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Harry Potter has gone Hollywood. Don't worry, this won't affect the franchise's English roots. The stories still take place in the UK, but the three actors who embody J.K. Rowling's characters have been immortalized at Grauman's Chinese theater. On Monday, July 9, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint put their handprints, and wandprints, in cement at the Hollywood tourist site.

"I think we're all just a little bit in shock that we've been asked," said Radcliffe. "John Wayne's there, so that's pretty cool. If I can have my handprints next to that man then that would be awesome."

The fifth film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, is the first occasion for which the entire trio has come to the west coast. Watson and Grint have made individual appearances for earlier films and Grint's indie film Driving Lessons, but having the handprint ceremony, a Los Angeles premiere and press conference allowed them each some time to explore the city. Even while Emma was busy on the red carpet, the Watson family saw the sites.

"My dad went to the [La Brea] tar pits yesterday which was just like, that was so weird," said Watson. "It's this massive tar pit which basically loads of animals fell into. It's nice that we actually had a day yesterday when I was able to see LA, which is really cool."

The boys have just enjoyed the weather. "That's the first thing you notice, because it's warm," said Radcliffe. "Coming from England where they have had storms and things recently."

Watson, Radcliffe and Grint turn 17, 18 and 19 respectively this year. Their characters, Hermione, Harry and Ron, are 15 in Order of the Phoenix. The age gap is expanding from when they were preteens playing preteens in Sorcerer's Stone, but Hollywood has a long history of casting actors slightly older than their roles. If anything, there is now more consistency as the aging process slows.

"I remember, especially with the earlier films, Dan and Rupert had grown like a couple of inches by the end of shooting," recalled Watson. "I know on the second one I was still losing teeth, so that was interesting. One scene I had a full set of teeth and then I'd lose one [for the next scene]. So it was kind of a weird experience, to make the whole growing up process rather smoothly. We kind of had to do it without anyone realizing."

With films shot back to back, it has not phased any of the actors that they are becoming adults before our eyes. "It's just been one long experience really because it doesn't really feel like that long ago," said Grint. "It's only when you look back on the first ones, you sort of realize how much we've grown up, I guess. It's been really fun. I've enjoyed sort of every moment of it so it's been really cool."

Radcliffe adds, "I don't think you realize when you're growing up. I think it's just one of those things that sort of just happens to you and somebody shows you a photograph of yourself when you were 10 and you recoil in horror. We don't think of ourselves as having grown up on screen, but it's been great. It's been really good fun. We've met some of the people who we're really, really good friends with through these films, who we probably wouldn't have had the chance to meet had we not done them, so it's been fantastic."

Now that he is a young man, Radcliffe has been able to take on more mature roles, such as the stage production of “Equus”. With his controversial nude scene looming, filming Harry's first kiss in Order of the Phoenix was a piece of cake.

"I think the reason that it wasn't a problem or a sort of worry in the slightest was that in the back of my mind, I was thinking, 'I'll be naked on stage in six months, I've got to get over this.' But really, the kiss was [something] everyone sort of assumed was a really big moment, but it's just like doing any other scene really, which is very disappointing for people to hear, I know. But that's unfortunately how it was."

In Order of the Phoenix, Hogwarts School for Magic is taken over by Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton). Umbridge takes magic practice out of the classroom, so Harry leads the kids to practice their skills in private. Knowing that they must prepare for the return of Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), they form Dumbledore's Army to rebel against the system.

"[Director] David [Yates] kept referring to it as Dumbledore's army being like the French resistance, which was a metaphor that really appealed to me," said Radcliffe. "And also, Harry as a leader and a teacher was able to show off his wizarding skills. That showing off stuff was really, really fun to do. Somebody did ask me yesterday if there was one album that could be Harry's soundtrack during this movie. I think it would be Okay Computer by Radiohead, which I think tells you all you need to know about his [Harry’s] character."

Rebellion becomes contagious. Even the normally by the book Hermione gets a kick out of defying authority. That sort of acting out was a pure performance for Watson.

"I'm sorry to disappoint you," she said. "I'm deeply uncool really. I really never break the rules. I'm not scared to say what I think or if I really disagree with something then I'll say it, but I'm not kind of like a born rebel. That wouldn't be a description of me. I guess it was fun to play her like that, definitely. I guess I was just able to do things from such a young age that I never would have been able to do, always traveling and being given all this responsibility and freedom. So I've never really had any barrier to break I guess. I don't really have anything to rebel against. I'm quite lucky really."

As the students learn new magic skills, the actors took their spell casting to another level. In the first four films, they could count on visual effects artists to fill in the magic after they shake their little wands on set. For Order of the Phoenix, the spell casting became more artful.

"We actually had a dance choreographer in," said Watson. "All the different spells had different choreographed specific movements that went with them, so we had a couple of classes like that which was really good fun. I think this is the first movie that you really see the craft behind the magic and you get to see the craftsmanship. I know, it looked really impressive."

The boys had a tougher time adjusting to the graceful demands of dance choreography. "I found I was getting really frustrated with myself when I couldn't get the moves right," said Radcliffe. "I think that was a brilliant idea that David had. Before, it's just been point at something, say the word. Now he was starting to build the sort of art just to show a distinction."

Grint was just happy to get into the action this time. "In the last one, Ron's been a bit of a wimp and sort of stayed away from the action side," he said. "This time it was quite cool that he got to be a bit tougher and got to fight."

Publication of J.K. Rowling's final Harry Potter novel follows the release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by two weeks. Even the stars themselves cannot wait to find out what becomes of Harry, Ron and Hermione.

"It's quite exciting, particularly this one, because there's so much hype about it and everyone's got their own little theory of who's going to die," said Grint. "That's the big question. I don't know really. I'm really looking forward to it."

Grint supposed Harry might die. The hacker who claims to have read the ending has Watson anxious. "I've always just been convinced that Hermione's going to make it," she said. "Apparently this hacker has been claiming that she's going to die. I guess from an acting point of view it would be good to have a death scene or to die. I mean, we obviously have hugely invested interests, but I think mostly we're really big fans ourselves."

Even Radcliffe cannot get a preview of the final book’s ending out of Rowling. "We are looking forward to finding out with the rest of the world as well," he said. "We certainly don't get any inside information. I saw [Rowling] at the premiere the other day. I just said, 'How many people worldwide have read the book?' And considering that at this point it's under two weeks before it's release, under 10 people have read it still which is pretty incredible. But could you imagine being one of those people? How fantastic would that be? My God."

With two more films to go, Harry Potter will be a complete experience for the young actors. The boys have begun to film other projects outside of the series, with Radcliffe's choices seeming to drastically contrast with Potter.

"I do give a lot of thought," he said. "Potter's never something I would want to distance myself from because I'm incredibly proud of it. It's given me the most amazing opportunities and I've met some of the most fantastic people and got to work with these brilliant actors. But I certainly also want to establish myself as an actor in my own right rather than being just the actor who plays Harry Potter. It's just as much, if not more, to prove to myself that I can do it than to be able to prove it to the audience. Because there will always be people who see us as our respective characters no matter what we do. But ultimately that's more their problem than ours, because they are not the people who are going to be stopping us from doing other different things."

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix opens Wednesday, July 11, 2007 Worldwide / Issue 71 - September 2018
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