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26. “Go Set a Watchman” gathers as many pre-orders as “Deathly Hallows”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows set numerous records–fastest selling book, most anticipated novel, and most pre-ordered on Amazon. Harper Lee’s new novel, Go Set a Watchman, seems to be garnering almost as much attention as Deathly Hallows. Amazon didn’t specify the number of books preordered, but HarperCollins has 2 million set for the first run. BBC News reports: 

Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman has become the most pre-ordered title on Amazon since the final Harry Potter book, the online retailer has said.

The novel, which is currently the number one best-seller on Amazon.com, is due to be published on 14 July.

Amazon did not give any figures for pre-orders, but publisher HarperCollins said it had ordered an initial US print run of two million.

Reuters adds:

“Go Set a Watchman,” the much-anticipated second novel by “To Kill a Mockingbird” author Harper Lee, is the most pre-ordered print title on Amazon.com since the last book in the “Harry Potter” series, Amazon said on Thursday.

The online retailer said the novel, to be published on July 14, 55 years after Lee’s classic “To Kill a Mockingbird,” was already the No. 1 best-selling book on the website.

It is the most pre-ordered book on Amazon.comsince J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” in 2007 – the seventh and final novel about the British teenage boy wizard.

Amazon did not provide figures for either book but publisher Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins, said it had ordered an initial U.S. print run of 2 million for “Go Set a Watchman.”

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27. Jacob is a Muggle, and a Muggle actor has been cast as Jacob

Just off a let down that “Kredan” is “no one,” and that it is uncertain whether or not Ezra Miller will be playing in Fantastic Beast, we have real official casting news. Ezra will not being playing the character of Jacob because Dan Fogler has been officially announced for the part.

It was previously speculated that Jacob was a wizard, and was Newt’s arch nemesis. Both reports are untrue. Deadline Hollywood, who broke the news of Fogler’s casting, gave reported more about Jacob’s character:

Warner Bros has set Dan Fogler to join the cast of Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, the David Yates-directed adventure set inJ.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. Fogler joins Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Ezra Miller and Alison Sudol in the cast. He’ll play the role of Jacob, a non-magical person whom Newt (Redmayne) befriends while on his adventure in New York. Rowling wrote the script and the Harry Potter gang of David Heyman, Rowling, Steve Kloves and Lionel Wigram are producing. Warners’ Courtenay Valenti is shepherding.

Deadline Hollywood still reports that Ezra Miller is apart of the Fantastic Beast cast. There may be hope yet: Ezra may still be playing a role for the films, but not as a character named “Kredan.” Dan Fogler verified Deadline Hollywood’s report with his own tweets:

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28. Who’s Kredan?

J.K. Rowling responded to that very question today on twitter: Who is Kredan? Her answer: no one.

Apparently IMDB, Variety, even Harry Potter wiki, and the rumor mill not only got the name wrong, the actor cast in the role (Ezra Miller), but the role itself. Perhaps the character of Kredan is only misnamed…or maybe the character, or role, itself doesn’t exist at all. After all, Ms. Rowling’s tweet was a little vague in this regard.

There are very few known characters in the series. So far the movie will only star four people–Newt, Tina, Queenie, and Jacob. Sounds like a rather sparse and short story to tell for a trilogy. We do know that Newt meets witches and wizards from the American Hogwarts, but who these fellow characters are remains a mystery.

What do we know? Ezra Miller returns to being considered uninvolved in the “Fantastic Beast” series.

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29. The Queenie has been Cast, Ezra Miller to play “Kredan”

Newt Scamander has been cast, his wife, Tina, has been cast, and now Tina’s younger sister, Queenie, has been cast. Alison Sudol has been set to play Queenie, who has been described as “a bombshell” of a character.

Knowing very little of the character of Fantastic Beasts, and even less about the production of the movie, official news of casting has become a rare gem of information for the fans. As our knowledge of the film series has been mostly based on rumor and speculation, even small official reports hold much significance. Ezra Miller who was rumored to be in the running to play Jacob, a character speculated to be Newt’s “enemy,” may no longer be a front runner for the part, but may be cast in another roll. Variety reports:

Sudol was among a group of girls who recently tested for the part along with Katherine Waterston, who has been tapped for the role of Tina. Warner Bros. has also met with Josh Gad and John Krasinski for the character of Jacob. The studio is expected to make a decision in the next few days on who will round out the cast.

Sudol, who’s repped by Don Buchwald & Associates and Atlas Artists, is known for her musical career as a singer-songwriter with the band A Fine Frenzy. She has devoted more time to her acting career over the past year, most recently appearing in the USA drama series “Dig” and Amazon show “Transparent.”

The actor cast as the character of Jacob is to be determined soon. It looks like Josh Gad (who will play La Fou in Beauty and the Beast with Emma Watson) is an official candidate for the part, rather than rumored Ezra Miller (who played in The Perks of Being a Wallflower with Emma Watson).

However, according to IMDB, Ezra Miller has been cast as a character named Kredan. No other sources have been sited. We are not sure whether or not Kredan is for or against Newt, though he joins the number of witches and wizards Newt will bump into in New York.

As the premiere of the first Fantastic Beasts is set for November 18, 2016, we hope that Warner Bros. or J.K. Rowling will be offering more information on other characters, plot, and setting before long. Fantastic Beasts film adaptations were first announced September 12, 2013.

