The 12 Biggest Revelations from the 'Harry Potter' Reunion Special

In honor of Harry Potter's 20th anniversary, stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, and more reunited to discuss the iconic franchise that started many of their careers

Harry Potter 20th Anniversary
Photo: hbo max

HBO Max's Harry Potter reunion special will take you on a magical journey.

In honor of the first film's 20th anniversary, stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and many more reunited to discuss the iconic franchise that started many of their careers.

In addition to taking us back to Hogwarts by recreating some of the sets, the cast members also discussed some interesting tidbits about the movies, including details about casting, filming and even on-set crushes.

While some fun facts are more well-known than others, even the most ardent Harry Potter fan will likely learn something new from the special.

For more on the Harry Potter reunion special, listen below to our daily podcast on PEOPLE Every Day.

Read ahead for the most interesting revelations to come out of Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts, which is currently streaming on HBO Max.

1. Director Chris Columbus was skeptical about reading the Harry Potter books at first

Harry Potter special

Chris Columbus directed the first two Harry Potter films, but it was his daughter Eleanor who first introduced him to the book series. After refusing to read the books three times, he finally read them after Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was released in 1999. As he read the story, he immediately envisioned the films. He eventually met with J. K. Rowling and they instantly connected on their vision for the movies.

2. The floating candles in the Great Hall were real

Harry Potter special
Warner Bros.

While the Harry Potter films used a lot of CGI to bring magic to life on screen, the floating candles in the Great Hall were one of the few exceptions. The cast revealed that the set designers used real burning candles in the Great Hall.

"One of my favorite moments on set ever was the moment when all the floated candles started burning through the ropes that tied them to the ceiling and just started falling through the Great Hall," Radcliffe joked.

3. Alan Rickman knew Snape's backstory before anyone else

Harry Potter special

While discussing Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Oldman noted he wished he had "the whole picture" of the story when they were filming. While Radcliffe admitted he didn't know the ending himself, he said that the late Alan Rickman did.

"He had the inside line," Radcliffe said. "He very very early said to Jo, 'I think I need to know what happens here.' " As a result, it helped him portray the character a certain way throughout the films.

Radcliffe added, "Chris would literally say to him, 'Why are you doing that?' [and Rickman would say], 'I'll tell you later.'"

4. Emma Watson was "in love" with Tom Felton during filming

Tom Felton, Emma Watson, Alfred Enoch
Emma Watson, Tom Felton, Alfred Enoch. tom felton/instagram

Watson and Felton have always been open about their close friendship and they revealed even more about their close bond during the special.

Watson revealed that she fell extra hard for Felton during one tutoring session where they were given the task of drawing what they thought God looked like. "Tom had drawn a girl with a backward cap on a skateboard and I just don't know how to say it, but I just fell in love with him," she admitted.

Though Watson had a huge crush, their three-year age gap made Felton see her more as a little sister. "I was very protective of her," he said. "I've always had a soft spot for her and that continues to the day."

While Watson noted that nothing has ever happened between them romantically, she added that they still "love each other."

5. Daniel Radcliffe had a crush on Helena Bonham Carter

Harry Potter special

It seems Watson wasn't the only person who had a crush on their Harry Potter costar. In a sit-down between Radcliffe and Carter, the two discussed a sweet note Radcliffe gave her during filming.

Radcliffe wrote about how it was a pleasure working with her, then ended the note by saying, "I do love you and I just wish I had been born 10 years earlier. I might have [had] a chance."

6. Daniel Radcliffe was handpicked by Chris Columbus to play Harry Potter

Harry Potter special

During the casting process, the filmmakers had a hard time finding the right young actor to play Harry Potter, that was until Columbus saw Radcliffe in the BBC adaptation of David Copperfield.

"Immediately a light bulb went off in my head," he said. "I said, 'This is Harry Potter. This is the kid we've been looking for for months.'"

While Columbus was sold on Radcliffe playing Harry Potter, Radcliffe's parents were not. Since filming was originally supposed to take place in L.A., they thought it would a "huge disruption to his life."

Producer David Heyman eventually convinced Radcliffe's father to let him audition, and the rest is history.

7. Emma Watson almost left the franchise

Harry Potter special
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty

Watson revealed that she almost left the Harry Potter franchise around the time Order of the Phoenix started production, due to the stress from filming

"People definitely forget what she took on and how gracefully she did it," Felton said.

While Radcliffe and Grint had each other to lean on and Felton had his "cronies," Felton noted that Watson was all by herself.

"The fame thing had finally hit home in a big way," Watson said, adding that she felt very lonely during that period of her life.

8. Jason Isaacs originally auditioned for Gilderoy Lockhart

Harry Potter special

Isaacs is well-known for playing Lucius Malfoy, but he originally auditioned for the part of Gilderoy Lockhart. In fact, he didn't want to play Lucius at all.

"I was about to play Captain Hook in Peter Pan and I thought, 'Well, I don't want to play two children's villains,'" he admitted. At the request of Columbus, he said that he reluctantly read for Lucius with "gritted teeth and was deeply bitter" about the audition. Of course, his attitude during the audition ended up making him the perfect Lucius and he eventually got the role.

9. Daniel Radcliffe was starstruck over Gary Oldman

Harry Potter special

While discussing all the notable actors who appeared in the Harry Potter films throughout the years, Radcliffe noted that Oldman was one of the first people he was truly in "awe of" when they first came to set.

"I remember you giving me the Gary chat," Watson recalled. "You were like, 'Listen, Emma, you need to be cool. This is Gary Oldman, it's a really big deal.'"

"Which was really a projection of my own fears," Radcliffe added. "Because I was like, 'Dan, you need to be cool. This guy's a big deal.'"

10. Director Mike Newell cracked a rib while filming the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter special

When Mike Newell signed up to direct Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, he probably didn't imagine how strenuous it would be. While staging a scene between Oliver and James Phelps, who played George and Fred in the films, Newell actually cracked a few ribs while showing the brothers how to fight each other.

11. Emma Watson and Rupert Grint were super nervous about their kiss scene

Harry Potter special
Warner Bros.

Ron and Hermione's kiss in the final movie was just as big of a deal for fans as it was for Watson and Grint. Director David Yates joked that it was almost like "prepping them for a major sports event."

It didn't help their nerves that Radcliffe constantly teased them about the scene ahead of time. "I was like, 'I'm gonna come on set and watch you guys kiss,'" Radcliffe recalled, to which Watson added that "everyone wanted to be on set" for the kiss.

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

12. The cast members felt deeply interconnected with their characters when filming wrapped

Harry Potter special
Ian Gavan/Getty

As the Harry Potter franchise came to a close, the cast admitted that it was a weird feeling parting with the characters as they had grown so much with them over the years.

"I feel like I lost track of who I was and who the character was. I didn't really know where they ended or began," Grint said. "Even my name didn't feel like my name. I felt I only knew how to do one thing. I knew how to play Ron."

"It was almost like we did the most extreme form of method acting," Watson said.

Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts is now streaming on HBO Max.

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