Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Japanese Press Conference
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban press conference, June 28, 2004, Tokyo, Japan.
Source: Radio Nikkei (audio clip).
Transcript by allo for DanRadcliffe.com.
On June 28th, 2004, a press conference was held at the Roppongi Grand Hyatt Hotel, Tokyo, to mark the release of “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” in Japan. Emma Watson (“Hermione”), Rupert Grint (“Ron”), director Alfonso Cuaron and producer David Heyman were present in Japan, and Daniel Radcliffe (“Harry”) participated in the press conference via satellite from London. This is a transcript of the proceedings.
AC: Can you see Daniel? (Checking video screen, which is blank)
DR: I’m here.
AC: I’m thrilled to be here. This is amazing. I think the Harry Potter fans in Japan are the number one Harry Potter fans in the world so this is the natural territory of this film. So I’m just absolutely thrilled and I’m proud and happy to have David, our producer, and our lovely cast, Rupert and Emma, and apparently Daniel is going to join us later, right?
DH: By satellite linkup with Daniel.
AC: There is going to be a satellite linkup to prove that Daniel Radcliffe doesn’t exist, that he’s a computer generated creature!
EW: Konichiwa! This is my first time in Japan. I’ve wanted to come here for a long time and so far, everyone’s been so friendly and so welcoming, which is lovely, and I’m having a fantastic time. I’m really excited to be here. NIHONDAISUKI!
RG: Japan is wicked! I’ve always wanted to come here and it’s been really cool. I’ve really liked it.
DH: Hello, thank you all for being here and thank you for making us all feel so welcome. I came to Japan last time with Daniel and you made us feel so welcome and I’m so excited to be back here again. The Japan Harry Potter fans are the most loyal fans in the world – as Alfonso said, they’re the number one Potter fans – so thank you and as Emma Watson, my Japanese teacher, said: NIHONDAISUKI!
(Daniel Radcliffe appears on the video screen)
Host: Hello Daniel! May we have a few words from you, Daniel?
DR: I’m very sorry that I can’t be with you today but I’m in London filming Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the underwater sequence at the moment. Hello to all of you guys, David, Rupert, Emma, Alfonso, hello. I hope I will come back for the fourth film because I love Japan. I went there a couple of years ago with David, it was absolutely fantastic.
Q: Daniel, are you sitting in a movie set right now?
DR: I’m in the Gryffindor common room set at the moment, yes.
Q: Is something going to happen in that room, in the movie?
DR: Yes, actually, you’re right. Many things happen! In the third film, or in the fourth film?
Q: In the fourth film, in the new film that you’re filming right now?
DR: I’m almost certain that something does happen but I can’t actually remember what at the moment!
Host: Thank you Daniel, and we will start the question and answer session here in Tokyo from now, OK?
Q: The question is, besides Harry’s character, who are you closest to, do you think? Hermione or Ron? Personality-wise…
DR: Who am I most like? Oh God…!
DH: I think you’re a cross between the two.
DR: I think you’re absolutely right, David!
RG: I think he’s [Ron’s] pretty much the opposite of Hermione. Probably I’d have to say Harry then. Oh, me? Probably Harry because I’m not really into school and that. Yeah, I’ll go with Harry!
EW: Um, that’s a hard question. Probably, like Dan (I’m going to steal your answer there), a mixture of the two.
Q: This movie was very exciting, the camera work was dynamic too. How did you feel when you first saw the completed film?
DR: It was amazing because when you’ve worked on a film for 10, 11 months, to see it all put together is a fantastic moment. And it’s a fantastic film so it was brilliant to see what Alfonso had done with it for the first time. It was a great moment.
RG: Seeing the film was amazing because you get to see all the special effects that you didn’t get to see when you were filming it, like all the dementors and that. It was really cool.
EW: As Dan was saying, when you’ve worked on a film for such a massive amount of time, and you have no clue what it’s going to look like as a finished product, it’s very exciting. Also, a lot of the special effects and a lot of the things they add in after, it’s really really exciting to see them. Great moment.
