Harry Potter is one of the biggest film franchises of all time, so when it came time to film the adaptation of JK Rowling’s final novel, the filmmakers wanted to go out in a big way, spreading out Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows across two movies rather than one.
The result was the darkest, most dramatic entry in the series, and also one of the most critically and commercially successful. Here are some facts about the final Harry Potter adventure which you might not have known.
30. Both movies were filmed at the same time
Even though Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and 2 were different movies, they were filmed as one giant movie. A scene from Part 1 would be filmed on one day, and a scene from Part 2 would be filmed on the next. This got some of the cast a bit confused, with Helena Bonham Carter saying in an interview that she couldn’t remember which film featured one of her major Bellatrix scenes.
Bonham-Carter definitely remembers the torture scene at Malfoy Manor – apparently she was so concerned that she was going over the line that Bonham-Carter kept asking Emma Watson if she was ok during filming. Apparently the pair gave each other a big hug after the harrowing scene was over!
29. Crabbe actor Jamie Waylett was sacked after being arrested for participating in the 2011 London riots
In most of the films, during the scenes at Hogwarts, Draco Malfoy is never seen without his trusty sidekicks Crabbe and Goyle by his side. However, in Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Crabbe is conspicuously absent. In the books, it is Crabbe who summons the Fiendfyre in the Room of Requirement, but in the film, this is Goyle and Blaise Zabini is present with them.
This is because Jamie Waylett, the actor who played Crabbe throughout every other film in the franchise, was arrested and imprisoned before the release of the film. Waylett was arrested and charged in 2011 for violent participation in the London riots. He was also charged with growing cannabis in his house.
28. Voldemort hugging Draco was improvised
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 features a moment that took many by surprise, when Lord Voldemort embraces Draco Malfoy. This surprised Malfoy actor Tom Felton as well; it was not in the script, and was improvised by Voldemort actor Ralph Fiennes.
Viewers tend to be divided by this improvisation. Some feel that it was fitting and sinister, whilst others felt it was too out of character for Voldemort to show any kind of tenderness. The moment has inspired memes on social media, mocking the moment as an ‘awkward hug.’
27. J.K. Rowling fought for one character to keep her scene
In the book, one of the most bad-ass things to happen is Minerva McGonagall duelling Snape in order to protect Harry and the rest of the Hogwarts students (even though Snape was a double agent and no one had anything to worry about.) Everyone was looking forward to this playing out on screen, but it very nearly didn’t happen.
It was initially planned for Harry to duel Snape in the Great Hall instead of McGonagall, but Rowling herself fought to keep the scene true to the books and to give McGonagall the moment she deserved. Fans of the franchise will definitely agree that we’re glad Rowling stepped in on this one!
26. Cast members were regularly searched for taking props
When filming had finished, many actors were able to keep a prop that was important to their character. As the movies were being filmed, however, cast members were sometimes randomly searched to ensure none of them were taking props home before filming had finished. It was a necessary security measure given that some props were essential to the film, and could not easily be replaced.
Daniel Radcliffe got to take home the glasses Harry wears in the first and seventh movies. Emma Watson took three things – her wand, the Time Turner and a cloak. Meanwhile, Rupert Grint got to take home Dumbledore’s Deluminator. He tried to steal the golden dragon egg from Goblet of Fire but security tracked him down!
25. Ralph Fiennes kept switching up Voldemort’s victory speech
Some of the actors on set had a challenging time filming with Ralph Fiennes during the final movies. One of the most exhilarating scenes for Fiennes proved to be Voldemort’s victory speech at Hogwarts, and one of Fiennes’ fellow cast members has revealed just how many times the actor kept improvising or picking out random characters to address.
When Voldemort believes he has been victorious in killing Harry and is giving his victory speech in Hogwarts’ courtyard, Jason Isaacs has said that, “in this giant confrontation, Ralph was let loose. And he was utterly terrifying.” Fiennes kept everyone on their toes by constantly changing what he said between takes. He could pick on anyone at any moment and it would change every time.
24. Evanna Lynch choreographed her own wedding dance
Evanna Lynch’s Luna Lovegood was always the most eccentric of the young students at Hogwarts. This eccentricity is on full display in The Deathly Hallows Part 1 at Bill and Fleur’s wedding, where we see Luna dancing with her father Xenophilius (Rhys Ifans) in a suitably bizarre manner.
Evanna choreographed these moves herself, with the two flapping their arms and spinning in circles. She looked through the wedding chapter in the book and noticed how it said that Luna was spinning and Harry thought she was batting away Wrackspurts, all of which inspired her own unique take on the dance with her father.
