Madison Palmieri ’22
Although the last Harry Potter book was released 15 years ago, and the last Harry Potter movie 10 years ago, fans’ passion for the beloved series has not diminished in the slightest. While the past decade has brought more Potter content in the form of the spin-off franchise Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Broadway play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, among other additions, passionate fans remain nostalgic for the stories that first introduced them to the magic of the Wizarding World.
To celebrate this passion and nostalgia, members of the cast and crew from the eight Harry Potter films recently reunited in an all-new HBO Max special, Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts.
First announced on Nov. 16, 2021 in commemoration of the 20-year anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on Nov. 14, 2001, the reunion special began streaming on HBO Max on New Year’s Day.
To fans’ delight, many beloved actors returned for the occasion. The “golden trio” of Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) were certainly the most notable appearances. However, “Potterheads” were also excited to see fan-favorites Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Robbie Coltrane (Rubeus Hagrid), Oliver and James Phelps (Fred and George Weasley), Helena Bonham-Carter (Bellatrix LeStrange), and Gary Oldman (Sirius Black) return to the screen.
The special consists of a series of solo and group interviews in which the cast and crew take viewers through each Potter film, reminiscing about their fond memories and sharing fun facts about their time making the movies. Notably, many of the interviews take place on sets from the films, such as the Gryffindor and Slytherin Common Rooms. The special also features never-before-seen footage from auditions, takes, and other on-set moments.
One memorable scene in the reunion comes when crew members from Chamber of Secrets reveal that Richard Gambon, who played Albus Dumbledore, thought that the animatronic used to portray Fawkes the phoenix was real, and they never told him otherwise in order to preserve the magic.
Another interesting revelation was Emma Watson and Tom Felton’s discussion of their relationship. Watson explained how she “fell in love” with Felton in their early days on set, recalling how she’d always look for his number—7—on the call sheet every morning, and if she saw it, she knew “it was going to be an extra exciting day.” Although Felton only saw her as a friend during their time on set, they both expressed that they share a unique bond in the reunion special.
Perhaps the most heart-wrenching part of Return to Hogwarts was the “in memoriam” segment, in which the assembled cast and crew paid tribute to members of the franchise who have passed away in recent years, such as Alan Rickman (Severus Snape) and Helen McCrory (Narcissa Malfoy). Furthermore, in a poignant reflection on his own mortality, Coltrane mused that even though he won’t be around to see how the legacy of Harry Potter lives on in future generations, “Hagrid will.”
This is precisely the magic of Harry Potter, and precisely the message captured in the reunion special: no matter how much time has passed, the Wizarding World’s characters and stories will always be there to welcome fans home.
It is quite fitting, then, that Return to Hogwarts closes with one of the franchise’s most famous quotes: “After all this time?” “Always.”