In Search of Harry Potter: Part 2

It’s been a busy week for me! It’s amazing how much you have to try and fit in on your days off! I ended up traveling to LA and got back late Thursday night. I wanted to have this post up earlier, but had to work all day! Without further ado, let’s continue our Harry Potter studio tour! We left off at the edge of the moving staircase and costume department. It was really hard to stay still and not want to rush from set to set. I was so lucky the group I was with seemed just as eager as myself. As soon as we turned the corner, we saw the Gryffindor boys dormitory!

The Boys Dormitory

The room is much smaller than you might think. According to our tour guide, it was built without a thought of the boy actors growing! The set designers and film crew had no idea if Harry Potter would be a success! Everyone was of the same mindset….would the world be interested in seeing a movie about the boy wizard?  The set made for the first film has beds that were smaller than twin sizes. You’ll see the boys dorm room only briefly on the movies following the following films.

There are a lot of details on each of the sets that don’t show up on screen. Ron’s bed had a beautifully presented handmade quilt on it. The furniture all came to the studios new from local stores, but was up to the crew to figure out how to age it. The wood was left out in the sun, beaten up, and at times even lit on fire. The carpet was reportedly the most difficult piece of the dorm set to age. 

I thought the story about the famous fat lady portrait of Gryffindor tower  was a little sad. You may notice that the portrait was changed going into the third movie. Why? The actress that played the original fat lady was not in the best of health. The director wanted someone who might be able to act in all 7 movies. It was not something she wanted to commit too. This is very similar to the story about Richard Harris signing on to play Dumbledore. 

Do you remember what the password was to the Gryffindor Common Room in the first movie? If not, I’ll give you a hint…it begins with the letter “C”. Think about it.

The room of requirement items surround the next large set as does a scale model of the Hungarian Horntail and the Champion’s egg of from the second task in the Goblet of Fire. It’s hard to see the engraving on film, but it’s supposed to have some Mermish map symbols on it. Our tour guide mentioned the tale of Atlantis being a large inspiration behind the artist renderings. We had a pretty nerdy conversation about where Professor Dumbledore may have learned Mermish from. In the Deathly Hallows it’s something Harry considers at his funeral. I personally thought maybe he learned it from Newt Scamander. If there was anyone who may be able to communicate with a magical creature it would be him. Only JK Rowling really knows though. And I’m getting off topic….

The Gryffindor Common Room

The set I was looking forward to seeing the most was the Gryffindor common room. Growing up I always wanted to be an extra on the films. It was really hard to accept that the cast would only comprise of British actors, but it was for the best. As an adult, I can’t imagine the movies any other way. Did you happen to remember the password to the question I asked earlier? Caput Draconis!

Our tour guide didn’t want to take us over to the common room unless we were able to answer the question. Without her hint, I don’t think I would’ve been able to guess it. This set is easily the most popular in the tour. It was filled to the brim with people overly eager to get a selfie. You will notice that people are pretty pushy around here! Don’t be afraid to push back. If you wait, you’ll never be able to see it up close. 

The common room is smaller than I thought, but did not disappoint. I loved the fact that there is a picture of Professor McGonagall on the wall! She is my favorite character in the series and fittingly plays a large role in both the films and the books. Other portraits on the wall are members of the cast and crew who are supposedly “famous Gryffindors”. There is a beautiful replica of the tapestry of the Lady and the Unicorn on the wall. I asked about it’s significance, but was told it was there mostly for the color schemes. 

In the Prisoner of Azkaban and going forward, Ron, Hermione and Harry were each assigned to a specific color scheme for their specific character. Harry was given grey and blue, Hermione pink and purple and Ron brown and orange. It was supposed to help identify each character and was said to work best with their skin tones. This is one reason Hermione’s Yule Ball gown was pink instead of periwinkle. The periwinkle would have been washed out on film. Ron’s color was supposed to clash the most with his hair and really shed light on the worst possible clothes that could be bought because the Weasleys were poorer. 

Another of my favorite stories about the actors was when they were asked to write an essay about their characters during filming f the Prisoner of Azkaban. The essays were to assist Dan, Rupert and Emma with learning more and being able to identify with their characters. The results… Emma wrote pages upon pages about Hermione. She spent countless hours of research on every aspect about her you could imagine. Dan waited until the last minute and turned in a half done essay on wrinkled paper. Rupert was perhaps the best and didn’t bother writing it. Ron wouldn’t have done it so why waste time when he could be doing other things. The actors were casted so perfectly! 

 Next we’ll take a look at Professor Dumbledore’s office! There are just so many pieces of the tour it’s difficult to narrow them down to just a few posts. We have the entire month of October though! Until next time, happy travels!