Transcript – Episode 218

[Show music begins]

Michael Harle: This is Episode 218 of Alohomora! for April 22, 2017.

[Show music continues]

Michael: As Dumbledore would say, “Welcome, welcome…

[Kat laughs]

Michael: … to another episode of Alohomora!,”’s global experience of the Harry Potter series, where we “open the Dumbledore” on discussions of the Harry Potter series. I’m Michael Harle.

Kat: I’m Kat Miller.

Kristen Keys: I’m Kristen Keys.

Kat: Alison is here as well, guys; I know you can’t hear her at the moment. But as you all know, our guest host today is going to be all of you. You can contact us on Skype over at @AlohomoraMN. You have to friend the account first, so send us a friend request before you can call us. And yeah, if you don’t get through the first time, keep trying. There are lots of people trying to call in at the moment. And also, as Michael said in the chat, remember to lower the volume and/or mute yourself when you call in; otherwise, there’s going to be a really wonderful echo. And we love hearing your voice; it’s just harder to talk to you when there’s an echo, so… And hey! Alison is back.

Michael: Hey, look who took off her Invisibility Cloak.

[Kristen laughs]

Kat: Are you back, Alison?

Michael: Alison, are you on mute?

Kristen: I guess…

Michael: Aww man, whatever magic she’s doing…

Kat: Today the part of Alison is going to be played by the ghost host.

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Michael: We’ll get her back. I’m sure we will soon.

Kat: We will.

Michael: Boy, listeners, if you couldn’t tell, this show is live. [laughs]

Kat: Oh, no! I think her Internet just doesn’t like her today. She keeps dropping out of the Skype call.

Kristen: Oh, poor Alison.

Kat: Alison…

Michael: Well, we’ll definitely get her back.

[Kristen laughs]

Michael: But in the meantime, Kristen, why don’t you tell our listeners a little bit about Patreon?

Kristen: Yes. Well, this episode is sponsored by Deborah Ferry on Patreon for over a year. Woo-hoo!

Kat and Michael: Woo!

[Kat applauds]

Kristen: Don’t forget that you can become a sponsor for as little as just $1 a month, and we will continue to release exclusive tidbits for all of our wonderful sponsors. So thank you so much, Deborah, for sponsoring this amazing episode… hopefully.

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Kat: Thank you! Thank you. Yeah.

Michael: It’s clearly already amazing.

Kristen: Oh yeah.

Michael: Yes, thank you, Deborah. We appreciate it, listeners, because we have all of these very helpful sponsorships on Patreon. That’s why we can have live shows like this and continue to do all of these different episodes of Alohomora!

Kat: “Different” meaning live and a hot mess, but yes.

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Kat: And also today, before we jump into our movie discussion, we have a really fun, special announcement for you guys. So as part of our five-year anniversary celebrations, we had a lot of discussions about where we should go, what we should do next, and we’re really loving doing these topic episodes. But we’re also really missing talking about the chapters and talking about those little snippets of the books instead of the overarching, broad themes. So we’ve decided to go back to our roots and we are going to start doing chapter revisit episodes, and the next episode, Episode 219, will be the very first one. And they will alternate with topics, so it will be a chapter revisit, a topic, a chapter revisit, a topic… and we’re going to keep going with that. We’re still working out exactly what chapters we’re going to do, but we have a couple of different theories. So if you guys have thoughts on what you’d like to see – whether that be favorites, most controversial, if you want them to go along with the topic we’re doing – give us your thoughts. Personally, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m super jazzed about getting back to chapters. I think that’ll be a lot of fun.

Kristen: Mhm. Definitely.

Michael: Yeah, no, it was actually… Hey, there she is!

Kat: Alison!

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: Sorry for the technical difficulties.

Kat: It’s okay.

Michael: Looks like the listeners are pretty happy with this idea, too, in the chat. And to clarify, the chapter revisits will be a little more random. We’re not going to go in order of the books because as we discussed, we thought it would be fun to just hop around and look at these chapters in a slightly different context than we did the first time. Rather than having to read the whole book up to that point, we’re just going to read that single chapter and see how our thoughts [have changed] after all of this time. And this was actually somewhat similar to a concept that one of our original creators, Noah, had. He had thought about going through another cycle of the reread again, but we felt like this would be a nice way to have a happy medium between our new topic-based episodes and chapters again.

Kat: And it will be great because I am the only person left who was on Book 1… Well, Rosie. Sorry.

Michael: Yes, there are only two of you.

Kat: I forget about Rosie because she’s been so busy recently. So it’ll be really nice for Michael, Kristen, and Alison as well to get a chance to talk about chapters they never had a chance to before. Plus – I hope I can speak for Rosie on this – there are certain chapters I really wanted to discuss, [but] because of scheduling or personal life issues we never got the chance. So we’re going to get to revisit those and I can’t wait. I’m really excited.

Michael: And speaking of revisiting, we are doing some crazy revisiting today because as our live listeners know, we just watched Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone, the movie, to refresh ourselves with that because that didn’t happen in the original read-through, I believe, Kat.

Kat: I don’t know why…

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Kat: Or I guess we just had the idea after Chamber and we were like, “Hey, let’s do this,” and then we did it. But I don’t know. I’m thankful we get the chance to do it now, so…

Kristen: Mhm. It’s great.

Michael: Yes, it’s a nice roll-around because we just passed our Alohomora! five-year anniversary, correct?

Kat: Mhm. April 18. Yeah.

Alison: Woo!

Kat: Crazy.

Michael: Yeah, that’s pretty incredible that this show has been going for five years. And with that, I guess we’ll just jump into some discussion and history about Sorcerer’s Stone/Philosopher’s Stone, depending on where you are. And listeners, again, we remind you, if you’re hearing stuff in the discussion here that you are wanting to elaborate on or some point that you feel we’ve missed, call in because we want to make sure and get you in on this discussion as well. And we’ve got Kristen with the main eyes on the chat. She’s watching you, so behave!

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Michael: But also, we’ll be trying to incorporate your thoughts into the discussion as well. But we’ll start with a little history… Actually, no, before we go into history… Lies! We will actually start with all of our first experiences and impressions of Sorcerer’s Stone back when we were wee little things.

Kristen and Michael: Yea high.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Michael: Except for Kat because she was a little older than all of us.

Kat: A little? A lot.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: I worked at a movie store. F.Y.E. is the now name for that store.

Michael: Oh, you worked at F.Y.E.? Yeah.

Kat: Yeah, it used to be called Strawberries.

Michael: That’s interesting.

[Kristen laughs]

Kat: So that’s where I worked when the first film came out, and like the skeptical late teenager I was, I was like, “Ugh! That’s a kid’s movie. Pfft! That’s dumb.”

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: I do remember, however, taking home the display from the store and selling it on eBay for $150, so that was cool.

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Kat: Seriously, if I had that, do you know how much money that’d be worth today? I wish I had kept it.

Michael: I know. Regrets.

Kat: I was such a dummy.

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Kat: But I did eventually end up watching it and I just didn’t like the film at all. Honestly, for me it wasn’t until I read…

Michael: So you watched the movie first?

Kat: Yeah. Prisoner had come out. A friend of mine made me watch all three of them and I was like, “All right, these are better.” And then I read the books and I was like, “Ah! I’m done.” Basically my life was over. [laughs] I had given it over to Harry Potter.

[Michael laughs]

Kristen: For me, I did not start reading the books, so it was this movie that led me into this fandom. But I was so mad because I had to go attend a birthday party with my younger brother, and it was to go see this movie. And my brother is four years younger than me, and I was like, “Ugh! I don’t want to see it.” I saw up until the scene of the castle, and I was in love. And then the alarm went off and we had to exit the movie theater.

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Kristen: And I was so mad because once [I saw] that castle scene I was just in love, and then we had to leave the theater. And it was my dad’s birthday, so my mom wouldn’t let us go back in because they were going to replay the movie, so we had to leave. So then probably every day for the next four weeks, I asked my mom, “Can we please go back? Can we please go back?” We finally went back with my cousins because it was winter break by then and I saw it. And I never liked to read [but] I told myself, “I’m going to start reading these books,” because I guess the first four had already been out. So I told myself, “All right, I’m going to read this book before the second movie comes out.” So I started reading with the second book and it was over.

Michael: [laughs] And then your life was over.

Kristen: Yeah.

Alison: A couple of our lives.

Kristen: I completely fell in love and it got me to start reading. I never read before and these books turned me to love reading.

Kat: Now you’re a little bookworm.

Michael: Yay.

Kristen: Yes, I am.

Alison: Aww.

Kristen: Books on all electronic devices.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kristen: I read five books at a time, [or] listen to them. I have a problem now. Thanks, Harry Potter.

Michael: [laughs] Alison?

Alison: I had read it already because I started reading them when I was five, so I’m pretty sure I read it already. These are vague memories. But I do remember distinctly sitting on the couch with my sisters watching the scene where Wood introduces Quidditch to Harry and being like, “Wow, he’s really cute!”

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: And that was my first celebrity crush, everyone. Oliver Wood.

Michael: That’s adorable.

Kat: That is very cute. Do you still like Sean [Biggerstaff] to this day?

Alison: I do.

[Kristen laughs]

Alison: He has a special place in my heart.

Michael: That’s reasonable. I mean, look at him.

[Everyone laughs]

Kristen: True, true.

Michael: He hasn’t changed that much since his [20s]…

Kristen: We have to remember to objectify the ladies later, too, guys. Okay?

[Alison, Kristen, and Michael laugh]

Kat: This is an equal opportunity objectification at best.

Michael: So my first initial experience with the movies… I had definitely read the books up to that point. I had read all four. I had gone to the midnight release for Goblet of Fire and all that jazz…

Kat: Ugh! Braggart.

Michael: And we played Harry Potter on the playground. My friends always let me be Harry, so I was very nice to them.

Alison and Kat: That’s so cute.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: Very generous friends. Yeah, so I was primed and ready for this. And what was so cool was I was volunteering at the Corrales Community Library at the time, and Warner Bros. was sending out advance tickets to libraries because they wanted them to go see it first and then tell everybody how great the movie was. So I got to see an advance screening before it actually came out, which was really cool.

Alison and Kat: Whoa!

Kat: Big shot!

Michael: And I got to go with my dad and a bunch of the other library staff, and yeah, it was really cool. It was funny because I didn’t dress up or anything for that one because that wasn’t really a thing for movie events yet. And I went to see it in the afternoon, which was also funny because afterward, many a Harry Potter midnight showing was had. Yeah, I remember being pretty happy with it afterward. There were some things that I didn’t like, but overall I was [happy]. At the time I was one of those nitpicky Harry Potter fans that was like, “They changed this little dumb thing! That’s dumb that they changed it! I hate this movie!”

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: That was unreasonable. My friends and I were a little iffy with it to the point that we actually thought we could re-film the whole thing with Legos because Lego Studios was a thing at the time.

Alison: [laughs] Oh my gosh!

Michael: We re-filmed the whole first chapter – the dialogue was verbatim from the book – with Legos because that’s how displeased we were.

Kat: Okay, where is that tape?

Alison: Yeah. Really, though. [laughs]

Michael: It got completely deleted when my computer crashed.

Alison, Kat, and Kristen: No!

[Michael laughs]

Kristen: We’ve got to find a way to fix it.

Michael: It’s disappeared into nothing.

Kat: We need to find an IT person out in the world that can take Michael’s computer and find it because we need this.

Alison: That’s amazing.

Michael: That would be magical.

Kat: It’s so disappointing.

Michael: I do still have… I did re-film the whole trailer with Legos and I still have that video, so that still exists. I was very proud of that.

Kat: You need to put that on the Internet somewhere.

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Alison: That’s phenomenal.

Kristen: And tag me in because I want to watch it immediately.

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Alison: For real.

Michael: Katy Cartee Haile in the chat is saying, “Backups, people, backups!”

[Kristen laughs]

Kat: Yeah, too true. Too real. You guys should call in and tell us your first experiences with the film. We want to hear them.

Michael: Yes, we would love to hear that. Remember, @AlohomoraMN on Skype. Friend us first and then give us a ring because we definitely want to hear from you. And as we’re waiting for you guys to call in and join us, we’re going to go into a little bit of history of the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone film. I did not stay up reading 60+ pages of [Harry Potter:] Page to Screen for nothing until 2:00 a.m. last night, so I’m going to throw up all this history on y’all.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Kat: Eww.

Michael: So I’m really glad I went through and read this. And listeners, I’m giving you the very abridged, truncated version. If you haven’t gotten a chance to read Page to Screen – and remember, I recommend as a librarian – if you can’t spend the money on it, you can go to the library and get a copy.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Michael: We do carry copies of Page to Screen. Please pick it up if you want to know more about this stuff. There are some really great anecdotes in Page to Screen; it is a really well done book. And I learned some new things last night, which was really exciting. And our story starts actually pretty close to the time that the first book was published in 1997-98. Heyday Films was just a tiny little company started by David Heyman, and he was working with two people in particular who were going to be very key in getting Harry Potter to the screen. And I apologize if I don’t pronounce their names right. They have lovely, beautiful names that I’m probably going to butcher: Tanya Seghatchian and Nisha Parti. These two ladies actually selected Philosopher’s Stone for review and pitched it to Heyman before the book had even become remotely popular. It wasn’t even published in the US yet. Heyman wasn’t really interested because he thought the title was dumb.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: So apparently, he didn’t like the UK title either. And there was a lot of doubt in the movie world at the time that this would do well because, believe it or not, fantasy films weren’t really a thing at the time.

[Alison laughs]

Kat: Oh, I have a bit of trivia about early Heyday Films.

Michael: Yes! Yes, please.

Kat: Their offices were on Denmark Street in London, which, if you’ve ever read the Cormoran Strike novels, you will know that’s where his office is.

Alison and Michael: Oh, that’s so cool.

Michael: Little tribute there, huh?

Kat: That is a really good bit of trivia if you ever host a trivia night, guys. Nobody ever gets that one right.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Keep that in mind.

