TARA BROWN: It just feels like yesterday when the impossibly cute Mr Potter first went to Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In fact, his first day was seven years ago. Since then, there have been four films, each grossing more than a billion dollars. But more charming has been the chance to see these three young actors, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe, grow before our eyes. They’re down-to-earth, likeable, teenagers, but every day they’re reminded they’re also rich and famous teenagers.
EMMA WATSON: Everywhere I go people stop me, recognise me. I mean, I don’t know quite how to explain it. It’s just completely turned my life upside down so, yeah, just — you just have to kind of adapt, I guess.
TARA BROWN: And can anything prepare you for that?
EMMA WATSON: Um, no. You just … no. You just … just take it as it comes, I guess.
TARA BROWN: How has the Harry Potter movies helped with your female fan base?
RUPERT GRINT: Yeah. Well, definitely here you get a bit more attention, I guess. I’m, like, still getting recognised and that’s still quite strange.
TARA BROWN: I’ve heard you — you’re not reluctant to perhaps date a female fan. Is that true?
RUPERT GRINT: No, I’m not too fussy, yeah.
TARA BROWN: And the star, 17-year-old Daniel Radcliffe, well, who would have thought he’d become a heart-throb? Now, fame and fortune — how’s that going with attracting the girls?
DANIEL RADCLIFFE: Nothing particularly, I don’t know if it helps a huge amount, I don’t know, I don’t really know.
TARA BROWN: Has it hindered?
DANIEL RADCLIFFE: I don’t think it’s hindered, either, no, not hindered. It’s fine, really. I don’t really know if it’s made too much of a difference.
TARA BROWN: I’ve read some of the things. You know, you’ve had placards saying ‘Mrs Radcliffe here!’ Things thrown at you.
DANIEL RADCLIFFE: Yes, that was one very particular girl who I have very vivid memories of who was — who sort of chased us around New York when we were last there. Yeah, she was very determined.
TARA BROWN: So who’s pottier, do you think? British, American or Australian girls?
DANIEL RADCLIFFE: Definitely American girls.
TARA BROWN: On screen, Harry’s discovering girls, too. In his last movie, a female classmate casts her spell on the young wizard. And in this new film, we finally get the much-anticipated kiss. It’s short and sweet. What was the first kiss like?
DANIEL RADCLIFFE: Oh, that was fine. That wasn’t one of the challenging parts really. I mean, that was — I was a bit nervous to start with but after that, after the first few takes, it became sort of very easy really.
TARA BROWN: I read somewhere that you were actually a bit disappointed. It wasn’t quite as sexy as you thought it would be.
DANIEL RADCLIFFE: Well, this is the thing, it never is on screen. I mean, in real life, it’s not very sexy. There’s something about doing it in front of all those people, really takes away any edge it might have had.
TARA BROWN: The Order of the Phoenix is the fifth film in the series. It’s darker and edgier but with the same faithful friends and fearsome foes. Are you still getting a kick out of it?
DANIEL RADCLIFFE: Yeah, I am actually. When you get some brilliant reactions from kids, when you totally freak them out, I think that, for me, is the power of magic.
TARA BROWN: Now, Hermione has been an infuriatingly sensible witch all along. Now she’s loosened up a little bit in this film. Does that make her more fun to play?
EMMA WATSON: Yeah, I really enjoyed playing kind of her rebellious side. She kind of breaks free a bit because previously she’s played by the rules and would rather die than be expelled so yeah, I’m the rebel.
TARA BROWN: It was this British woman’s extraordinary imagination and determination that brought Harry Potter to life. JK Rowling was a single mum who dreamt up the story on a train trip, wrote it in an Edinburgh cafè and was repeatedly knocked back by publishers. Rowling rarely gives interviews. Her last one was 12 months ago on British TV but her days of hardship are clearly still raw.
JK ROWLING: I mean, not to crack out the violins or anything, but if you have been through a few years where things have been very tough — and they were very tough — and it’s all — it’s not so much romanticised but it’s dismissed in half a sentence, ‘Oh, starving in a garret’ and occasionally I thought, ‘Well, you try it, pal’. I thought this would be life for 20 years.
TARA BROWN: Enter Barry Cunningham — the only publisher who agreed to put Harry into print after receiving the treasured manuscript in a brown paper parcel.
BARRY CUNNINGHAM: And I read it that night, I read it that evening. I laughed and I was intrigued and I really liked it, and so I bought it the next morning.
TARA BROWN: How much did you pay in total?
BARRY CUNNINGHAM: Well, a very low amount. I’m never allowed to say but it’s — it’s in the lower amount of the amount that you can think is a low amount, but it’s probably slightly below that. And, so, it’s probably the best investment anybody has ever made.
TARA BROWN: Did you tell JK Rowling that one day this will be a phenomena?
BARRY CUNNINGHAM: Well, no. Actually, I told her the opposite. It’s highly embarrassing. So I said that she should get a day job because she’d never make any money out of children’s books.
TARA BROWN: Bum ba! Today, the queen of children’s literature is richer than the Queen of England. Of course, JK won’t confirm it but it’s believed she’s a billionaire.
JK ROWLING: I have to say initially people were reporting — they still do frequently report much more than I’ve got — but I mean, I’m not pretending I’m not hugely wealthy. And, um, so that’s weird and mind-warping when you’re used to counting every penny.
