New Interview with J.K.Rowling on Deathly Hallows Pt.3July 30, 2007
WARNING: DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK AND DO NOT WANT TO BE SPOILED.
Author J.K. Rowling’s long-awaited book “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” sold a record-breaking 15 million copies worldwide in just 24 hours when it finally went on sale at 12:01 a.m. on July 21.
Two weeks earlier, this excitement was nearly matched when “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” — the fifth and latest movie in the franchise – premiered.
While the Harry Potter movies have been one of Hollywood’s most successful and well-loved movie franchises, Jo Rowling was initially reluctant to see her stories come to life on the big screen.
Meredith Vieira: When that first was presented to you, you said no.
J.K. Rowling: Yeah.
Meredith Vieira: You weren’t interested.
J.K. Rowling: Uh-huh (AFFIRM).
Meredith Vieira: What changed your mind and–
J.K. Rowling: Well, the biggest thing by far was that I was looking for an agreement that said they would follow my story even though the rest of the books weren’t written. What I didn’t want to do was sell the rights to the characters and enable them to do sequels that I haven’t written. That was my worst nightmare. So I was quite happy never to have Harry Potter filmed if that– if that– if I couldn’t get that guarantee.
Meredith Vieira: And have you been happy with them?
J.K. Rowling: I’ve been really happy with them. I think that– our nice– I say this with no apology because I– I know that– I’ve yet to meet an American fan who doesn’t feel the same way. I think that to keep it an all British cast, given that they– all the action happens in Britain and all the kids are British was– was great and a real achievement.
Meredith Vieira: But you watch it and you say, “That is the world I’ve envisioned.”
J.K. Rowling: Visually it’s so close it’s almost indistinguishable, particularly Hogwarts. They gave me a lot of input in how things look. So we’re visiting sets the first time and it’s just downright creepy because it was like walking inside my own head to the Great Hall– Diagon Alley (was) very, very close.
Of course, this summer with the premiere of the movie and the launch of book seven timed so closely together, Potter passion peaked.
Emma Watson: I mean, it’s kind of Harry Potter mania. I’ve never seen it quite this big.
Daniel Radcliffe: You know, you get a sense of it at the premieres. Because you see all the fans there. And you think, “These guys really love it.” But equally, you think this stretches way beyond these guys. Because it’s not just a superficial thing. Harry’s a character that’s worked his way into the collective consciousness of millions of people of all ages around the world.
For Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint — who play Harry, Hermione and Ron — their love for Harry Potter existed long before they were cast in the roles.
Daniel Radcliffe: I had read the first two, and after I got the part, I obviously thought well, I must read these, obviously. And– and I did, and just loved them. And, you know, I’m sort of a case in point, really, of somebody who didn’t really read at all, and– and read the Harry Potter books and then have now, from then on, been devouring as much literature as I possibly can– which is, I think, the effect they’ve had on everybody.
Rupert Grint: I was never really a massive reader. And it was something about them that just– I really sort of connected to it. It was just really– really cool … This unique thing about it is that sort of children and adults can sort of enjoy them– my parents read them and sort of everyone sort of loves them.
Emma Watson: I was such a fan of the books before I even auditioned for the role. I think I was up to number three before I even did anything. And my dad used to read them to me and brother before we went to bed every night.
While some film franchises seem to run out of steam after the first movie, each Harry Potter film has been energized by the twists and turns and evolving characters of each book.
Daniel Radcliffe: It is a phenomenon. I think it’s partly to do with the character of Harry … It’s just the most amazing kind of storytelling in that it just drags you in from the first page, you know. It’s one of the things where you just say, “All right. Well, I’ll– I’ll– I’ll read another chapter and then I’ll stop.” And you– you get to the last page of that chapter and think, “I’ll go at– okay, I’ll just read the next one.” So, it’s totally compulsive…
Meredith Vieira: Daniel and Emma and Rupert, who play the three leads, how do you feel about them? I mean, they’re inhabiting your characters.
J.K. Rowling: Yeah, it’s a strange relationship … I feel like a godmother or something. I feel, you know, they’ve all got perfectly good parents. So it’s not true and I couldn’t say I feel really parental. But I– they feel connected to me in a bizarre way because of what they’ve done. They have grown up with these characters that I’ve created and they’ve inhabited these characters. And then we– there’s a personal relationship because I know them now.
And for Daniel, Emma and Rupert, the feeling is mutual.
Daniel Radcliffe: Jo’s always been totally lovely to me and to all of us. She’s really supportive. And– and if you ask for advice, she’ll give it. But she would never, you know, force it on you, because she has a– a lo– a– a great understanding that the films are one thing and that the books are another.
Rupert Grint: She’s really cool. She’s so easy to talk to … the thing that I was sort of surprised about is just how sort of down to earth she is, and just really sort of normal really, and just really cool.
Did this relationship, though, mean that the actors got some inside information? Beware — here comes another spoiler!
Meredith Vieira: Do they know what hap– did they know before this book came out?
J.K. Rowling: They knew certain things. I mean, none of them knew the ending. But– I told all three of them stuff about their own characters.
Meredith Vieira: Did any of them ask, “Are you going to off me?”
J.K. Rowling: Yeah, Dan did, yeah.
Meredith Vieira: Daniel did? And did you tell him?
J.K. Rowling: I took him out to dinner … And at one point during dinner, he leaned in and he said, “Look, I’ve got– I’ve just got to ask you– do I die?” And I thought quick and then I whispered, so no one else could hear, you– you get a death scene. But Dan is very smart. And I’m pretty sure he would have walked away from that dinner thinking, “Yeah, I get a death scene, but what does that mean?”
J.K. Rowling: –he dies. So I hope he’s happy.
Meredith Vieira: Yeah, it is his career after all. (LAUGHTER)
And soon the Harry Potter franchise will come to life in a whole new way at a theme park in Florida owned by our parent company, NBC Universal.
Meredith Vieira: I don’t think you’re going to have to stand in line, do you?
J.K. Rowling: I better not. (LAUGHTER)
Meredith Vieira: –injustice.
J.K. Rowling: No, it’s going to be –- it will be amazing because it will be a place that I can take all three of my children actually. Because they’re planning one ride that’s for younger kids. So I’m looking forward to that. It’s great.
And Jo says that while she may be sad that her part in the Harry Potter journey may be over, the movies and theme park mean that the world of the boy who lived will live on in a very tangible way.
J.K. Rowling: For me it’s wonderful to have these things to look forward to. I’ve got two more movies to look forward and I’ve got a theme park. And it just means that the world hasn’t ended for me. So even though the books are done, I feel like I still have a connection to Harry’s world. And that’s probably eased the ending for me.
Meredith Vieira: So you really don’t want to let go of Harry.
J.K. Rowling: Well, I do and I don’t. It’s just great to think that if I need a Harry Potter fix I can go down and visit the set and annoy them. (LAUGHTER)