Michael: Well, and the other reason this happened the way it did was because Heyday Films was specifically launched with the mindset that Heyman wanted to seek out books to adapt that might make good movies. And as we’ve seen, that’s definitely proven successful for Heyman. If any of you have ever seen the Paddington film, oh my God, it’s adorable.

Kat: Mhm. It’s so good.

Michael: If you haven’t, go see it because it’s just so sweet.

Kat: We have a caller, too, Michael.

Michael: Yay! Caller, hello!

Katy Cartee Haile: Hey! Is this me?

Kat: It is you!

Michael: Well, yes, we’re you!

[Katy and Michael laugh]

Kat: Tell the listeners who you are.

Katy: Hi, guys. This is Katy Cartee Haile that Michael was just talking about. Oh my God! I’m so excited to actually be calling into Alohomora! Woo-hoo!

[Kat and Michael laugh]

Michael: We’re so excited you’re here.

Katy: Thank you. This is totally one of my favorite Harry Potter podcasts, if not my favorite one. But anyway, I’m trying not to squee myself into not talking about what I called to talk about, which is… I wanted to talk about my experience with the first movie because it was what got me into Harry Potter and left a very special place in my heart. Okay, so I was dating this guy at the time, and I was also one of those that turned my nose up at Harry Potter. Everybody was telling me how wonderful it was and [that] I should read it, and I was like, “Oh no, it’s just a fad. It’s going to blow over. It’s going to be nothing in a year.” I was so wrong! With my boyfriend at the theater, I think we went to see Shallow Hal. I had to look up and see what other movies came out around the same time because I couldn’t remember what we were there to actually see. But we went to the concession stand and my brother was there with his girlfriend, who is now his wife, and a couple other of their college friends, because he’s a few years older than me. And I was like, “What are you guys here to see?” [unintelligible] And I was like, “Well, we don’t really care that much about Shallow Hal. Why don’t we just go sit in this movie with my brother and his friends? Because they’re fun to hang out with.” And oh my God! I fell in love with it, like, almost immediately. And by the end, with the photo album with Hagrid, oh my God, I was crying. And I was like, “Why did I wait so long to get into this?” So I immediately went out and read the first three books that were out at that time. I think my brother’s girlfriend – well, now my sister-in-law – let me borrow her first two and then I went out and bought the third that was still in only hardcover, I think. Am I getting those dates right?

Kat: You are.

Michael: They were all out by that point.

Kat: You made a really good choice that day. I’m just saying.

Katy: [laughs] I read those books, and now I’ve reread them ten bazillion times, and oh my God, I love Harry Potter so much!

Michael: That’s fantastic. Well, wow! Thank you for sharing that with us. That’s a beautiful story. It’s so funny how many people actually started with the movies and not the books in our fandom. I’m always surprised, actually, at how many people that happened to.

Alison: I always think it’s funny that it’s always the first movie. And then they’re like, “And then I went and read all of them!” Because they were all out.

[Michael laughs]

Alison: So it’s really funny how it’s always like…

Michael: Katy, when you read the books, did you see the movies in your head?

Katy: I did; I’ll be honest. But I really think the actors did such a good job that that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and the sets were amazing. I mean, the view of Hogwarts and all of the set pieces… We were talking about the chess set in the chat while we were watching the movie and all the practical effects, and at the time even the CGI was really good. Some of it is a little dated now, but overall… yeah. So I don’t have a problem with seeing those people in my head. Although, another sister-in-law on my husband’s side read the books first, and she refuses to watch the movies because she has such a clear view of those characters in her head and she doesn’t want it to be tainted by the actors.

Michael: Yeah.

Katy: I think she’s missing out, personally, but we just approached it in two completely different ways. So I understand why she would not necessarily want to see the movies, whereas I am a huge fan of both.

Michael: Definitely. Yeah, we have a lot of people who are… I’ve known people who refuse to watch the movies because they just don’t want to ruin that picture. So Heyman, after reading the book and really loving it, decided to pitch it to Warner Bros. because Heyday Films had a deal with Warner Bros. that they would show them all the films they were interested in first before putting them into production. Producer Lionel Wigram over at Warner Bros. was like, “Yes, this is great! We need to do this.” So on September 1, 1998…

Alison: Aww!

Michael: Yes, a very significant date in many ways. Heyday’s partner Warner Bros. purchases the rights for, reportedly, $1,000,000, which seems low now.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: I was going to say…

Michael: But at the time, quite a big deal. That was kind of unheard of. The deal was completed on the same date as the US publication date of Sorcerer’s Stone.

Alison: Oh my gosh! I didn’t know that.

Michael: Isn’t that amazing? It really tells you how much foresight there was on Heyman’s part and the part of his producers because this was not big yet. Harry Potter was not a thing yet when they made this deal. So they were sitting on a goldmine and they had no idea. In 1998, after they made the deal with Warner Bros., Heyman met with Rowling to discuss the vision for the film. Future plots were not discussed. Rowling only told them that she had seven books planned total. Oh, there you are, Taylor! How are you?

Taylor: Doing good.

Kat: Good.

Taylor: So I don’t know where we are anymore because I’m in the car…

[Kat laughs]

Taylor: … but I had a story about my experience with the movie for the first time.

Kat: Yeah, let’s hear it.

Taylor: So one day I came home from school and my mom had handed me a piece of newspaper that she’d cut out, and it was a screenshot of the scene where he’s trying to grab the envelopes. And she was like, “They’re making your book into a movie,” and I was super excited. And when I ultimately went to go see it – my stepdad took me – and at the beginning whenever they pan over Privet Drive, he leans in and he was like, “Hey, have you read this?” And I was like, “Yes! Of course I have.” And he was like, “Well, then, what’s going to happen?” And I was like, “This old man is going to come out and steal all the lights from the street lamps.” And then he did, and he was like, “Oh, wow, you were serious.”

[Everyone laughs]

Taylor: And that’s all I remember because I was only 11. But yeah, I loved it just like everyone else. And that’s my story.

Kat: Wow.

Alison: That’s amazing.

Kristen: Yay!

Kat: That is amazing. Wow.

Taylor: Yes. I do have to go, though; I am driving. But I just wanted to say thank y’all so much, and I love the podcast.

Kat: Drive safely.

Taylor: I will.

Michael: Yes, drive safely. Thank you, Taylor!

Kristen: Thanks for sharing.

Taylor: Bye!

[Kat laughs]

Michael: Anyway, listeners, thank you for calling in and telling us your stories. We want to keep hearing more, so please keep joining us with that. Let’s see, what point were we at? Okay, so Rowling had not revealed to Heyman or anybody about what the plans were for the next six books. She just said there were seven total, and Warner Bros. had already acquired the rights to all of them. The only thing Rowling insisted on was that the whole cast be British, especially because rumors were starting to circulate that they were going to move the whole thing over to the US. And Heyman promised Rowling that he would keep as close to her vision as possible. And [in] 1998-99, as the screenwriting process began, Rowling was completely uninterested in writing the screenplay.

Alison: Well, that’s changed.

[Alison, Kristen, and Michael laugh]

Michael: Yes, obviously. Heyman didn’t even ask her because he knew she would not be interested. Obviously, of course, she was still writing Harry Potter at the time. One of the earliest screenwriters to be approached was Richard Curtis, who you listeners might know as one of the writers for the Blackadder series with Rowan Atkinson. But he declined, and he wasn’t the only one. A ton of screenwriters rejected it until the book shot to number one on the New York Times Bestseller List in 1998. And then, suddenly Heyman was flooded with calls [of] people wanting to do the screenplay. Steve Kloves was a top contender against Michael Goldenberg. Goldenberg would later go on to write the only script that Kloves did not do, which was for Order of the Phoenix. But Kloves was actually selected based on a recommendation, and he hadn’t really done movies in the realm of Harry Potter. not very much fantasy, not very much family film material. So this was a gamble, but Rowling and Kloves apparently just hit it off like two peas in a pod. Interestingly, though – and I still don’t know if we actually know what this line was – there was, apparently, one line removed from Kloves’s script after Rowling stated [that] it would directly contradict an event in Order of the Phoenix.

Kat: I want to know what it is.

Alison: I wonder if it was about Sirius? Do you think it was about Sirius?

Michael: I don’t know.

Alison: Because what if he said something about “Sirius is dead” or something in…

Kat: But she was originally going to kill Arthur, so that wouldn’t have mattered.

Alison: Oh, that’s true. Okay, maybe not.

Michael: Yeah, I couldn’t find anywhere where she confirmed what that line was, so that’s another mystery for us, listeners. I’m sure you’ll be attacking Rowling on Twitter with that question.

[Alison, Kristen, and Michael laugh]

Kat: Yeah, add it to the list because I know y’all are making a list of things to ask Jo. So just add that to it, okay? Thanks.

Michael: And one of the things that Rowling was okay with from very early on was the excising of Norbert’s escape from Hogwarts with Harry and Hermione. She gave Kloves her blessing to cut it out as she said it was “the one part of the book that could be easily changed.”

Alison: But then we miss one of my favorite interactions ever, which is when they get to the top of the tower and it says “Hermione did a jig” and she’s like, “Malfoy got detention! I could sing!” and Harry goes, “Don’t.”

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: It’s just one of my favorite things.

Kat: So good.

Michael: DoraNympha in the chat asked, “Did Jo have anything against an American director, though?” No, she did not. And actually, a little bit about the directors: They did initially look at UK directors, but as Heyman put it, there weren’t really a lot of UK directors making big blockbuster box office movies at the time that he wanted to really go to. He tried a few, though. His earliest one, funnily enough, [laughs] was Mike Newell, who you all might remember as the director of Goblet of Fire. He was the earliest to be approached with Richard Curtis as a set, but both of them declined. I’m sure Mike Newell obviously got to reverse that decision later, so he’s fine.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: One of the other earliest directors to be approached was the great Steven Spielberg, who was very interested in doing it, but he declined after two discussions. And although you might initially think, “Oh, wow. Yay, Steven Spielberg!” once you hear his ideas, you might not agree anymore.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: Spielberg wanted the movie to be animated, he wanted to relocate the whole thing to the US, and of course, he wanted Haley Joel Osment to play Harry.

[Alison, Kristen, and Michael laugh]

Kat: Terrible.

Alison: [laughs] Can you imagine?

Kat: Although, make that a TV show and I’m all about it.

[Alison, Kristen, and Michael laugh]

Michael: So luckily, Steven Spielberg was much more preoccupied and interested in A.I. Artificial Intelligence, which, coincidentally, starred Haley Joel Osment. So he went off to make that instead. One of the directors who was top in the running and who Rowling wanted [as] her top choice was Terry Gilliam from Monty Python.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kristen: Oh, wow. [laughs]

Alison: That would have been great. Can you imagine?

Michael: It would have been interesting. But reasonably so, Warner Bros. freaked out because, if you know anything about Terry Gilliam, he is extremely unpredictable and does not listen to studio mandates at all. [He] does his own thing. So it could have been really good, [or it] could have been really strange.

Alison: We could have gotten Firenze with coconut clapping. [claps to imitate the sound of hoofbeats]

[Alison, Kristen, and Michael laugh]

Michael: Missed opportunities.

Kat: Wow.

[Alison, Kristen, and Michael laugh]

Michael: Other top choices included Brad Silberling, who you all might know as the director of [Lemony Snicket’s] A Series of Unfortunate Events, and Jonathan Demme who actually did Silence of the Lambs. Another top choice was Alan Parker, who has done just a huge range of films. He’s done Bugsy Malone, Fame, he’s done a lot of musicals, done a lot of work with kids, done a lot of family films and adult films. But eventually, Chris Columbus was selected for his previous filmography, his experience with child actors, and his vision’s high fidelity to the source material.

Alison: At this one, at least. Sorry.

Michael: [laughs] Yes. He was the last director interviewed. He actually specifically asked to be last because he thought it would give him a better shot. He actually did something… I’m not crazy about Chris Columbus, as you listeners all know from having listened to all of the episodes. He’s not really well-known in Hollywood as a prolific director. He’s more known for being extremely generic. Bless his heart, he does know how to film a movie, but like, Film 101 style. But [with] that said, I was really impressed because I did not know he rewrote this whole script before his interview in an attempt to further understand and internalize the text. So he took what Kloves had already done…

Kat: Chris Columbus did?

Michael: Yes, he did.

Alison: Really?

Michael: Yeah.

Kat: Wow, crazy.

Michael: And he retyped – hand-typed – the whole thing again in 12 days before his interview…

Alison: [whispers] Oh, gosh.

Michael: … because he so badly wanted to be a part of it and so clearly wanted to convey his vision to Heyman. So I’ve got to give him credit for that because that is not something that a director would do now, ever.

Kristen: Yeah.

Michael: And in 1999, Leavesden Studios was selected as the place for filming because it was the largest film studio in the UK. Child labor laws were actually altered to allow the film to be done in the UK because they were a little stricter at the time, and the film probably would have to have been moved over to the US otherwise. Famously, with the scouting of locations, one of the few to publicly decline was the Canterbury Cathedral because they felt that Harry Potter promoted paganism and witchcraft, so they did not want a part of it. But in the end, the production team decided that was fine because the less on-location shooting they had to do, the better.

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Kat: Which is funny because probably half of that first film is location.

Alison and Michael: Yes.

Michael: The Sorcerer’s Stone has a lot of on-location scenes, but the neat thing was that they were very attentive to those on-location scenes, and a lot of them ended up just being recreated at Leavesden because they had the space for it. And speaking of, in 1999 through 2000, Stuart Craig was the selected set designer. He took inspiration from cathedrals and colleges all over the UK, and he was one of the first people to receive Rowling’s map of Hogwarts, which was used to create the final vision of the film. He kept it pinned at his desk until the last film…

Kat: Aww.

Alison: He’s amazing.

Michael: … and always went back to it for reference. When we get into…

Kat: He’s at the tippy, tippy top of the “I Want to Meet You Before You Die” list. I know that that’s super morbid, but…

[Alison, Kristen, and Michael laugh]

Kat: Maggie Smith is up there, too, and that’s a [knocks twice] knock-on-wood situation.