AC: I felt relieved, and I was pleasantly surprised because the movie ended up pretty much the movie that I wanted it to be in the first place. The movie that I wanted to make was a movie that reflected the spirit of the book so I felt relief in that sense – I felt it was reflecting that spirit. Also, it was great to finally see all these elements together. For months and months the cast was performing against a ball and stick, and that ball and a stick was replaced by computer-generated creatures. I have to say that I learned something about these computer generated creatures and that is that it doesn’t matter how good they are, and how well-crafted they are, they don’t come to life until there’s a human element. So, a dementor is only going to be as scary as how Daniel Radcliffe reacts with fear, and the hippogriff is going to be as cute or tender as long as the reactions of the actors toward the hippogriff. Otherwise, it’s just a computer generated thing. What is great is how this cast brought all these computer generated characters to life.
DH: For me, it was a remarkable thing, seeing the film altogether, as Alfonso and Rupert, Emma and Daniel have said, for so long they’re acting against a yellow ball or something that’s not there and then when you see everything put together, it all makes sense. But Alfonso had such a clear idea of the film he was making from the beginning – that’s not to say that there weren’t surprises along the way – but he really did have an overall vision of the film. It’s not a series of episodes, it’s a whole film and he knew exactly what he wanted. When you look at the storyboards that were done for many of his sequences or you look at the previsualization – we do these animated cartoons of sequences that have a lot of special effects – when you look at those that were done before we started filming and then you look at what actually ends up in the film it’s exactly the same. Alfonso had in his head the film he wanted to make and he made it. So for me, when I saw it all together, it was a very exciting moment. I really feel that it is exactly the film that should have been made of the book. Jo Rowling has said that it’s her favorite of the three films. She even said that those things that were changed, nobody will miss and those things that Alfonso had added, she wished she’d thought of herself. So for me it was a great experience and I know it was also that way for Jo Rowling.
Daniel, this is a question for you. He really felt that you’d grown up in this movie – you’re taller and more mature. When do you feel in your daily life that you’re more grown up, that you’re more mature?
DR: Not very often. I don’t know. I haven’t grown that much. It’s now quite depressing because Emma’s taller than me. But I hope I’ve grown as an actor. Everything I learned with Chris, Alfonso took to a new level so I think that it’s down to Alfonso that I’ve grown as an actor. I owe that to him.
Q: Daniel, can you tell us what sort of fan mail do you get from Japan? What do they say to you in their letters?
DR: Probably about 50 percent of the fan letters I get overall are from Japan, and they’re just the most amazing letters because the presentation is just amazing. I can’t tell you what they all say because that wouldn’t be quite fair but they’re fantastic letters and thank you to everyone in Japan who continues to support the film.
Q: We know that you work well together and that you’re good friends as well. So, Emma and Rupert, we want you to tell us what you think of Daniel and what kind of person he is, and Daniel would you please tell us what you think of Rupert and Emma?
DR: Be very careful!
EW: Dan’s a very, very good friend. He has a fantastic sense of humor, he keeps everyone on the set laughing and entertained. He’s a great guy, he’s down to earth and I actually genuinely like him. There you go!
RG: We get on really well, we have a really good time. It’s really good when you’re filming when you really get on – it seems to go better. He’s alright! We get on really well.
DR: You’re too kind!
Host: So now it’s your turn, Daniel!
EW: No pressure!
DR: Me, Rupert and Emma are all just really good friends. It’s just great to be on the set with them and as Rupert said, if we really hated each other it would make things a lot more difficult so it’s pretty lucky that we actually get on very well. Emma is like a sister to me and Rupert is a really, really awesome friend so we get on really really well. And thank you very much Emma, you were very kind about me there!
Q: So Mr Cuaron, you saw these three on the set. Did they really get along with each other?
AC: (joking) No, they hate each other! It’s so hard to keep them from fighting all the time! That’s the reason Daniel didn’t come – the real reason is because they’re not on speaking terms any more!
DR: They wouldn’t let me on the plane!
AC: No, actually, the problem of the three of them getting along so well is that they tend to team against you, so that was the only downside about them getting along so well!