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30. Remembering the Fire– Marking 15 Years Since the “Goblet of Fire” Release

There had never been anything like it before, for a book.  The New York Times called it a “frenzy.BBC said we’d gone “Potty for Potter.”  By the end of the weekend, The New York Times reported that stores had sold out and publishers were rushing additional printings.

It was the release of the fourth Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Just days before its publication, adults were complaining about the length of Goblet of Fire.  Gail Collins of The New York Times, called its 752 pages, “Moby Dick on a Broom.”

The first three Harry novels taught kids the joys of reading. The new one may teach them the important adult skill of carrying around large and trendy volumes of literature so you can say “I just started it” whenever the topic comes up in conversation.

Oh, really?  Fifteen years later, we know that it actually proved that children can read any length of book, as long as it is good.  (Thank you, J.K. Rowling, for breaking the children’s book length ceiling.)  Ms. Collins also bemoans the sale of the Harry Potter book rights to the film creators, which happened at about the same time… and we all know how that turned out!

While the Goblet of Fire release was the first time most of us had to wait for a particular day to come to get a book, one little girl in Virginia didn’t have to wait.  We reported here at Leaky that Laura Cantwell of Fairfax, Virginia got a mistakenly released copy one week early.  It’s hard to blame the bookstore, though.  The idea of keeping a book hidden away until an “official” publication date was outrageous at the time.

Finally, July 8, 2000 came.  The anticipation had been building for months.  For the first time in history, stores in the UK and the USA held midnight release parties and released the books simultaneously.  J.K. Rowling did a promotional tour for the book aboard the Hogwarts Express.  Sales the first weekend were so successful that most of the 3.8 million books in Scholastic’s first printing were already gone.   The New York Times reported that reprinting started just two days later.

According to BBC News, even Rowling was shocked by the pandemonium surrounding Goblet of Fire‘s release.

“I wrote the book for me, this is all a bit of a shock and I’m amazed – think of a stronger word and double it,” she said.

Little did we know what amazing things were still yet to come.

To read what the press had to say about Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in 2000, see Gail Collins’ editorial here, the BBC News report here, and The New York Times articles here and here.

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31. Bonnie Wright’s extensive interview with “Suitcase”

Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley) has developed a career behind the camera, as much as she’s done work in front of the camera, since growing up within the realms of Harry Potter. Recently settled in New York City, she talked at great length with Suitcase magazine about her passions for acting, writing, and directing.

Growing up on the set of Harry Potter (beginning at age ten in Philosopher’s Stone, finishing the series ten years later at the age of 20), helped sparked Bonnie’s imagination and interest in film–all parts, infront and behind the camera. She has since moved on from Ginny, and carved her own path independent of the series. She has attended film school to get a three-year degree, and is gaining experience through her creation and adaptations of short films, hoping to write and direct a full-length featured film soon. Like her Harry Potter co-star, Evanna Lynch, Bonnie has worked a lot within the independent film industry. Suitcase reports:

Bonnie describes her consistent effort “to set that self-discipline” – making sure that each day reflects a proper day’s work. Currently in the process of writing her first feature film (she has already written and directed a short film) Bonnie’s new, self-appointed gig is a whole different ballgame from learning lines in a trailer. She is keen to emphasise the dedication and self-regulation required to create her own work.

That said, her decade spent in the Harry Potter franchise has not been a bad education. Working with some of the greatest British talent, including world-famous actors, directors and producers, has afforded Bonnie a solid understanding of what goes into creating a great film.

“Because I started acting at such a young age,” she explains, “I had no idea where the journey was going to take me. As a curious kid, on all the Harry Potter films, I became interested in filmmaking in its entirety.”

In the evolution of her craft, Bonnie hasn’t limited herself to one side of the camera. When I ask her which part of the world of cinema she prefers, she explains how intertwined acting and directing really are.

“Often, I’ll be writing and the idea of walking onto a film set in front of the camera throws me. And then sometimes the other way around, when I’ve been acting I’ll be like ‘Oh God, I don’t want to go back to my desk to write!’ But they inform each other so much. It is a collaborative medium and the boundaries between jobs often cross. Especially when you’re an actor and you’re working so much with the director. For me, that’s the funnest thing about being an actress: working with the director and working with their vision.”

She goes on to emphasise the importance of synergy when creating a successful film. “If you’re not a team player in the film industry it becomes very hard to share your message – and what’s the point of sabotaging your own work? It’s interesting to see the methods of different people, in the same way that it’s fascinating to watch another actor and see how they run a scene.”

“Anyone can write 10 pages,” she says jokingly. “Writing a huge script that has so much to do with plot, specific screenwriting techniques and devices is a whole new world to me. Even at film school all the work we did was short-form. We obviously studied feature film, but we never got to make one over the course of a three-year degree, so this has been really interesting.”

With this on the table, she goes on to discuss the culture of self-promotion that’s so ubiquitous in the United States – certainly not a quality that the average self-deprecating Brit possesses.

“When you’re having to speak up for your own work, you have to sell yourself in a way. Especially when every project is a new project, you’re having to find collaborators, you’re having to pitch your project all the time.”

She helped promote the Global Citizen Festival in Washington DC back in April this year and she continues to work with Oxfam, an organisation that is dear to her heart.

“I first went on a trip with them to Senegal when they were doing a whole push about the food crisis in West Africa,” she recalls. “They decided they wanted to push the story before it got to a level that would be a hundred times more expensive to save. So I travelled with them and through that trip they asked me to come on board long-term as an ambassador.”

