14 NOVEMBER 2001
With just two days to go before the long-awaited release of Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, star Robbie Coltrane says the film is the perfect cinematic escape for these uncertain times.
“It’s about the triumph of good over evil and we can all use a bit of that,” he says of the film, which looks set to storm the box office on both sides of the Atlantic on Friday.
In the big-screen adaptation of the best-selling novel Robbie plays Hagrid, a giant who befriends Harry and his pals Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Before filming began on the movie, Robbie spent some time getting to know his pint-sized co-stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint.
“It’s very important to have an off-screen chemistry with the children if you’re going to have it on-screen,” he told the BBC. “Kids can’t fake liking somebody, so we hung out a bit beforehand.”
Of course that hanging out involved more than sipping the book’s fictional butterbeer. The youngsters, it seems, played their share of jokes on the larger-than-life actor.
“We made labels saying ‘kick me’ and stuck them on Robbie’s back,” shares Emma, who plays Hermione. “Robbie Coltrane’s got the best sense of humour ever.”
Harry himself, 12-year-old Daniel, also enjoyed a few jokes at Robbie’s expense, having changed the actor’s mobile phone text screen to Turkish. “It’s impossible to change it back unless you know the Turkish for ‘change language’,” laughs Robbie.
But don’t think the veteran actor didn’t retaliate. Whenever the kids were on screen, Robbie came up with creative ways to distract them. “If the camera’s on them and you stick your finger up your nose, they’re gone,” he says.
The foursome shared not only time but neighbouring dressing rooms as well. “I said get me away from those beasts,” jokes Robbie, who also signed on for the film’s sequel. Despite the high-jinks, Robbie enjoyed the 130 days filming alongside the talented youngsters, who he assures are not “showbiz brats” but rather “proper kids”.
Robbie had high praise for his young co-stars, calling Rupert a deft comedian. He applauded Emma for her “tremendous natural elegance”. And also tips his hat to Daniel for taking on the titular hero.
“Playing Harry Potter must be a terrible responsibility for a wee boy,” says Robbie. “But he’s very like Harry.”
For more on Harry Potter, check out HELLO’s special on the phenomenon.