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10 Curiosities Of ‘Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone’

Harry Potter’s life changes radically on the day he turns eleven and discovers that he is the son of two prominent wizards. That surprising find will lead him to enroll in the prestigious Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he learns everything necessary to be a wizard.

Thus began the first novel in a saga that changed children’s world literature and, incidentally, contributed to the integration of geeks in society. Unsurprisingly, its film adaptation (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, directed by Chris Columbus and quite faithful to the captivating British JK Rowling novel on which it is based) blew up the box office in many countries.

Now that the film is 20 years old , we celebrate it with this list of ten curiosities about the magical tape.

Spielberg was about to be the director
Steven Spielberg came close to becoming the film’s director. “They offered me Harry Potter. I developed it for five or six months with (the screenwriter) Steve Kloves, and then I quit,” the celluloid wizard confessed in an interview with Digital Spy .

“I just felt like I wasn’t ready to make a children’s movie, and my kids thought I was crazy. The books were popular at the time so when I dropped out, I knew this was going to be a phenomenon.”

Looking for the ideal protagonist
The initial idea was to have American actor Haley Joel Osment (known for his starring role in The Sixth Sense) for the title role of the film. However, JK Rowling demanded that the main actors be British and, in addition, the casting team preferred that Harry Potter be incarnated by someone unknown.

Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter.Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter.Cinemania
That led to a massive casting call that ended up being presented by thousands of kids (although the director of the film was captivated from the beginning by Daniel Radcliffe – who by the way he had already seen previously in the BBC miniseries David Copperfield ).

Who follows her gets her
Richard Harris turned down the role of the wise wizard Albus Dumbledore three times . Even so, the actor himself assured in an interview that he ended up saying yes after his granddaughter Ella threatened not to speak to him again if he did not interpret him. The renowned British actor and playwright then promised to participate in all the Harry Potter films but, sadly, died of lymphatic cancer in October 2002.

Occupational hazards
In the JK Rowling books, Harry’s character has green eyes (like his late mother). However, Daniel Radcliffe’s eyes are very blue, so the production team decided to provide him with green contact lenses to do the trick. The problem is that, after shooting a scene with them, the actor had an allergic reaction and had to change the plan.

Emma Watson as Hermione Granger.Emma Watson as Hermione Granger.Cinemania
Also, to make Emma Watson look like the Hermione in the books, the production staff gave her a dental prosthesis. As they saw that the actress did not understand anything with those false teeth, they ended up discarding the idea.

Rotten food
The food used at the banquets in the Great Hall was real. The production team used those foods for three days, which means that the last day it was already melted (due to the heat of the lights) and smelled terrible. “We had to change the meat every other day, and the vegetables, twice a day,” set decorator Stephenie McMillan later noted in an interview.

In subsequent installments, the authentic food pieces were frozen to then create molds of each one, and the flexible copies were then cast into an odorless resin.

JK Rowling drew too!
Stuart Craig, production designer for the Harry Potter films , did a great job on each and every one of them (in fact, he was nominated for an Oscar). In his first meeting with JK Rowling, back in 1999, Craig asked the author about the geography of Hogwarts Castle and its surroundings. She picked up a piece of paper at this point and, in a matter of minutes, drew a complete map of Hogwarts for Craig, who saved it and referred to it in each of the films in the series.

Rupert Grint, ready to do anything to get the role of Ron
Rupert Grint landed the role of Ron Weasley in a somewhat peculiar way. As the actor himself told Rosie O’Donnell in 2001, he saw that a casting was underway and that other children were sending tapes of themselves, so he decided to record himself explaining why he was the perfect candidate for the role.

“I really wanted to be in this movie, so I made this video. First, I dressed as my theater teacher […]. Then I made this rap song about how much I wanted to be in the film.” Grint sent that tape to the people in charge of the casting and, shortly, he heard from the producers, who offered to participate in an audition. Needless to say, things turned out well for him.

An autographed cartoon
During the filming of certain scenes, Rupert Grint sometimes amused himself by scribbling in his book. During the potions lesson sequence in which Professor Snape first appears, the actor drew a rather ugly cartoon of the actor portraying said professor, Alan Rickman.

“While I was drawing it, Alan Rickman was standing right behind me. And I was very scared,” Grint would later comment. But Rickman showed his well-known affability and ended up assuring that he liked drawing. “I made him sign it, and I have it in my possession. I like it very much,” the late actor and film and theater director would later confess.

Various scenes were shot twice
Both the book and the first film in the saga were called Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone everywhere except in the United States, where it was titled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (since the publisher that published it in this country considered that the The word ‘philosopher’ could lead to the misunderstanding that the novel was thought to be about philosophical themes, which had little commercial appeal).

This led to each scene in which the words “philosopher’s stone” were spoken had to be filmed twice (once with the actors saying “philosopher’s stone”, and another with the same actors saying “magic stone”).

Royal owls and magic wands
Eight out of ten homing owls in the film were real (in other scenes, the film crew turned directly to special effects). Gary Gero was in charge of training the three owls that ended up playing the role of Hedwig, the protagonist’s magical companion.

One of them was Gizmo, a snowy owl who died during a photo shoot (after camera flashes scared him and, after flying out the window, he was hit by a truck).

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