23. London’s Piccadilly Circus was closed for filming
Piccadilly Circus is one of the busiest areas of London, as well as one of the most instantly recognisable. It was quite an ask, then, for the filmmakers to ask that the location be closed off from the public whilst they shot a scene there. Happily they were granted permission, such is the popularity of the Harry Potter franchise.
In order to shoot scenes for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Piccadilly Circus was closed off to the public for the scenes where the trio apparate to London after the wedding. Shopkeepers were asked to keep their lights on to make the scene more realistic, and over 300 extras were hired.
22. One scene was particularly tricky to film
Where Harry retrieves the sword of Godric Gryffindor, he has to dive to the bottom of a frozen pool. It’s a tense and atmospheric moment, so it’s not too surprising that a lot of work went into putting it on film.
Large, thick sheets of Plexiglass with a frosty texture was used to make it look as though the lake was frozen. Wax was then used to float on top of the water when Harry is looking up at the icy surface as the locket pulls him down.
21. Tom Felton’s girlfriend appeared as his wife
The epilogue scene of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 marks the conclusion of the series, and sees the former Hogwarts students as adults, returning to King’s Cross Platform 9¾ to wave off their own children as they go to Hogwarts. Among them is Draco Malfoy with his wife, Astoria, sending off their son Scorpius.
Tom Felton persuaded his then-girlfriend, Jade Gordon, to appear as his wife. Sadly, neither the real nor fictional couple met a happy ending: Felton and Gordon eventually broke up, whilst Astoria meets an untimely death in the Harry Potter universe when she dies from a hereditary blood curse.
20. Jason Isaacs begged J.K. Rowling to write him back into the main story
Jason Isaacs nearly didn’t sign on for the Deathly Hallows movies, because he was too concerned about what would happen to his character, Lucius Malfoy. Fans will remember that at the end of The Order of the Phoenix, Lucius is arrested and imprisoned. As a result, Isaacs was worried that he wouldn’t get much screen time.
Opting to go straight to the top with his concerns, Isaacs met with J.K. Rowling and begged her to write Lucius Malfoy back into the story. The author reassured him that Malfoy would be out of prison before the end of the first chapter of Deathly Hallows. He signed on for the movie version immediately after hearing this.
19. John Hurt reappeared in the franchise after nine years away
John Hurt appeared in the Harry Potter franchise all the way back in the first movie, when Harry first arrives at Ollivander’s to choose his wand. Ollivander then makes an appearance in the Deathly Hallows films, and actor John Hurt was on hand once again to portray the wand salesman on-screen.
This meant that John Hurt returned to the franchise after a whopping nine-year absence from the movies – the longest ever gap between appearances that any Harry Potter actor has made. Sadly, within six years of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, John Hurt would pass away aged 77 in 2017.
18. Emma Watson demanded that changes be made to Hermione’s bedroom set
In Deathly Hallows, viewers get an insight into Hermione’s other life, including a look at her childhood bedroom. But actress Emma Watson wasn’t happy with the initial set and asked for it to be changed in order to fit the character she saw on screen.
When Watson first saw the set, she told set decorators that there needed to be more books – and in the final cut, we see a bookshelf with plenty of reading material for young Hermione to pore over. Watson clearly had plenty of creative control over Hermione by the final films!
17. There’s a hidden reference to Daniel Radcliffe’s appearance in Equus
The cafe scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 features a fun Easter Egg for super-fans of leading man Daniel Radcliffe. Look closely at the wall behind Emma Watson’s Hermione and you’ll notice a bunch of posters. One of these is advertising Equus, the West End play that Radcliffe acted in (alongside Mr Dursley actor Richard Griffiths) in 2007.
If you never spotted this detail, don’t feel too bad: although it was part of the set during the cafe scene when Harry, Hermione and Ron are attacked by Death Eaters, no shots featuring the poster itself are actually visible in the film itself. The poster’s presence was only revealed in behind-the-scenes footage.
16. Daniel Radcliffe’s stunt double suffered a very serious injury during filming
There’s a very sad story lurking behind the scenes of The Deathly Hallows Part 1 which involves none other than Daniel Radcliffe’s stunt double, David Holmes. Holmes was involved in a deadly accident while filming one particular stunt and found himself slammed against a wall after being pulled violently backwards by a wire. The incident left Holmes completely paralysed.
Poor Holmes was only 25 years old when the accident occurred, but he has tried to come to terms with what has happened, stating: “There was definitely a sense of tragedy for me, but also a sense of sheer determination to beat it and better it.” Actors Daniel Radcliffe and Tom Felton both visited Holmes in the rehab centre where he was staying after finding out the severity of his injuries.
