those of evil in The Bat­tle Of Hog­warts, an hour-long ac­tion set-piece. It was some­thing of a ma­jor un­der­tak­ing. Here, all the main play­ers re­veal how they did it.

THE CHAL­LENGE Steve Kloves, screen­writer:

The hard thing for me ini­tially was that I went from hav­ing two-and-a-half hours [for the adap­ta­tion of the fi­nal book] to five hours. I ini­tially thought, “This is go­ing to be great,” but be care­ful what you wish for be­cause what you find is that the easy cuts are no longer there. When you had a two-and-a-half-hour can­vas you knew that things would drop out im­me­di­ately, but it didn’t hap­pen on this. So it took me a lit­tle while to get go­ing.

Stu­art Craig, pro­duc­tion de­signer:

Ev­ery film in the se­ries has its own story de­mands and there­fore set and lo­ca­tion de­mands. So you do what­ever’s ex­pe­di­ent to get that film made. That meant that when we got to Part 2, things weren’t ex­actly as re­quired. There wasn’t re­ally an arena, a bat­tle­field. The court­yard that en­closes the main en­trance wasn’t there at all un­til the fourth

WORDS

film. But it was hope­lessly in­ad­e­quate for the bat­tle, so the chal­lenge was to rein­vent the land­scape around the Death Eaters’ prin­ci­pal point of at­tack. John Richard­son, spe­cial ef­fects

su­per­vi­sor: It was a long process get­ting the in­for­ma­tion about ex­actly what was wanted be­cause some things were in, some things were out, then they were back in. That side of it took longer than nor­mal, which ul­ti­mately made our job a lit­tle bit more dif­fi­cult be­cause it cut down the time that we had to prepare. But as al­ways with movies, you get there some­how.

Kloves: The bat­tle, as a bat­tle, didn’t par­tic­u­larly in­ter­est me. I knew [di­rec­tor] David Yates and his team would come up with the scale and the spec­ta­cle, but David and I talked, and agreed we wanted to tie char­ac­ter and emo­tion to ev­ery­thing that hap­pened. So it wasn’t just, “Look at that blow up!” We wanted Neville in­volved, or Sea­mus. That was the hard­est thing. I lit­er­ally spent about three months work­ing on the bat­tle se­quence, go­ing back and forth with David Yates, put­ting di­a­logue in and giv­ing the bat­tle a rhythm.

Craig: We’ve all seen bat­tle scenes where you don’t un­der­stand who you’re with, where they are, and it be­comes a mêlée. We were de­ter­mined that you’d be clear where ev­ery­one was, so we estab­lished a rocky hill­side op­po­site the en­trance to the school where Volde­mort was, with the fo­cus of his at­tack on the main en­trance into the Great Hall. Also the court­yard where the de­fend­ers would as­sem­ble wasn’t big enough, so at David Yates’ re­quest I made that much, much big­ger.

Greg Powell, stunt cood­i­na­tor: David Yates had his vision of what the bat­tle was and spoke to us quite a lot about our feel­ings on it. We had dozens of meet­ings over time. We’d go off and re­hearse some­thing and show it to him and he’d feed back, “Oh I like this,’’ or, “Change this.” We were do­ing that over months, so whilst they were shoot­ing some­thing else, we’d be pre­par­ing an­other thing.

Craig: We did have to cre­ate some sets from scratch. The novel and Steve Kloves’ script talked about the bat­tle­ments, so we had to de­cide what those were, where they were, and what they looked down on. We found a place within the ex­ist­ing ge­og­ra­phy which over­looked the court­yard, and you could see Dum­ble­dore’s tower. Then we in­vented a huge in­te­rior and ex­te­rior space, an at­tic with the bat­tle­ments along­side. It served the nar­ra­tive; it was a place for one of the con­fronta­tions be­tween Volde­mort and Harry. They’re locked in this life and death strug­gle and ap­pa­rate to­gether into the court­yard, and their per­sonal bat­tle con­tin­ues there. Be­ing in­te­rior and ex­te­rior made it more in­ter­est­ing and was more fun — which was of­ten our rea­son for do­ing things.

