On New Year’s Day 2022, HBO Max released the long-awaited and highly-anticipated Harry Potter 20th Anniversary Return to Hogwarts special and took wizards, witches, and muggles on an exquisite journey back to where it all began some two decades ago. This enchanting experience, which was equal parts retrospective and reunion, was full of great moments and interactions between the cast and crew who shared memories of their time together, as well as the cultural impact of the Harry Potter movies and books on which they were based.
While we would all love to go back and watch the insightful special over and over again, that isn’t possible for everyone in the Wizarding World. Fear not, though, as we have put together a list of nine memorable moments from Return to Hogwarts that can’t be obliviated.
The Core Harry Potter Trio Remembering How Well They Clicked During The Casting Process
A large part of the Harry Potter 20th Anniversary Return to Hogwarts special is made up of the interactions between the cast members, with some of the best moments coming from the conversations shared by Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, who played Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley, respectively.
During one of the many sit-downs with the core of the Harry Potter movies, the three actors looked back on their first screen-test together and how it immediately felt like the right combination. At one point, Watson revealed that something “felt different” about the paring and that she clearly remembered the “click” of their chemistry working.
Daniel Radcliffe Telling Gary Oldman That Alan Rickman Was The Only Person (Besides J.K. Rowling) Who Knew The Plan All Along
It has long been known that J.K. Rowling gave Alan Rickman “a tiny piece of information” about his character Severus Snape that had not yet been revealed in the books, and so it should come as no surprise that this would come up during the reunion special. But, what is surprising is that one of the franchise’s most notable stars, Gary Oldman, didn’t know the late Rickman did know what so many others didn’t while making the movies.
Oldman, who portrayed Sirius Black starting with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, discovered this while chatting with Daniel Radcliffe in a moment that is both enlightening and hilarious, especially when the two former co-stars start acting like Rickman explaining the situation to Chris Columbus, who directed the first two movies.
Chris Columbus And Daniel Radcliffe Remembering Not Wanting To ‘Break The Spell’ When Richard Harris Thought The Phoenix Was Real
One of the funniest moments of the Harry Potter 20th Anniversary Return to Hogwarts special takes place when Chris Columbus and Daniel Radcliffe sit down and talk about the time original Dumbledore actor Richard Harris thought Fawkes the Phoenix in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was not an animatronic but a real-life bird that had been trained to follow him around him.
The two, between laughs, explain that neither they nor the production crew wanted to “break the spell,” and so they just kept the bird moving and reacting to avoid any issues. It isn’t known if Harris ever wised up, but if he did it wasn't because of Columbus or Radcliffe.
Emma Watson And Rupert Grint Opening Up About The Pressures Of Stardom And Thoughts Of Walking Away
Emma Watson and Rupert Grint will forever go down as two of the brightest stars of the Harry Potter movies but both of young actors once considered departing the franchise before it was completed. Even though Watson and Grint both have talked about the desire to walk away from it all in the past, the Harry Potter 20th Anniversary Return to Hogwarts special showed the two talking about their respective journeys in great detail.
During one of their one-on-one chats, Watson and Grint explained that around Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was where things began to come to a head, at which time Watson began to have fears about the enormity of the franchise and how it would impact everything. Later on, Grint said that he had similar feelings, but no one really talked about it at the time.
Daniel Radcliffe Talking About How Cedric Diggory’s Death In The Goblet Of Fire Changed His Perspective Of The Franchise
The death of Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson) in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was a major turning point in the franchise, but it was also a big shift for Daniel Radcliffe and his perception of the movies.
In the reunion special, Radcliffe explained that it was the first time Harry has to deal with the death of someone young who is close to him, and that even though the movies were made for kids, there’s some “challenging stuff” to overcome. Adding on to this, director Mike Newell said the death was the moment the franchise “comes of age” and marks the end of childhood.
Helena Bonham Carter Sharing The Letter Daniel Radcliffe Wrote Her During Order Of The Phoenix
One of the most pleasantly surprising moments of the Harry Potter 20th Anniversary Return to Hogwarts special comes when Daniel Radcliffe and Helena Bonham Carter sit down for a chat. This segment (which could be a special of its own) features a moment where Carter shares a letter Radcliffe wrote to her after Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in which he shared an inside joke (being a coaster) before saying he wish he had been born 10 years earlier because he “might’ve been in with a chance.” This short conversation is worth revisiting for Radcliffe’s laugh alone.
Daniel Radcliffe Had A Grand Time Giving Emma Watson And Rupert Grint Grief During Their Kiss Scene
The epic kiss shared by Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II is one of the most fulfilling moments of the entire franchise, and while the moment wasn’t fun for Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe had a grand old time with the whole matter. In the reunion special, Radcliffe explained that he was told he was being an “absolute dick” about the situation because he kept saying he was going to come on set and watch the awkward moment between friends.
The Emotional Tribute To Richard Harris, Alan Rickman And Other Harry Potter Stars Who Have Passed Away
Some of the best actors of the modern era popped up in the Harry Potter movies over the years, but sadly more than a few of those names are no longer with us. The reunion special does a tremendous job of paying respects to Richard Harris, Alan Rickman, Helen McCrory, Richard Griffiths and the rest of the late stars who have since passed in an emotional tribute that featured some of their most iconic scenes along with comments made by the surviving members of the cast and crew. This beautiful moment is executed flawlessly.
Daniel Radcliffe Talking About How The Harry Potter Franchise And Its Crew Impacted His Life
The Harry Potter 20th Anniversary Return to Hogwarts special ends with another great touching moment, this time it's Daniel Radcliffe talking about the impact the franchise and its crew has had on his life since he started the journey all those years ago:
During this entire segment you can see the raw emotion on Daniel Radcliffe’s face and in his voice as he attempts to hold back his tears.
These are just some of the great moments from the Harry Potter 20th Anniversary Return to Hogwarts special. After going through all of these, I think I'll boot it up again on HBO Max.
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Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.
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