What’s the craziest, most exciting thing that’s happened as a result of Harry Potter stardom?

“I got to meet Destiny’s Child when they were still together and dance on stage with them. That was pretty fun.”

To read more of this extensive interview, and learn more about Bonnie’s charity work and filmmaking, visit Suitcase.

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32. Evanna Lynch talks new film, Harry Potter, and the new additions to the Potter Universe.

Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) recently visited Galway, in her home country of Ireland, for the premiere of her new film My Name is Emily. In this new film, Evanna plays a sixteen year old who loses her mother. Not coping well with grief, her father takes off, and Emily (Evanna) takes a road trip with a friend to get him back. While Evanna discussed this new post-Potter project, she also talked much of her Harry Potter days when she played Luna Lovegood, as well as her thoughts on Fantastic Beasts and Cursed Child. As a fan of the series, like the rest of us, she is glad that J.K. Rowling is expanding the Harry Potter Universe. Evanna said that she is not ready to let go of her love for the series, and she’s glad that Jo isn’t either. UTV Ireland reports:

Though she is happy to free herself from the shackles of Potter, she sees it now as a good learning ground and a way she can capture the attention of directors of future projects.

“People still call me Luna,” she laughs. “I wouldn’t be where I am without it. I was very shy when I was young and I think it’s really hard to be shy as an actor, because you have to be quite aggressive and get out there. You have to want to meet people and for them to see you. It’s only opened doors for me. It’s up to me if I want to change it or challenge it.”

But fame isn’t why she’s in it. She auditioned for Luna because she felt like she was her, in a way, rather than to build a career as an actor.

“I didn’t get nervous the way I sometimes do now, because I was 14 and I absolutely loved the films and books. I didn’t think of the pressure and what people expected of it; I was just enjoying it so much. Sometimes I look back and I’m glad I was so naïve! But I’m grateful that I had that.”

She’s a Potter fan at heart, though, and says she’s very excited about the upcoming London play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

“I just love that [J.K. Rowling] is constantly feeding us more. I don’t think any of us are willing to move on from those stories that we grew up with. I don’t think she wants to move on either. I love that she’s always reinventing it or finding new ways into it.”

Lynch is keen to be involved [in Fantastic Beasts] and says she has asked Warner Bros if she can play “some creature so you can’t see my face, but I’m there”.

“I’m fascinated by that world and to see what the wizards are like with American accents. I’d love to be [in it] but I think I have my place in the universe,” she declares.

Since Potter, Lynch has appeared in the television series Sinbad, comedy GBF, crime thriller Dynamite: A Cautionary Tale, and toured in a production playing the wife and assistant of Houdini.

Evanna talks more of her post-Potter films, My Name is Emily, a BBC drama in which she plays Lenny Henry’s Irish girlfriend, and expresses her love to be in Artemis Fowl. To read more of this extensive interview and Evanna’s comments, please visit UTV Ireland.

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33. Daniel Radcliffe as Igor in “Victor Frankenstein”

Not much has been seen or heard about Daniel Radcliffe in the new film adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The film, Victor Frankenstein, will be told from Igor’s (Daniel Radcliffe) perspective. Other than a series of release date changes, we’ve had but a few pictures of the film appear. The most recent picture, from last week, shows Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy wet, and in a battle stance, against a fiery setting. Previous pictures (from April) show the pair sitting, nonchalantly,  in front of a pile of limbs and flesh.

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From Empire Online.

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From Entertainment Weekly.

Entertainment Weekly recently sat down with Daniel Radcliffe, reporting:

‘The way James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe talk about Victor Frankenstein, it sounds less like an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel and more of an amalgamation of every version since then.

 

“It’s about creation, and Victor is not only creating this monster but in a sense Igor, who in the beginning of the movie is living in abject conditions and considered less than human,” Radcliffe says.

A combustible friendship forms.

“Victor’s ego means that at times he thinks he’s superior to Igor,” McAvoy says. “Their relationship is close, loving, abusive, manipulative, and it turns on a dime.”’

Christian Daily reported earlier interviews:

‘“There is some debate now about which is the version we’re going to use,” Radcliffe said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “It won’t be up to me, because it’s not actually my name for the whole film … so I’ll leave that as a tantalizing clue.”

The former ‘Harry Potter’ star’s character had not been introduced in the novel but made its debut in the 1931 film ‘Frankenstein’ and has become a stock character from then on.

Helmed by Paul McGuigan and written by Max Landis (‘Chronicles’), this upcoming film will not only highlight Igor’s experiences as an assistant to Dr. Frankenstein but also as one of his experiments.

“It’s about creation, and Victor is not only creating this monster but in a sense Igor, who in the beginning of the movie is living in abject conditions and considered less than human,” Radcliffe explained.’

The movie has been slated for October 2, though the date has been moved several time. We may hear more about it from Comic-Con this weekend. Daniel Radcliffe is slated for the 3:15-3:30 slot to speak on the panel/podcast.

