8 moments from the Harry Potter 20th anniversary reunion that revived the Potterhead in me


Karen Lui | January 06, 2022, 12:07 PM

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It has been 20 years since the first Harry Potter movie was screened in cinemas in 2001. Feel old yet?

I have to admit, the Potterhead in me has mostly gone dormant since I caught the final movie in 2011 (ten years ago!).

While it occasionally revives upon releases of new "Fantastic Beasts" movies, I didn't find myself overwhelmed by feverish anticipation for HBO Max's Harry Potter reunion special.

In fact, I only decided to watch it two days after it was released when my colleague mentioned it in passing and I simply thought, "Why not?" with no expectations at all.

Has the magic of Harry Potter dulled for me over time?

Surprisingly, it hasn't, based on how I reacted while watching the 20th anniversary special.

From the behind-the-scenes footage and movie scenes to the cast members chatting with each other while seated in the beautiful sets, I watched all of it and even teared at some tender moments.

Here are eight reasons why fellow Potterheads should catch it too (warning: spoilers ahead!):

1. Homecoming for the cast and Potterheads alike

The opening sets the stage for our return to Hogwarts, with personalised Hogwarts letters, the Hogwarts Express at Platform 9¾, and the Hogwarts Castle.

Matthew Lewis (who played Neville Longbottom) receives the invitation to the reunion in an iconic Hogwarts envelope. Images via HBO Go.

If there were anything else that could reignite the magic of the Wizarding World for me, the opening has ticked the boxes.

As the lovely Emma Watson (who played Hermione Granger) walked through the doors into the Great Hall to greet her fellow castmates, it felt like a homecoming not just for them but for Potterheads watching the show as well.

Watson enters the Great Hall. Image via HBO Go.

2. Watson almost pulled out of the franchise

In this reunion special, it was revealed that Watson almost did not return for the fifth movie, "Order of Phoenix".

The 31-year-old actress shared that she had documented her troubles in a diary entry, saying, "At times, I was lonely."

In a conversation with Rupert Grint (who played Ron Weasley), Watson explained,

"I think I was scared. I don't know if you've ever felt like it got to a tipping point when you were like 'This is kinda forever now.' . . . The fame thing had finally hit home in a big way."

Watson giving out autographs at a past event. Image via HBO Go.

Grint admitted to "having similar feelings", adding that he had contemplated what life would be like if he had "called it a day."

According to Watson, no one had to convince her to "see it through," which was a relief because we can't imagine anyone else who could replace her as the smart, overachieving Gryffindor.

3. Watson: kiss scene with Grint was "horrifying"

"The most horrifying thing either of us has ever had to go through," was how Watson described the kiss scene with Grint in the final movie, to which he agreed.

The passionate kiss between Watson and Grint in the Chamber of Secrets in the final movie. Image via HBO Go.

According to Watson, they kept laughing while shooting the scene and she was scared that they would never be able to get the shot because neither of them could take it seriously.

If you were excited about this long-awaited scene, you weren't alone as Watson revealed that everyone wanted to be on set for it.

"Kissing Rupert is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do, It just felt so wrong, so wrong on every level because Dan, Rupert, and I are so much siblings."

Just as they were getting teary-eyed about the reunion towards the end, Grint said to Watson, "I love you," pausing before quickly adding, "As a friend," drawing laughter from her.

"Just to be clear for everyone watching," Watson said.

4. Watson and Felton "have always loved each other"

Watson was not shy about admitting her crush on Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy.

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A post shared by Tom Felton (@t22felton)

She revealed that she used to look for his number on the call sheet every day and if it were, she would consider it "an extra exciting day".

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A post shared by Tom Felton (@t22felton)

Similarly, Felton, 34, shared how he became protective over Watson, whom he always had a soft spot for "that continues to the day."

Before the Dramione shippers can get too excited, the actress was quick to clarify, "Nothing has ever, ever, ever, ever happened romantically with us. We just love each other."

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A post shared by Emma Watson (@emmawatson)

5. Daniel Radcliffe's love letter to HBC

During the reunion, veteran actress Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange) shared a personal letter written to her by Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), who read it out.

