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26. Happy Birthday Lily Potter

Today we would like to honor the birthday of Harry Potter’s mother, Lily. Lily (Evans) Potter was known to be the brightest student in her class at Hogwarts; even more she was kind, loving, and remembered as such.

Though Lily does not often appear directly within the Harry Potter books, and we hear little from her character, she was perhaps one of the most important characters of the entire series. Her lessons of Love, which became the greatest source of magic, protection, and redemptions throughout the series,  are invaluable. Love is our greatest weapon.

It was Lily Potter and her love of friendship with Severus Snape that redeemed Snape’s character and transformed a bully into a hero. It was Lily’s example of the power of love’s self-sacrafice that lead Harry to commit one of the, if not the, greatest heroic act(s): dying for the ones he loved.

Lily’s sacrificial love for her son protected him from the threatening hand of Voldemort. Harry’s sacrafice for his friends and family, no longer wishing them to suffer, also saved them from the perils of death at the hands of the Dark Lord. Because of Lily’s love, Voldemort could not touch or harm anyone. Love and redemption were the ultimate undoing of Tom Marvolo Riddle.

In honor of Lily’s birthday, Pottermore has written an article on the importance of flowers within the Harry Potter series. Within the article, they confirm a theory that fans have been circulating about the internet for years: Snape’s first words to Harry were indeed a riddle of his regret and love for Lily. Pottermore reports:

 

Asphodel and wormwood
If his first words to Harry are anything to go by, the language of flowers suggests that Snape deeply regrets Lily Potter’s death.

‘What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?’ The answer can be found in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince when Professor Slughorn asks the class to brew the Draught of Living Death. Interestingly, this is after Harry found Snape’s copy of Advanced Potion-Making and followed his instructions to prepare the perfect draught.

Asphodel is a type of lily and means ‘remembered beyond the tomb’ or ‘my regrets follow you to the grave’ while wormwood is often associated with regret or bitterness.

 

To read more of the Victorian language of flowers used throughout the Harry Potter series, visit Pottermore, here. Join us in honoring and wishing the character of Lily Potter a very happy birthday!

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27. Michael Gambon says he’d like to be in ‘Fantastic Beasts’

Earlier this week, Michael Gambon attended the premiere of his newest film appearance, Dad’s Army. He reportedly told the Express that he would love a role in the Fantastic Beasts film series, perhaps as a ‘young Dumbledore':

“I want to be in it, yes,” he confirmed. 

“They’ve got a Dumbledore. They’ll have a young Dumbledore, won’t they? But I could be his dad. They could flashback to me.”

“Can you mention it to them if you see them? I’d like to be his dad.”

Gambon also said a few kind words regarding Alan Rickman’s recent passing:

“Ah Alan, my friend, my close friend… It’s very upsetting he’s not here,” Sir Gambon said. “I was in Harry Potter with him for years and it’s awful.

“Alan was such a lovely bloke, a complete actor and helpful with everybody. Creative. We just miss him.”

You can see Michael in Dad’s Army, in cinemas from February 5th!

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28. Opening Ceremony Reveals North American Wizarding School Details and More!

This evening, A Celebration of Harry Potter 2016 officially began with a crowd of fans and a spectacle of film stars and studio representatives at the Opening Ceremony, which can be seen below.

The ceremony started with a tribute to the late Alan Rickman, featuring scenes from his performance as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films and a photograph of fans raising their wands in his honor at the Universal Orlando Resort earlier this month.

After a short montage film highlighting key events in the history of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme parks, the host began introducing the speakers and exhibits at A Celebration of Harry Potter 2016, beginning with the annual Expo.  This year, fans in attendance will have a chance to win book prizes from Scholastic: the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, a boxed set of the Harry Potter books, or a Harry Potter coloring book.

Harry Potter: The Exhibition representative Eddie Newquist then invited Matthew Lewis onstage to reveal the next city on the Harry Potter: The Exhibition tour.  Brussels, Belgium will host the exhibit beginning June 30.  Lewis said, “It means a lot to us to be able to travel to other countries. It’s a great experience…I’m sure that Brussels will be outstanding as well.”

Newquist and Lewis also announced that a contest will be held to find a special Pottermore Correspondent to travel to Brussels with a friend!  This winner will have control of a film crew and broadcast news of the Exhibition opening.  “Their interviews and experiences will be featured on Pottermore for the rest of the world,” said Matthew Lewis.  (Details of the contest will be on Pottermore soon.)

Then, Evanna Lynch was invited onstage by Pottermore representative Henriette Stewart-Reckling to read the latest writing from J.K. Rowling, just now published on Pottermore! There are ten wizarding schools around the world besides Hogwarts, and Lynch read a part of Rowling’s descriptions of the Brazilian school (Castelobruxo), Japanese school (Mahoutokoro), and African school (Uagadou).  Lynch also named the North American school, Ilvermorny!

Finally, all of the other Harry Potter film actors present were introduced: Katie Leung, Matthew Lewis, Bonnie Wright, and Rupert Grint.  They led the fans in casting lumos maxima to close the ceremony with a fireworks display set to music from the Harry Potter films.