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34. Please join “Light Up Jo’s Birthday” Fundraising for Lumos

This year J.K. Rowling will celebrate her 50th birthday. To help celebrate this achievement, Always J.K. Rowling is hosting their fourth annual “Light Up Jo’s Birthday” fundraiser for Jo’s charity, Lumos. This year, they want the celebration and honoring of Jo’s birthday to be even bigger and better than in years past (she only turns 50 once in a lifetime). In the last four years, “Light Up  Jo’s Birthday” has raised more than 7,500 pounds for Lumos. This year, if the draw of giving back to the community isn’t enough, Always J.K. Rowling is offering prizes to encourage participation. Prizes include:

-A signed copy of The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling

– A limited edition, illustrated copy of A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin, signed by the author and the illustrator, Ted Nasmith

– A rare dust jacket from an unsold version of A Feast for Crows by George RR Martin, signed by the author

– A one night stay in The Georgian House Hotel‘s ‘Wizard Chambers’ in London

– A copy of The Casual Vacancy on DVD, signed by the cast and crew

– A limited edition Marauder’s Map print by MinaLima

– A signed photo of Chris Rankin

– A pair of tickets to Potted Potter

– A pair of tickets to the Muggle Tours Walking Tour of London

– A Harry Potter t-shirt from Qwertee

– A surprise book bundle, including signed copies

Donations will be taken throughout the month of July, leading up to J.K. Rowling’s (and Harry Potter’s) birthday. You can enter to win prizes without donating, though donations are strongly encouraged. There is no residential or age limitation on the prizes. More information about how to donate and how to enter the prize draw can be found on the “Light Up Jo’s Birthday” donation page. Please share this news on social media to encourage more to help donate.

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35. Rhys Ifans visits School he is Patron Of, Hosts Q&A

Rhys Ifans plays many ostensibly “quirky” characters, and is best known to us as Xenophilius Lovegood. Like many other Harry Potter actors, Rhys Ifans works to be apart of the community of which he is from, and give back in anyway he possibly can. Originally from northern Wales, Ifans has become patron of a school near where he grew up.Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn in Denbigh, the school that Ifans is patron of, is the regional center for autism education. Of its importance to him, Ifans said thatYsgol Plas Brondyffryn feels like “home.” On a recent visit to Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn, Ifans hosted a Q&A about his acting career, and spoke to The Daily Post about his work there. The Daily Post reports:

The Ruthin-born actor was treated to an impromptu performance of the song from Oliver! by youngsters at Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn, the regional centre for autism education in North Wales of which he is a patron.

Ifans, who has appeared in blockbusters such as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and The Amazing Spiderman, responded with applause and said: “That was great guys. When are we going on tour?”

He spoke of his rise to fame and the pros and cons of life in the spotlight during a question and answer session which followed.

“They (the staff) very kindly invited me to be patron. I thought it was just a great opportunity.

“I have many friends with children who suffer with varying degrees of autism, so I am familiar with the condition.

“My friend’s kids who are autistic, I am so very, very fond of them. They’re just such amazing kids on every level.

“Given that there was an establishment like this doing such great work on my doorstep, it made sense to get involved as much as I can.

“For all my success, being able to give up my time and energy to support this beats any award you can ever be given.”

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36. 9th Harry Potter POP! Vinyl Figure Unveiled!

It looks like another Harry Potter Funko POP! figure is on the horizon! The 9th figure announced is that of Harry holding the Sword of Gryffindor. This will be the third Harry Potter figure in the collection; there were previously two others announced–Harry in his Hogwarts uniform, holding a wand, and a special Quidditch Harry, which is exclusive to Hot Topic pre-release. It has been clarified that the Quidditch Harry will be available to all after the initial release.

Snitchseeker.com reports:

Accordingly, the Quidditch Harry Potter figure is said to be a pre-release exclusive for Hot Topic, while the set with Gryffindor’s sword is indeed the company’s actual exclusive piece.

You can preorder the Harry Potter Pop! Vinyls here. They will be available for purchase later this month.

Thank-you to our friends at Snitchseeker.com for posting about this!

 

 

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37. J.K. Rowling doesn’t change Twitter Header just for kicks…

We all noticed that J.K. Rowling changed her Twitter header recently. When asked by a follower to explain her previous header “woman,” Jo replied that it was a collection of scrap paper from her desk, typical tea cup, and gum wrappers sprawled onto her bathroom floor and photographed.

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Why the bathroom floor? Because her office is too full of clues. Well, most of us thought (rather naively) that her change in Twitter header was just cool; that maybe she just did it for kicks. Oh, no. Does J.K. Rowling ever do anything for kicks that doesn’t involve being incredibly clever? Almost every Harry Potter fan will remember the immense fun that was involved in finding secrets hidden in the folds of her website pre-2012 (when it was a virtual representation of her messy desk, much like her Twitter header). As Hypable noticed, it appears that J.K. Rowling fashioned her new Twitter header to be very similar to her old website. It is once again “stuff” from around her office, probably put on her bathroom floor to be photographed, but, in addition to notebooks cut into the shape of her initials, this “stuff” appears to hold clues to her recent projects.Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 10.48.35 PM

Under the initial “R,” lies part of what appears to be the Fantastic Beast screenplay. Jacob, rumored to be a character who functions as Newt’s arch nemesis, is mentioned in what appears to be a gruesome scene.

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There is mention of something taking a “life out” of something else, and possibly robbing(?) “his blood” before something or someone “vanished.” Somebody is injured (Newt? Jacob) by something (a fantastic beast? a person? Newt has been hurt by Jacob? or Jacob has been hurt?).

Next to the “R” in the upper right hand corner, appears to be a draft of J.K. Rowling’s acceptance speech from when she was awarded the very first Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award. Compare the transcript here.