Alison: Oh, man. Don’t even… Oh, gosh.

Michael: [laughs] [Someone] in the chat said, “Michael is president of the Chris Columbus Fan Club.” No, I am not!

[Alison, Kristen, and Michael laugh]

Michael: Thank you. That is a title I will happily pass on to someone else. And [on] August 21, 2000, the big thing for all of us, the fans: The first photo of Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint was released to the public. The cast was immediately moved to a hotel following an insane press frenzy and a press conference was held, not only a few days afterward. And we’ll get a little more into what happened with that with their casting when we go into detail about each individual cast member. But if you read [Harry Potter:] Page to Screen, you really will be amazed at just how quickly this process went for everybody. Watson and Grint both didn’t even realize that they had gotten the part this day. They thought they were coming in for another audition, and all of a sudden they were being whisked out of their homes.

Alison: Oh my gosh!

Kat: Wow.

Michael: Emma Watson’s dad, I believe, called her stepmom and told her to move on out of the house for a little bit because the press was going to swarm them in a minute, which they did. But once production got rolling, so to speak…

Kat: J.K.? Ha, ha.

[Alison, Kristen, and Michael laugh]

Michael: As we mentioned during the live movie watch, the first day of filming – Daniel Radcliffe remembers it still – was September 29, 2000. It is really amazing what a quick turnaround this movie had. The first scene filmed was actually the final scene in the movie, which was the departure from Hogsmeade Station back home. There were, as Radcliffe remembered, 150 extras present on set.

Kat: One Ravenclaw.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Probably no Hufflepuffs.

Kat: Hey, you guys got Susan Bones at the start of the movie.

[Kristen laughs]

Michael: Yes, we got our Susan Bones. And Chris Columbus very much struggled to keep everyone focused because everybody was too busy being in awe of everything around them.

[Kristen laughs]

Alison: Because why wouldn’t you be?

[Michael laughs]

Kat: Yeah. That would be me, present day. I’d be like, “What?”

Alison: That is real. That is me going to the studio tour. I’m like, “What?”

Michael: Well, yeah.

Alison: Or the theme park.

Michael: Can you imagine? As Radcliffe and some of the other cast put it, this was the first time a lot of them had ever been away from home, and their first scene they get to film [was] with the Hogwarts Express. That’s pretty cool.

Alison and Kat: Yeah.

Kat: Sensory overload. Should have started with something more chill.

Alison: Seriously.

[Alison, Kristen, and Michael laugh]

Kat: Just sitting out on the grass or something, right?

Michael: Every scene, as many of you know, where “Philosopher’s Stone” is mentioned had to be re-filmed so that there was a cut where the character said “Sorcerer’s Stone” for us here in the US.

Kat: Yeah. Stupid Americans.

Michael: Because they definitively decided to keep with that change for the US because the title was so well-known over here. It was a time back when I think there wasn’t so much obsession with the UK in the US quite yet. The second British Invasion hadn’t hit yet.

Alison: [laughs] Yeah.

Michael: John Williams, as we know, was selected to score the film. He was previously a very frequent collaborator with Columbus, so this wasn’t really a surprise. The funny thing is, considering how iconic the Harry Potter score has become, Williams just saw it as another job. And as he put it, he kept “Hedwig’s Theme” because, as he said, “Everyone seemed to like it.”

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Kat: Right. It’s fine.

Alison: I don’t know. I think sometimes you can hear that in his music because all composers do similar things. For instance, I have a playlist that’s just themes from movies and stuff, and every time “Rey’s Theme” from Star Wars: [The Force Awakens] comes up, I think it’s something from Harry Potter and I spend a full minute going, “What scene is this? I know these songs! What scene?” And then I’m like, “Oh, wait, totally wrong thing.”

Kat: Star Wars-y.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Michael: Yeah, I think [with] Williams’s style, there [are] definitely themes throughout all of his films where you can connect them to other movies or mistake them a little bit. But I know for me, personally, the score for Harry Potter was the first movie soundtrack I insisted my parents buy for me because I never really paid attention to a film’s soundtrack before. But this one, I remember leaving and asking my dad, “Can you please get me that for my birthday or Christmas or something? I really want to listen to that.” I just remember that score striking me in a way that I had never really felt about a score before. And now, lo and behold, I own all of the scores, plus many other scores for films. Listeners, please feel free to call in to us here [at] @AlohomoraMN. Tell us how you felt about John Williams’s score. It’s obviously become so iconic that… If any of you haven’t seen it yet, check out Universal Orlando’s new commercial because the whole thing is just based on the Harry Potter theme, and it will immediately make you cry.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Funny, which is based off something MuggleNet did six months ago, but that’s fine.

[Kristen laughs]

Michael: Well, they’re getting their marketing ideas from somewhere, huh?

Kat: Not me, because they didn’t hire me. Remember?

Michael: Yes, sadly.

Kat: Not bitter.

Michael: Not at all. [laughs] Quidditch! There are a few set pieces that are worth talking about here in production. The Quidditch pitch, as everybody noticed, [is] different from how it’s described in the book, but as Stuart Craig put it, “It didn’t really make much sense to have all the spectators so far down on the ground when Quidditch is in the air.” So that’s where the towers came from. They also thought it would be a really cool visual treat to make the match more exciting to have the players weaving in and out through the towers. I think we’ve all definitely felt positive about the Quidditch design. There were a lot of compliments toward the Quidditch scene while we were watching the movie. Probably the only downside, as a few people mentioned, is it’s a little outdated now.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: People who are so obviously CGI.

Michael: Yes. I heard somebody said, “Wow, CGI Slytherin Keeper is the worst CGI ever.”

Kristen: [laughs] It’s not even like a face! It’s awful.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: Her hair moves a little bit, so…

Michael: That was the peak!

Kristen: Yeah. They need to reshoot that.

Michael: Right? Well, yeah, considering how amazing the Quidditch scenes turned out in the later films. The technology really increased pretty fast. But considering where it was at the time, I remember being pretty wowed by that scene in 2001.

Alison: Well, and I think at the Studio Tour or something they invented a lot of the technology to make those scene, because nothing like that had been done before. So some of the green screen things and CGI and the way they had the brooms moving were invented specifically for Quidditch.

Michael: Yeah. Well, I suppose there weren’t a lot of movies with people flying around on brooms, huh?

Kat: [laughs] No.

Michael: Oh, it was Catalyst. Catalyst, thank you for alerting me that you were the one that I quoted with that about the Quidditch. Thank you very much.

Kristen: And then Katie in the chat wants to know, “Do you think they’ll ever redo the CGI in those spots and then release updated versions of those movies?”

Kat: Nope. They have Fantastic Beasts. They don’t need Harry Potter anymore.

Alison: Yeah, I was going to say, I doubt it.

Michael: I don’t think so. This isn’t really the case. I think that thought tends to have been birthed in people’s minds based on what happened to the original Star Wars movies.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: That was really, though, more of a director’s choice, and we’re looking at multiple directors here. Chris Columbus is definitely not perhaps as obsessed with these films post-filming them as Lucas was with Star Wars

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Michael: So I don’t think that’s really going to be a problem. And like you said, Kat, Warner Bros. has plenty of Harry Potter to deal with right now. I think that’s the last thing on their mind, for now, anyway. But in 70 years or so, a remake? Possibly. Another one of those amazing sets: Diagon Alley as realized by Stuart Craig. Stuart said during the production process [that] he designed Diagon Alley to actually avoid whimsy because he felt if you tried to go for whimsy, you were saying anything goes. And he wanted to make sure and ground Diagon Alley in a slight sense of reality because it is next to Charing Cross Road and Covent Garden, which he said are not, as he put it, “the prettiest places.” They’re quite plain, in his opinion, as far as London goes. But he wanted to take that and exaggerate it a little bit, so all of the angles in Diagon Alley are pretty much impossible. As Chris Columbus has put it, “Look in the film, and you will see no right angles in that area.” And it was reported that “Rowling came onto the set of Diagon Alley on the first film and just stood there, almost with a tear in her eye, because it was exactly as she had imagined it from the book.”

Kat: Aww.

Michael: So that’s a comforting thought. I know we’ve all pretty much experienced the same thing when we’ve walked into Universal Studios Diagon Alley.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Alison’s is on video. [laughs]

Alison: Yes, it is.

Michael: Another one of those sets that definitely makes you cry: the Great Hall.

Alison: Yes!

Kristen: Oh yeah.

Michael: Another amazing accomplishment. And really, in many ways, one of the greatest accomplishments. Stuart Craig actually talked with Rowling and decided to view the Great Hall not as a set but as a character for the films. It is 40 feet wide and 120 feet long, and it is based on Christ Church at University of Oxford. But its ceiling is actually based on Westminster Abbey because they thought the ceiling at Christ Church was boring.

Kat: It is boring.

Alison: It is.

Kat: It’s very brown and very flat. Yes.

Michael: Well, there you are. And they also made the windows higher because Stuart Craig felt that Christ Church’s windows were not very interesting, so the windows were also elongated. There was an attempt during production to make the candles a practical effect.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Obviously, that was later decided to be extremely stupid and dangerous. They were lit; there were hundreds of them hanging above the Great Hall, but the heat from one of the candles caused it to burn the string that it was hanging from, and it fell to the ground. This was before they started filming, but they were like, “Dang! We’re going to have 400 children,” so they got rid of these candles. “Maybe let’s not do that.” So they scrapped it for CGI instead. I tell these stories, too, listeners, because I think it’s worth noting just how much this production really tried to make as many things practical as possible. We live in a film era where that’s not really a thing anymore. While practical effects are appreciated by a lot of people in film, they’re expensive and CGI is cheaper now, so it’s amazing the amount of things in Harry Potter that are practical. Speaking of one of the most expensive practical things, Stuart Craig insisted on using Yorkstone to ensure that the Great Hall floor never really got scuffed, and it didn’t throughout its whole ten years of being filmed on. But that meant that they couldn’t move the Great Hall and it became a permanent set.

Kat: Yeah, the first thing I did the first time I walked into the Great Hall at the Studio Tour is I laid down on it because I wanted that history and that dirt all over me.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: And then the germaphobe in me was like, “Why did you just do that? Now you’re dirty.”

[Alison, Kristen, and Michael laugh]

Kat: But I rubbed my camera strap in the ground, so the camera strap has dirt from the Great Hall on it now. [laughs]

Alison: Aww.

Michael: Oh, nice. Very nice.

Alison: I do remember the first time I walked in… Well, I was already half crying because the first time I saw the doors, I started half crying.

[Kat and Michael laugh]

Alison: Because it’s a moment. But I just sat there and I just stared at the floor for a while. And I was just like, “How many people walked on this floor? And this floor…” I sat there for so long just staring at the floor.

Kat: Yeah. It’s very cool.

Michael: If this floor could talk…

Alison: And people were like, “What is wrong with you?”

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Michael: Another prop that was attempted to be practical was the Sorting Hat, which was originally going to be a puppet. And there is still a practical Sorting Hat in the film that was designed by the costume director, but they felt that the Sorting Hat puppet looked too much like a puppet.

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Michael: So they pulled it and went with CGI on that one too. Those were some of the highlights. There are a lot of other set discussions in Page to Screen, which you all should definitely check out. There’s a lot of great details about the Gryffindor common room [and] the Forbidden Forest, which evolved a lot throughout the films. But the film itself, after all that production and hard work, took less than a year to do, which is amazing considering how much was done. The film premiered on November 4, 2001 at [pronounces it Li-KES-ter] Leicester Square, and Rowling…

Alison and Kat: [pronounce it LES-ter] Leicester.

Michael: Thank you very much. I don’t know how to pronounce any of these UK things, so UK people, feel free to help me on this.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Kat: I live in Massachusetts, where you see UK things here.

Michael: Thank you, thank you. I live in Texas.

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Michael: November 4, 2001 at Leicester Square. Rowling’s reaction was, “I’m enormously relieved. Dan nailed it. I just love his face. It’s so endearing. Before seeing the film, I was very nervous, but I’m very pleased with it.” The film went on to a wide release on November 16, 2001. We’re going to get into a little bit of box office and award summary here. Keep in mind, listeners, box office and awards are not necessarily justification for what makes a good film.

[Kristen laughs]

Michael: This is more just a little bit of info for you. But the box office… The US opening was $32.3 million, which beat the record of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. And on its second day of release, it broke its own record…

[Alison, Kat, and Kristen laugh]

Michael: … and earned $33.5 million.

Kristen: Geez.

Michael: It beat The Lost World: Jurassic Park for best weekend opening of $90.3 million and was later overtaken by Spider-Man with $114.8 million. It held the highest five-day Thanksgiving weekend gross for $82.4 million, but it was later overtaken by both The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Frozen. The UK opening was the highest opening weekend ever at £16.3 million. It was the second highest grossing film in the UK with £66.1 million overall, following Titanic, and it was later surpassed by Mamma Mia!. I don’t know what you guys were thinking in the UK.

[Alison, Kat, and Kristen laugh]

Michael: But bless your hearts, you just wanted to watch something happy.

[Alison, Kristen, and Michael laugh]

Michael: Total, it grossed $974.8 million worldwide. It was the highest grossing film at the time. It is currently, with inflation unadjusted, the 26th highest grossing film. It is the second highest grossing Potter movie, following Deathly Hallows – Part 2, which crossed the $1 billion mark. Katy Cartee Haile: “Hey, Mamma Mia! is great.” Sure, it is.

[Kristen laughs]

Kat: Mamma Mia! is great.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Enjoy your ABBA songs, everyone.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kristen: I love Mamma Mia! Not as much as Harry Potter, but it’s good.

Michael: [laughs] You wouldn’t give it more viewings than Harry Potter, Kristen?

Kristen: No, I’ve watched Harry Potter way more times.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kristen: Now, if it competed with The Sound of Music, that’s something different.

