Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix hit US theaters at exactly the stroke of midnight today. While I was not among those who diligently lined up at that hour, I am just as excited, nervous, paranoid, and enthusiastic about the upcoming movie. I have a great movie weekend planned, and OOTP is at the forefront of that. But just as excited as I am about the movie, what I am even more enamored about is the prospect of seeing the Harry Potter Trio once again.
I first heard about them in the local newspaper. When I opened the Entertainment section, I saw a most delightful photograph: Daniel, Rupert, and Emma staring back. I had just begun a love affair with the HP books, courtesy of a former friend of mine. I had the odd but whimsical sensation of seeing Daniel, almost exactly as Mary GrandPre imagined him, as Harry Potter. To me, it was an excellent casting choice, as were the red-mopped Rupert and bushy-haired Emma. Perfect. I had begun another love affair, this time, with the movies.
Seven years came and went, and five movies had been made. The Trio had grown up and gone up, their fame eclipsed only by their friendship. True enough, as they grew up in the public eye, so did the depth of their relationships with each other. It was quite telling to see how close all three were to each other, and how fond they were of each other.
I look at Dan Radcliffe more as Harry than anything else. So it was a bit of pleasant surprise when I began to hear of his exploits outside of Harry Potter – his bit in "Extras", his kiss in "December Boys", and his naked stint on Equus. The last part did not come as a shock to me. Surely, someone who could appreciate the maturity and sensitivity of Cuaron's movies could certainly look on the role of Alan Strang with similar honesty and sincerity. He had grown up, after all, and it was within his rights to move outside of his comfort zone however he wished. Besides, Equus was no simple play; from what I've read about it, it is a fairly complex, emotional, and gratifying piece of work. [chowie - And I would eventually watch it on Broadway on its final day - a very wonderful accomplishment by Dan, indeed.]Another thing that surprised me about Dan was that, despite leaving school, he has been constantly learning. David Heyman has revealed that he takes him to art galleries, and that Daniel reads Balzac. He is quite the pupil. Dan has impressed me when he compared Harry and Voldemort’s relationship as a Holmes-Moriarty type (which is awesome because I am such a Holmes nerd myself), and when he gave the analogy of the OOTP as some sort of French Resistance and he was Henry the V. With such smarts, I have never been prouder of what Dan had done with his career so far. He's been making unexpected but brilliant acting choices and I only wish him the best.
With Emma Watson, meanwhile, I had a bit of a harder time appreciating. Hermione had never been a favorite character of mine, loved though she was by Harry and Ron. And it proved the same with Emma, who seemed to have as much Hermione in her. I think I haven't forgiven her for being brutally honest to Rupert at one point while they were promoting Chamber of Secrets in Japan. (Rupert was, after all, acting like the twelve-year old he was then!) And I don't think I liked seeing how she favored hanging out with Dan more than Rupert. Yes, I have my frequent odd bouts of irrationality, and this is one of them. To be honest, in the case of Emma, I seem to have a harder time distancing her Hermione persona from her real-life self. So whenever I'd see nice pictures of her and Dan dancing together during the Prisoner of Azkaban after-party, I was annoyed. Whenever she and Dan would goof off more behind the scenes, I got annoyed, too. It didn't help that Rupert grew up to be seemingly averse to coziness and affection. I was reading too much into the books that I wanted Emma and Rupert to be together. Unfair really. However, she did grow up to be a fantastically beautiful person. And thankfully like Hermione, she stuck to her academics – an area unfortunately abandoned by both Dan and Rupert. She has my intense admiration for that, because going to University is a wonderful experience and I am glad she remained convinced of her desire to go. I am happy she found a way to bring her schooling and acting together, because I have no desire to see Hermione played by anyone else.
My feelings for Rupert, meanwhile, are different. I feel like hugging him every time I see him. I feel like a very VERY overprotective sister when it comes to him. As I mentioned in an earlier LJ post: “I have always been fond of Rupert. It helped a lot that he played my most loved character in the Harry Potter series – Ron Weasley was my beloved pet and literary figure. Rupert had always been, for me, the standout of the Trio, and I always expected more from him. He is like a baby to me, and I always acted like the big sister when it comes to him, like: why isn’t he getting any screen time? Why is his hair such a bloody mess? Why is he dressed like that? Why did he leave school? Why in bloody hell did he buy an ice cream truck? Why won’t he say anything more? Why is he not in that picture? Why is it always about Dan and effing Emma?!? Anyway, I always wanted him to get the best of things, and I somehow thought he kept getting the short end of the stick.” Indeed, even during the OOTP promo blitz, he got shunted away to do the less-popular shows and movie venues. A shame, really, but it ultimately made him very very accommodating and, more importantly, approachable, to his fans.
