Today, at the New York press conference for Warner Bros.' anticipated Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the cast and crew talked about the final chapter in the long-running series based on J.K. Rowling's novels, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which has been divided into two separate films. (If you haven't read the book yet, you might want to turn away as to avoid spoilers before even seeing the sixth film.)
Director David Yates and the cast are about five months into shooting the two halves of the film, scheduled for November 19, 2010 and July 15, 2011, and he mentioned that they would have very different looks even though he's using the same crew. He told ComingSoon.net in an exclusive interview after the press conference that they've shot roughly 85% of Part 1 and 10% of Part 2, the latter due to the availability of the actors.
Earlier, Yates gave an idea about what the feel will be for the two parts of the final movie, which should be very different from Half-Blood Prince or anything that came before. "The first movie is a road movie basically, and it's quite intense and very raw and we're way away from Hogwarts, and it's a bit like three refugees being pursued across the landscape by these terrible Death Eaters. We're really enjoying it actually. It feels very different. What's hard about coming back to 'Half-Blood Prince' is we finished it about a year ago or less. It's weird coming back. The first one is very verité and documentary and edgy and on the road, and the second part is a big opera basically, a great big epic with huge battles and very oddly moving, because it concludes the whole saga really. So they're two very different films."
Producer David Heyman is still remaining deliberately coy about where the split between the two parts will happen, possibly because it still might change. "It's been an interesting process because actually, when we began, all of us didn't want to make two films. Why do it now? It was not something that was told to us that we had to do. It was just an organic process of working on it and Steve working on it. The films really took a fundamental turn when Steve working with Alfonso Cuaron made the decision to tell the story from Harry Potter's point of view, as opposed to translating the books to film. At that point, there were sort of necessary omissions along the way so something that we loved, for example something like SPEW, which is Hermione's interest in the house elves, we love that but it is omitted because it wasn't part of Harry's story. It allowed us to create a cinematic structure for the films rather than literally translating the books"
"The seventh book is a long book," he continued, "but it's a book in which there is almost nothing that isn't related to Harry and almost nothing that you could cut out so Steve working away in the vacuum of his house was struggling in some ways to figure out what to cut out. Together, all of us made the decision—obviously the studio were rather happy with that decision, let's not kid ourselves—but we made the decision to make two films. And Steve called me the other day and said, 'I think we can do three…" Only just joking of course, but actually, I think there's so much material in the seventh book that making two films was the very best thing we could have done to adapt it in the right way. In terms of where we're breaking it, we'd like to hold that back for a bit and actually we made a decision right now but because we're shooting both films as one in a way, we're shooting them together, we'll see what happens ultimately. The film is written in a very specific way and I'm sure that'll be where we end up but I don't want to say now and all of a sudden go 'Hm….'. Is that fair?"
"Absolutely fair," Yates agreed. "We do have an endpoint but we'll kind of figure it out when we start editing I think."
"'I'm so excited about the seventh film," Daniel Radcliffe told the sea of journalists earlier. "I don't know if anybody else had the same experience as me over the last couple of days, but seeing the sixth film again, it does suddenly strike me that we are doing something very, very different with the 7th film."
"It's not very often that in the middle of the filmmaking process, you stop yourself and go 'This is going to be awesome' and I've done that on a number of occasions," Emma Watson confirmed. "We've just done this amazing scene in the forest where we're getting chased by the Snatchers, and I've never done anything like it, nothing even close. I've never really done any serious stunts or any real action, and it's so exciting and just really dynamic. Because all of us are now finished with school and we're all just totally focused on this finale. It's out of Hogwarts, it's just about the three of us. It's going to be… well, I hope it's going to be brilliant and it feels totally different. I feel like I'm on a different film. The other films have this structure: You know, we come into the Great Hall and there's the opening talk and that's just gone, it's gone."
"Deathly Hallows," the book, ends with a flash-forward nineteen years to the young characters in the future, and the creators were asked how they thought they were going to accomplish that and whether it would involve the existing actors or older ones that looked like them. "We're still exploring how we're going to deal with that," Heyman responded, to which Yates added, "It's an absolutely beautiful part of the book and one of the most unique things of this franchise I guess is the fact that you've grown up with these characters. I think it's what makes it special for the audience, so we'll be delivering that at the end of Part 7 Part 2, but we're looking at various options of how we do it. We still haven't quite figured it out yet. Probably not 'Benjamin Button' technology. We did look into that, but we don't think it's the route we're going to take.
"A lot of 'Benjamin Button' was making them younger and we're taking people who are 20 years old and making them look like they're in their late 30s, so that's a different experience," Heyman confirmed. "We may use some of (it) but we're still in an exploratory stage. We're going to do everything we can and it will be Dan, Rupert and Emma in those parts, not some other actors."
Watson also mentioned that her and Rupert Grint have already filmed their big kissing scene two weeks ago. "It was not something we were really looking forward to," said Grint. "It was quite a strenuous day to have to go in and think about doing, but I think it was alright in the end."
"Yeah," Watson agreed. "David doesn't really let us watch playback but he let us watch playback under the circumstance because I think Rupert and I were quite nervous that it might look ingenuous, as we were so desperate to get it over with. I think Rupert and I felt the pressure of this kiss, and (for) the fans, this is like ten years worth of tension, hormones and chemistry and everything in one moment and we had to ace it, so it was like 'Oh God' but hopefully we did it."
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince opens on Wednesday, July 15. We'll have more from Mr. Yates next week, including him telling us about blowing up Hogwarts... and possibly even a good portion of Leavesden Studios in the process!