Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Dark, Grave World

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” the new chapter in the lives of Harry and his friends and foes, blends humor and heartbreak, romance and redemption, and the past and the present as never before. Moreover, in the wake of Lord Voldemort’s return, the choice between good and evil has more serious ramifications.

Having scripted the first four Harry Potter films, Steve Kloves returned to the franchise to write the screenplay for “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” Producer Norman Heyman comments, “In this film, more than in the previous ones, there are a number of narrative threads to follow, so that was one of the great challenges. We were blessed to have another wonderful screenplay from Steve Kloves, who wove them all together brilliantly. And director David Yates really made them gel. He is a formidable director. Apart from telling a good story, the humanity of the characters is so important to him and he continues to draw out new sides of our actors that even I had never seen before.”

Choices We Make

Heyman offers, “One of the central themes in the Harry Potter books is the choices we make are what ultimately define us. It’s also something we have explored and will continue to explore in the films. Each of the books, as well as the respective films, chronicles a different year in Harry’s life, and the sixth installment is no exception. In the last film, we were watching Harry at a difficult stage–tormented by dreams, questioning himself and beset by personal demons. Now he’s a year older and that brings a different set of issues and responsibilities.”

Loss of Innocence

“For me, the films have always been about a loss of innocence,” says Daniel Radcliffe, the actor behind the title character, who can perhaps no longer be called the boy wizard. “When Harry came into this world, it was all just amazing and brilliant and kind of pure. But as the films have gone on, that’s totally disintegrated, and he’s realizing that the wizarding world has just as many, if not more, challenges than the world he grew up in before.”

However, there are some challenges shared by teenagers in both worlds, whether wizard or Muggle. Producer David Barron acknowledges that there is no magic spell to evade the perils of adolescence, noting, “Romantic entanglements are never easy, at whatever age we are, but in adolescence they can be particularly difficult. I think Jo (J.K. Rowling) captured that wonderfully in the book and our remarkable director, David Yates, and our talented cast have brought it beautifully to the screen with both heart and humor.”

Heyman states, “Jo gave us the gift of these magnificent books and every one is a jewel. Her imagination never ceases to amaze me. Each Harry Potter book brings us new challenges and new opportunities, so coming into this movie, we were as excited as ever.”

Director Yates had entered the world of Harry Potter with “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” the fifth film in the series. “I had such a great experience on the last film and was thrilled to be asked back,” he says. “I loved the sixth book. It is hugely entertaining, bringing more romance to Hogwarts than we’ve ever seen before combined with an intriguing uncovering of Voldemort’s past that has huge implications for the rest of the series.

“Another year brings up another set of challenges for Harry, Ron and Hermione, and the older they get the more complex they become,” Yates continues. “I really enjoyed exploring deeper aspects of the characters further with Dan, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson. They are really keen to push and be pushed in their roles because we all want these characters to grow and develop both with the unfolding stories and the audience.”

As “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” opens, Yates observes, “It is a very tense time in the wizarding world because Lord Voldemort has returned from hiding.”

Empowered by the return of the Dark Lord, the Death Eaters are attacking openly and at will, and even the Muggle world is not impervious to their reign of terror. As ominous dark clouds swirl over London, people look up, sensing an unfamiliar danger. Suddenly, three Death Eaters swoop out of the clouds and fly through the city, leaving a path of destruction in their wake. Unseen by the naked eye, they spiral around London’s Millennium Bridge, causing it to buckle and then collapse, sending pedestrians running for their lives.

Heyman relates, “The anarchy wrought by Voldemort’s followers that has begun to undermine the wizarding world is now washing over into the Muggle world.”

We catch up with Harry Potter in a train station coffee shop, with one eye on the Daily Prophet story about the bridge attack and the other on the pretty waitress who needs no coaxing to tell him what time her shift ends. But before Harry can follow through on his date, Professor Dumbledore appears on the station platform and literally whisks him away on a mysterious mission.

The cast has equal praise for their director. “David is a joy to work with,” says Radcliffe. “I always looked forward to seeing him on the set because he has so much energy and enthusiasm, which is fantastic.”

Rupert Grint, who plays the role of Harry’s best friend, Ron Weasley, adds, “We all got on really well with David, so we were pleased he was coming back. Going through the script, he really listened to what we had to say about our characters, but he also offered a lot of help and guidance.”