20+ Curious Facts About “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” That Made Muggles Fall in Love With the World of Magic

year ago

The first movie about the young wizard, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, turned 20 years old in 2021. It was released on November 16, 2001, and became a symbol of the Christmas holidays for many people. This movie was nominated for 3 Oscars and won many other awards.

At Bright Side, we love the first film of the magical saga and were keen on finding curious facts about how this movie was shot. It’s worth mentioning that moviemakers didn’t suspect that this and the films that followed would be so incredibly successful.

  • British producer David Heyman searched for a children’s book that could be adapted to screen. One of his assistants read J. K. Rowling’s first book and recommended it to their boss.
  • J. K. Rowling sold the rights for the books with the condition that she had the right to get involved in the shooting. Chris Columbus was chosen as the film director.

Daniel Radcliffe and Chris Columbus

  • Rowling demanded to keep the cast strictly British and Irish. However, some exceptions were still made. For example, Zoë Wanamaker (Madam Hooch) was born in New York. As for the 3 main characters, a lot of children auditioned for these roles.
  • Tim Roth was the original choice for the role of Severus Snape, but he turned it down. He chose to appear in Planet of the Apes. Robin Williams dreamed of portraying Hagrid and was even ready to play him for free. But he was turned down, as were many other wonderful actors because he wasn’t British or Irish.
  • Rowling approved Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid), Maggie Smith (Minerva McGonagall), and Alan Rickman (Severus Snape) immediately. So this meant that she was sure they were perfect for these characters.
  • Additionally, Rowling told Alan Rickman some secrets about his character because not all the books had been finished yet, and only she knew how his character would be developed. She didn’t tell him much, but it was enough for Rickman to realize that his character was much more complicated than everyone thought.
  • Liam Aiken and Jamie Bell could have played Harry Potter. Both of them, despite their young age, were already experienced actors, and they were quite charismatic. However, Aiken was turned down by Rowling because he wasn’t British. And Bell also wasn’t chosen for some reason.
  • Daniel Radcliffe came to the auditions thanks to Maggie Smith’s recommendation, whom he had played alongside in David Copperfield. And it just happened: Chris Columbus suddenly saw the boy he wanted for the main character’s role.
  • However, Radcliffe’s parents were not fond of the idea that their son would be filmed again. They were afraid that he’d fall behind in school and didn’t want the media to influence his life. David Heyman and Chris Columbus swore they’d keep young Radcliffe safe from the media.
  • The young actors did their actual homework during all the school scenes in order to make their focus and frustration seem more real. So Daniel’s parents worried in vain.
  • The other 2 main roles were given to Rupert Grint and Emma Watson. Watson was last to audition for the role at her school, was forced to take part in multiple auditions, and even had a phone conversation with Rowling.
  • Tom Felton had tried out for the parts of Harry and Ron before the film director saw Draco Malfoy’s charisma in him. Felton shared that the young actors who hoped to land the role of Harry Potter were asked to audition with the sequence where Hagrid reveals that he’s got a dragon egg. “Chris Columbus had a chicken egg and he purposefully cracked it on the table to see how you’d react.”
  • It’s interesting that Chris Columbus paid attention to each child’s relationship with their family during casting. He chose only child actors from stable families.
  • Most of the scenes were filmed chronologically, the exceptions being the train and the quidditch scenes — the first and last scenes, respectively. And the ending was the very first one. This was done to help the inexperienced actors develop their characters.
  • About 30 of Harry Potter’s welcome letters to Hogwarts were written by hand, the rest were printed or even left empty. They were made from thinner paper so that they could fly easily. It’s also known that 80% of the owls seen in the movie were real. But in the scenes where many owls were in the same room, computer graphic owls were added.
  • The actress who portrayed Aunt Petunia had an unpleasant moment during filming. The crew tied a dead mouse to the front of her apron to get owls’ attention. They stopped looking at the camera and changed their focus to the prey. This was the only way to make them do it.
  • To show how unpleasant the Dursley’s home was, set decorator Stephenie McMillan deliberately chose the ugliest furnishings possible.
  • To film picturesque views of Hogwarts, the art department built a model of the castle. It took the area of a huge room and had thoroughly made courtyards, towers, and turrets, along with real gravel and plants.
  • Floating candles were originally real candles suspended from wires that would be edited out in post-production. However, during the first days of filming, the candles burned through their wires and fell onto the tables. So it was decided to switch to digitally made candles.
  • We got used to the idea that Lord Voldemort would be portrayed by Ralph Fiennes, but in the first movie, he was played by Richard Bremmer (via flashback). In the final scenes, the CGI face of Lord Voldemort was voiced by Ian Hart, the actor who portrayed Professor Quirrell.
  • To make Hagrid look like a giant, 2 different versions of the set were created. A larger set was used to make characters of “regular” size seem small in comparison to the surroundings and a smaller set was used to make Hagrid seem large.
  • The actor who portrayed Argus Filch got really into character. In order to truly connect with the isolated lifestyle of the Hogwarts caretaker, David Bradley spent the month before filming began in a remote cottage, totally alone except for his cat.
  • Some scenes were cut out from the final version of the movie, like, for example, the one with the appearance of Peeves. Recently, the possibility of the extended cut release of the first movie has been discussed. If this happens, viewers will be able to see the removed scenes.

One of the scenes with Peeves that was cut out

Do you like this movie? Do you like to watch it during Christmas time?


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