 

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Lying on top of the speech is ordinary print outs of articles and encyclopedia/wikipedia entries from the internet on “limb prosthetics,” with “Introduction and Definitions.” As Cormoran Strike is a well known for his limp and bothersome prosthetic leg, we can only assume that Jo had been helping her friend Robert with is next mystery novel.

Under the “K” appears to be old bits of paper that carried rough drafted ideas for the Sorting Hat song, with notes in the margins about “ready minded” people belonging to Ravenclaw.

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But what is under the “J” other than a list of page numbers? It is hard to make out what Rowling is writing about in her famous half-print half-cursive longhand notes. Any guesses? Do you suppose the notebooks (or books) that her initials are carved out of hold any other significance?

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38. Jessie Cave Publishes Her Cartoons in New Book

Jessie Cave,  who plays Lavender Brown in the Harry Potter films, has been keeping busy.  In an extensive interview with The Independent, Cave talks about her new book, her upcoming acting projects, and her relationship with Alfie Brown.

The book, Love Sick, is a collection of Cave’s “doodles” that she posts online each day.  These cartoons are little pictures of dating and relationships that she started during a down time in her career.

“I’m very adolescent about dating,” says Cave. “I felt like this was a way of getting out those feelings of rejection and unrequited love.” At her loneliest ebb, she would text herself, just to vent her heartache. “Then I started a fake Twitter account. This sounds really neurotic! No one followed it so I was literally just sending these messages in a bottle out into the sea…”

Things are looking up for Cave now.  She runs a website that includes her cartoon “doodles” at Pindippy.com.  Cave has a baby with boyfriend Alfie Brown, and her career is flourishing.  According to the interview with The Independent, in addition to her recent work on Great Expectations, Cave has joined the cast of British television series, Trollied, and is preparing for a stand-up show in Edinburgh.  Cave has more books in the works, and she would someday like to make a British adult animated show like Daria, but she hasn’t forgotten her days as Lavender Brown.

“If I hadn’t got Harry Potter, I don’t know how things would have turned out… but I feel like I’m now in the right place.”

To read more about Jessie Cave and her experiences, see the full account of the interview here.

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39. Lumos announce NUI Galway research partnership

Lumos took to Twitter to talk about their newest partnership with the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway,  a world-renowned research university in Ireland.

The Lumos article detailing the expectations and goals of the partnership reports:

‘Research by the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at the National University of Ireland Galway, with Lumos, will aim to increase global understanding of why so many children are separated from families and placed in orphanages in different regions of the world, evaluate methods of deinstitutionalisation, and investigate the best ways to support families to stay together.
The UNESCO Chair Professor Pat Dolan, NUI Galway, will work with UNESCO Chair Professor Mark Brennan at Pennsylvania State University in the US on the Lumos project.
Professor Dolan said: “The prospect of completing usable real-world research that helps to end the institutionalisation of children and youth globally, will be particularly fitting not only for UNESCO, and our research centre in NUI Galway, but for Ireland as a country given its sad and horrific past track record in relation to children in large orphanages.”  ‘
This expanded prospect for real-world application of new and important studies into orphanages and families will allow Lumos to continue to develop, and with their title as winners of the Charity Award of International Aid and Development, we don’t doubt that they will achieve even more amazing things with this newest partnership!

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Read more on the partnership here.

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40. Emma Watson wins ‘Observer’ Ethical Award 2015

Emma Watson’s passionate leading of the United Nations HeForShe campaign for gender equality has won her not only a place on the Time 100 list of Most Influential People, but also led to her being named Observer Campaigner of the Year, under the 2015 Ethical Awards.

The awards have been running for around ten years, and are based around celebrations of environmental and social justice. Emma has been named among many others as an avid advocator of equality. Not only has she proven her dedication to this cause in the HeForShe campaign, but has repeatedly shown her passion for equality and making a difference. Alice Fisher at the Guardian writes:

‘HeforShe may be her most high-profile campaign, but it’s not Watson’s first. Alongside the acting career she started at 11 and her studies at Oxford and Brown University in the US, Watson is a long-standing advocate of schooling for girls. She’s been an ambassador for Camfed International, which fights to educate girls in rural Africa, since 2012. Most recently, on behalf of the UN she’s been in Uruguay campaigning for women’s political participation (currently only 13% of Uruguay’s parliament are women, whereas the world average is 28%).

UN Women executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka thinks Watson is a strong voice for young people worldwide. “Her commitment to the issues that we work on at UN Women multiplies our ability to reach and engage more young people – who are key to advancing gender equality.” She’s absolutely right, but somehow that misses the unique quality Watson brings to all her work: a quiet determination to succeed and an enquiring mind coupled with the ability to be enthusiastic, open and vulnerable. When explaining a campaign message to the public, that’s a combination that’s better than magic.’

Among a diverse array of advocators of a more equal and ‘green’ world, Emma’s newest title shows that she is growing to be – as Mlambo-Ngcuka and Fisher note – a strong, determined, enthusiastic voice for thousands of people and women worldwide. Her work on the HeForShe campaign is more than worthy of this award.

Join us in congratulating Emma on her latest achievement!

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41. Director John Tiffany Talks about New Harry Potter Play

In an exclusive interview with Scotland Now, director John Tiffany talks about his early acquaintance with J.K. Rowling and his decision to work on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.  Tiffany is the former assistant director of the National Theatre of Scotland and has worked on several productions.