Bonham Carter showing Radcliffe the letter on her phone. Image via HBO Go.

In the letter, he addresses her as "HBC" and expresses his pleasure of being her co-star and coaster, explaining the pun, "in the sense that I always ended up holding your coffee."

Radcliffe literally went "Hehehe". Image via HBO Go.

The next part of the letter made Radcliffe erupt in giggles like a shy schoolboy before he read it aloud.

"I do love you and I just wish I'd been born 10 years earlier, I might've been in with a chance."

If you must know, the 55-year-old actress said she'd always treasure the letter, adding that it is in her toilet, to which Radcliffe laughed.

6. Grint used Ron as an excuse to not do an assignment

The director of the third movie, "Prisoner of Azkaban", Alfonso Cuarón, had set an assignment for Radcliffe, Grint, and Watson while they were shooting it.

Each of them were tasked to write an essay about their characters.

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A post shared by Emma Watson (@emmawatson)

Radcliffe wrote about half a side of an A4 sheet and felt that he had "pretty much covered everything".

Unsurprisingly, Watson wrote "like 12 pages, beautifully written," according to Grint.

Grint admitted with a laugh that he didn't do the assignment at all.

When Cuarón asked Grint about his submission (or lack thereof), Grint had told him that he didn't think Ron would have done it so he didn't do it either.

7. Remembering the late actors/actresses

The reunion special also paid tribute to the actors and actresses in the franchise who have passed.

The list of late actors/actresses/film crew who have contributed to the film franchise. Image via HBO Go.

The cast members spoke fondly about some of their late co-stars whom they had a pleasant time working with on set.

Watson shared that Alan Rickman (who played Potions Master, Professor Severus Snape) never talked to her like she was a child.

"He always took my thoughts and opinions very seriously, which I was always very touched by."

Rickman in the role of Snape. Image via HBO Go.

Radcliffe shared that the passing of Richard Griffiths (who played Harry's Muggle uncle, Vernon Dursley) was the one that affected him the most, adding, "He was generous with knowledge, just like wanted to share everything with you."

Griffiths in the role of Vernon Dursley. Image via HBO Go.

Felton teared up, speaking about the late Helen McCrory (who played Draco's mother, Narcissa Malfoy), "She had taught me a lot. She had this ability to sort of show such empathy in her eyes. It was a real treat to work with her."

McCrory (third from left) in the role of Narcissa Malfoy with her fellow Death Eater co-stars, including Felton (second from left). Image via HBO Go.

The late Richard Harris (who played Headmaster Albus Dumbledore in the first two movies) was described as a "devilish 11-year-old trapped in a 70-plus-year-old man's body" by Chris Columbus, the director for the first two movies.

Harris in the role of Dumbledore for the first two movies. Image via HBO Go.

Radcliffe and Columbus shared a laugh over how Harris thought that the animatronic version of Fawkes the phoenix was a real bird that was very well-trained.

In addition, Felton revealed that when he was younger, he had thought that Harris, who was an award-winning veteran actor, worked as a tour guide for a while.

8. Ending with Snape's Patronus scene

After Snape reveals that his Patronus takes the form of a doe, which represents his long-lasting love for Harry's deceased mother, Lily Potter, a visibly shocked Dumbledore asks, "After all this time?"

The revelation scene involving Snape's private conversation with Dumbledore is arguably one of the most memorable scenes towards the end of the final movie.

For the uninitiated, this scene in the movie holds a key plot twist that completely changes our (and Harry's) impression of Snape from a villain to an anti-hero.

As an ending to this reunion special, it echoes similar feelings of longing and nostalgia for a series that has been completed, which Potterheads around the world will experience beyond decades in some shape or form:


The ending scene for the reunion that was extracted from the final movie. Original video via YouTube.

Check out the trailer here:

HBO Go subscribers can catch the full version of "Harry Potter 20th Anniversary - Return to Hogwarts" streaming here.

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Top images via HBO Max's Facebook page and @t22felton on Instagram.