Richard­son: Nick Dud­man does the crea­ture stuff. I do ev­ery­thing phys­i­cal and Tim [Burke] does all the vis­ual stuff, and then at the end the CGI guys come up with a list of all the el­e­ments they need. For in­stance, for one scene in the Room Of Re­quire­ment in Part 2 I spent two weeks out on the back­lot mak­ing piles of burn­ing fur­ni­ture col­lapse, play­ing with flamethrow­ers and ex­plo­sions. So we shot all of that and then turned it over to the CGI guys to add into the scene. Daniel Rad­cliffe, Harry Pot­ter: The Bat­tle Of Hog­warts is ba­si­cally the sec­ond half of the film. The col­lec­tive cav­alry of seven films’ worth of char­ac­ters comes back. You see ev­ery­body you know: Jim Broad­bent’s [Ho­race Slughorn] there nurs­ing David Bradley [Ar­gus Filch]. It’s great, but it’s mov­ing be­cause the whole of the world you’ve grown to know is in one place. Matthew Lewis, Neville Long­bot­tom: The book’s fo­cused very heav­ily on Harry Pot­ter, but the film keeps coming back to the stu­dents and the teach­ers. David re­fused to shy away from it and it

shows peo­ple are dy­ing out there. Neville’s this leader amongst it all. He didn’t want to be, quite frankly, but Harry was ab­sent and some­body had to take over. There was a bit of light hu­mour at the begin­ning, a French Re­sis­tance bit. But then the war kicks off and there’s peo­ple dy­ing around us.

Powell: Well, it was huge. We had hun­dreds of peo­ple and loads of stunt guys fight­ing each other, and we were do­ing sword rou­tines 20, 30 feet apart. You pair peo­ple off in the bat­tles. They’d start close to­gether do­ing a sword fight, take five steps back and do the same fight — but the moves be­came big­ger the fur­ther you went back. There were hun­dreds there do­ing that. We had to train up the ac­tors: He­lena Bon­ham Carter, Alan Rick­man, the whole lot. They all had rou­tines. Ev­ery­one played a part at that last epic bat­tle, it was huge. It was all over Hog­warts.

Rob­bie Coltrane, Ha­grid: I re­mem­ber we had 238 ex­tras and 45 make-up peo­ple. They had a green­screen about half-a-mile long and they brought a train down to the set. That’s like MGM in the ’40s! A rea1 85ton, 1930s steam lo­co­mo­tive. They laid track! It was steamed up. Happy days.

Powell: Shoot­ing the bat­tle went on for prob­a­bly months. We were re­hears­ing it for ages, and talk­ing about it for a year. We did a cou­ple of fire jobs, set a cou­ple of Death Eaters alight, but I don’t know whether they’ll keep those ones in be­cause of the rat­ing. David Hey­man, pro­ducer: We’re not go­ing to push the rat­ing. It’s not graphic. It’s not Reser­voir Dogs. David Bar­ron, pro­ducer: We like to push the en­ve­lope, but not that much. Clé­mence Poésy, Fleur Dela­cour: I don’t re­ally know how long we were there for be­cause there was a prob­lem with the sets and then snow, and then it would start pour­ing for days. We were there for­ever.

Hey­man: Be­cause of the na­ture of shoot­ing, some­times Emma [Wat­son], for ex­am­ple, was at uni so we shot part of it be­fore she went away and we had to shoot an­other part later. We built it, de­stroyed it, then had to build and de­stroy it again.

Bar­ron: We were go­ing back­wards and for­wards quicker than you could keep up with some­times.

Lewis: We don’t re­hearse that of­ten. You know, we do block­ing, but David [Yates] likes to just go for it and get it as fresh as pos­si­ble. In­vari­ably, the first cou­ple of takes are the ones he uses.

Bon­nie Wright, Ginny Weasley:

I re­mem­ber spend­ing many a frosty morn­ing on that bat­tle. And the ten­sion, with Ralph Fi­ennes do­ing his mas­sive speech when he thinks he’s con­quered ev­ery­thing, is chill­ing.

Kloves: I played with Volde­mort’s speech but the essence is Jo’s. I also tai­lored it to Ralph, in a sense. The way that Ralph plays Volde­mort is so brave be­cause there’s a slightly preen­ing qual­ity to him and Ralph just knows how to strike those notes. There’s a self-in­dul­gence which is his down­fall in a lot of ways. So I played it out that he lux­u­ri­ates in the mo­ment a tad too much. But Ralph is un­nerv­ing be­cause he strikes notes that are un­ex­pected.