TV HOST: 70 quid a week you were on before you got published?
JK ROWLING: Yeah, yeah.
TARA BROWN: JK Rowling has now sold 325 million copies of her books. Then there’s the movie rights, merchandise and next, a Harry Potter theme park. Even in the quaint world of book collecting, where modern books aren’t prized, you pay a hefty price for Harry. Okay, how much is a Harry Potter book worth?
ADRIAN HARRINGTON: It depends on which one you’re talking about.
TARA BROWN: Adrian Harrington normally trades in rare, old books, but the first edition of the first Potter book is a collector’s item because only 350 were printed.
ADRIAN HARRINGTON: This one is marked at 32,500 pounds.
TARA BROWN: You know, that’s $75,000 in Australia.
ADRIAN HARRINGTON: Wow!
TARA BROWN: So, you wouldn’t give it to me for nothing?
ADRIAN HARRINGTON: I’d give it to you for a … I’d give you a discount.
TARA BROWN: In all this talk of money, it’s easy to overlook the magic of Harry Potter’s beginnings. It was children like these who really made Harry Potter. Before all the hype, they fell in love with a great story and they told their friends about it, who passed it on to their friends. So, what is it about the Harry Potter book that you like so much?
GIRL: I like the way they get to kind of keep pets which you wouldn’t usually have, like an owl, and I like the way it has magic.
BOY: I loved reading the Harry Potter books. They’re so fun to read and you can just immerse yourself in the Harry Potter world of gallons and wands and your hippogriffs and all those magical creatures.
TARA BROWN: But the dream is about to end. On July 21, the seventh, and final, Harry Potter adventure will go on sale. It’s expected to be the fastest selling book of all time, with fans desperate to know what happens to Harry. Bets are he gets the chop. The dramatic end is top secret but recently JK’s hinted at what she plans to do to her most-loved characters.
JK ROWLING: The last, final chapter is hidden away, although it’s now changed very slightly. I have to say two die that I hadn’t hoped to die, so…
TV HOST: Two much-loved ones?
JK ROWLING: Well, you know, the price has to be paid. We are dealing with pure evil so they don’t target the extras, do they? They go for the main characters.
TARA BROWN: Do you know which loved characters she kills off?
BARRY CUNNINGHAM: Yes.
TARA BROWN: Oh, tell me!
BARRY CUNNINGHAM: But I’m not telling you. You know, I’ve had many interrogations by 11, 12, 13-year-olds who are far more violent than you, and I’ve not told yet. So, you’re not going to get it out of me just that easy.
TARA BROWN: Oh, come on! What will it take?
BARRY CUNNINGHAM: I’m afraid, I’m afraid it will take more wizardry than is available in this studio.
TARA BROWN: Even the movie’s stars have no idea. How do you think the series is going to end?
RUPERT GRINT: I don’t know, really.
TARA BROWN: Well, the latest theory I’ve read is that you kill Harry.
RUPERT GRINT: Really?
TARA BROWN: Yes.
RUPERT GRINT: Well … I didn’t expect that.
TARA BROWN: You didn’t?
RUPERT GRINT: Maybe, yeah, I don’t know anything’s possible, I guess.
TARA BROWN: Some young fans of the Harry Potter series that I’ve spoken to think that your brains, as Hermione, are going to undo you.
EMMA WATSON: Oh, right! Oh, gosh.
TARA BROWN: And some of them don’t even mind if you die a painful death.
EMMA WATSON: Oh, that’s outrageous! Oh well, you know, as long as everyone sobs and cries and I have a really, really great dramatic kind of death then I guess that would be okay, but God, that’s really harsh. I’ve never really thought about that.
TARA BROWN: And what do you want to happen in book seven?
BOY: Well, this might sound strange but I sort of do want Harry Potter to die.
TARA BROWN: Why?
GIRL: Oh my God, you’re evil.
BOY: He thinks he’s so great now and he’s always right.
TARA BROWN: Would you like Harry Potter to die, too? Do you want him to die a painful death?
GIRL: What’s the point?
BOY: But he shouldn’t actually die in pain. Yes, he should be in pain before that but he shouldn’t actually die while he’s feeling pain. That would just be disappointing.
GIRL: I don’t want any of them to die — I wouldn’t wish death on anyone.
TARA BROWN: Can you imagine life after Harry Potter?
DANIEL RADCLIFFE: It’s a struggle. I don’t know, because it’s been a part of my life for so long. It’s hard to picture it without it, but, you know, — obviously there will be life after Harry Potter and, um, it’s exciting in some ways, the prospect of that.
TARA BROWN: Back in Harry Potter’s world, the magic continues. All the young stars are signed to do the last two films so, over the next three years, we’ll be seeing a lot more of Harry, Ron and Hermione. In the meantime, having bought a house in Melbourne, Daniel Radcliffe is as bewitched by Australia as we are by him.
DANIEL RADCLIFFE: I love Australia and Australia is getting sick of hearing me say that, but, um, probably, but, you know, I love being out there, I love the people, though I loathe your cricket team so, so vehemently because they’re just, they’re probably one of the best teams the world has ever seen.
TARA BROWN: You’re a sore loser, that’s why.
DANIEL RADCLIFFE: Of course I’m a sore loser, yes. There’s nothing wrong with that! You wait till 2009.
TARA BROWN: Oh, yeah, we’ll keep waiting. Good luck.