The Opening Ceremony set the stage for more big announcements sure to come!

 

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29. EW Offers Fans a Look inside the Newest Harry Potter Coloring Book

As reported previously, the first Harry Potter adult coloring book was such a hit that a second is to be released tomorrow. EW was able to release a sneak peek of the images within the coloring book, Harry Potter Magical Creatures Coloring Book.

EW released three exclusive images that included a centaur, an owl, and Grawp the Giant. There are sure to be many many more creatures from the Harry Potter series included in the coloring book. EW even teased about an adult Harry Potter coloring book containing beasts from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

The images can be seen at EW and below. Harry Potter Magical Creatures Coloring Book hits shelves tomorrow!

 

Harry-Potter-Magical-Creatures-coloring-book-01 harry-potter-magical-creatures-coloring-book-03 Harry-Potter-Magical-Creatures-coloring-book-02

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30. J.K. Rowling to Receive the PEN America Center’s Award for Free Speech

PEN America has announced that Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling will receive the 2016 PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award from PEN America Center.

The PEN America Center describes themselves as, “working to ensure that people everywhere have the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, to express their views, and to make it possible for everyone to access the views, ideas, and literatures of others.”

The PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award is awarded to “critically acclaimed authors” whose works contain a message against oppression in any form, and strive to be an example for the good of humanity.

As said by Rowling herself, the Harry Potter series–which one cannot doubt holds much “critical acclaim”–embodies the themes of morality and mortality. There was even viral news about a recent study that showed that reading Harry Potter made people more open minded, empathetic and less prejudicial.

Rowling will be honored for her work with Harry Potter, as well as her defense of the freedom of expression and free flowing speech and ideas. The PEN Announcement states:

 

Since her rise from single mother to literary superstar, J.K. Rowling has used her talents and stature as a writer to fight inequality on both a local and global level. Her charitable trust, Volant, supports causes in the United Kingdom and abroad that alleviate social exclusion, with particular emphasis on women and children. In 2005 she founded Lumos, a nonprofit organization that works to help the eight million children institutionalized around the world regain their right to a family life. Herself the frequent object of censorship in schools and libraries across the globe, as well as online targeting, Rowling has emerged as a vocal proponent of free expression and access to literature and ideas for children, as well as incarcerated people, the learning-disabled, and women and girls worldwide.

“Through her writing, Rowling engenders imagination, empathy, humor, and a love of reading, along the way revealing moral choices that help us understand ourselves,” said author Andrew Solomon, president of PEN America. “Through their experiences with Rowling both on and off the page, countless children have learned not only the power of speaking their own minds, but the critical importance of hearing others. A gifted storyteller, fierce opponent of censorship, advocate for women’s and girls’ rights, and staunch defender of access to education, Rowling uses all of the tools at her disposal to create a better and more just world for our children.”

 

The PEN Awards have also released a list of other nominees. The entire announcement, list of awards and nominees can be read here. The awards will be presented at the PEN America Literary Gala at the American Museum of Natural History in New York on May 16.

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31. An Insider’s Account of the Birth of the Harry Potter Films

Producer David Heyman received his just recognition at the Producers Guild Awards over the weekend.  Gary Oldman presented him with the David O. Selznick Achievement Award, saying, “I’ve never seen him settle for second-best,” according to Deadline‘s account of the event. Director Alfonso Cuaron called the award “very well deserved,” and Heyman accepted humbly, “This is an extraordinary honor, all the more so because it’s given to me by my peers and the PGA who really understand what it is I do and what a crazy calling we have as producers….it’s the greatest job in the world. I wouldn’t change it for the world.” PGA released a video of David Heyman’s acceptance speech on YouTube, and can be seen below:

But how did Heyman find Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone before most people had even heard of J.K. Rowling?  In an extensive interview for Produced By, the bi-monthly publication of the Producers Guild of America, Heyman answered this and more questions about his impressive career in film-making– revealing the true story of how the beloved Harry Potter films began– and his amazing orchestration of it all.

After being laid off from work with a major studio, Heyman opened a small office in London and decided to focus on books being published in Britain.  Heyman told Produced By,

“I set out to be a bridge between the U.S. and U.K. and decided to make books a central part of my business. One, I’m a voracious reader. Two, books had probably the best ratio of development to film at the time. At the time, the British books weren’t so aggressively pursued, so I thought I could distinguish myself.”

According to David Heyman, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was almost missed by his London office. Talking about how it all started Heyman said:

We had three shelves for incoming manuscripts and screenplays: priority, medium priority and low priority. Tanya Seghatchian, my very bright development executive, read an article in a trade publication about a book that hadn’t yet been published. She called the agent. The book came in and sat firmly on the low priority shelf for a couple of weeks before Nisha, my secretary, who only read material from that bottom shelf, took it home. At our Monday morning I asked, “Anybody read anything good?” And Nisha replied, “Yeah, I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” I said, “Hmm, not sure about that title. What’s it about?” “It’s about a young boy who goes to wizard school,” she replied. My interest was piqued.

