NEW YORK — The opening image of the new “Harry Potter” trailer — London’s skyline at night — is your first clue that “Order of the Phoenix” isn’t going to be Potter-by-the-numbers, if there ever was such a thing. This time around, the modern world is living side-by-side with the magical world — and the prospect is promising.
“My boyfriend and I were actually just looking at the preview, and it was great,” said 24-year-old Jehan Patriarca, who caught the trailer before a showing of “Happy Feet” on Friday in New York.
“It looks like it’s going to be a huge movie,” predicted 20-year-old Gianni Brocato, who saw the clip at the same screening. “I used to think of ‘Harry Potter’ as a kids’ film, but this looks more adult, less for kids this time. It looks more for teenagers, kids my age, the MTV crowd.”
Rupert Grint, who plays Ron Weasley, told MTV News that “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” is “a bit more dark,” while Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley) said, “It’s much more action packed.”
Between intonations by Sirius Black, Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape about the evil wizard Lord Voldemort and the extent of his powers and followers, brief glimpses can be seen of never-before-revealed sets such as the Ministry of Magic, where Harry (played by Daniel Radcliffe) faces a tribunal and possible expulsion for the use of underage magic in the presence of a Muggle. It just so happens that the Ministry, which visitors enter from a magical telephone booth elevator, is directly underground from the real-life Ministry of Defence (at least the way they shot it, it is).
“What’s terrific about these stories is that we’re introduced to new worlds or bits of the universe that we didn’t know existed, that were right under our feet,” “Phoenix” director David Yates said. “You can probably hear it, if you just put your head to the sidewalk. It’s just around the corner, or just underground, this parallel universe.”
So while some fans can’t agree exactly what they saw in the trailer means — “It’s going to be more realistic,” said one moviegoer who caught the trailer at a “Happy Feet” screening. “It’s going to be more magical,” insisted another fan who saw a leaked version online — they’re excited to see more.
“It was just a quick flash, not a lot of info, but it gets you thinking,” Patriarca said. “It was only a minute. I want more!”
So do the filmmakers, but condensing the plot from the original book into a two-and-a-half hour movie was hard enough, let alone telegraphing tidbits of key moments — Voldemort’s back, Harry wants to fight — for the trailer (see “Harry Potter’s ‘Phoenix’ Begins Rising Next Week” ).
“Adapting a book like this is a tricky thing to do,” Yates said. “There’s so much we hate to lose, but that we have to lose. The books are episodic — they take these lovely journeys away from Harry. So we have to focus the narrative on Harry, his experience of being framed by the government and the newspaper, and the anger and frustration he has toward the grown-ups around him who are letting him down. There’s lots of color and playfulness in that, there’s so much to negotiate to keep on course, to make sure it’s a satisfying story.”
So does this mean no more matches between Gryffindor and Slytherin?
“You know what? I think we’ve done Quidditch,” Yates said. “I love Quidditch. I think it’s the best thing in the world, but we’ve been there, done that. This is about fresh experiences, new places, new things.”
And the new Potter experience a lot of fans have been waiting to see realized on the big screen? “I want to see the first kiss,” Patriarca said. “The kissing scene, wow.”
“That was the most scandalous part of the trailer,” Brocato said. “You would never think, in ‘Harry Potter’ …”
“A lot of people do want to know about the kiss,” Daniel Radcliffe said, “which is understandable, because it’s Harry’s first kiss, and Harry is this iconic figure of his generation, I suppose, and people want to know how that’s gone.”
That, and it’s one of the few things J.K. Rowling shies away from fully describing in the book, so it’s been left up to fans’ imaginations. All Rowling writes is that Harry and a crying Cho Chang realize they’re standing under the mistletoe, and edge ever closer: “A tingling sensation was spreading throughout him, paralyzing his arms, legs, and brain. She was much too close. He could see every tear clinging to her eyelashes.” That’s it.
And like the book, the trailer acts as a tease, revealing only the beginning of the would-be couple’s magic moment. “They cut it off, right there, so you don’t see if they get into it,” Patriarca said. “And I’ve been waiting for that!”
In the book, when Harry’s asked to describe the kiss a page later, he just says it was “wet.” (“Was it a French kiss?” Patriarca wants to know. Or was it, as Harry says, just because she was crying?)
“I know you don’t care,” Radcliffe teased, “but I’ll tell you anyway. It went very well. We did it a number of times, and Katie [Leung, who plays Cho] and I were very nervous at first, but we quickly got over that and started to enjoy it by the fifth take.”
“People imagine, when you watch these sex scenes or kissing scenes, they always look sexy and romantic and passionate, and it isn’t,” Radcliffe said. “It’s actually quite clinical. You’re standing there like that, and her head’s right there, and they say, ‘Can you move to the right, no, the left, and tilt your head a bit,’ and it becomes like walking up the stairs or doing any other action. It’s drained of all the passion by the filming process. I know it’s sad and I hate to break the illusion, but it’ll look great on film, and that’s all that matters.”
But isn’t Katie the shy type? Is a kissing scene really like walking up the stairs for her? Isn’t it harder for her to do? “When you kiss someone in real life, you both want to do the kiss,” Radcliffe said. “But here, it’s an odd thing, like, ‘Well, OK.’ But I know what you mean,” he added with a mischievous grin. “It must have been terrible for her.”
For more on the film series, check out “Harry Potter: No More Child’s Play.”