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Quint reports in from the Harry Potter press conference! Tidbits on ORDER OF THE PHOENIX and even hints at Book 7!!!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. So, the big reason I’m in London is for HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX. I went out to that set last year and was forbidden to write about it until next week. But the same people, including a certain wild and crazy WB publicist, asked me to come out to London to attend the junket. I don’t accept junket invitations as a general rule. I turn down at least a dozen invites a year. I don’t like the feeling on junket set visits or big pre-release junket blitzes. I won’t do a round table interview… there’s just no appeal for me to sit in with a dozen journalists and ask the same questions, then work on a story that will be exactly the same as everybody else’s. However, I was able to arrange one on one interviews, so add on to that that I’d be seeing the movie about 3 weeks early and that I’m a giant Harry Potter nerd, I accepted the invitation. The free flight and upper-scale hotel didn’t hurt either. So, I currently type this in the press holding room. I’m about an hour away from starting my first of three interviews (David Yates, followed by Rupert Grint and closing with Daniel Radcliffe), but I thought I’d give you guys a bullet-hits version of the info I got at the press conference so far. There were two conferences that ran about 45 minutes each. Conference one had Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe and conference two had David Yates (director), David Heyman (producer) and Michael Goldenberg (screenwriter). I’ve just gathered in the amusing or interesting info below, including some hints at Book 7. Also see some pics I snapped around the hotel where all this was held. They had some props set up, mostly Umbridge stuff. Enjoy!

-Emma Watson was asked about the much publicized late decision to sign up for the last two films. She said it wasn’t anything devious, just that she wanted to make sure she could commit to both Potter films as well as continue her schooling. In the end, WB went out of their way to make sure she can do both, including giving her every Monday off, a tutor on-set and her hours of working are the same as they were when she was having on-set schooling, even though she’s over that age now. - JK Rowling’s husband is possibly the only other person in the world that knows what happens at the end of Book 7. -Someone asked what indulgences the cast has treated themselves to. Rupert Grint had the most entertaining answer, saying he’s just bought himself an Ice Cream truck. An actual working ice cream truck, complete with ice cream. -Another question was about the actors’ feelings of potentially being killed off in the final book. Watson – “I think I’m going to make it.” She couldn’t explain why she has that feeling, but she thinks Hermione’s going to survive. Grint – Said it was the last book, so why not go out with a cool death? He wasn’t opposed to it all. Radcliffe – He said he loved the idea of a conclusive ending, which would in essence mean that he thinks Harry has to die. He said if Harry died, it’d be fitting, but he also laughed and said he didn’t want there to be another publicity incident where he says something like that and the next day there are headlines saying “Daniel Racliffe wants to kill Harry Potter!”

- The Room of Requirement set was “one degree hotter than the sun,” according to Ratcliffe. Under the tile lighting, enclosed set, fire places always having to be set due to the mirrors that cover the wall… all meant a miserable shooting experience. - What do they want to do next? All said they wanted to keep acting. Radcliffe in particular said he wanted to find interesting and challenging work and wanted to experiment with his writing. Watson said she wanted to try some theater and that she loved to sing (which was quickly followed by, “Don’t worry, I’m not launching a music career,” but that something musical on the stage would be a dream for her). Grint came in saying that he wants to continue to act and “if it doesn’t work out I still have the ice cream van, I suppose.” - The filmmakers approached ORDER OF THE PHOENIX as fans and specifically crafted the film so that if you don’t see something you love from the book, if a particular secondary story got the ax, you can assume it’s happening off screen, but in the same place and time as the characters.

-Rowling had a lot of input, especially for a scene featuring a large tapestry illustrating the Black Family Tree, which has 5 generations of family detailed on it. She also influenced the ending, for a sequence that is much more internalized than it was in the book. - When asked about the politics of the movie and how it mirrors current events, Yates said, “It’s nice to have a bit of politics with a small ‘p’.” He said the focus was always on the entertainment and adapting the story, but the political aspect is there. - HALF-BLOOD PRINCE will be released late 2008 and begins filming this September. - Finally, the big tidbit that got all the Harry Potter geeks mumbling in hushed whispers to each other. In the original draft of the screenplay for ORDER OF THE PHOENIX, they had decided to remove a character from the story. Rowling read over the screenplay and said “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” that they were free to do whatever they liked, of course, but “if you make a 7th movie you’ll have tied your hands.” Heyman wouldn’t reveal who that character was and all the Potter nerds (myself included) were debating the point afterwards. Theories included Grawp, Luna and Bellatrix. Luna might be a possibility, but I thought it might be extra tricky of them if they meant James Potter, who we see in a flashback (those that have read the book know what part). Did Heyman mean that the scene was important or the character itself? Hrmmm… That’s it from the press conference. I have my interviews coming up soon and I’m really looking forward to them, especially talking with David Yates about his plans for HALF-BLOOD PRINCE and how his style will change. Look for those interviews to appear over the course of the day.


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