With that, the Harry Potter film producer became one of J.K. Rowling’s first true fans. Heyman described his experience to Produced By, saying:

I couldn’t put it down and there began my Potter odyssey… I thought if I was lucky, it might be my Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I had no idea that it would become what it became. What I did know was that I connected with it. It made me laugh. It moved me. I related to Harry and the characters at Hogwarts. We all, in our own way, feel like outsiders. And no matter who we are, no matter how successful, no matter how happily married we are or what good friends we have, there are times where we feel alone. At least I do. And I felt that story was something that people could connect with. It was about something: being true to yourself. It was about loyalty and friendship and fighting prejudice and so much more.

After Warner optioned the film, screenwriter Steve Kloves and author J.K. Rowling really hit it off, thanks to Heyman’s introduction. Heyman talked of how the two writers bonded, saying:

As Kloves was writing the films, the books became wildly successful. All of a sudden they were No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 on the New York Times bestseller list. Now there’s all this pressure as he’s trying to finish the script. At the same time, Jo, who had written the first two or three novels essentially without any expectations, now had all this expectation. And she was struggling as she had written herself into a little bit of a hole on Goblet of Fire but had a firm publication date! They really bonded through that shared experience and challenges.

Once director Chris Columbus joined the project, production designer Stuart Craig was the film’s first hire.  Then, the team scoured Britain for young actors to play the three leading roles.  They felt confident in their choices for Ron and Hermione but opened the search to the U.S. and Australia before finding just the right person to play Harry. Heyman told the legendary casting story to Produced by, saying:

One evening, Kloves and I went to the theater and seated in the audience, I noticed this boy with big round blue eyes. He seemed an old soul in a young body. And then this voice called, “David, great to see you.” Sitting next to the boy was his father, an agent I knew called Alan Radcliffe. The play started but I paid little attention to what was going on up on stage. I kept on turning around and looking at this boy. When the play finished, I went to find Alan and his son, but they’d gone. So the following morning I called ICM and asked if Alan would allow Daniel to visit the studio to meet Chris. Alan said, “Why don’t you meet him first, and then we can decide.” So Dan, his mum and I went out for a cup of tea and we spent two hours chatting. Dan had this incredible energy. He was so curious and intelligent—a curiosity and intelligence that have helped make him the actor he is today.

The team had a list of accomplished adult actors that they wanted, and they all accepted because the children in their lives loved the books.  The Wizarding World was established. David Heyman remembered how it all unfolded, saying:

We made the first two [Harry Potter films] back-to-back, we were prepping the second as we were posting the first. Chris did a brilliant job. I wouldn’t be sitting here today having a conversation with you [at Produced By] were it not for Chris. He cast our three leads and so many others, chose Stuart and many of our department heads and helped create the film world and an atmosphere and culture in front of and behind the camera that lasted till the end. And he directed two beautiful films.

But that was just the beginning.  David Heyman then explains how director Alfonso Cuaron and others joined the franchise that became a family.  The focus, however; was always J.K. Rowling’s storytelling. David Heyman talked of the consistency of J.K. Rowling’s voice shining through each film despite differing directors:

One of the things I’m proudest of in the Potter series is that in each film a director’s vision shines through. Jo Rowling’s voice is front and center, clearly, but each director channeled that voice and has made their films their own. Without that voice, a film is a blancmange and I am not a fan of blancmanges. A director with a vision is essential, even, or maybe especially within a franchise. Having said that, we never approached Harry Potter as a franchise. We were simply trying to make each film the best it could be!

 

This only skims the surface of the story.  To read more about the birth of the Harry Potter films and to learn about other great projects David Heyman has done, see the cover story for the December/January Produced By, here.

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32. Colin Farrell’s Character in ‘Fantastic Beasts’ is “the ultimate wizard”

 Pottermore recently reported from the set of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, this time on Colin Farrell’s character, Percival Graves.

Three-time Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha, Alice in Wonderland) has been in charge of his costume, and from the previews of his character in the trailer and below, Eddie Redmayne’s already infamous coat may have some competition. The Pottermore correspondent suggests a good compromise: ‘Newt’s coat on weekdays, Graves’s when you’re in the mood for danger.’

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Back in October, even Farrell had no idea of his role in the wizarding world, but we’re gradually learning more about the nature of his character – an improvement upon ‘a wizard that Newt Scamander meets in New York’, at the very least – as more details about the film emerge.

As the wizard who is sent to track down Newt Scamander and his ‘fantastic beasts’, Graves is a powerful auror and the right-hand man of President of the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA), the American equivalent of the Ministry of Magic.

Certainly a character with a formidable edge, Colleen Atwood tells Pottermore how this inspires his costumes, as well as intriguing suggestions about his abilities, calling him ‘the ultimate wizard':

‘When I heard it was going to be Colin, I was excited because he looks good in everything’

‘Graves is the ultimate wizard so I wanted to take it to a level of 20s elegance with a touch of glamour, of fantasy. So I took a coat and I made it a little bit longer, I exaggerated the shoulders and I shaped it a little bit more. Then I made it out of a spectacular piece of cashmere that just kind of moved and had a lot of light’

‘It also has a little bit of lurex* in it, so it catches the light at night and almost looks wet, which I really think makes it stand out from other things. That’s where I was going with his character. And then I kind of edged his things so they were very graphic black and white too, in a way that made him special.’