15. The props department put a lot of effort into those wands
The prop department went into serious overdrive on the set of the Deathly Hallows films. Over 500 wands were made for the final two films, and each character had their own unique wand design. No two wands were alike – instead the props department based all of their designs on descriptions from the book.
Despite all of this hard work, leading man Daniel Radcliffe had a hard time trying to stop himself from messing around with his particular wand. Rumour has it that the actor ended up breaking 80 wands during filming for the final movies, because he kept using them as a drumsticks in between takes.
14. Harry Melling had to wear special fat prosthetics to film the Deathly Hallows movies
It’s well known that Neville Longbottom actor Matthew Lewis had to wear heavy makeup as the films went on, to disguise what a handsome young man he was growing into. You might not have known that the same was true in a different way of Harry Melling, the actor who played Harry’s bullying, overweight cousin Dudley Dursley.
Melling had been naturally chubby when first cast as Dudley, but as an adolescent he lost a lot of weight, to such an extent that he barely resembled the character he played before. For this reason, Melling had to wear specially made prosthetics in order to once again appear overweight in the Deathly Hallows movies.
13. The scene with seven Harrys took 90 takes to get right
Never let it be said that Daniel Radcliffe didn’t have to work hard in the role of Harry Potter. This was particularly true of the sequence in The Deathly Hallows Part 1, when the wizards and witches come up with a bold scheme to hide Harry: six of them drink polyjuice potion in order to look exactly like Harry.
Capturing this sequence was naturally very complicated and involved computer trickery. It was a particular challenge for Daniel Radcliffe who, on top of portraying Harry, also had to be Hermione, Ron, Fred and George Weasley, Fleur Delacour and Mundungus Fletcher. Reportedly it took a staggering 90 takes before the actor completed work on that single scene.
12. M. Night Shyamalan wanted to direct the movies
Back when the first Harry Potter movie was in development, one of the directors considered for the job was M. Night Shyamalan, who was then red-hot after his 1999 blockbuster The Sixth Sense. Shyamalan had to pass at the time as he was busy on his superhero movie Unbreakable, but he later expressed interest in directing The Deathly Hallows.
However, Shyamalan was turned down as the Potter filmmakers chose to stick with David Yates, who had directed every entry since fifth film The Order of the Phoenix (and subsequently all the Fantastic Beasts movies). This was too bad for Shyamalan, who was in need of a hit by 2011 after such flops as The Happening and The Last Airbender.
11. The Room of Requirement was filled with props from previous movies
The final battle at Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 features a major action sequence in the Room of Requirement, that magical room in the school that only appears those who really need it. This epic showdown sees the room piled high with all sorts of seemingly random stuff, most of which goes up in flames.
This set was pretty easy for the prop department to put together, because it was made entirely out of props from all of the previous Harry Potter movies. 72 containers worth of items were used, and it’s a veritable treasure hunt of Easter Eggs: some of the most recognisable props include the knight that Ron rode on in The Sorcerer’s Stone, as well as the Cornish Pixies that Gilderoy Lockhart lets loose in The Chamber of Secrets.
10. Emma Watson and Helena Bonham-Carter worked together on the Polyjuice potion scenes
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 sees the young wizards sneak into Gringotts bank, with Hermione disguised as the evil Bellatrix Lestrange by means of the trusty polyjuice potion. In order for Helena Bonham-Carter to make her ‘Hermione-as-Bellatrix’ convincing, she worked closely with her younger co-star Emma Watson.
To help, Watson would first acted out the scene at Gringotts as she would play it, so that Bonham-Carter could study her movements and see how Hermione would act in that exact same situation. Then Bonham-Carter herself acted out the same scenes, recreating Watson’s behaviour and mannerisms to the best of her ability.
9. The film contains Julie Walter’s favourite line from the entire franchise
Julie Walters was in the Harry Potter films from the beginning, portraying the matriarch of the Weasley clan, Molly Weasley. For most of these films, Walters was simply called on to be nurturing and maternal, but in The Deathly Hallows we finally see that Molly can also kick some magical butt as good as anyone.
Walters has stated that Molly’s final showdown with Bellatrix Lestrange features her favourite line in the entire series: evoking Sigourney Weaver in Aliens, Molly snaps, “not my daughter, you b***h!” before blasting the evil witch with the curse that kills her. Molly can be forgiven for being in a vengeful mood, given her son Fred had been killed shortly beforehand.
