The Harry Potter film series has left children and adults of all ages spellbound throughout its eight-part run. Having premiered from 2001 to 2011, audiences sat on the edge of their seats watching Harry, Ron, Hermione, and the rest of their friends grow up and face the perils of the dark wizard Lord Voldemort. In this article, we’ll examine some fun and interesting Harry Potter facts, ranging from behind the scenes secrets to deeper meaning behind some of the film’s iconic heroes and villains.
1. Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling share the same birthday. As revealed in the first film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry’s birthday is July 31, which is the same day as series creator J.K. Rowling’s birthday. Rowling was born in 1966 while Potter was born in 1980.
2. Over 300 child actors auditioned for the role of Harry. When production started on the movie in early 2000, Warner Bros. faced the daunting task of finding the right person to play the boy wizard. When legendary director Steven Spielberg was attached to helm the film, he wanted Sixth Sense actor Haley Joel Osment to play Harry. When Spielberg left the project after creative differences with Rowling, Chris Columbus was brought on board to direct the film. After a 7-month search, Daniel Radcliffe was cast in the part.
3. Four different directors have helmed the eight films in the series. Chris Columbus directed Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets, Alfonso Cuarón directed Prisoner of Azkaban, Mike Newell directed Goblet of Fire, and David Yates directed Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, and Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Part 2. All four directors brought their own style of filmmaking to each movie in the series, with Columbus and Cuarón being praised for showing the wonders of childhood discovery and Newell and Yates lauded for successfully adapting the dark atmosphere of the later books in the series.
4. Rowling included parts of her own personality in her characters. Rowling has said in past interviews that she based the character of Hermione Granger after herself as a child. Rowling has even said that her favorite animal is an otter, which is also the form taken on by Hermione’s patronus. Additionally, Professor Dumbledore’s love of sherbet lemon is taken from Rowling’s own appreciation of the sweet.
5. Colors are important in the films. Rowling made it a point to associate red with good and green with evil. This is most clearly seen in the house colors at Hogwarts. Gryffindor, the house which Harry and his friends are part of, is represented with red while Slytherin, which is home to most of the dark wizards in the films, is represented with green. Additionally, in a flashback scene in Sorcerer’s Stone, the curse Voldemort uses to kill Harry’s mother glows green.
6. Peeves the Poltergeist. Peeves the Poltergeist was a major fixture in Rowling’s books. A constant thorn in Harry’s side and the arch nemesis of Hogwarts caretaker Argus Filch, audiences were perturbed when the mischievous ghost didn’t appear in Sorcerer’s Stone. It was recently revealed that Peeves was originally intended to appear in the first film. Played by actor Rik Mayall, Peeves was cut from the film after producers disliked the design of the character.
7. Actors had crushes on fellow cast members. The cast of Harry Potter has been candid when it comes to admitting that they had crushes on their fellow actors. Both Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint, who played Ron in the series, admitted to having a crush on Hermione actress Emma Watson. Watson has also stated in many interviews that she had a crush on Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy.
8. Moaning Myrtle actress was far older than other Hogwarts students. While most of the actors and actresses in the films were of comparable ages to their characters, Moaning Myrtle actress Shirley Henderson was 37 years old when she played the ghostly teenage girl in Chamber of Secrets.
9. Rowling told Snape actor Alan Rickman why Snape hated Harry. Potions Master Severus Snape immediately hated Harry after meeting the young wizard in the first film. Before being revealed in Deathly Hallows, Rowling told Rickman that Snape’s hatred of Harry was a projection of the dislike Snape felt for Harry’s father, James. Snape hated James because he married Lily, the woman he secretly loved when they were teenagers.
10. Rupert Grint’s funny audition. Grint auditioned for the role of Ron at age of 10. Among the skits Grint performed in his audition tape were imitations of his female drama teacher and a rap of why he wanted to play the character. The inventive performances must have impressed casting directors as Grint was later informed that he won the part. Interestingly, among Grint’s competition for the role was Draco actor Tom Felton.
11. Meaning of Sirius Black’s tattoos. One of the most striking performances in the films is Gary Oldman’s take on the mysterious Sirius Black. To make the character look more threatening, filmmakers tattooed the edgy wizard with real symbols used by gangs in Russian prisons. The tattoos mark an individual as someone who is to be respected and feared.
12. Record number of wands. Daniel Radcliffe is reported to have broken 80 wands in filming all eight Harry Potter films. The reason so many wands were broken is because the actor liked to use them as drumsticks.
13. Emma Watson was initially reluctant to audition. Even though Watson is now a household name, the actress was initially hesitant to audition for the role of Hermione. Speaking with Vogue, Watson revealed that her teacher persuaded her to try out for the role in the school gym. After another seven auditions, Watson was informed that she won the part.
14. Hagrid’s dangerous beard. The half-giant Hagrid is a favorite character among Harry Potter fans. Along with his kindly demeanor, the character is instantly recognizable thanks to his iconic beard. Nevertheless, Hagrid’s beard presented a big problem for actor Robbie Coltrane when a fruit bat became stuck in it. Additionally, Coltrane had to have it cut when a part of the beard became entangled with a small fan.
15. The hidden meaning of dementors. Rowling introduced dementors in the third film. The evil, cloaked characters serve as guards of Azkaban, a prison for wizards. As explained by Professor Lupin, dementors sap all the happiness from their victims, leaving them with only their worst memories. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Rowling said that she came up with the concept of dementors as a way to describe her own battle with depression that followed the death of her mother in 1990.
16. Box office magic. All in all, the Harry Potter film series was a massive box office success for Rowling and Warner Bros. studios. In total, the eight films in the series made $7.7 billion worldwide, making it the third highest grossing film series in history. Additionally, five films in the franchise sit among the top 50 highest grossing films of all time.