‘Harry Potter’: This Scene Took 95 Takes; ‘It’s The Film Equivalent of Actually Doing a Magic Trick’

Though many muggles are partial to the Harry Potter books over the films, even squibs can attest that the movies are a magical experience for fans. Thanks to talent actors, excellent writing, dedicated crew members, outstanding costumes, and next-level special effects, the Harry Potter movies have become staples that Potterheads can enjoy watching again and again.

Stars of the Harry Potter movies Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint
Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint | DAVE M. BENETT/GETTY IMAGES

The ‘Harry Potter’ movies were tricky to film

Of course, making the Harry Potter movies was no small feat. Filming required plenty of dedication and countless hours on set. But, one scene, in particular, took a tremendous amount of care and work ethic from multiple channels. That scene comes from the seventh film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. Near the beginning of the film, The Order of the Phoenix arrives at Privet Drive to transport Harry to safety.

The making of ‘The Seven Harrys’

As a precautionary measure, six people (Ron Weasley, Hermoine Granger, Fred Weasley, George Weasley, Fleur Delacour, and Mundungus Fletcher) all take polyjuice potion to transform themselves into Harry look-alikes. It’s a wonderful scene to watch, but it was particularly difficult to shoot. In fact, the scene broke the record for the number of takes for all of the Harry Potter movies. ‘The Seven Harrys’ scene required an astronomical 95 takes to film.

But just how was this scene accomplished? In the behind-the-scenes footage for the film, the cast and crew revealed how the scene was executed. “Basically you have a motion control camera and it’s programmed by computer so that it does exactly the same moves each time. We’d shoot one version with me as one of the characters and we shoot another version with me as another character. And it was very specific stuff so like if you’ve moved too far an inch to your left, it was unusable because then you would, in theory, be standing on a version of me,” Daniel Radcliffe (who plays Harry Potter) revealed.

Each actor gave their own rendition of Harry Potter

That was the technical aspect of the shot but David Yates (who directed the final three Harry Potter movies) also had Radcliffe imbue a bit of each person’s character into his performance as well. Therefore, the other actors had to act out the scene as their characters for Radcliffe to emulate. That way, the scene looked more authentic and the audience was able to have more fun differentiating between Hermoine-Harry, Fleur-Harry, etc.

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For his part, Radcliffe enjoyed the opportunity to examine his fellow actors and use their mannerisms in his performance. “You start to look at people in a very analytical way when you’re kind of studying them. Like Rupert [Grint] walks with a real wiggle in his hips you know it’s actually quite a sexy walk if, you know, if that’s appropriate to say,” the Harry Potter star shared.

The cast utilized special makeup and technology

To show the characters transforming into Harry, special ultraviolet makeup was used to capture facial expressions. Nearly 30 cameras were utilized to capture the actors’ expressions from all angles and then the special effects team was able to blend them all together so that the effect looked seamless. When the movie was shot, over ten years ago, the technology was very new, so all parties felt excited about getting to utilize it.

The spines on Harry Potter books
Harry Potter books

Seeing a pivotal scene from the books translated so perfectly to the movies was a real treat for Potterheads. Though it took a lot of effort to execute, the payoff was phenomenal. Yates summed up the experience best when he said, “It is the film equivalent of actually doing a magic trick and I think people will have the same kind of wide-eyed childlike response.”