And incase you were wondering just what ‘lurex’ was,  Pottermore added a complimentary ‘fabric fact’:

‘Lurex is a fabric with glittering metallic thread weaved into it to give it a shimmering look. To me, it looks almost like the fur of a wet, majestic seal… But in a fancy, magical way. It’s iridescent and slick, which makes it perfect for Graves.’

Read the full article here.

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33. Matthew Lewis Teases Appearance in ‘Fantastic Beasts’

In an interview with MTV promoting his role in the new series of Ripper Street (available on Amazon Instant Video in the UK), Matthew Lewis – we assume jokingly – teased at making a cameo in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, following a visit to the set of the film earlier this week:

‘In terms of a cameo, maybe.

Isn’t this set years before? Isn’t Neville like, minus seventy?’

‘I know what he’s up to, because Jo told me. I don’t know if he’s going to be in the play, but in terms of the world, he’s a teacher at Hogwarts teaching his beloved Herbology. Professor Longbottom’

He said that he was very excited to see Fantastic Beasts, especially as David Heyman and David Yates are leading its Production and Directing teams.

On the process of filming the Harry Potter series, and on questions of him returning to work on any future Potter projects he said:

‘I loved it. It was an important part of my life, but after ten years, I’m not sure how much more I can really do with it … As an actor, we love becoming different people – finding that person to begin with is so much fun, that process, and as much as you love taking a beloved character places,  it’s kind of like when you first go on a date with a girl. That excitement, that buzz of first getting to know each other … after ten years that’s not necessarily there anymore, and fortunately as actors we don’t have to be monogamous with our roles – we can do other roles and find that buzz again’

Matt says he has enjoyed filming ‘wildly different’ characters from Neville, and is loving the process of working on Ripper Street. Make sure you catch it on Amazon Instant Video, and watch a trailer here.

Watch the full interview with MTV here and below!

 

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34. New Promo Photo of Daniel Radcliffe in ‘Swiss Army Man’

Yesterday afternoon, Indi-Dramedy and reported ‘musical’ Swiss Army Man made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival. Daniel Radcliffe appears in the film as a dead body washed ashore a desert island with only one inhabitant: Paul Dano (portraying ‘Hank’).

As summary from Indie Wire is as follows:

Alone on a tiny deserted island, Hank has given up all hope of ever making it home again. But one day everything changes when a dead body washes ashore, and he soon realizes it may be his last opportunity to escape certain death. After befriending the corpse and gradually discovering his special powers, the duo go on an epic adventure to bring Hank back to the woman of his dreams.

Music video gurus DANIELS, a.k.a. Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan, craft a wholly original debut feature bursting with limitless creativity both in content and form. Their consistently surprising script spans a wide range of emotions: from the ridiculously absurd to a touching exploration of what it means to be human. Not to mention, it’s a musical. Given what are likely to be some of the most unique roles of their acting careers, co-leads Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe give their all to a movie that celebrates the wonder that cinema offers.

New photos were released of both Dan and Paul, which can be seen below:

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These images follow a promotional teaser poster released in December, which can be seen here.

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35. Emma Watson and HeForShe at Devon 2016

Yesterday, followers of Emma Watson’s Twitter would have received many phone notifications as Watson faithfully updated her Twitter with news from HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10’s first gender parity report, which was released at Devon 2016. A full report of yesterdays events at Devon have been uploaded to the new HeForShe website.

The Devon launch was for the first HeForShe IMPACT parity report, complied by 10 of the world’s leading business. The report gave diversity figures in the workforce, and stated goals that need to be altered and achieved. The report reflected the journey these companies have taken to implement gender equality, what they plan to do next, and encourage other companies to do the same. The entire report may be read here.

The ten CEOs of the companies that made this report are 10 of 30 HeForShe Champions the IMPACT 10x10x10 campaign have recruited. These 10 CEOs stand among 10 world heads of state, and 10 heads of the world’s leading universities.

At the Devon 2016 report launch, the 10 CEOs and 3 representatives from the university team made up a panel that discussed the report. The introductions, panel discussion, and Emma Watson’s speech can be seen below. Emma begins at time marker 18:07.

 

 

HeForShe.org reported:

 

HeForShe launched the IMPACT 10x10x10 initiative at Davos in January 2015. Now one year later, we have built a cohort of dedicated gender equality leaders from ten of the world’s most prominent corporations – AccorHotels, Barclays, Koc? Holding, McKinsey & Company, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Schneider Electric, Tupperware Brands, Twitter, Unilever and Vodafone. This global team of champions has committed to real change within and beyond their own institutions, on an ambitious timeline. The transparency displayed in the HeForShe Parity Report will provide an important tool to Corporate IMPACT Champions to measure commitments and inspire action from other employers.