Michael: Yeah, that’s different. Yes. Now, awards wise, things were a little more what we’re used to in the Potter community, meaning we got a lot of nominations but not a lot of wins.

Alison: Ohh. [laughs]

Michael: Some highlight nominations… Listeners, you can check Wikipedia if you want to find the whole list, but I’m going to go through some highlights here. These were nominations, not wins. At the 2002 Kids’ Choice Awards, it was nominated for Favorite Movie; 2002 MTV Awards, Daniel Radcliffe was nominated for Breakthrough Male Performance; Teen Choice Awards, Choice Movie Action Drama and Choice Movie Female Breakout Star for Emma Watson; the Empire Awards for Best Film and Best Debut, with Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint all nominated together; the Grammy, nominated for Best Score; Saturn Awards… my goodness, here we go: Best Fantasy Film, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor for Robbie Coltrane, Best Supporting Actress for Maggie Smith, Best Performance by a Younger Actor [for] Daniel Radcliffe, Best Performance by a Younger Actress [for] Emma Watson, Best Makeup, Best Special Effects.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kristen: Now, what are the side effects of all that?

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: The BAFTAs: Best British Film, Best Supporting Actor [for] Robbie Coltrane, Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Hair and Makeup, Sound, and Visual Effects. And of course, the always, ever lucky for us, Academy Awards…

[Alison, Kristen, and Michael laugh]

Michael: It was nominated for three: Best Costume Design, Art Direction, and Original Score. It lost in Costume Design and Art Direction to Moulin Rouge!, and Best Original Score to Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

Kat: Okay…

Alison: Did that come out the same year?

Michael: Yep.

Kat: Yes. It did.

Michael: It was a big year for fantasy.

Alison: What?

Kristen: Geez. Yeah, I don’t remember that.

Kat: I guess I don’t find it funny thinking about the film, but Robbie Coltrane was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, but he really has the biggest part out of any of the adult cast, doesn’t he?

Michael: Yeah.

Alison: Oh, yeah. Yeah, in this one.

Michael: Yeah. There were many more nominations he got this season… and fairly well-deserved. He was pretty committed to Hagrid. We’ll get into that a little more because there’s some interesting stuff that happened as far as the movie magic surrounding Hagrid. But to celebrate the film a little more, it did have some wins. At the BMI Awards, it won for the Film Music Award; the Costume Designers Guild Award was its only win there for Excellence in Fantasy Costume Design; one of the 2002 MTV Movie Awards for Daniel Radcliffe’s Breakthrough Male Performance; the Satellite Awards for…

Kat: I’m sure he’s really proud of that one.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Michael: I’m sure he is. [laughs] At the Satellite Awards, Outstanding New Special Talent Achievement Award for Rupert Grint. I wanted to really give a shout-out for that one because Rupert finally got something.

Alison: Good!

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Young Artists Awards: Best Performance in a Feature Film – Leading Young Actress – Emma Watson won, and interestingly, she tied with Scarlett Johansson. Pretty cool thing to claim.

Kat: Still, neither of them really great actresses, so that’s cool.

Michael: Aww.

Kat: Sorry.

Michael: [laughs] Most Promising Young Newcomer: Rupert Grint.

Kristen and Michael: Yeah.

Michael: He won two, you guys!

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Alison and Kat: Yay, Rupert!

Kristen: Suck it!

Kat: I’m sure he’s really proud of that one.

Michael: What a different time we lived in. [laughs]

Kat: Yeah.

Michael: Saturn Awards for Best Costumes, and Teen Choice Awards for Choice Movie Male Breakout Star: Daniel Radcliffe.

Kat: Somebody… Okay, next interview I have with Dan – if I ever get to again – I’m going to ask him if he still has those awards.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: “Pull out those awards.”

Kristen: He’d probably be like, “What awards?”

Alison: He’ll be like, “What?”

Kristen: “Yeah, they’re back home on my parents’ shelf in a box.”

Kat: And I’m going to show him a picture. I’ll print out the photo and hold it up, and I’ll say, “This award.”

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: A lot of people are saying in the chat that they are having trouble picking between Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter for Best Score. I can definitely understand your debate there. Like we said earlier, it’s so funny that Heyman and a lot of people were hesitant to do Harry Potter because fantasy just wasn’t really a thing anymore. It died out in the late 1980s/early ’90s, so to go back to it was a bit of a risk at the time. And then, lo and behold, [in] 2001 fantasy just explodes. And now it’s everywhere.

[Alison laughs]

Kat: I would pick, personally, Lord of the Rings over Harry Potter because I think it does more exciting things for the film.

Michael: Mhm. Well…

Kat: Personally. Not to say that I don’t listen to Harry Potter.

Kristen: But I listen to the Harry Potter score more than the Lord of the Rings score.

Alison: Oh, the score. I thought you were talking in general. I do too.

Michael: Yeah, I can’t really speak to Lord of the Rings because I’m not really a big fan of that series. Not that they’re not good… I’m just not crazy about them.

[Kristen laughs]

Michael: For Harry Potter, the soundtrack, I think… Because I have listened to the Lord of the Rings score a bit, and the soundtrack for Harry Potter is just a more easier, casual listening experience for me, I guess. Some people might disagree with that, but that…

Kat: Sure. The thing for me is that it all blends together, and I get specific moments from the Lord of the Rings one.

Alison: Really?

Kat: The Harry Potter one just all sounds similar to me. Yeah, really.

Alison: Because I would flip those.

Michael: Interesting.

Kristen: Yeah, agreed, Alison.

Alison: Because I can picture specific scenes when I’m listening to… I have a playlist of all of the movie scores, and I’ll just put it on shuffle and it’ll pop up and…

Kat: Yes. Well, the later ones are significantly better than the first one, so…

Alison: Huh.

Michael: [laughs] We might have to start a Lord of the Rings podcast, I guess. Now we’re…

Kat: Oh no. Don’t, don’t, don’t. Don’t give our listeners any ideas.

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Kristen: Davey B. Jones said, “I’d also pick Lord of the Rings over Harry Potter for score and movie. Not the books, though, because they’re the best books ever.”

Kat: Oh, the books are a bear. Yeah, they are.

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Michael: And listeners, again, feel free to call in @AlohomoraMN on Skype. Friend us and call in. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the soundtrack, and we’d love to hear your thoughts on some of the actors and actresses because we’re about to get into that. We’ve got a lot of them here to go through. We’ll start with the leads. You might have heard of him. Up and coming guy, Daniel Radcliffe.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Kat: Who?

Michael: Wee little thing.

Kristen: Breakthrough Male Performance.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: MTV.

Kat: That’s right, I remember.

Kristen: Okay, good.

Kat: I remember now. Thank you.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Interestingly, Radcliffe was not particularly interested in the Harry Potter books. He wasn’t much of a reader.

Kat: And still isn’t. [laughs]

Michael: This is all self-diagnosed from him. You can read about it in Page to Screen. His father, casting agent Alan Radcliffe, read him the first two books, and after that they just dropped the series. He was considered very poor academically in school, and it was suggested by a family friend and future agent, Sue Latimer, that he audition for David Copperfield, which he did get the role for. He also went on to star in The Tailor of Panama with Pierce Brosnan, which he filmed a little before Potter. He was approached early on during the casting but was not actually cast until 2000 because his parents were very reluctant, worrying that Radcliffe’s private life would be too exposed to the public. And actually, casting director Susie Figgis departed from production because she couldn’t take Columbus holding out for Radcliffe. They kept auditioning kids and Columbus didn’t want them because he only wanted Radcliffe.

Kat: Aww. Poor Tom.

Alison: Ohh.

Michael: Yes, we’ll get to that story. Heyman and Kloves encountered Radcliffe’s family at a stage play. Alan Radcliffe noted that it seemed to have been a little bit meant to be.

[Kristen laughs]

Michael: And after another meeting with the family, Radcliffe’s parents agreed to an audition. He auditioned approximately four times before being cast because he joined very late, pretty much at the eleventh hour. They tried on the first day of filming to stick green contacts on his eyes, and Radcliffe did not complain at all, but he was having a severe allergic reaction.

Alison and Kristen: Ohh.

Alison: That’s the worst. [laughs]

Michael: Which everybody on set mistook for emotional reverence with the scene.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: But his costumer noticed it and said that they couldn’t keep putting those on him. They tried to digitally alter the eyes, but after getting Rowling’s approval that the eyes could stay that way and the actual shade of green wasn’t the important part, they decided to just leave them blue.

Kat: Yeah, okay. Let’s remember that, people. Okay?

Alison: Yeah, but then they forgot the important part.

[Alison, Kristen, and Michael laugh]

Kat: I’m writing an article about this, and I’m really mad at everybody who… Ugh. Just be aware, Jo said…

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Michael: Well, the green eyes were a big thing in the fandom. People were losing their mind because, of course at the time, we didn’t know if the green was the important part or not. So people were pretty upset about that, but Rowling gave it her blessing. Radcliffe was just pretty unlucky on set because he also discovered that he had an allergy to nickel, which is what the glasses were made out of.

[Alison laughs]

Kristen: Oh, geez.

Michael: And for the first two weeks of filming, he had horrible pimples all over his face because he had broken out.

Alison: [laughs] Poor dude!

[Kristen laughs]

Kat: What a precious little child.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: But again, according to everybody on set, he never complained. It was mostly his handlers who kept noticing this stuff, so he was toughing it out like a champ. He cited, as his favorite scene to film, the flying lessons that were filmed at Alnwick Castle, and he said, “I think some of the sweetest scenes in the film are the ones we shot at Alnwick Castle because it was a huge place, and we do look absolutely tiny next to it. I love when I see clips of those bits. That low-angle shot where the broom flies up into my hand and I sort of smile, pleased with myself, I really like that shot. There’s a wonderful innocence to it all.”

Alison: Aww.

Kat: That place – I can speak from experience – is huge. It is a legitimate, incredibly tall castle. And it’s funny; there [are] so many little scenes where they’re running through parts or whatever, and you can recognize it because the Alnwick has that really tan brick and it’s got the oxidation on it. So it’s tan and black [and] all of those scenes are the Alnwick Castle…

Michael: Yeah. It was really neat to read about Radcliffe talking about this scene because he really never talks about specific filming from Harry Potter because he doesn’t like to watch the films. And there [are] still many films in his filmography that he’s never even seen. I mentioned The Tailor of Panama; he never saw it. But he doesn’t really make a point of watching his films over, and he was also kept away from all of the press about Harry Potter at the time because he asked his dad after it came out if his dad would only show him the good reviews, and his dad said, “Nope. If you want to see the good reviews, you have to read the bad ones, or you don’t read any of them at all.” So he chose none at all. He was quite a bright, consummate artist of a little thing for 11 years old. But somebody was working hard to outdo him right next to him. Emma Watson was Hermione through and through. She had previous acting experience at school and had a huge love for academia and poetry. Her father read her Books 1 and 2, and she read 3 and 4 on her own. She was the earliest of the trio to be cast, although she wasn’t told that. She was still going through a lot of auditions and screen testing, thinking that she was still auditioning. She initially rejected the comparisons of her to Hermione. As she put it, “I was emphatic that I had nothing in common with the character of Hermione, especially with her tweed skirts and thick tights. Being a nerd back then just wasn’t cool, but as I grew older, I realized how alike we are and that a comparison of any sort was a compliment.”

Kat and Michael: Aww.

Michael: I remember that from pretty much every early interview where they would ask Emma the worst things about filming, and she’d be like, [imitating young Emma Watson] “Oh, these costumes, I hate them so much!”

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: As we noted during the live viewing of the movie, [in] that last scene – which was the first scene that they filmed – she is wearing dentures with giant buck teeth on them because they were keeping in mind the scene where her teeth shrink in Goblet of Fire and they wanted to do it. But they dropped it after they realized the dentures were affecting how Emma talked, and Columbus thought they looked dumb so they got rid of them. [laughs]

Kristen: They do. That was for the best.

Michael: Yeah, that was probably… that was a fine deletion.

Kristen: I’m fine with them dropping that. [laughs]

Michael: Yes. If it affected her talking, that was probably not necessary. [laughs]

Michael: Oh, thank you, [Caller], it’s [pronounces “Annick”] Alnwick. Yeah, and we should know that because, oh, Chris Rankin told us off for that when he was on his… [laughs]

Alison: Yeah. [laughs]

Kat: Oh, did he?

Kristen: Yeah. [Caller] wrote in there, “Is that the one Chris Rankin said is pronounced [pronounces “Annick”] Alnwick on the Deathly Hallows book wrap?”

Michael: Alnwick.

Kat: Oh, thanks. I forgot that.

[Kristen laughs]

Michael: Yep. Thank you, guys. Keeping us honest.

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Michael: So… some Rupert Grint love. He was pretty much one of the most committed out of the three. He loved the Harry Potter books and was already being compared to Ron by his friends and family. He went a little unconventional with his audition.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: He sent in an audition tape where he rapped about his desire to be cast as Ron, and he had never rapped before. That was his first time doing that. They were so caught off guard by how different his audition was that they asked him in to do a proper audition, and he was the second one to be cast after Emma and for quite a while…

Kat: I wonder how many kids since then have sent in rap videos to try to be cast in a film?

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kristen: I wouldn’t try it.

[Alison and Kat laugh]

Kristen: Cool.

Michael: Everybody’s asking the chat, “Do we have the footage of that?” I have never seen it.

Kristen: Neither have I.

Alison: Isn’t it somewhere? I feel like it popped up at one point.

Kat: I don’t think it’s public.

Alison: Okay.

Michael: I guess they’re waiting for another future release of the whole collection, right?

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Kat: Yeah, which will literally never happen. Apparently, there are clauses in the contracts of all the kids that bloopers can’t be released.

[Alison, Kristen, and Michael groan]

Alison: Gross.

Kat: Oh, sorry. Did I just crush everybody’s hopes?

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: Warner Bros. sitting on that forever. So sad.

Kat: Yeah, you’ll literally never get bloopers from the Harry Potter films.

