Magical Moment: Harry Potter Stars Reunite at Wizarding World – but Say They Still Put Off Watching Themselves in the Films
It was an enchanted reunion for a now-grownup group of acting alumni from the Harry Potter films, assembling to pay tribute to their cinematic alma mater Hogwarts as it debuted a lavish new outpost in Hollywood. Just don’t ask them to watch themselves in the movies.
At the grand opening of the latest Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park on Tuesday, actors Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), (Luna Lovegood), and brothers James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley) helped bring some of the beloved film series’ unique brand of magic to the proceedings.
The group – along with another veteran Potter actor, Warwick Davis – assembled onstage flanked by a stunning recreation of Hogwarts Castle and in front of a VIP crowd that included filmmaker Steven Spielberg, Mindy Kaling, Billy Bob Thornton, Vanessa Hudgens and Ed O’Neill. Legendary screen composer John Williams, who scored the first three films adapted from J.K. Rowling‘s beloved book series, was also on hand, conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra as it performed a dynamic selection of music from the movies during a breathtaking light-and-fireworks extravaganza.
Take a Tour Through Hogsmeade and Hogwarts Castle with “Harry Potter’s” Luna Lovegood
It was an admittedly emotional experience for Felton, who felt a deep affection for the theme park spurred by his fond Potter memories. “[I feel] a huge sense of pride, warmth, nostalgia,” Felton told PEOPLE. “It’s remarkable. I was here years ago as a kid enjoying the attractions myself. So to be here as part of one is spectacular, and oddly more emotional than actually the films were, because this place was such a staple of my youth.”
“I feel so grateful to be part of this,” agreed Lynch, who admitted that if she didn’t have access to the new attraction – which includes a dramatic 3D version of the ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, the Flight of the Hippogriff roller-coaster, and the Hogsmeade Village – as part of the Potter screen family, “I would definitely be here as a fan.”
“I can’t believe that it’s been so long since we started filming, really,” marveled James Phelps. “It takes you right back to that first feeling you had, and it’s as if it’s never been away. For me it’s a cool thing because when we’re filming, you’re so close to it. You still don’t understand the size of it. And yet, you see thousands of other people so immersed in the environment. It’s so fantastic to see, even now.”
“It’s just so immersive,” added Oliver Phelps. “When you see the Hogwarts Castle, we never actually saw that properly when we were filming because the castle wasn’t that big. So to see it hugely blown up now, it’s quite a sight.”
All these years later, Felton admits he’s still never sat down to take in the films purely as an audience member. “You know what, I haven’t done it,” he confessed. “I keep telling myself I’m going to sit there one day and do a marathon, but it’s yet to happen.”
“I heard Malfoy is a bit disappointing,” he added, chuckling.
“They’re definitely not home movies,” Lynch said with a laugh, despite the films serving as a chronicle of her childhood. A superfan of the Potter franchise before she was cast, she now admits the films feel “too close to me. I feel like they stop becoming ‘Harry Potter’ movies when I’m on screen. I enjoy everyone else’s performance, but a little problem with me. But the first few actually, I still get that excitement because I used to queue up for those movies, definitely.”
“I think it’s still to come, maybe in 10 years, with our own kids kind of thing,” agreed James Phelps.
Lynch said she also looks forward to the day she can share her passion for Rowling’s wizarding tales with her own children – as long as they’re on board with her enthusiasm.
“I think I’ll have to restrain myself from reading [the books to them], like, when they’re 4,” she admitted. “Because I don’t want to read too early and then they don’t get it. I would hate for them to not get it. I actually have a sister who doesn’t get it. She doesn’t read them.”
“I think I would throw my child out if they did that!” she added with a laugh.