8. That infamous forehead scar ended up being applied a record number of times
Harry’s lightning scar is one of the most iconic things about the Harry Potter universe, both in the films and the books. And it’s safe to say that the make-up department had a lot of practice in applying that scar to people’s foreheads. It’s been estimated that by the end of the last movies, the scar had been applied approximately 5800 times.
The scar appeared on Radcliffe’s head for every scene he was in, plus all of his stunt doubles and stand-ins too. There were also a lot of prop glasses used in the movies. By the time filming officially wrapped, Radcliffe had worn over 160 pairs of fake glasses.
7. Part 2 basically takes place within the space of 24 hours
Some people were surprised when it was announced that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows would be adapted into two films, as the original novel isn’t the longest in the series (that title goes to The Order of the Phoenix). However, watch the two films closely and you might understand why it was felt they needed that divide.
Similar to the early films, Part 1 of The Deathly Hallows is set over the course of almost an entire year. By contrast, the events of the second Deathly Hallows movie, from the dramatic raid on Gringotts, right up to the climactic Battle of Hogwarts, pretty much take place over the course of a single 24 hour period.
6. The props department made special casts of Emma Watson and Rupert Grint’s buttocks
Both volumes of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows feature some pretty intense airborne action, from the first film’s Battle of the Seven Potters to the climactic Battle of Hogwarts. It’s good to know, then, that the props team went the extra mile to ensure two of their most vital young stars were safe and comfortable on their broomsticks.
To ensure the broomsticks were properly fitted, the prop department decided to make casts of Rupert Grint and Emma Watson’s buttocks. They then attached the casts onto the broomsticks that you see in the movie so that the actors had their own custom seats to perch on.
5. Part 2 became the highest-earning film in the Harry Potter series
The Harry Potter franchise had always been a big earner for studio Warner Bros, and the final film proved to be the biggest moneymaker of the bunch. By the end of its box office run, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 had earned a phenomenal $1,342,359,942 worldwide. (This includes earnings from several theatrical re-releases of the film.)
This figure doesn’t only make Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 the biggest Potter movie; it also makes it, as of 2022, the 14th highest earning film of all time. All in all the Harry Potter movies made $7.7 billion at the box office, a figure that goes up higher if you factor in the $1.87 billion earned by the three Fantastic Beasts movies set in the same universe.
4. The Harry Potter franchise has never won a single Academy Award
You might be surprised to learn that, despite their massive success, the Harry Potter movies never won any Oscars. The Deathly Hallows Part 1 landed two nominations, Best Art Direction and Best Visual Effects; Part 2 was also nominated in both those categories, plus Best Makeup. Alas, neither film landed any of them.
Earlier, films in the series received Oscar nominations in the technical categories, whilst John Williams was nominated for his music on the first and third films. The only Harry Potter-related film to actually win an Oscar to date is 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which took home the Academy Award for Best Costume Design.
3. Kate Winslet’s agent rejected the part of Helena Ravenclaw for her
It’s often remarked of the Harry Potter movies that, over the course of the eight films, they seemed to have hired every major British actor you can think of. While this of course isn’t literally true, the series did clock in an impressive rota of big names from the British isles. However, Titanic star Kate Winslet is not one of them.
Winslet was actually approached to play the role of Helena Ravenclaw in the final movies. However, Winslet’s agent rejected the part before the actress even got a chance to see it, explaining that she believed Winslet would not want to “follow suit with every actor in Britain by being a part of Harry Potter.” Instead, Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald agreed to play the role.
2. Rupert Grint gave Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe a trumpet each as a parting gift
As might be expected, the final day of shooting on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was an emotional time for all concerned, particularly the young actors who had grown up together making the films. On the very last day of filming, Ron actor Rupert Grint decided to give his longtime co-stars Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson a parting gift.
The gift in question was, believe it or not, a trumpet. There was no particular reason for this, other than that Grint enjoys spending his well-earned money on rather random items. Famously, the actor also bought an ice cream van with his Potter money, and reportedly drove this to set the last day of filming to share ice creams with everyone.
1. The original rough cut of both films was five and a half hours long
It makes sense that the makers of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows decided to cut the film in two, when you learn just how long the film might have been. The initial rough cut of the film, before they decided to split in two, ran in at a staggering five and a half hours in length; small wonder, given the script had been 500 pages long.
It made sense, then, to split the movie into two – and of course, it didn’t hurt that releasing the film that way earned a lot more money. In the years since, more films based on a book series have split their final film into two volumes, including Twilight: Breaking Dawn and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay.