RT Visits the Set of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
We go behind-the-scenes at Leavesden Studios
But, for now, the action is centred on the Great Hall set. As RT returns to the cavernous creation and takes a seat at the foot of one of the dining tables that runs the length of the set, we're presented with a rather unappealing looking breakfast. Racks of stale toast line the centre of each of the four tables occasionally complemented by a box of Cheeri-Owls cereal, some House Elf Special marmalade or a litre of orange juice stored in a hog's head-shaped jug.
Every foodstuff we see is real, we're told, because the actors and extras will have to eat it. When they're shooting a turkey dinner from the top of the set, with everyone in their seat, the kitchens are on overtime - not only does the food need to be real but Health and Safety says it has to be replaced every few hours if it's being eaten. On our table, though, this food has seen better days. We're not in the shot so it's not necessary to replace it and, rather appropriately, we spot a plate of fried tomatoes which are going ever-so-slightly rotten.
The scene being shot today is set right before a key game of Quidditch between Gryffindor and Slytherin, two of the Hogwarts houses. "It's the point where Ron comes in [to the Great Hall] and he's absolutely terrified; a nervous wreck," Radcliffe tells us. Ron has joined the Quidditch team this year and he's having difficulty with the pressure. "To restore his confidence Harry pours - or appears to pour - Felix Felicis [luck potion] into Ron's orange juice."
Harry (Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), Hermione (Emma Watson), Luna (Evanna Lynch) and Ginny (Bonnie Wright) all feature in the scene, as do an army of young Gryffindor extras, all dressed in house colours ready to support their team.
In between every shot, the film's director, David Yates, is engaging with his young cast. Laughing with them, taking them through the scene and encouraging them to have their say. It's a simple moment, but with every take it gets tighter and more interesting as he and his actors find the right tone. The end of the scene is changed in one of these discussions - ignoring Hermione's complaints that slipping a luck potion into Ron's drink before a big match is wrong, Harry and Ron high-five and leave the scene, no doubt providing the right momentum to take the shot straight into the match. 18 months later we see the result of this improvisation -- it's made its way into the final cut of the movie.
This scene also introduces us to the newest member of the young cast - Jessie Cave as Ron's love interest Lavender Brown. Up until now she's been somewhat sycophantically stalking Ron, and in this scene she bounds up to him and does nothing to settle his nerves by overenthusiastically saying, "You're going to be brilliant today... I just know it!" Boisterous, girly and with big, frizzy hair, Cave nails the part and her physical resemblance to a slightly dorkier version of Hermione is perfect - the relationship between the two close friends has never been more strained than by the introduction of Lavender.
"Ron is basically set off because he hears that Hermione and Krum kissed at the Yule Ball [in the fourth movie], and they probably did," explains Emma Watson. "So he's going off with Lavender Brown, which no-one can really understand because she's seriously annoying and very, very girly. Hermione is upset because there's always been something between her and Ron and I think she's beginning to acknowledge the fact that she has feelings for him, which she's never done before."
Newcomer Jessie Cave agrees. "I think it's brilliant that the character of Lavender was created to instil jealousy in Hermione and to act almost as a catalyst for the two of them to eventually get together," she says. "It's quite fun to play a loud character like Lavender, because I guess everyone has a loud character inside of them waiting to jump out!"
Continue on to Page 3 as we explore the human side of Half-Blood Prince and the return of Quidditch.