Alison: I do have to say, though, that this really shows. I think Rupert is the best of these three kids in this movie. He has the best facial expressions and he’s just always into it.

Kat: I dig that. I’m with you.

Michael: There’s a funny story that I’ve got further down, but I’ll read it now. It’s from when they were doing a table read with Richard Harris, and as Harris said, “Chris Columbus had asked me to come out to the studio to meet the young cast, and I came out to read with them. When I finished the reading, the little boy playing Ron Weasley turned to me and said, ‘Mr. Harris, that was quite a good reading. I think you’ll be quite good in this part.'”

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: That’s funny.

Michael: So yeah. They were just a bunch of little precious things. And one of my favorite stories – you can see this; this has been released – [is] the video from their first press conference where [the press] asks them what they would do with their money, where they perfectly answered the way their characters would, I think without meaning to, because they asked them what they were going to do with it all since they didn’t… And Radcliffe said, [imitating young Daniel Radcliffe in a shy voice] “I, I, I don’t know.” And then Emma said, [imitating young Emma Watson] “I’m going to put it in a fund for college.” And Rupert said, [imitating young Rupert Grint] “I don’t know because they’re giving us Muggle money, and I don’t understand what that is.”

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Michael: So they were their characters through and through, I think sometimes more than they wanted to admit. There were a lot of other important students to cast in this film. As Kat mentioned earlier, there was an interesting process that happened for Tom Felton. He was completely unfamiliar with the book series when he went in to audition. He actually told a story about his first audition where they were going down the line, asking all the kids what their favorite scene was in the books that they were most looking forward to in the movies, and he hadn’t read them, so he just copied what the kid next to him said. And Chris Columbus seemed to like that there was some cheek to Tom Felton. He had a very long audition process because he initially auditioned, extensively, for Harry. And he dyed his hair brown, and he drew a scar on his head, and then he dyed his hair red and briefly auditioned for Ron and did a lot of screen tests as both, and as Felton said, “Chris kept saying, ‘I want you somewhere, but I don’t know where to put you yet.’ And then he tried me as a rather miserable, snarling, young child, and that seemed to fit me perfectly.”

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: I can’t really see Tom as anybody else, so…

Kristen: Yeah. Apparently…

Michael: No. Well, and I think that what happened with Columbus is he just couldn’t quite pinpoint it until when he hit on it [and] he was like, “Oh, yep, perfect,” which is funny because if you listen to any interviews, you’ll hear pretty much the whole cast praise Felton as the nicest guy on set. But he played it well. Matthew Lewis, as Neville Longbottom, was a big fan of the series before he wanted to audition purely based on his love of the books. He had no theater acting experience at all, and his mother – shout-out to all mothers out there – did everything she could to figure out how to get him an audition. After he went in for his audition, he didn’t hear anything for a year, and his ever-so-sweet mother encouraged him by saying, [in a motherly voice] “Don’t worry about it. We’ll try for part two with Chamber of Secrets.”

Kat, Kristen, and Michael: Aww.

Kat: Mama Lewis for the win.

Alison: So precious.

Michael: [laughs] But of course, he didn’t have to wait that long, luckily.

Kat: Wait, wait. Can I tell you a story about Matt Lewis’s mom that I just know from a friend of mine?

Michael: Please.

Kat: So she attended the opening of the Wizarding World Hogsmeade in Orlando with Matt back in 2010, and I have a friend whose sister works for Warner Bros. and he has a daughter. And if you guys remember that ceremony, they handed out wands to everybody so that they could do the Lumos on the castle when it lit up for the first time. Well, my friend’s daughter lost her wand. And because his sister works for Warner Bros., they had VIP tickets, and later on in the evening they were talking to Matt and she talked about how she lost her wand and Matt’s mother gave her Matt’s wand from the night.

Alison, Kristen, and Michael: Aww.

Kat: So yeah, Mama Lewis for the win.

[Michael laughs]

Kristen: So cute.

Alison: That’s so precious.

Kat: And they still have it to this day because why would you ever get rid of that? So yeah.

Michael: It is so lovely to know that Matthew Lewis’s mother is far more supportive throughout his whole run compared to Neville’s grandmother.

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Kat: Yes, indeed. Yes, yes.

Michael: Listeners, reminder, please call in and tell us about your favorite cast members from the first film. I know you want to talk about everybody from all the other movies. Everybody wants to talk about Christian Coulson because he’s hot. No.

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Michael: I’m sure we’ll have another Voldemort discussion in the future where we can go to that. But…

Kat: If you want some news on Christian Coulson, you should stay tuned to MuggleNet in the next couple weeks.

Michael: Ohoho. That was a nice teaser.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Michael: But we have a few more cast members from the student section. As Kat noted, how nice it was that Bonnie Wright was cast and stuck around for the rest of the series. She was unfamiliar with the series herself, but her brother had read it and kept comparing her to Ginny. She auditioned twice and did one callback before landing the role, so she had a pretty short audition process, which matches perfectly with her very short appearance in the film.

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Alison: She has two words.

Kat: Yeah, I think she’s perfect; she just gets crappy lines. But I think, in general, Bonnie is perfect for that role, knowing what I know about Bonnie and her personality and all that. Perfect. She just got the short end of the stick, basically.

Alison: It was written poorly. Yeah.

Michael: The nice thing, too, if you were ever wondering, listeners, if she ever got to step on Platform 9 3/4, she did. It sounds like there was a deleted scene that never came to fruition somewhere where she actually did get to go on the platform because she cites that in her memories of being in total awe on her first day of filming. James and Oliver Phelps as Fred and George Weasley… their funny story from their audition. They were very blasé about their audition, as was their mother. She just said, “Oh, this sounds fun. Why don’t you try?”

Alison: They skipped school, didn’t they? Righteous. [laughs]

Michael: Yes, they did. That’s why they wanted to do it.

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Michael: They realized once they got there they were the only twins who showed up, and they weren’t wearing matching outfits. Oopsy-daisies. So they ran across the street to get some matching sweaters, which they kept through the whole rest of filming, and they did have to dye their hair; they were not naturally redheads. Even at the premiere – even with their hair not dyed, of course – everybody spotted them as twins and was like, “Oh my God, it’s Fred and George,” and they were mobbed.

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: Naturally.

Alison: I was going to say, nothing’s changed there.

Michael: [laughs] But we move over to the Muggle end of things for a brief look at the Dursleys. Interestingly, Fiona Shaw, who of course we know as Petunia Dursley, initially wanted to play one of the wizards, one of the magical characters. How fitting.

Alison and Kristen: Oh.

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: Burn.

Kristen: Can’t catch a break.

Alison: Ugh.

Michael: But as she put it, she found the Dursleys “in their ordinariness the most exotic and more frightening” of the characters. I think she definitely struck that balance. A lot of people were praising her little monologue she gets about Lily at the beginning of the movie as one of the highlights of the film. Definitely would agree with that. A lot of people said that was pretty much exactly how they pictured it in the book. And Richard Griffiths had not read the Harry Potter books before filming, but he read them right after he was cast and became an immediate fan. If you look through Page to Screen, you’ll note that in some ways the adults, while many of them hadn’t read the books first, were actually a little more enthusiastic about this than the children.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: And speaking of the adults, especially the ones who got to be wizards, we mentioned Robbie Coltrane a lot and it’s for good reason. He was Rowling’s top choice to play Hagrid. As he confirmed, a lot of people thought up to that time that Hagrid was actually written with him in mind, but as Rowling told him later on, he was actually based on a biker that she knew who was this big, imposing guy, but he would go to pubs and sit down and start talking about his gardening and how his petunias had died in the frost. And so Hagrid was not based on Robbie Coltrane, but Robbie Coltrane was the top pick for Hagrid. He received major character and background information directly from Rowling immediately after being cast. But he was not the only one playing Hagrid, and this was a long-kept secret because pretty much everybody on set didn’t want to ruin the magic of it. It’s pretty well-known now, but Hagrid was also played by Martin Bayfield, who was 6′ 10″ and was selected as Coltrane’s body double for all of the wide shots. So every time you see Hagrid’s whole body, that’s Martin Bayfield. That effect lasted pretty much through… around Prisoner, and around that time, they started green screening Robbie into scenes as Hagrid. But it worked more practically to have Martin Bayfield on set. He was in this very elaborate suit that had…

Alison: With an animatronic head.

Michael: Yes, with an animatronic head that eventually could actually move its mouth in relation to Martin reading from the script.

Kristen: Creepy.

Michael: There were a lot of jokes on set. Maggie Smith used to tease Robbie Coltrane. She said to him once, “I saw Martin reading your lines the other day. He was really good.”

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Michael: And Martin actually studied… As much as we speak about the Polyjuice Potion scenes in Hallows where everybody studied how each other walked and body mannerisms, Bayfield actually extensively studied Coltrane, and knowing that now when you watch the movie again, it is amazing how much that performance blends with Robbie Coltrane’s performance. It’s pretty darn seamless, I would say. I don’t know if you ladies agree.

Kat: Yeah. Wholeheartedly.

Alison: Yeah. I’ve never studied it, but I can’t tell at all.

Kristen: Yeah, no.

Alison: Even knowing that, I just can’t tell.

Kat: They did a good job.

Michael: Yeah, it’s funny because the magic of that is still retained for me because the editing is done so well, and the effect is so well-done. And the suit really was a gamble on their part. They had no idea if the suit was even going to work when it was proposed. That was a whole new bit of technology. Richard Harris, [whom] I feel we just don’t talk enough about these days…

Alison: Ahh, he was amazing.

Michael: … was approached personally by Heyman because Heyman was a family friend. Harris had actually lived with Heyman’s family for a while. He initially declined the role of Dumbledore. He never really specified for what reasons, but it all didn’t matter. It was all moot because his granddaughter Ellie caused him to reconsider. As he said, “I wasn’t going to do it for various reasons. Then my granddaughter Ellie telephoned me and said, ‘Papa, if you don’t play Dumbledore, I will never speak to you again!'” And that was that.

Kat: Wow.

Michael: [laughs] Pretty firm ultimatum, right? But as he said, that was the thing that got him to do it, and we at least have him for two great performances as Dumbledore. I think we…

Kat: Didn’t that happen with somebody in Fantastic Beasts? I feel like I’ve heard that story again recently about the new films, but I can’t remember who it was.

Michael: One of the cast was told by a family member that they had to do it?

Kat: Yeah. Was it Colin Farrell?

Michael: Maybe.

Alison: That sounds familiar, but I can’t put my finger on it.

Kat: Yeah, I’m not sure either. Somebody out there will know. Also…

Michael: Oh, go ahead. We’ve got a caller.

Kat: We do have a caller.

Caller: Hello?

Kat: Hello.

Caller: Oh, goodness. I had to install a plugin, finally, and it works. So hello, everyone. I’m Alex.

Kat: Hi, Alex. Thanks for joining us.

Alex: So I wanted to basically agree with the group and just say that Rupert Grint is by far my favorite casting of the trio. And I don’t know if any of you have watched Behind the Magic – it was a special that aired quite a few years ago – and one of the features was they kept showing all the parts where Rupert Grint would accidentally ruin scenes because he would laugh, and they got through all the times… They kept saying, “Rupert, stop laughing. Rupert, stop smiling. Rupert, stop laughing.” And it was one of the best things I’ve ever seen.

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: That sounds very Ron.

Michael: Yep. That’s why he was such perfect casting. That brings up another great instance of a “Rupert and Dan laughing” scene. Alex, thank you for reminding me of this little fun tidbit. [In] the scene in the train when Harry and Ron are talking to each other, Radcliffe and Grint are not talking to each other. All of the scenes where it is a reverse shot of just them, they are talking to Chris Columbus because they were laughing so much during the scene that they couldn’t get through it, and Chris decided to just step in and take care of that problem.

Kristen: [laughs] That’s funny.

Michael: But at least you know they were genuinely having a good time. So another adult actor to definitely note: Alan Rickman. Of course, the great Alan Rickman. He read the books after receiving the script but was very aware of the popularity. He knew it through a lot of nephews as well as young friends of the family, and he was extremely intrigued by the concept, and as we all know by now, he was the first person… [He] and Steve Kloves were the only two let in on the big secret about Snape, and feel free to watch back and see if you can detect it in his performance. All I see is just a perfectly fabulous Snape.

Kristen: Oh, yeah.

Michael: Obviously.

Kat: He is perfectly fabulous, isn’t he?

Alison: Yes. My sister’s favorite line – after this movie came out – to quote was [as Snape] “There will be no foolish wand waving or silly incantations in this class,” [back to normal voice] and she would say it all the time. So every time I watch that scene, all I think about is that line.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: My favorite is still [as Snape] “People will think you’re… up to something.”

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: Classic.

Michael: And then that coupled with the billowing cape as he’s walking away.

Kristen: Yes. So good.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: Amazing costume design on that cape. And of course, as Radcliffe and all the young actors often said, Rickman scared them all too much that none of them really talked to him that whole first movie.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: So he was doing his job well, which turned out to be quite funny because Rickman ended up advising a lot of them on their careers. Sean Biggerstaff and Chris Rankin and Radcliffe all noted that Rickman took a big investment in their careers post-Potter and helped them a lot with advice.

[Kat fake cries]

Kirsten: Aww.

Michael: So we appreciate all you did, Alan Rickman. You did a lot more than I think even we, as fans, are aware of.

Alison: I still say they need to make a special Chocolate Frog Card for Snape just for Alan Rickman, like they did for Lockhart this year at the celebration.

Kat: Well, they say they’re going to keep making them, so I’m sure Snape will end up on there eventually.

Alison: I know. Call me, Warner Bros. I have lots of ideas for you.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Yo, yo, get in line. [laughs]

Michael: One of the actors [whom] we are ever so lucky to still have with us, the wonderful Maggie Smith, was the first choice for Professor McGonagall. She – unlike pretty much everyone else – had read the books before being approached for the role and was thoroughly tickled that they asked her for it. As she said, “What people don’t realize is that jobs like these don’t come up very often. This story has caught everyone’s imagination, including grown-ups’, and how often do you get to walk around as a wizard with great clothes?”