I first met Jo years ago when we didn’t know who each other was. I had just started at the Traverse in Edinburgh, and now and again I would see a woman with a pram writing in longhand in the cafe. She’d write in Nicholson’s, The Elephant House and the Traverse cafe.

We knew each other to nod at. I’d be having meetings with writers and actors and I’d see her. Eventually we’d say hello to each other and a year later – bam!.

Rowling was writing her novels, and now, 20 years later, Tiffany will be directing her play. Apparently, it was a decision that he weighed heavily.  With Scotland Now, Tiffany says:

It was my three nephews and my colleague Vicki Featherstone’s two kids who said to me, ‘You have to do this’ when I first spoke to them about it.

They were instrumental. Those stories sparked something amazing in them that will never leave them. Particularly the reading of the books. People get very emotional when they talk about Jo and her books, because a lot of kids learned to read, or think they learned to read, because of Harry Potter.

While John Tiffany says that he read the Harry Potter books as an adult, he knows that they have had a profound effect on a generation.  He also remembers that they were some of the first children’s books that adults had no shame in reading in public.

In the interview, Tiffany also talks about his hopes for the play’s eventual world tour.

To learn more from John Tiffany, see here.

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42. J.K. Rowling Tweets Updates on Gold Dagger Award

J.K. Rowling has announced (via Twitter) that Robert Galbraith’s The Silkworm has been shortlisted for the The Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger Award. J.K. Rowling also previously tweeted that the second Cormoran Strike novel had been nominated for the Gold Dagger Award, just a couple weeks ago. It appears that poor Robert has mislaid his twitter password. According to the The Crime Writers’ Association’s twitter, the winners of the Gold Dagger (among others) awards will be presented on September 29, at a special event. We expect both J.K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith to be in attendance at the special event. These tweets can be seen below.

 

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43. Bottoms Up to Daniel Radcliffe!

This week has been an important one for Harry Potter star, Daniel Radcliffe.  Within days of his invitation to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Radcliffe has signed on to a new film project and received another unique honor.

Swiss Army Man, also set to star Paul Dano and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, will be directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert.  According to The Hollywood Reporter, work on the surrealist film will begin in July.

The film centers around a hopeless man stranded in the wilderness who befriends a dead body with which he begins a journey to get home.

The directors’ past work includes music videos and short films.

In addition, Daniel Radcliffe has won the male Rear of the Year Award for 2015.  International Business Times reports that the voting is done entirely online through Rear of the Year Ltd, with over 10,000 votes for the best backside registered this year.

Past male winners have covered a vast spectrum of people including Michael Barrymore, dancer Vincent Simone, John Barrowman, Ricky Whittle and Graham Norton.

Fifty Shades of Grey star, Jamie Dornan, ranked second this year, while Eddie Redmayne ranked fifth.

See here to read more about Swiss Army Man, and here for more on this year’s Rear of the Year Award winners.

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44. Emma Watson to star alongside Tom Hanks in ‘The Circle’

Emma Watson is to take a leading role alongside Tom hanks in a film adaptation of Dave Egger’s book The Circle. The satirical New York Times bestselling novel, about the removal of personal privacy at the hands of a large tech corporation,was Egger’s first fictional work. Time reports:

‘The novel follows a young woman named Mae (Watson) who lands a job at a massive tech company called The Circle (think: the power of Google, the influence of Facebook and the machinations of Hooli). It takes a dark turn when Mae meets a mysterious older man (Hanks) and begins to reckon with the deterioration of privacy in a world full of surveillance technology and linked with social media networks.’

According to Variety, director James Ponsoldt said of Watson:

“Emma Watson is one of my favorite actors, and her incredible talent, sensitivity and deep intelligence will bring an electric energy to The Circle…

Tom Hanks will also be producing the film alongside Gary Goetzman, and will start shooting in September.

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45. J.K. Rowling confirms ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’

An exciting announcement has been made by J.K. Rowling via Twitter, confirming the opening of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,  a play set to open in London’s West End at the Palace Theatre next year. This announcement was made on the 18th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone.

The tweets confirm that the play will not be a prequel, and will be ‘a real treat for fans’ as a new story that was made exclusively for the stage. The writer, Jack Thorne, and director, John Tiffany (Tony award writer of Once) and J.K. Rowling herself will collaborate to produce the play, the content of which the Daily Mail previously reported on:

‘The Cursed Child delves into what happened to Harry’s parents — Lily Evans Potter and James Potter — before they were killed by Lord Voldemort, forcing an infant Harry to be raised in miserable circumstances by his mother’s sister, Petunia, her horrid husband Vernon and their spoiled son Dudley.’

J.K. Rowling’s official Facebook page reported:

‘Produced by Sonia Friedman Productions, Colin Callender’s Playground Entertainment and Harry Potter Theatrical Productions, tickets for ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ will go on public sale this autumn, details of which will be announced summer 2015 and will be shared on the official website, in late July.’

To keep updated on ticket information, you can subscribe to an emailing list on the play’s official website, www.harrypottertheplaylondon.com.

More news to come! See Rowling’s tweets below:

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46. Leaky Cauldron Restaurant Needs Your Vote

The Leaky Cauldron at Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley needs your vote to be ranked Best Amusement Park Restaurant.  USA Today has nominated 20 restaurants from theme parks across the United States and is asking readers to select their favorite to create a ranked list.  As of this morning, the Leaky Cauldron is ranked #2.

