Published November 16, 2010
Saying goodbye to "Harry Potter" is turning into a slow fade-out for the cast and crew that worked on the franchise for a decade.
Shooting wrapped in June on the last two films, yet the work continues. Publicity and premieres for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1," opening this week. Reshoots for some scenes on "Part 2" in December. More publicity when "Part 2," the finale of the eight-film saga, arrives next July.
And, of course, the filmmakers still are busy finishing that final film.
"I'm in that weird in-between stage where it's kind of over but kind of isn't," said Emma Watson, who plays brainy Hermione Granger opposite stalwart Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), the young wizard with a momentous destiny. "I've kind of said goodbye, but not really. Even next summer, when the movie comes out, I feel like there still will be stuff that we have to get together for. ... I feel like it won't really be over, but I'm trying to let go and process it and start trying to move on with my life a bit."
The stars are now in their early 20s but were raw children when they started. Radcliffe had a couple of film and TV credits before he was cast in the title role of 2001's "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," while Grint and Watson had no professional acting experience.
A blockbuster film set essentially became their Hogwarts boarding school, where they learned how to act and forged student-mentor bonds with the series' all-star list of British performers and eclectic roster of directors.
The last day of shooting was a bit like graduation day.
"There was something quite final about it," Grint said. "I was surprised how emotional we all got, even me. We all cried, which I didn't really expect. It's been 10 years, and it all comes down to this, like, weird, random scene. We're all jumping through a fireplace."
David Heyman, a producer on all eight films, said he's approaching the end with a sense of both accomplishment and apprehension.
"I've always known for the last 10 years where my next film's going to be. Now I don't," Heyman said. "It is like a family -- many of us have worked together for 10 years -- all going their separate ways."
David Yates has stuck with "Harry Potter" longer than any of the franchise's three other directors, shooting the fifth and sixth films and the two-parter based on the last of J.K. Rowling's series of fantasy novels.
Yates shares the mixed feelings his colleagues feel about putting "Potter" behind him seven or eight months from now.
"It'll be done, and the responsibility will be lifted," Yates said. "I'm going to be relieved when it's done, but quite sad."
Like executives at distributor Warner Bros., which has made billions off the franchise, producer David Barron wishes there were more "Potter" novels to film.
The budgets and scope of the stories, along with the free rein the studio gave the filmmakers, was unparalleled, Barron said.
"David Heyman and I have said often over the last couple years, `We better savor every moment of this, because we've never had it so good, and we'll never have it so good again,"' said Barron, who has worked on six of the films.
The stars managed to fit in a few other roles around their "Potter" schedules and now are aiming to avoid the typecasting that has shackled actors in some franchises.
Radcliffe is shooting the supernatural thriller "The Woman in Black" and is doing his first musical next spring, a Broadway revival of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying."
He said his main limitation has not been typecasting but figuring out how to squeeze in other work around his day job as the world's most famous wizard.
"It's more the time thing, where people would phone up with fantastic roles or send great scripts, and we'd be going, `Fantastic. Can you wait two years?' And generally speaking, the answer is naturally and understandably, `No, we can't.' ... Absolutely, my time has become a lot more freed up now, which is exciting."
Grint has done several smaller feature films, among them the recent hitman comedy "Wild Target," featuring Emily Blunt and "Deathly Hallows" co-star Bill Nighy.
Watson shot the upcoming Marilyn Monroe drama "My Week With Marilyn," starring Michelle Williams in the title role, and is looking for other parts she can work in around her schedule at Brown University, where she is majoring in modern history.
Tom Felton -- who co-stars as Harry Potter's rival Draco Malfoy, son of villainous Lucius Malfoy -- shot the upcoming horror film "The Apparition" and co-stars in next year's "Planet of the Apes" prequel "Rise of the Apes."
"And fingers crossed, 25 years down the line they'll be remaking these films, and I'll get a little part as Lucius in there, and that'll be the pension fund," Felton joked.
Felton actually said he expects the franchise to stand as such a definitive adaptation of Rowling's fantasy series that no one would ever try remaking the "Harry Potter" films.
"Potter" co-star Jason Isaacs, who plays Lucius, recently related to Felton how he was showing his young children classic films such as "The Wizard of Oz" and "Bambi."
"Jason said, and I couldn't agree more with him, that `Potter's' going to sit on the shelves with those films forever now," Felton said. "Hopefully, they'll be treasured not only as children's films but as great films for everyone to enjoy for centuries to come."