Harry Potter's Bonnie Wright on How Updated Studio Tour Brought Her Back to Her First Day on Set
The actress, 30, played Ginny Weasley throughout the film franchise
Fans of the Harry Potter film franchise are now able to reconnect with a fresh array of artifacts and tableaus from the Wizarding World at the newly revamped Warner Bros. Studios Tour Hollywood, but for actress Bonnie Wright, who played Ginny Weasley, a visit to the attraction was a literal walk down memory lane.
Wright, 30, tells PEOPLE that a pre-opening visit to the newly updated facility on the Burbank, CA, studio lot sparked memories of her earliest experiences on set at just nine years old when production on the film series began two decades ago.
"I was like, 'We were small, we were tiny, we were babies!' It was a big revelation," Wright says of the memories sparked by her walk-through of the tour, which now features a new welcome center and "Action and Magic Made Here" section in the Grand Finale. She adds that she was instantly reminded of "the kind of magic and wonder" of her experiences making the films.
"I was in the set, it was all happening and it was a wonderful time," she says. "And then you watch the movies and you're like, 'Wow, they really did portray magic.' Especially in the early ones, when they're setting the scene, and Harry's finding out about the Wizarding World. It's all just so exciting."
Wright was struck by a particularly vivid memory from her first and only scene in the first film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, set on Platform 9 ¾. "I remember just the feelings I had on that day," she recalls. "I was so nervous! I didn't know what a film set was. And Julie Walters, who played my mom, just took me under her wing and just made me feel really safe."
She still marvels at the education in acting and filmmaking that she received while growing up on the sets of Hogwarts. "I got this amazing look into the film world," she says. "I was so interested in not just the role as an actor, but also just all the other incredible things that made the films what they are. I was so exposed to just attention to detail, to craftsmanship, and just the quality of work was really what set me up.
"It made me just know that stuff can be made really well, to strive for that and work harder at your craft," she adds. "When you look at all these things and designs, all the people who were making the props and the production design, were just so brilliant at what they did. And I had a lot of respect for them when I was younger."
Those lessons took hold: today, Wright lives primarily in Los Angeles and has moved much of her career behind the scenes, directing short films and music videos. And during the ample downtime necessitated by quarantining during Covid-19, she's also penned her first book, set to be published in spring 2022, centered on her longtime interest in combating climate change and promoting sustainable living. "It's a basically a kind of lifestyle-home book about sustainability, and what we can be doing at home, as we will spend so much time there," she says,
Wright says that while the global pandemic kept her apart from her castmates for a year and a half, like everyone else they managed to stay in touch via video chats and texts. "There were some birthdays during this time, so definitely some Zoom birthdays and some FaceTiming," she says, admitting that she's eager to reconnect with her old friends in person.
"Hopefully again soon, when we travel for things around Harry Potter and different things; it's just so nice to all still be in contact and see how everyone's woven their lives since finishing," she says. "The best way to describe it, obviously, is like when you went to school with someone and you get together with them, but also it's such a unique experience that sometimes it's hard to explain to people. But when you're with those who you experienced it with, you just get each other and there's a thing you don't have to explain."
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But Wright says that she doesn't expect a reunion to happen for a reboot of the Harry Potter films, even ten or twenty years in the future – and she's fine with that. "I would hope that they keep it as it was," she admits. "I think it's like a time capsule, and [if] you open it and it changes and everything feels kind of different… For sure, I miss playing Ginny, but I always quite like the idea that it's properly compacted into those seven years at Hogwarts."
But she also knows to never say never, in Hollywood or Hogwarts. "At the same time, I love the experience so much. And I know that the production and all of us would do it so well that no matter what they imagined, it would be brilliant."