Domh­nall Gleeson, Bill Weasley:

There were all these kids on set and he was scar­ing the liv­ing day­lights out of them. It was bril­liant.

Oliver Phelps, Ge­orge Weasley: I was there my­self, but luck­ily I had Ru­pert in front of me so I was push­ing him fur­ther for­ward.

Richard­son: We were jump­ing from ex­plo­sions in a cor­ri­dor to ex­plo­sions in a court­yard, to fire scenes in the Room Of Re­quire­ment, to the trea­sure mul­ti­ply­ing in Gringott’s Bank. There was a whole mix­ture of ev­ery­thing go­ing on at the same time. Bear­ing in mind that there are two units shoot­ing, it was a con­stant to-and-fro to man­age it.

Tom Fel­ton, Draco Mal­foy: A big part of my bat­tle takes place in the Room Of Re­quire­ment, where it’s all ablaze, and it all goes a bit tits up. Crabbe comes to his demise, which is very un­emo­tional for

“IT TURNS INTO A BIT OF A WAR FILM. THE CAS­TLE IS ON FIRE WITH RUB­BLE AND BONES LIT­TERED EV­ERY­WHERE, IT’S SHOCK­ING. AND THEY’RE ALL KIDS!” RU­PERT GRINT

Draco, to be hon­est. We climbed up moun­tains of chairs and old ta­bles in there, try­ing to shel­ter from the in­ferno. It was pretty warm up there, to say the least! We had an un­der-suit, then a har­ness, then Draco’s full black suit. I don’t quite know why he would wear all that to bat­tle. It seems like an odd thing to be wear­ing into war, but he looks sharp, I guess.

Lewis: Be­cause Neville is the leader he’s al­ways on the front lines. There’s this one scene, and I re­ally hope it stays in, where a boy’s been killed and Neville’s car­ry­ing him back into the Great Hall. It’s this tiny lit­tle kid; a lad came in to play the body. I’ve no idea what that’s like, I’ve never seen a dead body in my life, you know, let alone car­ried one in a bat­tle sit­u­a­tion. But I re­ally hope they keep it in ’cause it re­ally shows Neville at his best. There is the flip­side of the coin, as well, some fun stuff — I get to wield the Sword Of Gryffindor!

Ru­pert Grint, Ron Weasley: It turned into a bit of a war film. We all formed this army; the cas­tle is on fire with rub­ble and bod­ies lit­tered ev­ery­where. It’s shock­ing, re­ally, and they’re all kids as well! Evanna Lynch, Luna Love­g­ood: There was a set of ex­tras walk­ing around called the Dead Chil­dren. Just peo­ple made up to look dead. It was re­ally strange.

Coltrane: When you’re as young and fit as I am, bat­tle scenes are all in a day’s work, of course. Let’s just say I had a lot of very busy stunt­men.

THE EX­PLO­SION

Richard­son: My sin­gle favourite day was blow­ing up the court­yard. I took David Yates out there and said, “Where do you want the cam­eras? What do you want to hap­pen? And I’ll tell you what I can do in and around it.” That in­volved me do­ing lots of tests to show David what I was plan­ning. For us it was prob­a­bly three or four weeks’ work, at least, in pre­par­ing it, wiring it, and get­ting it all set for the big fight.

Richard­son: It was just one take. We’re blow­ing huge holes in the wall, we’re blow­ing the roofs off the clois­ters, and we’ve got fire­balls. We had prob­a­bly half a ton of balsa wood go­ing up in the air. It’s one take, but it’s not the pres­sure that gets me. You’ve got kids and peo­ple all around — you’ve got to make sure they’re safe. If you sit back and re­lax, that’s when it all goes pear-shaped.

Emma Wat­son, Hermione Granger: They put plugs in our ears to pro­tect our eardrums, but you can still hear be­cause you’re so close to the bangs. There’s this one scene where they det­o­nated all of these bombs, like, right next to us. I was ab­so­lutely, gen­uinely ter­ri­fied.

Mark Wil­liams, Arthur Weasley: When the court­yard gets de­stroyed, it’s an ac­tual-size set. You’re look­ing at peo­ple way in the dis­tance, sur­rounded by masses of rub­ble, in which are things like giants’ feet, the odd enor­mous spi­der, and it’s mon­u­men­tal.