The report figures show that a gap remains between the representation of women in the workforce and in leadership positions. Overall representation of women averaged 39.7% across the ten firms, while senior leadership roles held by women ranged from 11.0% to 33.0%. While this outperforms global averages, UN Women has set parity as the goal of its Planet 50-50 drive for gender equality, and the IMPACT commitments put forward by these firms reflect a variety of pathways to achieve it.

 

A short animated informational and promotional video of HeForShe’s plans for Devon 2016. It can be seen at the bottom of the HeForShe page.

 

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36. Kenneth Branagh Receives the Dilys Powell Award

Back in November, The Leaky Cauldron reported that Kenneth Branagh would be receiving the Dilys Powell Award from The London Film Critics’ Circle. Branagh was recognized for his 34-year career of fantastic work in front of, as well as behind, the camera.

The London Film Critics’ Circle awards ceremony took place in London last weekend. Judi Dench was selected to introduce Branagh before he received his award. In the true spirited form that is Judi Dench, she told hilarious stories of her favorite times she’s spent with Branagh, including some insults he’s thrown her way all in good humor.

Judi Dench’s introduction and Branagh’s acceptance speech was uploaded to YouTube and can be seen below:

 

Branagh joins many other prestigious actors in the league who have also accepted this award. Among those big names is another Harry Potter actor, Gary Oldman (Sirius Black).

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37. David Heyman talks “Fantastic Beasts” with THR

David Heyman, who will be receiving the Producers Guild Awards’ David O. Selznick Achievement Award later this month, sat down for an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

Two of the biggest movie projects Heyman has produced is the Harry Potter series and the forthcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them series, that will be an extension of the Harry Potter world. The Hollywood Reporter had the honor of interview David Heyman about his achievements, and talk a little (oh, but only a little) of Fantastic Beasts. THR reported:

 

Why did you decide to return to the world of Harry Potter?

It was exciting to move on and to embrace new challenges with Gravity and Paddington, but when it finished, there was a not-insignificant sadness because [the Potter films] had been such a big part of my life. Jo Rowling created such an incredibly rich and deeply conceived world. What you read in the books is in some ways just the surface of this world. I’d ask her about the [character Sirius Black’s] family tree because we had to paint it on the wall [for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix], and the book only had two names, and half an hour later I’d receive a family tree going back six generations with 100 people. I’m sure Newt Scamander and his story have been in her mind for many years. We were sitting around wondering what else we could do in this world, and [producer] Lionel Wigram, who is the person I first brought the first [Potter] book to, thought about maybe doing a documentary about Newt. That idea was floated to Jo, and she responded to doing a film about [that character].

Is Beasts designed as a franchise?

We’ve talked about making a couple, but with all these things — and this may be a failing of mine — I don’t look at them as franchises; I look at them as films. We want to make each film as good as we can because if you don’t, you won’t have a second film or a third.

What’s the biggest difference between Fantastic Beasts and the Harry Potter films?

Not having to work children’s hours. (Laughs.) And it’s set in 1920s New York as opposed to the U.K. in the ’90s.

 

Heyman went onto discuss the importance of being a “voracioius reader,” projects he has in development that he hopes to continue, the biggest challenge producers currently face in the film industry and more. The full article can be read here.

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38. Congratulations, Producer David Heyman!

This weekend, David Heyman, producer of the Harry Potter films and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, will be honored with the Producers Guild Awards’ David O. Selznick Achievement Award for his work on the eight Harry Potter films, Gravity, Testament of Youth, and Paddington, among others.  In anticipation, Heyman has been interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter for its Jan. 29 issue.

David Heyman is excited to return to the Potterverse with Fantastic Beasts.  After all, he got the film rights to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 1997, before the book series had become an international phenomenon.  When first talking about what to do next, Heyman and producer Lional Wigram hoped to make a mockumentary about Newt Scamander and his work in magizoology, but J.K. Rowling came back with a plan for a more traditional feature film.  Heyman says,

Jo Rowling created such an incredibly rich and deeply conceived world. What you read in the books is in some ways just the surface of this world. I’d ask her about the [character Sirius Black’s] family tree because we had to paint it on the wall [for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix], and the book only had two names, and half an hour later I’d receive a family tree going back six generations with 100 people. I’m sure Newt Scamander and his story have been in her mind for many years. 

When asked if Fantastic Beasts is designed to be a franchise, Heyman answered conservatively, “We’ve talked about making a couple, but with all these things — and this may be a failing of mine — I don’t look at them as franchises; I look at them as films. We want to make each film as good as we can because if you don’t, you won’t have a second film or a third.”

Congratulations on the David O. Selznick Achievement Award, David Heyman, and thanks for all that you’ve done to bring J.K. Rowling’s books to life on screen!

To read more of the interview, read the Jan. 29 issue of The Hollywood Reporter, or see here.

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39. Kenneth Branagh Speaks About Alan Rickman in Interview

In an interview that was posted to Youtube by Red Carpet News TV, Kenneth Branagh (Gilderoy Lockhart in the HP films) speaks a little bit about acting and his thoughts on Alan Rickman. The video was filmed at London Critics’ Circle Film Awards 2016. “My memories are of his generosity–particularly towards younger actors,” Branagh recalls, explaining how supportive Alan Rickman was of one of his own earlier projects. “He showed us how a professional actor behaved.”