I knew that my fondness for Ron Weasley was immense, and I used to think that it was this feeling that cemented my incredible support for Rupert. But it wasn’t until I saw a scene in Chamber of Secrets that turned me into a Rupert fan. When the Trio were in Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom, brewing the polyjuice potion, Rupert was a gussied up 12-year old and it made me realize that he was growing up faster than Dan or Emma were (well, literally of course). The fact that he was some sort of deviant (e.g., leaving school, growing his hair, and refusing to dress up) just made him stand out from the Trio. My good friend once said that his look was the best of the three, because it was so “European” (you may think we're being dense, but we knew what we meant). I agree, and if Rupert would just improve his posture a bit, he could be a fashion model (albeit a short one). But of course he would stick to acting, and he did his part in Driving Lessons, and that movie I was so incredibly proud of. Now that I am sure of the talent underneath the red mop of hair, I am even more determined to root for Rupert, and wish him even more success in his career.
Meanwhile, as the Trio grow up in the limelight, it is wonderful to see how grounded and levelheaded they all seem to be. David Yates shared my observation in an interview, saying that they were levelheaded, normal teenagers. It was quite an accomplishment, for them to have gone through the acting juggernaut and come out with nary a scandal to their name. It was certainly impressive, and one that American young actors should hope to achieve, given the similarly libelous character of the British press.
A few days ago, I was beside myself with joy when I watched them go through the historic cement imprint ceremony in Hollywood. The weird thing was that I was SO NERVOUS AND OVERWHELMED myself! I could not explain it, for I was sitting in front of my computer, all the way on the opposite coast, and yet, I was so emotional at seeing them immortalized that way. As a film lover myself, I understood their awe because the ceremony itself was a huge honor, and a hugely symbolic one indeed. It was certainly nothing to be sneezed at and it will leave a lasting impression on their acting resumes. I think I must have gone through ten or so different online videos of the same ceremony, and smiled widely at each one. This was one of the times when I felt like the protective older sister, that I knew them since they were children, and now that they are being treated like cinema royalty, I was extremely proud of them that time. EXTREMELY PROUD. There are just no words to describe how I felt as I watched them go through the ceremony with all the enthusiasm of star-struck teenagers. It was all immensely gratifying, especially to a long-time Potter fan and Trio fan like me.
And through it all, they remain committed to each other. Their friendship is deeply remarkable and truly obvious, even to the casual Harry non-fan. At photocalls and press interviews, they are quick to group together, sometimes sharing a laugh and stealing looks at each other here and there, like this was all one big inside joke. They easily share their affection and warmth toward each other. (However, I must qualify that because, as I mentioned earlier, Rupert doesn’t seem to be the touchy-feely type – although he and Emma did have those Comme Au Cinema and hug at Grauman’s moments! Cue the R/Hr shipping music!) All of that sincere friendship is captured in pictures of the Trio. And that friendship seems to grow stronger as the years go by, from the forced photoshoots of the Sorcerer’s Stone, to the candidness of Azkaban, to the delightfully mature and sincere warmth of Phoenix. They have grown into each other just as much as they had grown into their movie personas. As a fan of all three, it was just a wonderful trip through the years.
And they certainly do not hold back on their thoughts about each other, something that has strengthened over the years. Rupert has called Emma family, Emma calls Dan and Rupert her brothers, and Dan has repeatedly said much about his friendship with the other two. Emma had a nice take on their relationship in an interview, saying “Daniel and Rupert are the only other people in the world who will ever understand what it is like to have been through what I have been through. I think we have quite a special bond. Even if we hated each other and didn't get on at all, we would always have that. That's important to me, being able to talk to them about it and going through it all with them.” Rupert, meanwhile, provided an interesting view of his friendship with Dan, when a journalist asked why he hasn’t seen Dan in Equus yet. Rupert’s excuse was that he had a hard time getting tickets, but the journalist asked if it was because of the discomfort at seeing Dan naked on stage. Rupert had to agree, and the interesting view of this is that it would definitely be an understandable reaction between two boys with a close friendship. Naturally, Rupert had the greatest respect for Dan for doing the play, and yet he realizes some of the boundaries of a friendship that he respects a lot more. I have no doubt that he's very much in Dan's corner, quietly supporting him despite not being able to experience it firsthand himself.
And so there are two more movies left to play out on the big screen [chowie - Three, now that they've split Deathly Hallows in two.]. When the last one comes, when it is all over, will they be just as emotional as Jennifer Aniston was when Friends ended? It will be interesting to see just how strong their friendship really is. (If you ask me, I’d like Rupert, and maybe Emma, draw character sketches of every single actor, like what they did in LOTR during the end credits. And maybe Dan can use his inner poet to write some sort of ode at the end. That would be a fantastic showcase of creative, but non-acting, talent.) I would like to hope that they continue to be the good friends that they have been. I am certainly looking forward to the coming years and to the future success of these three stars.