Alison: [laughs] That’s real.

Michael: Yeah, and if you read or watch any of her interviews throughout the time in Potter, even now, she seems to just talk about it with the greatest joy. It was basically playtime for her. She is also one of the adults cast who had probably the most say in her costume design. She contributed a lot to McGonagall’s costume, including her hat and her tartan robes. A lot of that was her doing.

Kat: Oh, that amazing hat. Thank you, Dame Maggie. Not “damn” Maggie, as sometimes autocorrect will do.

[Everyone laughs]

Kat: It’s Dame Maggie. Yes.

Michael: It’s that famous joke from the Oscars with Steve Martin with Helen Mirren, “There’s that damn Helen Mirren.”

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Michael: As DoraNympha mentioned in the chat, Zoë Wanamaker also read the books beforehand. Yay, Zoë Wanamaker! As Madam Hooch. Sadly, [she] did not come back for the second film for various reasons, and interestingly, Zoë Wanamaker is one of the few technically Americans who was cast in the films. Zoë Wanamaker was born in the US but she ended up in the UK for most of her life and career, but one of the few Americans who snuck in. Fun little fact that was pointed out in the live show: The other American who snuck in was Chris Columbus’s little daughter, Eleanor Columbus, who was Susan Bones. Probably why they didn’t let her talk.

[Kat and Kristen laugh]

Michael: But hey, lucky her. Luckiest girl alive. Warwick Davis was cast – a well-known guy in Hollywood by this time – in multiple roles. His first scene filmed was actually as the Gringotts goblin, the one that Hagrid approaches first in Gringotts. There is video footage of this. I believe it was released in Behind the Scenes, but Warwick, in an attempt to get Daniel Radcliffe to have a bigger reaction, was told by Columbus to just surprise Radcliffe the first time they filmed it, so he screamed at him in their first take, and Radcliffe just took it like a champ and didn’t even react. He leaned over and was like [screams] “Where is your key?” [back to normal voice] So that was an interesting approach. He also voiced but did not play Griphook in the first film; that was Verne Troyer playing him, but of course, Warwick would go on to actually get to play Griphook in the final films of Harry Potter.

Kat: [as Griphook] “Lamp, please. Key, please.”

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: [as Griphook] “Key, please.”

Michael: Yes, very important lines to dub. Couldn’t have possibly been done by Verne Troyer.

Kristen: [laughs] No.

Kat: No, definitely not. Ugh.

Michael: [laughs] For some reason. And of course, he played Flitwick. Flitwick obviously went through some drastic appearance changes later on.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: But it is still Flitwick, apparently. He just – I guess – drank a de-aging potion or something. I’m not really sure. Another cast member of note: the lovely Julie Walters. Another one [who] had read the books before being cast. Another one who had done that at the insistence of her daughter and was absolutely thrilled to accept the role. Another one who was tickled pink in the same way that Maggie Smith was, and a favorite story of a lot of people is her first day on set. According to the Phelps twins, they were just standing there, waiting to go on, had never met her yet, and all of a sudden, behind them, they heard, [as Mrs. Weasley] “Where are my children?” [back to normal voice] And then she came running up.

Kat: Aww.

Alison: She’s the best.

Michael: And from that moment on, they knew. They knew that they were the Weasley family.

Alison: Aww. I just noticed for the first time, for some reason, watching this one, she’s carrying a full knitting bag, knitting needles sticking out and all, and I was like, “How perfectly Molly Weasley. I love it.” [laughs]

Michael: Well, yeah. If the train’s going to be a while, she has to knit that sweater before they go.

Kat: But they’re always running late, right?

Alison: She’s got a lot.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Yeah. We have a caller, too, Michael.

Michael: Yay.

Kat: Hello.

Caller: Hello. Can you hear me?

Kat: Thank you. We can.

Michael: We can hear you.

Caller: Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. For real, okay. Okay, so I’m DoraNympha.

Kat: Oh, hello.

Michael: Oh, hey, DoraNympha.

Kristen: Hey.

DoraNympha: Yeah, and I was just wondering, because you’re talking about the cast and everything and about the fun in everything… I was ten when I first saw the movie, and I had not read the books beforehand, and so instead I saw the movie, and then I read the existing books, and then – of course – it was books and movies and books and movies. And I was wondering if… Okay, so other people have imagined the characters in their own heads before the movies, but I have the movie cast mostly in my head. So I was wondering how that affected your ideas. I was wondering if you read the books beforehand and then you saw the movies, if that ever affected how you imagined the characters in your head?

Michael: That’s an excellent question. So how about…

Kat: Indeed. Why don’t you go first, Michael?

Michael: Oh, okay, sure. Well, I was one of those who had read the books before seeing the movies. Of course, the big problem for me was that I – for some reason – did not understand anything about British culture and just set the whole thing in the US inside my head.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: But I gathered a little more information before the movie came out, and I really was pretty happy with how a lot of the visuals turned out. Some of the highlights were definitely Hagrid, [who] looked exactly and sounded exactly how I pictured. Dumbledore, McGonagall, Filch. David Bradley was perfect as Filch. He’s the closest to looking and sounding exactly how I thought he would.

Kat: And he is the most exact opposite of his character of anybody ever, for the record.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Michael: That’s what I’ve heard. The one who actually… and I’m one of the rare people who says this; I recognize that. I own that. But Tom Felton was really not the Malfoy I had pictured. The thing that always got me was that Malfoy is described to have a drawl like he’s very bored all the time, and Tom Felton doesn’t do that. His dialogue is very sharp.

Kat: Staccato, yeah.

Michael: Yes, yes, very much so. He cuts off his sentences with clips. And yeah, his version of Malfoy didn’t really do it for me. It does now. He does it as a very traditional movie baddie, which works. It still works for the film. It just wasn’t quite what I’d pictured. But everything else… Visually, the movie was pretty darn stunning. I think the only thing that was missing for me was I actually thought Hogwarts was empty-looking on the inside. Every time they’re just in a random corridor, there’s nothing really there. The grand staircase is not quite that grand, and it’s not marble. [laughs] There were a lot of things that were changed.

Alison: Wow. Picky, picky.

[Kristen laughs]

Michael: Yeah, I was pretty picky about that stuff.

Kat: Yeah, they didn’t dress the hallways at all.

Michael: No, they were pretty bare. You get those scenes, like the moving staircase scene, where everything’s dressed up. That was closer to what I saw.

Kat: Well, for me, I read the films before. I read the films…

Alison: You read the films? [laughs]

Kat: I saw the films. Hey, what if I watched them with closed captioning and the sound off? Okay, Alison?

Michael: There you go. She read the script.

Kat: Just kidding. Yeah.

Alison: [laughs] Okay, okay.

Kat: No, I watched the films before I read the books. So for me, it’s always been the movie characters. However, in the recent years – being able to separate myself from the films – Dan, specifically, I don’t see as Harry anymore. I just see a random amalgamation of Harry Potter characters. As I’ve said on the show before, specifically Harry, definitely in the older years, I see Jamie Parker 1000%. For me, a lot of the other characters are still the film characters or some mix of my imagination and the film characters. None of them are really pure anymore.

Michael: Yeah. How about you, Alison?

Alison: Hmm. I think it depends on the character for me pretty much now. I never really saw Dan as Harry just because I didn’t feel like he captured Book Harry very well, but now I see a younger Jamie Parker, too, because I feel like he captured Book Harry so perfectly. I’ve never really seen Emma as Hermione, but I think that’s just because I connected so much to Hermione that I always saw myself as Hermione in a weird way.

Michael: That’s lovely.

Kat: To be Hermione? Sorry.

Alison: I know. [laughs]

Kat: Not saying you’re not hot, for the record, Alison.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Alison: Thanks. But some of them… I see Maggie Smith as McGonagall still [and] Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid. Alan Rickman is a hard one because he is a perfect Snape, but also, my Book Snape is younger and greasier. [laughs]

Michael: Yeah, a lot of people are saying that in the chat right now. Almost everybody’s agreeing with that.

Alison: Yeah, and he’s nastier in all ways in the book for me. So yeah, [for] some of them, I have a weird combination. Some of them fit the movie characters, like my Dumbledore is pretty much Richard Harris still. But some of them…

Kat: Boo. Sorry. Unpopular opinion.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: It’s okay. Yeah, I have a weird mix now because I was so young when I read them and when I saw the movies that they fused in some ways, and then they didn’t and… I don’t know. That’s my brain.

Kat: Yeah. Alan Rickman is almost a glamorous version of Snape, right? If Snape showered regularly and didn’t have greasy hair, he’d be Alan Rickman.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kristen: A lot of people are saying in the chat that he’s usually more thin and everything like that, but his voice is what makes up for it.

Michael: Kristen, how do you feel about the movie versus the book, casting-wise?

Kristen: I think everything is perfect…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kristen: … except I wish Harris [were] around for all of it. Gambon, I don’t like. That’s the only thing I don’t like.

Kat: Hmm. Well, we’ll get to have that debate this time around, so let’s chapter revisit.

[Alison, Kristen, and Michael laugh]

Michael: Harris versus Gambon. Well, the other thing I want to note – Alison, you reminded me of [this] – is that I remember really not liking Daniel Radcliffe’s performance as a kid because he wasn’t very good.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: And I appreciate it better now. For me, he’s still the worst of the three.

Kat: Even now? Or just then?

Michael: Yeah. Well, no.

Kat: Really?

Michael: In the later films?

Kat: No. As a grown-up, how do you feel? Do you feel he’s matured?

Michael: Yes, I think he’s still the worst. I think he was still the worst. He’s grown into one of the better of the three now.

Kat: Okay, good. I was going to say, there [are] going to be fisticuffs here.

[Alison laughs]

Michael: Oh God, you know I love me some Daniel Radcliffe. [laughs]

Kat: Oh, I know. Oh, we all know you love Daniel Radcliffe.

Michael: No, no, no. I think the interesting thing about them is that it went the opposite way as they grew further into their careers because I feel like Radcliffe just fell into this but seemed to start to take acting really seriously as he was going through the Harry Potter series, and I feel like Rupert and Emma had a little bit more of a falling out with acting as they went on. They’ve expressed that, all three of them, that way. Dan just didn’t quite have the chops yet. It’s hard to find child actors who do, but he definitely was trying – and we’ll get to this in just a bit – but there were some deleted scenes where he really shined. But for me, actually, Emma was my favorite, and I can see now watching it that yes, bless her heart, she’s trying too hard, which Chris Columbus accused her of very gently and told her to please stop mouthing everybody else’s lines during scenes. And she was also in so much wonder and fear that she would mess something up that she kept messing up. [Looking] at the camera a lot apparently, too, was her big issue. But Rupert is one who – I can see now – just falls most naturally into his role. He’s not even trying, almost. It’s pretty effortless for him. But I feel like that definitely switched as the films went on.

Kat: Mhm. I agree.

Michael: I thought Radcliffe got better and finally started looking like Harry in Prisoner of Azkaban. I feel like that’s one of his highlight films.

Alison: It’s the hair.

Michael: It’s that hair!

Kat: It is the hair. You’re not wrong.

Alison: It’s the hair. It looks the way it’s supposed to look.

[Michael laughs]

Kat: Until you get to Movie 4 and just pretend the hair there didn’t happen, and then just skip to [Movie] 5.

Alison: That hair is terrible.

[Michael laughs]

Alison: But [Movie] 5 is bad too. It’s too short. Anyway, never mind.

Kat: Oh, it’s better than [Movie] 4.

Alison: Well, yes. But anyway, that’s a whole other conversation.

Kristen: Hmm. I loved [Movie] 4. Let’s not talk about this. We’re talking about Movie 1.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: That’s true. Movie 1.

Michael: Keep us on track, Kristen.

[Kristen laughs]

Michael: Now, we would be remiss not to discuss at least two more other very important actors who were involved. Really, three, in a way. Ian Hart played Professor Quirrell. He expressed interest due to the quality of Rowling’s work and Snape and Quirrell’s antagonistic relationship. He did eventually end up voicing Voldemort. Richard Bremmer was initially cast and was filmed; he had all the makeup and everything put on him. You can see a photo of it in Page to Screen. But he was later replaced with CGI and with Ian Hart’s vocal performance. Now, Kat, you said you’d heard something a little different about this, right?

Kat: Yeah, basically that they did use parts of his performance, specifically his voice… but if Page to Screen says different, then, well… who knows? Like I joked in the chat, it was probably David Yates giving those interviews because he likes to give conflicting information to different people.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: But I will concede to the Page to Screen version of events.

Michael: And interestingly, Ian was not one of the earliest to audition. That goes to David Thewlis, [whom] we all know as later being cast as Remus Lupin in Prisoner of Azkaban.

Alison: I can’t imagine him as Quirrell.

Michael: I can’t.

Kat: I don’t want to because then he would be gone, and I don’t want him to be gone.

Kristen: True.

Michael: Yes. Well, if you’ve ever seen any of Thewlis’s other works, you can pretty easily imagine it because he almost always plays a bad guy. And interestingly, he almost always gets his head chopped off in movies. That’s a thing. So he probably would’ve loved his death scene in this.

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Michael: But yeah, no, I think it all worked out for the best. Although, I have to say, too, interestingly, if it had been swapped, Ian Hart would’ve actually made not a bad Lupin. But for what it was, he was a pretty great Quirrell too. But one person we have to mention who sadly did not make it into the cut and didn’t even make it into any deleted scenes that we’ve ever seen [is] poor Rik Mayall. He was cast as Peeves, and he was at a lot of table readings. The Phelps twins credit him with helping them to loosen up during table readings because they were so nervous, and he was really nice to them and joked with them. He was cast as Peeves. He filmed one scene where he was shouting dialogue off-screen for Peeves who would later be animated in, but of course, the scene was later cut and didn’t even make it to the animation stage.

Kat: That’s so sad. That sucks.