Watch the short interview below:

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40. Matthew Lewis Speaks About Alan Rickman; Visits Set of “Fantastic Beasts”

Matthew Lewis had a segment on the British radio show Radio X on January 17th, during which he spoke about Alan Rickman and the impact Rickman made on him. Watch the short clip below:

 

 

 

He also tweeted that he visited the set of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, reassuring eager fans that “The world of HP is in very safe hands.”

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41. Rupert Grint Clears Up Rumor From “Harry Potter” Set; Talks “Moonwalkers”

In an interview with The Huffington Post Australia, Rupert Grint revealed some quite “Ron-ish” qualities about himself when he was asked about a rumor that originated from the set of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. As the story goes, director Alfonso Cuarón had asked Daniel, Emma, and Rupert to write essays about their respective characters–Harry, Hermione, and Ron– in preparation for the film. The actors delivered in a way that was in keeping with  each of their characters: Emma turned in a 16-page report, Daniel fulfilled the task with a one-page effort, and Rupert dodged the essay all together. He confirmed these happy similarities in the interview.

“Yeah. That is true, yeah,” Grint said, laughing.

“It’s quite Ron-ish not to do it,” he added. “I think [Cuarón] kind of appreciated that.”

The interview revealed a selection of other amusing oddities. Grint also confirmed that he does indeed own an ice cream truck and that he will “never get rid of it.” He added, “[Pedestrians] think, rightly, that you are a legitimate ice cream salesman. And they queue up and expect ice cream, which I don’t have.”

At the time of the interview, Grint had also recently heard about the “Ronbledore” fan theory, which posits that Ron is a time-travelling Dumbledore. J.K. Rowling denied this; however, Grint reported that he hasn’t yet formed a theory of his own.

He also spoke about his upcoming film Moonwalkers: 

Although he’s stepped out of the “Potter” world, Grint continued to pursue acting, currently starring in a psychedelic space-race flick “Moonwalkers” alongside “Hellboy” star Ron Pearlman. An offbeat story peppered with cartoonish violence, the film indulges conspiracy theorists’ ideas about NASA’s 1969 moon landing. Grint’s Johnny is an ungifted band manager looking to make some cash by conning his way into a CIA plot led by Agent Kidman (Pearlman) to produce fake video footage of men on the moon with Stanley Kubrick.

Something of an armchair conspiracist himself, Grint was naturally attracted to the script, he explained. He considers the famous photo of a flag waving on the moon — a windless surface — particularly suspicious.

There was a period when I was quite obsessed with it. I’m quite decided that it definitely happened,” he said. “We did land on the moon.”

The interview ended on a bittersweet note, with Grint recalling the days he spent with Emma and Dan: “I loved working with them,” he said, “all those 10 years.”

You can read the full article here.

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42. Emma Watson Makes Forbes’ 30 Under 30 List

Forbes has introduced a new list of influential people, the inaugural 30 Under 30 Europe List. The list includes 300 people under the age of 30, divided into ten categories of 30, that are “leaders, creative inventors, and brash entrepreneurs.”

Emma Watson made the list of 30 entertainers. The category picked it’s 30 Under 30 by “watching young impresarios work their craft on the court and the silver screen.” Emma was nominated for both her work in film, and her work as the United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador for gender equality. Forbes describes why Emma made the list, saying:

 

Emma Watson, 25

Actor

(United Kingdom) Arguably the most successful graduate of Hogwarts, Watson has starred in both big budget movies (“Noah”) and indie fare (“Colonia”). A United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador since 2014, Watson’s advocacy on behalf of the HeForShe campaign makes her an important spokesperson for gender equality.

 

The entire list and all of its nominees may be seen here.

 

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43. Universal Offering a Grand Wizarding World Sweepstakes

Trip Advisor and Universal are hosting a Wizarding World Sweepstakes called “The Ultimate Harry Potter™ Trip Around The World.”

One grand prize winner will have the chance to visit all of the Wizarding World theme parks (starting at the grand opening of the Hollywood location, then unto Orlando and Japan) and end their adventure at Warner Bros. Leavesden Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter.

Fans may register for a chance to win this sweepstakes on the Trip Advisor website, here. Good Luck!

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44. Entertainment News Interviews Eddie Redmayne on ‘The Danish Girl’

Entertainment News interviewed Fantastic Beasts Eddie Redmayne on the process of filming The Danish Girl, for which he has just been nominated for the Best Actor Oscar.

Eddie spoke about how the long it took to make The Danish Girl a reality – saying the whilst filming Les Misérables (which came out in 2012),  he spoke to director Tom Hooper about a script he’d been working with for years for The Danish Girl, which only got funded whilst Redmayne was filming A Theory of Everything (released 2014) – taking a total of 12 years to become a reality!

He spoke about how important his role in The Danish Girl was, and the importance of educating himself before giving his performance as Lilli Elbe, and a beautifully eloquent summary of the film’s moral:

‘What found amazing about this film is it’s a love story, and it places love as this thing that is not defined by bodies, by gender – it’s about souls, really.’

