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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M pitcher Ryan Prager (18) delivers a pitch during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at in Omaha, Nebraska on Monday, June 17, 2024. Prager went for 6.2 innings, allowing two hits and zero runs. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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Wizarding World returns

Harry+Potter+and+the+Picture+Nobody+Asked+For
Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures
Harry Potter and the Picture Nobody Asked For

Twenty years later, Harry Potter is still enchanting audiences with magic.
The HBO Max New Year’s Day special “Harry Potter: Return to Hogwarts,” reunited a majority of the cast members and crew of the Harry Potter film series to reminisce and openly discuss what it was like to be in the center of an ongoing worldwide phenomenon. Leading the reunion were the “golden trio” actors: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, who played main characters Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, respectively. The special also brought in film alumni Helena Bonham Carter, Gary Oldman, Tom Felton, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps and Mark Williams, and filmmakers Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuarón, Mike Newell and David Yates, among others.
The reunion opened with a warm welcome to Platform 9¾, showing various actors such as Watson lingering in a second-hand bookshop and Matthew Lewis, who plays Neville Longbottom, speaking to a cab driver as they receive their Hogwarts letters. They giddily board the Hogwarts Express to make their return to the castle, serving as a way to remind audiences that they’ve grown up with the franchise, both characters and actors alike. As the brilliant John Williams’ “Harry’s Wondrous World” commenced, Watson entered the Great Hall, paralleling her scene in “Goblet of Fire” during the Yule Ball, hugging and greeting other actors surrounded by familiar props, lighting and sets from the films.
Columbus, the director of the first two films, explained the process of the lengthy search for the “perfect” actor to portray Harry Potter. After seeing him in his first on-screen role in BBC One’s “David Copperfield,” Columbus said he brought Radcliffe in for an audition and after seeing the “happy child with a haunted look in his eyes,” Columbus and series author JK Rowling immediately knew they found who they’d been looking for.
Running nearly two hours, the reunion is split into four sections, each looking back at two films through which the actors and filmmakers recalled the highs and lows, reflecting on those specific films’ impact on their personal lives. Many reminisce on their personal relationships together, such as Radcliffe and Watson explaining how they had a “brother and sister relationship,” where they remember helping each other grow as child actors — as well as helping each other figure out how to text their crushes and talk to the opposite sex as teenagers.
To top off the cast’s discussion of growing up together and filming during an awkward time of hormones and crushes, Watson also revealed her childhood crush on Felton while filming, who played Harry Potter’s Slytherin nemesis, Draco Malfoy. Watson said she had “fell in love with him” and Felton said he had “always had a soft spot for her,” which he still has to this day, though “nothing ever, ever, ever happened romantically.” This sweet but short moment felt like a way to further engage the audience with the actors’ personal and romantic lives during those years, which typically isn’t a topic of conversation among the media and fans.
Much of the controversy leading up to the reunion’s release was to do with Rowling’s involvement with the event, whose anti-transgender comments in 2020 caused intense controversy in the media and among many cast attending the reunion. The reunion only featured her briefly recorded “archived footage” from 2019, but most of the cast members commended her creation throughout the special, commenting on how she’s transformed their lives, which regardless of the controversy, remains true.
Though feeling slightly orchestrated and scripted at times, “Return to Hogwarts” provides fans with new content, stories and a nostalgic homecoming to ensure audiences still feel the true magic of Harry Potter in this new year.
Kathryn Miller is a psychology junior and life & arts editor for The Battalion.

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