Alison: Didn’t he do that whole scene with Chris Rankin, though? Where they did the whole Percy and… was that the scene?

Michael: Yeah, it was.

Alison: Okay.

Michael: Peeves’s other big scene is when he gets in their way in the hallway to the third floor, but that scene I don’t think was going to be in there. I think they were just using that first scene to establish Peeves as a presence. But yeah, he got cut, and everybody in the chat is expressing their great displeasure about that.

Kristen: Oh, yes.

[Alison, Kristen, and Michael laugh]

Kat: He has since passed on, so also, RIP.

Michael: Yes, RIP Mayall. I think a lot of the fandom knows that that occurred, and I’m sure… Warner Bros., I know you’re sitting on it, but we would love to see the footage of that, so pretty please. Maybe? No? Okay.

[Alison, Kristen, and Michael laugh]

Michael: Speaking of deleted scenes, and listeners, please…

Alison: Oh, wait, wait, before we get to this…

Michael: Yes?

Alison: Can we talk about how you got to the deleted scenes? Because I still have the original DVD, and it’s still one of both the greatest and most frustrating things you will ever do.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Yes.

Kat: I don’t know. I remember playing it, and I didn’t have a hard time. But I am a Ravenclaw, so…

[Kristen laughs]

Alison: Well, I was a kid too.

Michael: I did because my little remote was just not responding correctly. Yeah, you had to go through the corridor, right?

Alison: Yeah, it was a whole thing. It’s on the second disc of the DVD, and I have it memorized now because I finally just memorized it so I could get to them faster, but you have to go through the whole thing to get to Hogwarts. So you have to go to Diagon Alley and you have to find this key, which is hidden in the Gringotts sign; and you have to go get a wand; and you have to buy supplies; and it’s so frustrating.

Kat: Early Pottermore.

Kristen: Yeah, right?

Alison: Yeah. And you have to click the bricks in the same order Hagrid does, and it’s impossible. It’s so frustrating. [laughs]

Kristen: You know what I had to do? Fast forward my VHS tape and just watch the very end. That’s it.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Wow. That’s hardcore.

Alison: Well, special, special.

Kristen: That’s all you [have to] do to watch the special features on mine.

Alison: Yeah, but then you had to go back, and the first time you go through, you have to go to all the different classes and learn all the different things; and then you can finally find the hidden entrance to the corridor, which is in the little sconce with the fire in the middle of the corridor; and then you can go down the forbidden corridor; and then you have to play the whole game to get through all the challenges; and then you get to the Mirror of Erised; and then you get to the deleted scenes. [laughs]

Michael: Ahh, the early 2000s. It was a different time. Studios were just figuring out, “Oh, look at all the fun things we can do with DVDs,” and Warner Bros. just went a little too crazy with that one. [laughs]

Kristen: Ooh, yeah. It’s a bit much.

Michael: I don’t know if there was really ever a DVD after that that made you do so many things to access the special features.

Alison: No. Nope.

Michael: And that’s definitely not really a thing with Blu-rays anymore. I still have mine. God, because this was still becoming a thing since we were transferring from VHS to DVD, my DVD – this is the worst thing ever – is fullscreen. Ugh. It was just awful. Because they didn’t really denote that you had a separate fullscreen [and] widescreen because people were still used to fullscreen. God forbid you’d be watching widescreen on your 4 x 3 television.

[Alison, Kristen, and Michael laugh]

Michael: You have these giant black bars on your screen. Yeah, it was a different time. And I remember, too, being so excited because the packaging for the first DVD… oh my God, it was so pretty.

Alison: Yeah, it’s so fancy.

Michael: Yes, you unfold it and it’s in the little slip cover, and they kept this even though they changed the packaging by Prisoner, but they put the “Year 1” [and] “Year 2” on the side. Ahh, it was just…

Kat: Yeah, I collect the Ultimate Editions now. Well, I have them all, but I remember when I got them, I was like, “Oh, I don’t need all these Harry Potter DVDs,” and it felt sacrilegious getting rid of that first original Harry Potter DVD, but I did. I sold it. I passed it along.

Alison: Yeah. Oh my gosh. I don’t think I ever will.

Michael: That’s big.

Kat: I did. I don’t need it. What do I need it for?

Michael: Nostalgia.

Alison: I know. I know. I’ve been thinking about that. I’m like, “I should get the Blu-rays,” but I’m also never getting rid of these because I got a lot of them for Christmas or my birthday, and my Prisoner one still has a notecard in it from my sister for my tenth birthday.

Kat: Okay, well, [with] that one, you should keep the card and get rid of the DVD.

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Michael: FeministCat in the chat says, “Only makes sense you have to go through the Mirror of Erised to see the deleted scenes as they are our deepest heart’s desire.”

Kat: Aww. Too true. Too true.

[Alison, Kristen, and Michael laugh]

Michael: But speaking of deleted scenes, there were quite a few. And now, listeners, you don’t have to go through all of that to watch them because Warner Bros. was ever so kind as to put the first and second movies out on disc with the deleted scenes integrated back into the movie. Almost all of those scenes have their effects completed. They seem to have made it through to final test preview audiences but were cut just to trim the film down. Because of course, at the time, Lord of the Rings was coming out the same year, but a lot of movie studios did not anticipate that family audiences would be willing to sit through such a long movie. That wasn’t a thing then. Cut to now. Beauty and the Beast [is] over two hours long. Things have changed.

Alison: Ahh, they should’ve trimmed that a little bit.

Michael: But yeah, that was a different time, so a lot of these scenes got cut mostly for time concerns, and they are as thus Dudley and Harry’s uniforms. That whole little scene was explained and cut as to why Dudley is wearing that weird uniform and why Aunt Petunia is soaking something in a washtub on the sink.

Kristen: Elephant skin. [laughs]

Michael: Yes, thank you for saying that, Kristen, because that is one of the first instances of sassy Harry.

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Kristen: I love it.

Alison: Sassy Harry is the best.

Michael: We get a few bits of sassy Harry from Radcliffe in these deleted scenes. This is also a lead-in to Harry discovering his acceptance letter because Aunt Petunia sends him out into the hallway to get the post, rather than just cutting straight to that scene. The next scene is Aunt Petunia discovering letters in her eggs as she cracks them open.

[Kristen laughs]

Michael: It’s purely a visual gag, but it sure is a great one.

Kat: It’s wonderful. I love it.

Alison: It’s awesome.

Kat: Every morning when I have eggs, I’m like, “Please, please, please!”

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: Doesn’t work out. It never works out.

Michael: Adapted from the books, assuming it’s purely cut for time: Harry and Hagrid on the Tube to Diagon Alley. They’re sitting on the little subway, and the scene purely is there to introduce Hagrid and his desire for owning a dragon. It’s definitely a throwaway moment, but [a] nice little setup there.

Kat: You’re a throwaway moment! Just kidding.

[Kat and Michael laugh]

Michael: It is funny to see him sitting on the Tube. Giant Hagrid taking up the whole space. As a lot of people noted [about] this scene during the live showing – the aftermath of the battle with the troll – Hermione doesn’t say a thing, interestingly, in this scene. She just smiles happily to herself.

Alison: She had already decided they were friends, we just figured out, so it’s fun.

Michael: Yeah, that was funny. Everybody was noting in the movie like, “She’s talking to them like she thinks they’re friends now.”

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: “She’s not their friend yet.” And I love that scene.

Alison: She’s listening in on their conversation.

Michael: I know. I love that part when they’re in the courtyard and they’re talking about Harry being on the Quidditch team. She’s not even near them.

[Kristen laughs]

Alison: She’s just like, “You’re here!”

Michael: [as Hermione] “I know everything about your life.”

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Kat: “Because I’m crazy.”

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Michael: [as Hermione] “You’re my friend.” The nice thing, though, about the troll aftermath bit is that it locks in the friendship, but it probably wasn’t needed. I think we got that sense already. One of the more somber deleted scenes [is] the Christmas breakfast feast. Harry is sitting by himself next to the fireplace in a deep depression after having seen the Mirror of Erised for the first time. It’s very likely supposed to be right in the middle between the two Mirror of Erised moments. I actually really liked this scene.

Alison: I do too.

Kat: It’s beautiful.

Michael: Yeah. I think this one was… [unintelligible]

Alison: Because Ron comes up to him and he’s like, “Harry, do you want to go see Hagrid? Do you want to play chess? What do you want to do?” And Harry is like, “Nothing.” And Ron is like, “All right, listen.”

Kat: This isn’t a knock on Dan, but I’ve always thought that he’s best in the quiet moments.

Michael: No, he is. That’s interesting you say that because that’s something that Heyman and Columbus noted. As they put it, they felt like he got the sense of darkness that Harry needs, the sense of heaviness that Harry carries, and they said that they felt that it was in his eyes.

Kat: Even in later films – and I’ve said that before on other movie watches – I’ve always felt the moments when Dan is silent and Harry is just contemplating something or feeling the weight of his life are Dan’s best moments for sure.

Alison: Yeah.

Michael: [laughs] Except for that Chamber scene where he’s like, “Who am I, Hedwig? What am I?”

[Alison and Kat laugh]

Kat: Well, he talks, so it ruins it.

Michael: [laughs] Hedwig would know.

Alison: Hedwig holds all the answers.

[Alison, Kristen, and Michael laugh]

Kat: To be fair, I talk to my pets all the time, but I don’t say, “Who am I?” I say, “Pass the chocolate.”

[Alison, Kristen, and Michael laugh]

Kat: They never do because they’re greedy little cats.

Michael: One of the more substantial deleted scenes [is] the Leg-Locker Curse scene in the Great Hall, which establishes at first that it’s testing time and Ron is neglecting his studies and Hermione has dived right in. We also get the aftermath of Neville’s confrontation with Malfoy and poor Matthew Lewis hopping around like his legs are stuck together. And [in] the big piece of this scene, Harry discovers who Nicolas Flamel is by noticing the back of the Wizard Card, which I think was one of the things I was most disappointed that they took out as a kid because I felt that was one of the most clever parts of that mystery aspect of the book.

Kat: Mhm. It really makes you pay attention to the first bit of the film.

Michael: Yeah, yeah. It’s almost like that was the big detail, in a way, to me, that taught us how to pay attention to reading the books.

Kat: Yeah, to the little moments. Definitely.

Michael: Yeah, we realized, “Oh God, that little thing that we all read that was obviously there was what solved the whole mystery.” So I felt like taking that out was taking out the heart of Rowling’s mystery setup. So it is nice to see that one. It’s a great substantial scene [that] lasts for a pretty long amount of time. It’s a good scene. But of course, the scene that everybody was bemoaning that they took out was the Potions class scene. If you look at it on the DVD, it starts from the very beginning; they want to lead you into it, so you get the full scene. But the part that’s missing from the movie is after Snape says, “Clearly fame isn’t everything,” and then Harry sasses Snape.

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: It’s a great moment.

Michael: And he says the whole thing about, “I think you should ask Hermione. She might know.” And then Snape sits down and gives Harry all of the answers, just like he does in the book. It’s an excellent deleted scene. Shame it’s gone, but of course we were lucky, as I said, to get the full cut on the newer releases, which a few of you were actually watching during the movie watch. Oopsy-daisy.

[Kristen laughs]

Michael: I want to remind you, listeners, we can take a few more calls as we head into this final segment because we’re going to wrap up here. Please let us know your favorite scenes, deleted or included in this film. You can friend us on Skype, AlohomoraMN, and give us a ring. We’d love to hear what your thoughts are. As we wait for those last few calls, we’ll go into some successes and criticisms and critiques on the film… some reviews that came out after the release. Paul Tatara from CNN said… I’ll start by saying there were some people who did not like this movie.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Maybe we can examine why because Paul Tatara from CNN said, “Columbus and Kloves are so careful to avoid offending anyone by excising a passage from the book, the so-called narrative is more like a jamboree inside Rowling’s head.”

Alison: That doesn’t sound bad at all. That sounds awesome.

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Kat: I’d like to go to a jamboree inside J.K. Rowling’s head.

Alison: Right?

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Elvis Mitchell from The New York Times said, “It is like a theme park that’s a few years past its prime; the rides clatter and groan with metal fatigue every time they take a curve.” He also decried “a lack of imagination” and said, “the Sorting Hat has more personality than anything else in the movie.”

Alison and Kat: Well…

Alison: That’s a little harsh.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: Yeah.

Kristen: False, false, false.

Kat: Lack of imagination… I get it because it is very cookie-cutter. It’s not breaking any grounds by any means, really.

Michael: No, I feel like if you…

Kristen: It broke my mind.

Michael: For those of us who have the advantage maybe of reading the books first and having that additional detail, we kind of filled it in ourselves. Yeah, absolutely, the movie doesn’t… As far as being a fantasy movie, it is hitting pretty much all of the expected tropes. And we’ll get into that a little bit here, but there was…

Alison: Do you think he regrets the theme park comment now?

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Alison: Now that there’s an actual theme park?

Michael: Yes, because he was like, “Dang it, I gave them ideas.”

[Alison laughs]

Kat: I wonder if Elvis Mitchell even works for The New York Times anymore. Let’s [go on] LinkedIn and check.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Kat: Keep going, Michael.

Michael: Everybody’s saying in the chat that their favorite scenes are the Mirror of Erised scenes. Yeah, those were very well-acted scenes. Criticisms were lobbied as well at Williams’s score by both Claudia Puig from USA Today and Kirk Honeycutt from the Hollywood Reporter, who said, “It is a great clanging, banging music box that simply will not shut up.” [laughs]

Alison and Michael: Wow.