Harry Potter fans will love tasty British fare, such as fish and chips, cottage pie and bangers and mash at this pub located in Diagon Alley. The Leaky Cauldron was carefully-crafted to ensure authenticity after years of studying Harry Potter books and movies as well as typical British pubs. Of course, Butterbeer — the popular wizarding beverage — is available for purchase.

Several of our Leaky Cauldron staff have good things to say about the restaurant.  Emma Pocock says, “The Leaky Cauldron has a great atmosphere, and really adds to the ‘English village’ vibe they’ve got going in this section of the park – the food is great, too! It really feels like you’re walking into the real thing, but the weather’s probably hotter.”

Alysha McLeod writes, “Stepping into The Leaky Cauldron is like being whisked into Harry’s world by a portkey. The atmosphere is incredible, and the food is wonderful. It’s a nice change of pace from most theme park food–everything is so comforting and homemade-tasting. The Yorkshire pudding and minted peas were a particular highlight for me.

Finally, Catherine writes, “When eating at the Leaky Cauldron, I found myself expecting to see Harry, Ron and Hermione, sitting at a table in the corner, huddled away with their glasses of Butterbeer. The extraordinary attention to detail makes one feel as if they have actually stepped into the world of Harry Potter; with every glance around the room I found something new. The family atmosphere, excellent witches and wizard on the wait staff, and good English food made the Leaky Cauldron exactly how I imagined it would be. One of the best parts of my visit to Diagon Alley was enjoying a Butterbeer at the Leaky Cauldron (and hugging the cracked Cauldron, of course). On my last night in Diagon Alley, as the park was closing, I specifically bought a Butterbeer from the near-empty Leaky Cauldron restaurant, and sat on the window sill, watching muggles and magical folk trickle back though the brick wall, while the music and the lights remained alive. It was a truly magical experience, and The Leaky Cauldron deserve to be voted America’s #1 Theme Park Restaurant.”

Each person can vote once daily until July 7 to support the Leaky Cauldron restaurant.  Thanks Robert Martinez Jr. and Marianella Zapata Noriega for letting us know that our shared namesake has made this list!

See here to cast your vote.

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47. Happy Birthday Matt Lewis and Dobby!

Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom) celebrates his 26th birthday today! Yes, it is today. According to Twitter, Matt said he had been getting many great birthday wishes from the Harry Potter clan and “Emma Watson and Co.” With this remark, J.k. Rowling rushed to giver her wishes…all to which Matt said thank you, but they were all a day to early. Please join us in wishing Matt a happy birthday, on his actual birthday :).

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The Harry Potter universe also honors Dobby, our favorite brave and loyal house elf today. It too is Dobby’s birthday. We are not quite sure how old Dobby would be, but we take this time to remember him and the many times he tried to save Harry (bludgers, brick walls…and of course a rescue from Bellatrix). Pottermore is asking for fans’ favorite Dobby Quotes in celebration of this wonderful house elf. Please join us in wishing Dobby a Happy Birthday.

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48. Alan Rickman talks his career, new movie in New Interviews

A Little Chaos was released limitedly in the U.S. yesterday. In two new interviews, Alan Rickman (Severus Snape) talks about his new film, his career, and what he is up to next. In the recent interview with Buzz Feed, Rickman talked of “strong brilliant women” (specifically Kate Winslet and J.K. Rowling) and revealed how little he knew of what was going on in the world of Potter today: Fantastist Beasts, what’s that? BuzzFeed reports:

“You directed and acted in the film. What were some of the obstacles you faced juggling both jobs?

I wasn’t acting in it too much. So that was the first clever decision I made. I’m not in it too much, so I don’t need to worry about it overly. I think when you’re making a film, especially when a lot of it is outdoors and you’re in England, you’re staring at the sky a lot. And then you’re staring at your watch a lot. And then there are a lot of other people looking in their wallets a lot. So it’s the usual thing. They are the obstacles, and they’re the ones you need to jump over all the time.
Was there a time in your career when you had a major setback? What pushed you through?
You could ask any actor about their early days, and I think you know — if you decide you’re going to do it, and then you train and you’ve committed — you know there are going to be long periods out of work. And I wasn’t different than anybody else. I know there are some lucky young actors now, they get made a star in a minute, and you worry a little for the moment when that gets snatched away. It’s a different world now. I don’t remember it now, but I’m sure the difficult moments made me stronger, or at least that’s what I’ve trained myself to think.

How has your relationship with Kate Winslet changed, and grown, since you filmed Sense and Sensibility together 20 years ago?

She’s still the same great human being, but there’s a lot of life history with her now, and three children. She was 19 — you can write the story really: There’s a 19-year-old girl and here’s a 40-year-old woman with three children and all sorts of dear-diary entries. I am the beneficiary of having a thinking, feeling, strong-minded, brilliant woman on the set. All of those things were true then, but she was 19 years old.

We are very excited about J.K. Rowling’s new movieThe Fantastic Beasts–

See, I didn’t even know what it was called!

What do you think she’ll bring to the table as a screenwriter?

Is she going to write the screenplay? I didn’t know that. Talk about smart, strong-minded, brilliant women — there’s another one, and she’ll make damn sure it’s worth waiting for.”