Q: You have been practising magic for some time now and the level of your knowledge has probably gone up as well. So if you were really able to do magic, what would you like to do and what kind of things would you like to use the magic for?
EW: I’d like to be able to come to Tokyo without suffering jetlag.
RG: I’d really like to become invisible. That would be cool because then I could escape from exams.
DR: There’s a spell that Hermione uses probably about a hundred times in the first film which is “Alohomora” and it opens doors, and that would be really cool because then you could get anywhere, pretty much.
Q: Which door would you like to open with that spell?
DR: That’s a very good question!
Q: The emotions of the three were really well portrayed in this film. What kind of advice did you receive from the director, from Ms. Rowling and from the other cast members in creating your own character? And for you, Mr Cuaron, including the ad libs that they did, what kind of thing did you learn from the cast members?
EW: I’ve never been told anything specifically, well, not from any of the actors, but I’m lucky enough to work with so many talented people that just watching them and admiring them from a distance is enough for me to improve as an actress. One the things that I was very flattered by was Alfonso’s willingness to listen to our ideas. I was very flattered when he asked us to write an essay because it showed that he cared what we thought. That was a massive compliment to me. I loved the freedom that he gave me to explore my character and take it to another level. Alfonso is a fantastically energetic director and I think I’ve learned a lot from working with him.
RG: As Emma said, I can’t really remember any specific piece of advice that he gave us but depending on the scene, he would always run us down on what was going on. He was good like that. Oh yeah, the essays, as Emma mentioned – it could have been quite useful but I forgot to do it. But luckily he thought it was sort of like my character so I got away with it.
DR: Obviously, the essay was incredibly helpful but I think Alfonso’s direction was what carried the film and was what helped me to develop again. The only specific piece of advice I got from an actor was from Emma Thompson where we were doing a scene and it was literally a walk out and I was overthinking it too much and I was debating with myself whether I should walk or whether I should run and Emma Thompson turned to me and said “Dan, just do it!” and I did and it worked perfectly and that was it and that’s the shot that’s in the film.
Q: Mr Heyman?
DH: Did Alfonso give me any direction? All the time! There would be no films without these three kids. They are the reasons why the films shine in the way that they do. They each embody their characters so successfully. Rupert talks about not writing the essay, well, true to character, Emma wrote around 65 pages on her character and Dan wrote a couple of pages so the response to even the essay was true to character. They’re fantastic – they bring an enthusiasm which is infectious. I think they make everybody around them as enthusiastic as they are. They bring in energy and are completely uncynical. It’s been great to see them grow. I think in this film, the performances are much more nuanced, much more developed, much more thoughtful and yet you never think that they’re acting, they’re just being. They’re great and clearly they do contribute – they are in their own ways very like their characters so they contribute immeasurably.
AC: Part of the question is what I learned from them. I learned so much, I’m very thankful to them because a movie like this is such a long process and you feel exhausted. But these three guys, they don’t lose their enthusiasm. They can be responsible and at the same time have fun. They can be mischievous and at the same time be generous. They work longer hours probably than any of us, because they do their work and go to school. Any time I would start complaining to myself about how tired I am, about how tough this process is, in a way, they would be my masters. I would just observe them and realize that I was a wimp. Their inner strength is absolutely beautiful.
DR: You were working 25 hour days.
AC: I’m very thankful to you guys. For me, it is something that transcends a film. It is very present in my head and in my heart. It’s something that will keep on going for the rest of my life.
EW: I know that David and Rupert and Dan and Alfonso would never give themselves very much credit so somebody has to say it for them. The people who put forward the film that you see now work so hard. Dan is one of the most determined people I have ever seen. He astounds me because he is always in there, he always has enthusiasm and he is always focused and it means so much to him and he deserves… all these people deserve any credit that you give them.
Q: Daniel, can we have a final comment from you, and after that, we will end the press conference.
DR: Thank you very much and I hope you enjoy the film and I hope I can come back there soon because I absolutely love it there. And I hope everyone loves the film – I’m sure they will, it’s a really fantastic film. Thank you very much, everyone.