Watch the interview here!

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45. Harry Potter Actors Set to Attend Grimsby Comic Con Event

Grimsby Telegraph reported today that amongst other guests, Michael Henry (a Gringotts Goblin in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2), Jon Campling (a Death Eater in Dealthy Hallows Part 1) and Simon Fisher-Becker (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) will be attending a Grimsby Comic Con event.

Grimsby Telegraph reports:

Chelsey [co-organiser of the event, and part of Daydream events], who lives in Grimsby, said: “We are so excited to be able to bring something like this to Grimsby and especially as we will be raising money for the flood victims in the UK. We have been attending these sorts of events for some time now and they are so much fun to be a part of! We are very excited to be working with our guests, we want this to be a fun-filled day.”

This is the first of many events we are planning to run in the UK and we would love to run more of them in Grimsby.”

Grimsby’s February Strikes Back Comic-Con event will be held on Sunday February 7th, from 10am to 5pm at Oasis Academy Wintringham. Tickets for the event can be purchased from www.daydreamevents.uk – they are £3 for early bird entry (10am) and £2 for general admission (11am). Read more here!

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46. Alan Rickman’s Viral Video to Help Support Refugees

It has been less than a week since the world was shocked by the news of Alan Rickman’s untimely death. While we still mourn the loss of a beloved and very talented actor and director, we do know we will hear his voice again–at least for a short while–when two of his movie projects (Eye in the Sky and Alice Through the Looking Glass) are released posthumously.

However, one of Rickman’s very last projects completed before his death has been gaining a lot of attention. On December 13, 2015, a little more than a month before he passed, Alan Rickman released a YouTube video with Save the Children and Refugee Council. The hope was for the video to go viral and donations to accumulate to help refugees. So far it has received just over 3 million views.

For Alan Rickman, we can do better than that.

Grab your Kleenex boxes and other brands of facial tissues, for hearing his voice again may reopen your tear ducts. In honor of Alan Rickman, watch the video, possibly make a donation if you are able, and help him fight for a cause that he fought for unto his death.

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47. J.K. Rowling and Emma Watson nominated for the Shorty Awards

The Hollywood Reporter has released of the Shorty Award Nominees. The Shorty Awards recognizes the best content within all social media–Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Vine, YouTube, and (for the first time) Periscope. Emma Watson and J.K. Rowling are both being recognized.

J.K. Rowling is categorized in with other authors on social media, and is largely known for her Twitter presence. Emma Watson has been nominated in the Activist category for her work as the Women’s Ambassador to the United Nations, and particularly for her HeForShe campaign.

The Hollywood Reporter states:

 

Nominees for the 8th annual Shorty Awards — highlighting the best content across the social media landscape including Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, Instagram, Vine and, for the first time, Periscope — are officially out, with Tom Hanks, Taraji P. Henson, Dwayne Johnson, Reese Witherspoon, Kevin Hart, Amy Schumer, Aziz Ansari, Cher, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Adele, Michael B. Jordan, Caitlyn Jenner and J.K. Rowling among this year’s notables.

Emma Watson, Mark Ruffalo and Patricia Arquette are included in the activism category, and Chrissy Teigen, Drake, Donald Trump and David Bowie are the subjects of some of the GIF of the Year nominees.

Founded and produced by Sawhorse Media, the Shorty Awards will be held in April in New York City and will be available via live stream at ShortyAwards.com. Finalists in each category — recognizing content for sports, journalism, fashion, humor and more — are determined by rankings from The Real Time Academy (rtacademy.org), as well as votes from fans via social media. 

 

Voting is available on the Shorty Award website until February 18. Voters can cast a vote once a day through Twitter and Facebook by sharing a link, as well as casting one vote a day on the Shorty Award website. Good luck to Emma and Jo!

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48. Pottermore Promises surprises for Orlando’s Harry Potter Celebration

Universal Studios Orlando’s 3rd annual Celebration of Harry Potter is just around the corner. Much of the events and fun activities to expect have been revealed. However, Pottermore seems to be promising even more surprises.

In the title of their new post, “Surprises in Store at a Celebration of Harry Potter in Orlando,” Pottermore encourages fans to stop by their booth, saying:

 

There will be panel discussions, wand demos, film trivia challenges and loads more besides. If you’re coming along to the Celebration in person, be sure to pop down to the Pottermore booth with the free augmented reality app Blippar* downloaded to your smartphone or tablet. You never know what you might find…

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49. Bonnie Wright Set to Direct ‘Medusa’s Ankles’

Today, Bonnie Wright announced her latest project via Instagram. She will be directing an exciting new film adaptation of Man Booker Prize winner Medusa’s Ankles – a short story by A.S. Byatt.

The short film will reportedly star Harry Potter‘s Jason Isaacs, as well as Kerry Fox and Chanel Cresswell, and will be produced by Andy Surry through BonBonLumiere, founded by Bonnie in 2012. Casting for the adaptation can be found here.

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 00.41.44

 

 

The story is part of a 3-story collection called The Matisse stories, published 1995. The stories follow the lives of women linked in some way to the art of Henri Matisse.