To read more, and about which wig Alan Rickman preferred (Louis XVI or Snape’s?) click here.
In an interview with Oregon Live, Rickman discussed how he chooses the projects he will take on as an actor/director…or rather, how the projects choose him (similar to the experience of buying his wand at Mr. Ollivander’s). Rickman discussed his different experiences of working in CGI movies and classic theater, as well as what he is working on next. Oregon Live reports:
“How did you get involved in a movie about the construction of a garden at Versailles?

How indeed? I should probably need to be arrested for saying yes to a project like that were it not for the fact that at its heart it’s a love story and a subtle one and a slow-burning one that needed the right context for it to live properly. That’s what I recognized on the page. Then it became kind of a compulsion to do it, really, because less and less time is being taken onscreen with relationship films. It takes a lot these days to get into bed together.

Did you always want to direct it?

I think as time went on, yes. I spent a lot of time working with the writer, Alison Deegan, but I was directing in the theater during that period. I wasn’t free to direct a movie until I finished with Harry Potter responsibilities. I had spent a lot of time with her just kind of being a structural engineer with the script, and then as time went on it slipped into a kind of inevitability.

What about the casting? Did you always know who you wanted to play King Louis XIV?

Certainly not me! (Laughs) As time goes by and you get close to being able to shoot it and Kate is free and her schedule is open … the budget would be helped immeasurably if you have a Louis that you didn’t have to pay (laughs).

Is it a weird feeling to watch yourself onscreen, especially as a director?

It’s awful. I haven’t got any alternative, though. I was saying to somebody else recently that vanity goes out the window very quickly because you have what you have and it’s “Unflattering lighting? Hard luck.” You’ve just got to use it. Working with an editor is the most crucial relationship and you’ve got to become objective about yourself. You sort of become another person.

After so much time working on the Harry Potter movies, were you looking to do something different?

I did do lots of different things the whole time. For example, while I was shooting Harry Potter I was also appearing in “Private Lives” in London on the West End and on Broadway, and I was making things like “Sweeney Todd” and “Love Actually” and “Snow Cake” and other movies. I was directing in the theater as well, Strindberg and a modern play about Israel and Palestine.

In a way, they choose you, projects. I don’t know that I was looking to do something set in the French 17th century but it happened.

What are you working on now?

Well, I’ve done my contribution to the latest Alice in Wonderland film. And now for something completely different, I am the caterpillar again (laughs). I’ve got a film called “Eye in the Sky” which is a film about the moral responsibilities governments face regarding the use of drones.

You know, Shakespeare is forever and CGI is very recent. What are the challenges of working in special effects movies like Harry Potter or Alice in Wonderland for an actor?

When you’re on set, usually you’ve got some lines or something to say and you’re saying it to someone and it’s being photographed, and your job is to make it believable, to have a real conversation with somebody, whatever the agenda is. Usually the CGI is all going on behind you and it’s green and has orange crosses on it. You’re not looking at it. You’re looking at about 100 people with clipboards and behind cameras and holding meters and lights. In a way, that captive audience is like being in the theater. However sophisticated it gets, you don’t know what it’s going to look like. What you’re looking at doesn’t change. It’s still a film set of people which is a bit like an audience so really what’s happening inside your head is the same.”

Rickman goes on to discuss being recognized in public (or not!) after being in the Harry Potter spotlight, as well as looking back on all that he has done in his career. The rest of the article can be read here.

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49. Remembering Albus Dumbledore

Today we honor the death of one of the greatest literary characters ever created. Though Albus Dumbledore may have never breathed in real life, he was always alive in our hearts. His great wisdom reminded us that “happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.” For “it is the unknown that we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more,” and we “should not pity the dead; [we should] pity the living, and above all, those who live without love;” especially when “[failing] to understand that there are things much worse than death has always been [our] greatest weakness.” Dumbledore taught us how to have the courage to be ourselves, and not pretend to be anybody else: “it is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” “It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” Dumbledore talked of love and acceptance; of others as well as ourselves because “differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.” We must not forget the power of goodness, forgiveness and love, even in hard times: for even when “dark times lie ahead of us…there will be [times] when we must choose between what is right and what is easy.” We must not get caught up in flights of fancy; we must not dwell on what we want, or do not have, but be grateful for what we do have, because “it does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

Please join us in honoring the bravery, wisdom, and love Dumbldore taught us throughout the Harry Potter series. For even though he lived in our hearts and our imaginations because “of course it is [all] happening inside [our] heads, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?”

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50. Review: Alan Rickman’s “A Little Chaos”

Alan Rickman has had a prolific career thus far, so it should come as no surprise that his new film “A Little Chaos” highlights him as a Renaissance man of sorts. Rickman directed, co-wrote, and performed the role of King Louis XIV in the film. While the review on ithacajournal.com questions some of Rickman’s artistic choices in the screenwriting of the film, it praises his directorial effort and his portrayal of the Sun King:

“A Little Chaos” is clearly a labor of love for Alan Rickman, Winslet’s “Sense and Sensibility” co-star, who not only directed it and co-wrote the script but has a featured role as Louis XIV. He gets passing marks for two of those three tasks. While he’s frankly wonderful as the king — he channels just the right combination of majesty and humanity — and his direction is perfectly serviceable, the screenplay has some disappointing forays into melodrama that the film would have been far better without.

The film has experienced limited theatrical release, but it will be available on DVD on August 4th.

You can read the rest of the review, which awards the film 3/5 stars, here.

 

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