THE B-BOMB

Julie Wal­ters, Molly Weasley: Deathly Hal­lows — Part 2 is Mrs Weasley’s big mo­ment. She’s right in the mid­dle of the Bat­tle Of Hog­warts. The bat­tle is huge, painful and heroic for her. Be­fore we’ve seen her as a very sweet mum, and this earthy sort of pres­ence even though she’s a wiz­ard. But you see an­other side to her. It’s a very phys­i­cal role this time out. And she has one of the most fa­mous lines in the books. Ev­ery­one wrote to me and said, “I hope they’re not go­ing to take that out, are they?!”

Rad­cliffe: I’ve al­ways been very against any swear­ing in these films and I don’t know why be­cause I swear much more than I should in real life. But if the, “Not my daugh­ter, you bitch!” line is in the book, then that’s fine. I mean, Bel­la­trix is about to kill her daugh­ter, ab­so­lutely. He­lena Bon­ham Carter, Bel­la­trix Les­trange: You should warm up be­fore wand-fight­ing; that’s what Julie Wal­ters and I dis­cov­ered when we were du­elling each other. We were crip­pled af­ter that scene. Du­elling go­ing back­wards on a ta­ble is tricky, with­out fall­ing off. Which, of course, I did! I did say, “Can some­one stand there and keep an eye out?” But there were peo­ple stand­ing all around and not one of them warned me.

Wil­liams: They could’ve sold tick­ets for film­ing that scene. And of course [Julie and He­lena] get on re­ally well so it was re­ally funny. They were chat­ting one minute and cut­ting each other to bits the next. It was bril­liant! I think it’s a tribute to He­lena, re­ally, for her lack of re­straint. By the time she gets it you re­ally have had enough of her.

THE RE­SULT

Rad­cliffe: There’s some­thing about the court­yard, ’cause there is this huge pile of rub­ble and it’s all grey and Gothic. We all just wanted Panzer tanks to be coming over the piles of rub­ble. It looked like the per­fect Sec­ond World War film, a bit Sav­ing Pri­vate Ryan.

Wil­liams: I’ve got a lot of re­spect for the Weasleys. I mean, it’s never dis­cussed that they’re go­ing to throw their en­tire brood into a bat­tle to the death. And they make the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice of los­ing one of their chil­dren which, as a par­ent, just doesn’t bear think­ing about. That was a bit tricky for me and Julie. We had a cou­ple of days of weep­ing over a loved one’s body, and it wasn’t the nicest of things to have to re­pro­duce.

David Yates, di­rec­tor: I’m re­ally happy that we get to kind of see what hap­pens to Volde­mort and we get to see what hap­pens to Harry and his friends. It feels very rounded and con­clu­sive. And we’ve got a coda at the end, which I re­ally en­joy. There’s some­thing re­ally mov­ing about it. So it feels, it feels to me like, you know, it’s got ev­ery­thing... It’s got ac­tion and spec­ta­cle, but it’s quite mov­ing and it fin­ishes! And there’s some­thing pro­foundly sat­is­fy­ing about that.

Hey­man: It’s slightly op­er­atic, re­ally, the way David Yates de­scribed it and the feel he was try­ing to achieve. It’s funny see­ing it in ru­ins. Parts of the school which we’ve grown to know and love get treated quite bru­tally. It’s cathar­tic and trau­matic. Though I’ve never re­ally wanted to de­stroy Hog­warts. I feel noth­ing but af­fec­tion for those build­ings and those sets.

Bar­ron: It’s a com­bi­na­tion of very mag­i­cal ac­tion but re­ally grounded and clas­sic sto­ry­telling. When we were de­stroy­ing the world of Hog­warts there were parts of me that were very, very sad, but I was ex­cited, just be­cause it was the end.

THE HARRY POT­TER 8-FILM COL­LEC­TION IS AVAIL­ABLE NOW ON 4K, BLU-RAY AND DVD

Clock­wise from main: As the se­ries reaches its cli­max, Harry faces a po­ten­tially fa­tal threat; Volde­mort will stop at noth­ing in his deadly quest; Harry needs his pow­ers to be on full beam.

Left, top to bot­tom: The three friends, united in bat­tle; Post Pier­totem Lo­co­mo­tor, a Hog­warts suit of ar­mour comes to life; All hands and wands on deck as the Bat­tle Of Hog­warts looms. Fac­ing page: The for­mer glo­ri­ous Hog­warts, dec­i­mated.

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