RT Visits the Set of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

We go behind-the-scenes at Leavesden Studios

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So is the mood on set subdued by the feeling that the films are winding down? For many of the young cast this experience has lasted nearly half their lives - when the final film is released in 2011 it'll have been more than ten years since Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson were announced as Harry, Ron and Hermione.

Surprisingly, feelings are mixed. Some, like Grint, are certainly sensing the end in sight and already thinking about their plans for the future. "It does feel like it's coming to an end now," he says, "I've got to start thinking about what to do after this."

But others, including Felton, are just happy to enjoy the moment. "We don't talk about that," he laughs, "It's almost like school but twice as important as far as leaving it all behind. It's not nice to think that it's going to be all over soon. It gets me a bit upset and a bit teary."

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Harry prepares for his final journey in Deathly Hallows.

All of them are agreed on one thing though: they'll miss it when it's gone. "I've always had the routine of us getting together every year to do one of these," continues Grint. "It'll be quite sad because it's been a massive part of my life."

Of course, even as we anticipate Half-Blood Prince, when we visit the set we're already keen to learn the secrets of the two-part Deathly Hallows adaptation. The films will mark Yates as the Potter series' most prolific director, having helmed four of the eight. "It'll be lovely to finish off the series," says Yates. "We started doing things in the fifth film that we've carried through to the sixth film so there's a continuation and there's a sense of wanting to continue that momentum really."

For the cast there's no harm in thinking about how much they'll enjoy filming the moments they've read in the seventh book. Radcliffe was quick to make with the spoilers as he told us what he was looking forward to. "I think it has got to be the walk into the forest to find Voldemort and, also, the King's Cross chapter. I'm looking forward to doing all of that.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Yates (right, in the cream shirt) directs Michael Gambon on set.

"It's weird because those scenes always seem to be the ones you shoot about two weeks into filming. Which is great because you get them over with and you're not worrying about them, but it's the difference between getting a book and going straight to the back and going, 'OK, fine,' and getting a book, reading it through, and being moved by it."

"It didn't end how I expected it to end," says Grint. "But I was really pleased with the ending and I thought it ended really well. It's going to be cool to shoot; I'm looking foward to it."

Back on the Great Hall set, though, any sense that the films are coming to an end, that they're making the penultimate chapter in what has already become the world's most successful film franchise, and that they've got an explosive finale ahead of them is pushed to the back of their minds as they concentrate on getting this particular moment right. As the end of the working day approaches and Grint starts giggling at Cave's antics immediately after sipping his juice, Radcliffe suggests perhaps he'd spiked it with laughing tonic by mistake and it's clear that if there's a weight on their shoulders they're having far too much fun to show it.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince opens around the world tomorrow.