The plot (below), follows Susannah:

“Susannah, a middle-aged classics professor, is enticed into a hair salon by a Matisse print and finds an unexpected comfort in the hairdresser, Lucian. This relationship builds but takes a dramatic turn when the salon is remodeled and the atmosphere and characters entirely change.

The story’s plot proposes an illusory release through violence. Through its juxtapositions and patterns of imagery, the story addresses in the protagonist the inevitability of physical decay, the loss of a sense of identity with one’s body.”

A summary of the collection is as follows:

‘These three stories celebrate the eye even as they reveal its unexpected proximity to the heart. For if each of A.S. Byatt’s narratives is in some way inspired by a painting of Henri Matisse, each is also about the intimate connection between seeing and feeling–about the ways in which a glance we meant to be casual may suddenly call forth the deepest reserves of our being. Beautifully written, intensely observed,The Matisse Storiesis fiction of spellbinding authority. “Full of delight and humor…The Matisse Storiesis studded with brilliantly apt images and a fine sense for subtleties of conversation and emotion.”

Great work, Bonnie – join us in wishing her luck on her latest project!

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50. Dame Maggie Smith’s Interview With LA Times

Yesterday, LA Times published an interview with Dame Maggie Smith about the earliest roles in her acting career, and found that her experience of typecasting was very different to what they would have expected!

Instead of appearing in a “Shakespearean tragedy, a George Bernard Shaw satire or a sophisticated Noel Coward comedy”, typical of early British actors, Maggie Smith actually appeared first in New Faces of 1956 – a musical comedy revue.

Dame Maggie spoke about how she ended up in musical theatre, and the difficulties of moving to  New York at 21:

“In Oxford, I used to do university revues,” Smith explained in her unmistakable voice over the phone from her house in London earlier this week. “Sometimes we would do we things at the Edinburgh Festival — we were the first things on the fringe, in fact — and then we took it to London in a little, tiny theater. I suppose the [‘New Faces’] producer Leonard Sillman saw me. That’s how it happened.”

“I spent my entire time crying. We were paid so little. I didn’t know anyone then. I had been booked in a hotel I couldn’t afford! It was $60 a week.”

Sixty years on from this role, Maggie Smith has been our beloved Professor McGonagall, adored by masses in Downton Abbey, and recently appeared in The Lady In the Van – for which she has been nominated for the Best Actress BAFTA award. She now has Oscars, Emmys and a Tony to her name, however, she recalled that it took a long time to escape repetitive typecasting:

It took her forever “to get people to believe I could do something other than revues. I was sort of pigeonholed for a very long time.”

In the 1960s, Smith joined London’s Royal National Theatre and appeared opposite Laurence Olivier in Othello, both on stage and in the 1965 film, for which she won an Oscar. She told LA Times:

“It was scary,” she said. “Shakespeare and I were a long way apart because I had been doing things like ‘New Faces’ and revues. I would have been terrified anyway just leaping into Shakespeare, but that was going in at a pretty dizzying level. I should have maybe started off in a kind of quieter way. But I was so thrilled to go to the National.”

LA Times noted that Smith’s absence at the Golden Globe nominations was due to her recent hip replacement surgery, from which she is still recovering:

“I feel so much better,” she said, “but you can’t sit that long in the airplane.”

The Lady in the Van is something of a memoir of the relationship between the elderly woman Mary Shepherd (Maggie Smith) and playwright-actor Alan Bennett, the former of whom lived on the driveway of the latter in an old van for fifteen years. It started out as Bennett’s autobiographical stage play as an Ode to the last Mary Shepherd (who died in 1989) in 1999 on London’s West End, in which Smith appeared, and was then turned into a radio show – in which Dame Maggie also played Mary.

However, Dame Maggie doesn’t think it will be as successful outside of Britain:

“I don’t think ‘Lady in the Van’ will travel,” she said. “One of the reviews said, ‘I don’t think it will travel outside north London.’ I think there is a bit of truth in that.”

On working with Maggie Smith, Nicholas Hytner – who directed the film The Lady in The Van and collaborated with her on various other projects, said that at first he was intimidated by her ‘extraordinary history’:

“It is a wealth of experience, extraordinary energy, imagination and experience,” he noted. “You worry in advance that you are not going to be able to measure up. But actually, what she doesn’t want at all is a voice in the rehearsal room that is unable to speak up when they need to speak up. She is harder on herself than she is on anybody else. She really needs to feel that somebody is keeping an eye out for her and on her.”

Smith said she told Hytner to “please slap me” if her performance was veering off-course. “Nick was terrific,” she said. “I want to keep it as simple and straightforward as possible. She’s mad enough.”

On having never watched Downton Abbey, Smith says:

“Why do I want to see it?” Smith said matter of factly. “I’m doing it. I know the story of it. I do have the boxed set, but you know that would take me to the end of my life to watch.”

Well said, we think – and as LA Times notes, ‘not unlike something Lady Crawley herself might say’. Read the full interview here, and make sure to catch The Lady in the Van in cinemas!

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