Ron Weasley nearly dies after he drinks Professor Slughorn’s poisoned mead, a gift the professor was meant to pass on to Dumbledore, in an assasination attempt gone horribly wrong. Ron had already been poisoned in one sense — “He gets poisoned quite a bit in this film,” Grint laughed — because he ate Romilda Vane’s chocolate cauldrons (also meant for someone else, this time Harry) which were spiked with love potion. Harry rushes his friend off to the potions professor for a quick fix, only Ron goes from a bad predicament to a lethal one in mere moments. “That was a really fun scene,” Grint said.
READ Leaky Cauldron’s Set Report
I visited the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince set in Leavesden in late January of this year; filming had been under way for weeks but the future was unclear: it was the midst of the writer’s strike, and while the studio hadn’t cut off communication with scriptwriter Steven Kloves, they weren’t allowed to talk with him about the Harry Potter films, according to producer David Barron.
Yet the first rumors about splitting Deathly Hallows into two films were around and alive, and while the studio remained mum, the prospect of the division leaked into every conversation. It seemed clear, at the time, that everyone favored the split.
“It’s being discussed almost as much by everyone who’s working here as it is by you guys,” Dan Radcliffe said. “There’s no obvious subplots you can take out. … if anyone’s going to be able to do it, it’s [Steve Kloves]. After the writer’s strike is over.”
Director David Yates said he was too focused on HBP to think much about it, but said that splitting into two films would be, “finally giving the fans a bigger, more enriched experience that covers all the lovely corners that Jo turns.”
There’s a sense of impending end creeping in at the edges, too: almost everyone we interviewed for our upcoming full set report – which includes Dan Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Tom Felton, Bonnie Wright, Matthew Lewis, Evanna Lynch, Jessie Cave, David Barron and David Yates – commented on how soon the Potter filmmaking saga will be complete.
“It’s going to be quite sad,” Rupert Grint said. “It’s been nine years, and I’ve really enjoyed it… I will miss it.”
I’ve been visiting the sets since late 2003, and each year they build on the years past: The Gryffindor Common Room now sports more books and magical-themed games in tiny corners that will never been seen on film; the Burrow (which was new to me this time, but is nonetheless slightly different than it was in Chamber of Secrets) seems to be showing its stuffing like an old armchair, with tiny explosions of Weasleyphernalia everywhere (Bonnie Wright calls it “higgledy-piggledy”). The vast expanse of green screen sits in the area that used to house some of the largest sets, and then had an outgrowth of crystalline rock that we learned was the floor of the cave.
Before that, though, we have Half-Blood Prince coming, and just judging what we were able to see on set means that we’re in for, again, the best of the previously produced Potter films. A display case showed colorful boxes of Weasley prodcucts; a heavy, stone ring with a lightning strike-shaped crack down the middle; the tattered and stained potions book; small, crystalline vials of clear liquid marked as memories…
David Yates once characterized this film as being the most “sex, drugs and rock-and-roll”esque of the previous Potters; he amended this during our visit to “sex, potions and rock and roll.”
Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) agreed with one reporter’s characterization of the movie as the “romantic comedy Harry Potter,” citing specifically some physical humor played by Cormac McLaggen during Slughorn’s party. “They’re both in denial about they’re feelings,” she says of the often-jealous dynamic between her character and Ron.
The romance bug is making its rounds in this film, with Dan speaking of a script direction indicating an “oddly charged” moment between Harry and Ginny when they first see each other in the burrow. Jessie Cave, who plays Lavender Brown, meanwhile, threw herself, literally, into kissing Rupert as Ron. Grint said he was eating a lot of mints in preparation, while –
“I was more concerned about chipping a tooth,” Cave said said.
“She’’s absolutely throwing herself at these lines,” Radcliffe said of the newcomer. “Those lines that she has said as Lavender Brown could, if you did anything less than absolutely commit yourself to them 100 percent, they would be awful.”
Over the course of the day, we the scene of the cave, Dumbledore’s office, the “higgledy-piggledy” (says Bonnie Wright) burrow, and a lot more. We watched Ron as he tremulously walked down the Great Hall right before his first game of Quidditch. We saw Luna’s Christmas tree dress; the tender moments between Harry and Ginny and the actors’ thoughts on them; Draco spending time in the Room of Requirement, sending birds through the Vanishing Cabinet as practice; Lavender nearly chipping a tooth as she kissed Ron; the huge, hairy Fenrir and the dried-out, twisted mutation on zombies that will end up as the Inferi.
If the first trailer is any indication, this is the Harry Potter film that will start to drive the series to its natural, and huge end. By going back, by visiting with the shadow-eyed young Tom Riddle and growing the story down to its roots, we’re heading toward a fuller realization of the scope of the stories. And it’s going to be remarkable.
Stay tuned, because this is just the beginning: As we get closer to the films we’ll have more about our time on sets, and the details of them, to share!
– MTV Blog