News Archive - April 2004
HPPOA Press Conference Coverage

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban US Premiere

by ClaireMay 23, 2004

Our staff was invited to attend the premiere of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in New York City. We have video, photos and a report with some quotage from Daniel. Click the read more button to see what Dan had to say to fans and to read our event report.

Click here to watch the video
Click here to see our images

May 23, 2004 dawned hot and humid, and the heat kept getting progressively worse as I made my way towards Radio City Music Hall in New York City to cover the red carpet arrivals at the premiere of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on behalf of By 1.45PM, there was already an impressive media line to pick up the required press passes to get by security, so I crossed the street and decided to go work the crowd. Harry Potter fans were lined up five rows deep behind security barriers on the sidewalk across from the red carpet. Some had been waiting since 7.00AM and, despite the oppressive heat, showed no signs of imminent meltdown. Everyone wanted to see Tom Felton, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and, of course, Daniel Radcliffe.

The people from the media who stood in our immediate area were all extremely pleasant (which was a good thing since we were asked to conduct interviews and share questions in small groups in order to save time), and included representatives from BBC Radio, Mugglenet and a Brazilian television station. We were all wilting against the security barriers by the time the first limousine arrived around 2.55PM and the crowd went wild! Screaming, crying and calling out the stars’ names, the fans were in a frenzy. One by one, cast members, directors and producers filed by and stopped at various areas on the red carpet in order to answer questions. The first cast members I met were Devon Murray (Seamus Finnegan), Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley), James Phelps (Fred Weasley) and Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom). None of these young actors had seen the finished movie yet, but all agreed that Prisoner of Azkaban was going to amaze fans of all ages.

When producers and adult cast members were asked how they felt about this latest installment in the Harry Potter series, the feedback was unanimous as well: “The fans will love it! The visuals are stunning,” said producer Mark Radcliffe.  Producer Christopher Columbus added “Parents are very excited because they have a shorter film to look forward to. It’s darker, visually stunning and a really exciting movie.” Columbus sees Prisoner of Azkaban as more of a thriller and explained that the reason they were able to “trim the film a little bit and really make it fly” is because the world of Harry Potter was already set up in the first two movies. When asked how he thought the public would react to Alfonso Cuaron’s new directorial style, Columbus had nothing but good things to say: “I think it’s great. I think it’s a wonderful playground for a director. You’ve got a guy that comes in. You have a cast, you have a set, you have the world, and you get to play with it.” Alan Rickman (Professor Snape) had this to say about Cuaron when asked the same question: “He’s a wonderful director. He has a big child inside him so I think that’ll be up on the screen.”

Meeting Rupert Grint, Tom Felton and Emma Watson was like a breath of fresh air. Quiet and soft-spoken, Rupert comes across as a very shy and sweet guy. Tom Felton, on the other hand, is very much at ease with both the press and the public, revealing a fine sense of humour and a high level of self confidence (he actually chose to arrive at the premiere on foot, as did Jamie Waylett, who plays Vincent Crabbe in the movie). Both Rupert and Tom were astounded by the response of the crowd, but “loved all those screaming New York girls!” They also agreed that Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is indeed a much darker movie than the two first ones and, to quote Tom, “not as friendly.” Then Tom decided to make us all laugh with an impromptu demonstration of what he calls “the power of the hand”: he simply waived at the crowd and the noise level was bumped up yet another notch or two!

Emma Watson appeared both poised and playful, gesturing wildly every time she spoke. Looking fresh and comfortable in flat shoes and a strapless summer dress (compared to all the male cast members who were baking in suits and ties), Emma shared a few thoughts about why she thinks Harry Potter appeals to so many children and adults throughout the world. “I suppose it’s because Harry Potter is a bit like Santa Claus. You wish it to be real, even though it’s not. It’s magical.”

Rupert, Emma and Dan have of course changed quite a bit since the making of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. “We’re all teenagers now,” explained Emma. Christopher Columbus chose to elaborate: “When they started filming the first movie, they (the trio of young stars) basically were able to get their one or two lines without losing their concentration. By the second film, they were able to do maybe three lines, but with this film, they went through entire scenes. I really feel like a proud father here.”

Friendly and enthusiastic, Alfonso Cuaron had this to add: “The kids are absolutely awesome. They take themselves seriously as actors. It was fantastic!” Cuaron, who directed this movie, admits that he had very little knowledge of the Potter Universe prior to the making of Prisoner of Azkaban. “I read the third book and fell in love with it and just had to direct this movie. I also immediately read the rest of the books to make sure I wasn’t about to contradict something that was already said.”

My energy sources were by now thoroughly depleted (though the fans were still as noisy and enthusiastic as ever!) and then just as suddenly replenished: Daniel Radcliffe was standing just a few feet away from me; the moment we’d ALL been waiting for had finally arrived. Dan is the personification of grace under pressure. Stopping to speak with as many media representatives as time would allow (which at this point wasn’t very much), he was generous, genuine, and extremely friendly. Amazed and overwhelmed by the fans’ boisterous reaction, he enthused: “All these screaming girls. It’s amazing. Wow! It’s so gratifying to see everyone come out to support your film. It’s amazing. I’m saying amazing too much, sorry!” Dan found the New York premiere to be a little overwhelming, but he says he believes the London premiere is going to be mad!

I finally got to introduce myself as Coralie from, and Dan flashed that devastatingly charming trademark grin at me and said “Oh wow! That’s fantastic!” With no time left for serious questions (the media part of the event was about to wrap up), Dan had a few words to say for the readers of, and here are his actual words, hot off the red carpet: “Thank you very much for everything, for supporting me, for supporting the film. Thank you very much indeed.” I then handed Dan a lovely drawing that a fan had asked me to give him. “I look a lot better here,” he quipped, “I’m terrible at art generally. That’s fantastic!”. I then gave him some sweets and a note thanking him for the interview on behalf of before he moved on to the next and final group waiting in line to meet him.  

The time had come for a few last group pictures before we were told to move inside the theatre to see the actual movie. The CEO of Warner Brothers was there to officially introduce the cast members and, when Dan came on stage, the applause could have brought the house down! The CEO then gave a short speech, in essence “the people you see before you worked really hard for almost two years to bring you the outstanding, fabulous picture you’re going to see today.” Alfonso Cuaron then added “I thought that I worked very hard until I saw my wife dealing with my baby!” He then dedicated the movie to her. Very sweet!

Finally, the lights went out and the magic began to unfold. The movie was amazing and it was the perfect ending to a perfect day!                                                                                        

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