Michael: To be fair, Williams does pretty much score every single moment in the movies that he works on. He has said himself that there [are] probably at least 20 minutes of music that didn’t even make it in from pretty much all of his films. I guess that’s just dependent upon how you feel about Williams’s style. But Claudia Puig, despite her criticism of Williams’s score, gave the film three out of four stars, which leads us into some more positive comments with Todd McCarthy from Variety, who said, “The script is faithful, the actors are just right, the sets, costumes, makeup, and effects match and sometimes exceed anything one could imagine.” Jonathan Foreman from The New York Post said, “Remarkably faithful, consistently entertaining, if overlong adaptation.” And Rotten Tomatoes gave it 80% with all of their critic reviews scored together, and their overall consensus was: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone adapts its source material faithfully while condensing the novel’s overstuffed narrative into an involving – and often downright exciting – big-screen magical caper.” And, of course, one of the most well-known reviews – so much so that it got stamped on the back of the Sorcerer’s Stone DVD release – Roger Ebert gave it four out of four stars and called it “The Wizard of Oz of its time.” And I would actually agree with that myself. That’s a pretty big claim to make, and I think it has to share a little bit of that credit with Lord of the Rings. It can’t take all the credit for bringing fantasy back in, but I do think it has that same sense of unabashed wonder. It just wants to wow you pretty much every moment, and it does a pretty darn good job with that.

Kat: Mhm. And just for the record, Elvis Mitchell, it appears, now works at the Chicago Sun-Times.

Michael: There you go.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: I just like that you went and looked that up.

Kat: Of course I looked it up. I want to know; I’m a Ravenclaw.

Alison: Who are you, dude?

Kat: It’s in my nature. I can’t help it.

Michael: I’ve always been struck by that review by Ebert. What do you ladies feel about that and about these reviews?

Kat: Okay, it depends on how he is referring it to The Wizard of Oz of its time. He’s saying that it’s magical because it’s huge? What’s the context?

Michael: I think he’s saying more of the cultural impact.

Kristen: In the chat, Katie says, “Potter is like Oz because you start in the regular Muggle world and then it takes you into another land. Very much like Harry Potter.” So that’s how they’re comparing it to “The Wizard of Oz of its time”.

Michael: There’s definitely a sharp transition. I always got the sense that he was talking about it more as a landmark children’s film, I guess?

Alison: Yeah, or just a film that is starting a new era or groundbreaking things in a way, maybe?

Michael: Yeah, yeah. Well, and that’s the other thing about The Wizard of Oz: It was marred by a lot of technical problems. Listeners, if you ever look into the history of how The Wizard of Oz was made, it’s amazing that it got made for its time. Harry Potter, definitely, while it had the benefit of a lot more updated technology… there were a lot of unknowns going into it, and a lot of people weren’t really sure if the technology was ready to make it. So it is pretty astonishing that they accomplished what they did and in such short time when you think of how quickly they made the movie.

Kat: Where does Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone fall in your order as far as favorite film and best adaptation for you? Well, for me, best adaptation… it’s somewhere in the middle. It flip-flops because I still believe that Deathly Hallows – Part 1 is the most religious; it’s the closest to the book adaptation for me. Deathly Hallows – Part 1 is probably my favorite film as well. Philosopher’s Stone is somewhere toward the bottom because I find it a little safe, and it’s more [that] I love it because it’s nostalgic for me. It’s not necessarily because I’m into the story or because I think it’s a great film or a great adaptation, even though it is a pretty decent adaptation.

Alison: Yeah, I think adaptation-wise it’s up there just because I feel like it was one of the ones that pulled the most from the book in a lot of ways, direct[ly] from the book. I think some of the other ones did a better job of capturing the feeling and not necessarily taking things directly, like lines, from the book, whereas this one I think took a lot more and set up things well. In my list of favorites it’s probably in the middle. It’s my comfort food one…

[Michael laughs]

Alison: … on just those days where I’m just like, “I just need something magical and happy and fun and light and nostalgic.” It’s my go-to one if I’m looking for that. Or if I’m sick or something and then it’s like, “Aww, let’s go here.” Because I think it does a really good job of…

Kat: Helping you fall asleep?

[Michael laughs]

Alison: Well, [laughs] no. Though I did fall asleep for the last half an hour of this one today but I think that’s just because I was tired.

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Alison: Yeah, it’s one of those things where it’s just magical in a nice way. It’s the kid-magical way, not quite as immersive as some of the later ones maybe. But it’s like, “I want to escape, so I’m going to watch this movie.”

Kristen: I’d have to say for adaptation, I agree with Kat because Deathly Hallows – Part 1 is probably my favorite adaptation and my favorite movie overall. So this would be second in adaptation, and it’s probably my third or fourth favorite movie out of the series.

Kat: Hmm. All right, it’s up there.

Michael: This question is so hard for me because I know when we talk about adaptation, we’re basically saying, “How well did it pretty much straight-up copy the book?” But that’s hard for me now because one, I don’t find that important anymore, and two, I feel like there’s just naturally going to be things that you have to change to adapt something well to film because it wouldn’t work if you just flat-out did it the exact same way the book did it.

Kat: No, of course. Of course.

Michael: And so that’s hard because Sorcerer’s Stone is almost word for word, beat for beat…

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: … moment for moment an adaptation of the book. But I tend to agree with what you ladies have said that Hallows – Part 1 is a better overall attempt at an adaptation because it strikes the balance of what a film adaptation needs and what a straight-up adaptation wants to do, where you want to have all the stuff be similar, but you’ve also got to change things in a way that works. And Hallows – Part 1 does that for me. And I own that because people have said that to me before about [in a nasally voice] “Oh, you just like Prisoner because of Lupin.” [back to normal voice] No. #LupinLove, yes. But no, that’s not why it’s my favorite. I think it’s the best filmed out of all of them. I think it’s the one that applies film techniques the best. And that’s why Sorcerer’s and Chamber are very low on my personal scale: because they’re boring as movies. [laughs] If you read Page to Screen, and you watch the special features, you definitely get the sense that Heyman was trying to play it safe because he wasn’t really sure what was going to happen, and Chris Columbus was a choice because he was safe. And in that respect, I can totally get on board with that and – like you were saying, Alison – they are really good, cozy, comfy, nostalgic movies. I think what really wowed me once I understood Prisoner better is that, for the first time in the Potter series, I was seeing that you could take really cool film techniques and still tell the story.

Kristen: But with that many fade-in and fade-outs? Come on.

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Michael: I don’t mind the fade-in and fade-outs, Kristen. I like transitions!

Kat: Whoa, whoa. We are talking about Movie 1 here.

Alison: Wow.

[Everyone laughs]

Michael: And then, I guess… Because yeah, this is something you can examine, listeners, when you do re-watch Sorcerer and Chamber. Just examine the camera and the cinematography; Christopher Columbus is just flipping his camera. He’s doing shot/reverse-shot. He does an establishing shot to show you where you are and then he shot/reverse-shots for all of the conversation, and you just see faces and that’s it. There’s not really that much going on. And his camera is really static too; it doesn’t really move around a lot. Cuarón picked up the camera and moved it, and all of the directors afterward started doing that and really capturing just how large this world was, trying to fill it with more visually interesting things in the background. And that’s not really happening here; Hogwarts doesn’t feel as magical as I want it quite yet here. But it’s a great base. It’s a great start. And I liked it more this time than I have for a while, but that might be because I just haven’t watched it for a long time. [laughs] Maybe it’s also more fun with an audience too. That could be part of it. It’s nice to have people to talk to with Sorcerer’s Stone because you have a lot of thoughts to vent when you’re watching Sorcerer’s Stone

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Michael: … and so many fun facts too. But yeah, Chamber and Sorcerer’s [Stone] kind of sit at the same level. They’re above Goblet and Order for me…

Kat: Cool.

Michael: … because those are the worst films in the series. [laughs] In my opinion.

Alison: Mm…

Michael: Yes, I know, Alison. Half-Blood Prince.

Alison: Half-Blood!

Michael: Your greatest enemy.

Kat: Ooh.

Alison: Ugh!

Kat: Someday we’re just going to have an episode that’s all about every movie, and we can just…

Kristen: Yeah.

Alison: All of the movies.

Kristen: We should plan that. Yeah.

Michael: The movie ranking episode.

Kristen: Yeah, I’d be down for doing that.

Michael: We might have to do that. That sounds like fun.

Kristen: Then we can discuss.

Kat: Compare the crap out of them is what we’ll do.

Kristen: Pros and cons.

Michael: But I do have to give Chris Columbus credit for being so excellent with kids and eliciting the performances he managed to get from them.

Kat: Indeed.

Kristen: Oh, definitely. Props.

Michael: So I’m sure that was not very easy, working in scenes with over 100 children screaming and trying to enjoy the whole set and just knocking things over and not having any idea what to do. [laughs] That was probably very frustrating. And he is commended by the whole cast as being very calm the whole time and never criticizing, and kind of embracing how to work well with children to get good performances out of them. And without him, this series might have easily tanked. I think since Harry Potter, we’ve seen a lot of attempts at children’s adaptations come and go without getting more than one movie.

Alison: From Chris Columbus too.

[Kat and Michael laugh]

Michael: Yeah. Percy Jackson.

Alison: Forgiven for Harry Potter; you are not forgiven for that ever, Chris Columbus. I’m just going to let you know that.

Michael: Yeah, and then we go back to criticism. Thanks for Percy Jackson, Chris Columbus!

[Alison and Michael laugh]

Kat: And on that note…

Michael: Yeah. Great way to wrap up the show.

Kristen: And thank you to everybody who joined the call for us…

[Everyone claps]

Kristen: … and everybody in the chat. It’s been so fun talking to you guys and hearing your opinions about the film as well. We always love to hear that input.

Michael: Yeah, we appreciate you all joining us today because we know a lot of people went to the March for Science. Woo, science! We’re talking about magic, but yay, science!

Alison and Kat: Yay!

Kat: We all support that, for the record.

[Alison laughs]

Alison and Michael: Yes.

Michael: We love science.

Michael: So we know you had things to do, and we appreciate those of you who stuck around with us this Saturday to watch the movie and chit-chat and tell us your ideas, and we really liked hearing your personal anecdotes. That was a lot of fun. So nostalgic. But for those of you who aren’t joining us live, we’re so glad that you were able to listen to the show, and feel free to add your thoughts.

Kat: And just in case you missed this announcement earlier, we are going back to our roots here at Alohomora! as the global reread of the Harry Potter series. And our very next episode, Episode 219, is going to be our first chapter re-visit episode, so be on the lookout for that. It will be released next weekend. So there you go.

Michael: And if you want to be on the show – not specifically that show, because we are already working on guests – but for future chapter re-visits and topics, details for that… Oh, goodness, that’s an old script. Look at that: “Details for our post-Hallows plans.” Yeah, we’re past that now.

[Alison, Kristen, and Michael laugh]

Michael: Details for how to be on the show are over at You’ll actually see the “Topic Submit” page, and you can go suggest topics that you would like us to discuss. Kat, is there a way for them to submit chapters that they think we should touch on? Can they do that on the “Topic Submit”?

Kat: We can add that to the site, sure. Yeah, definitely.

Michael: Yes, that will be a thing. So definitely suggest your topics [and] your chapters because we are all having quite a debate about which chapters we should discuss.

[Alison, Kristen, and Michael laugh]

Kat: That’s true.

Michael: So help us out with your favorites as well; that’ll really help. And also, make sure to check out the “Be on the Show” page to send in your auditions. If you have a set of headphones and a mic – either attached to your computer or a separate mic – you’re all set. We’ll get you all the information for downloading a recording program and getting you all set up to be comfortable and ready to record. There is no fancy equipment needed to join us, as many of you who joined us on Skype discovered today.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Kristen: And don’t forget you can contact us over on Twitter @AlohomoraMN or Facebook at And don’t forget to check out our website at

Alison: And while you’re checking stuff out on the Internet, make sure you check out our Patreon at We want to thank everyone who has sponsored us so far. Yay! [claps]

Kat: Thank you again to Deborah, our sponsor for this episode.

Alison: You’re all amazing.

Kristen: Woo-hoo!

Alison: Yes. I missed that one today. And you can sponsor us for as low as $1/month, and – some of you may already know – you get sneak peeks into things before they happen. Some of you got to see that video Kat and I made before everybody else.

Kat: Yeah, that was pretty dope.

Michael: That was exciting, yeah!

[Kat laughs]

Michael: And I know everybody was talking about the video games. I am doing my best, listeners. I actually filmed the whole thing and recorded it and played for two hours. And then I discovered that it hadn’t been recording because that program didn’t work.

Kristen: Aww.

Michael: So I’m going to try another recording program. But I am so close; I am on the edge of this WePlay. It’s going to happen. It’s totally happening. Just a little more process. So that’ll happen through Patreon as well. But we want to thank you all again for joining us for this live episode. And with that, I’m Michael Harle.

[Show music begins]

Alison: I’m Alison Siggard.

Kristen: I’m Kristen Keys.

Kat: And I’m Kat Miller. Thank you for listening to Episode 218 of Alohomora! Live.

Michael: [as Hermione] “Open the Dumbledore.”

[Show music ends]

Michael: [as Ron] “She needs to sort out her priorities.”

[Show music continues]

Michael: I’m Michael Harle.

Kat: I’m Kat Miller.

Kristen: I’m Kristen Keys.

[prolonged silence]

Kat: And Alison is still on mute!

[Kristen and Michael laugh]

Kat: The perils of a live show. Okay, I guess I’ll read her bit…

Michael: So Maggie Smith, the first choice for Professor McGonagall, she…

Kat: Michael?

Alison: Michael?

Michael: Oh, I’m not here. Can you hear me?

Kat: Uh-oh, we lost Michael. Our narrator is gone. What are we going to do? Let’s freestyle.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Kat: Oh, he’s back. Darn.

Michael: I’m back.

Kat: No chance to freestyle, guys. Sorry, we tried.

[Michael laughs]

Kristen: I was working on my rap audition. [laughs]

Michael: That was funny. I was starting to talk about Maggie Smith and I was like, “Why are you guys still talking about Alan Rickman? That’s fine! It’s Alan Rickman; he’s cool.”

[Kat laughs]

Kristen: We just thought you were still crying.

Michael: I’m still crying.

[Kristen laughs]

Michael: Of course I am. But as I said, which nobody could hear…

[Everyone laughs]