NEW YORK – Rupert Grint was recognized on a mountain in Switzerland.
Emma Watson received a teddy bear as big as she is from a fan when she turned 12 this year.
And Daniel Radcliffe? When he showed up recently at MTV's Times Square studios for an appearance on Total Request Live, girls stood outside in the cold, dressed in wizard costumes, shrieking his name and hoping to catch a glimpse of him.
Harry Potter — the skinny kid with the glasses and lightning bolt scar on his forehead and the mop of brown hair — a heartthrob?
"Personally, I can't actually see it," said Daniel, who plays the boy wizard. "But if people can, then great."
This is just one of the innumerable ways in which life has changed for the three young stars of the Harry Potter films.
When Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone came out in November 2001, Daniel previously had done a TV version of David Copperfield in his native England, and played Geoffrey Rush's son in The Tailor of Panama. Rupert and Emma, who co-star as Harry's pals Ron and Hermione, had no prior screen experience.
But they got zapped with instant fame: Sorcerer's Stone became the second-biggest film of all time — second only to Titanic — and has grossed $975 million worldwide.
Now with the opening of the second adaptation of J.K. Rowling's book series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, all three actors have learned to function in the front of the public eye as well as the camera lens.
"I get recognized quite a lot," said Rupert, who turned 14 and grew 5 inches this summer. "They just come up, they call me Ron, and it's quite strange. It's hard to get used to but it's quite cool as well."
Emma said she tries not to let the buzz get to her. "Even when you take away all the glamour and attention and premieres and everything, it still comes down to the fact that you're acting," she said.
But fans are in full force in cyberspace, too. DanielRadcliffeRocks.com features photos of the 13-year-old actor smiling at a premiere, and dressed in a wizard's robe as Harry, looking earnest while holding his Quidditch stick.
RupertGrint.org tells you when to look for the actor on The Tonight Show. And The Unofficial Emma Watson Page promises to provide "the newest, latest, up-to-date info on this amazing actress."
All this may sound a tad excessive. But Chris Columbus, who directed both Harry Potter films, said the young stars haven't been affected by the attention — mainly because they haven't had time to be.
"The kids themselves did the premiere last year, they did, like, Leno, Letterman, and then the movie opened on Friday, and three days later they're shooting Chamber of Secrets," Columbus said.
"And going back to England is different. Even though the press there is pretty savage, they've stayed away from the kids," he said. "They'll follow Victoria Beckham (Posh Spice of the Spice Girls) and those people around the streets forever, but for some reason they've left the kids alone."
Columbus said he's seen all three actors improve on camera.
"By the time we started shooting the second movie, there was a whole level of confidence and ease, and the ability to even do some improvisation, which we had never done before," he said.
Daniel agreed: "I certainly felt a lot more confident with Chris. I could say to him if I had an idea or something. I was more comfortable with talking to him about it, whereas on the first one I wouldn't have been able to do that."
Since finishing Chamber of Secrets, the kids have gone back to school in England, which Rupert said was "a bit weird" after having a tutor on the set.
"It took me about three or four days to get settled in," he said. "They treat me normal, which is good."
Emma said that, unlike the brainy character she plays, "I'm not very academic." She prefers sports and art classes.
And Daniel has become a huge film buff during his downtime. "I absolutely love Wes Anderson. I love The Royal Tenenbaums," he said. "I think my favorite film of all time is definitely 12 Angry Men."
All three are coming back for the third film, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, scheduled for release in June 2004. But what happens after that — will they return for No. 4, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire? And what about books five through seven, which Rowling hasn't even finished yet?
"I don't even know if they're going to make a fourth or a fifth or whatever, but it's been a really, really good experience and I've really enjoyed them, so yeah, I suppose," Emma said.
Rupert was gung-ho about returning. "I've always wanted to do this kind of thing and I just really love it," he said. "It's better than I thought it would be."
Daniel said there was plenty of time to decide about subsequent films, because each one takes about a year to make.
(Columbus, by the way, encouraged them to say no to the fourth film. "They have to go on with their lives," said the director, who previously did the Home Alone movies. "If they don't want to come back, they shouldn't. There's nothing worse than a kid who doesn't want to be there.")
The three young stars realize that no matter what they do from now on, they'll be known as the Harry Potter kids — which is fine with Emma.
"I think I could be 100 years old and be in my rocker but I'll always be very, very proud to say that I was in the Harry Potter films," she said.
But Daniel acknowledged the potential peril of being tied to Harry Potter forever.
"I think if I do go on to act, or whatever I do ... I think I'm gonna, like, try and separate myself from that, from the character," he said. "But at the same time, it's not something I will ever be ashamed of, because it's a huge achievement and it's something to be really proud of."