Out of the ‘Potter’ Kids’ Mouths: Then & Now

What the young stars had to say before the first “Harry Potter” movie hit theaters and what they are saying now

It has been a life lived in the public eye for the "Potter" kids – and one that I note with particular interest, since I met with the three of them in England in September 2001, before the first "Harry Potter" film was released.

Indeed, for 10 years and eight movies, we've watched Harry, Ron and Hermione grow bigger and bolder and more resourceful, while in their offscreen lives we've seen none of the child-star meltdowns that seem so prevalent on these shores.

Hell, Daniel Radcliffe had to tell us he once had a drinking problem, no one ever caught wind of it.

The release of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" brings this era to a close, putting the final touches on a series that has made three young Brits examples in how to do child stardom right.

"They’re lovely kids, just lovely, and I don’t think they have any idea how their lives could change," actor Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid) told me earlier that day. 

They do now. 

Here's what they said back then (actually, on Sept. 11, 2001 — but that's another story) about subjects ranging from fame and their future to "objects of desire."

And here's how they answered the same questions on the stump for the last in the series: this weekend's "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2."

DANIEL RADCLIFFE

Radcliffe may now be a Broadway star after performing naked in "Equus" and singing and dancing in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," but I remember him as a 12-year-old who talked enthusiastically about the World Wrestling Federation and said he was listening incessantly to the "Moulin Rouge" soundtrack.

On recreation:

Then: "We love practical jokes. I went out shopping with one of the runners and bought all these fake blood capsules,” he said. “And so I got one of the fake blood capsules and put it in my mouth and burst it, and then I smashed my fist down on the steel steps outside makeup, so it sounded like I’d just hit them. Then I rolled into the makeup bus and spat out all this blood.” 

Now: "I became so reliant on alcohol to enjoy stuff. There were a few years there when I was just so enamored with the idea of living some sort of famous person's lifestyle that really isn't suited to me."

On fame:

Then: "I think it’s going to be fun. I think it’s gonna be… just fun."

Now: "I get constantly mistaken for Elijah Wood. I was in Japan and someone held out a photo of him for me to sign. I couldn't say it in Japanese so I wrote, 'I'm not Elijah Wood but thanks anyway, Daniel Radcliffe.' If I was a bit more puerile I would have written '''The Lord of the Rings' is rubbish."

On his future:

Then: "I think, well, I might like to be an actor, but there are loads of other things I’m really interested in as well. Like music and writing and sports and things. Loads of things. I want to keep my options open."

Now: "If I can make a career for myself after Potter, and it goes well, and is varied, and with longevity, then that puts to bed the child actors argument. If I can do it, in the biggest film franchise of all time, no other child actor who comes after will ever have to answer those same bloody questions."

Rupert Grint 2001

RUPERT GRINT

The oldest of the kids at 13 when the first film was released, Grint had one of the most delightful resumes ever to grace a major Hollywood film.  

“In 'Noah’s Ark,' I was a fish,” he said, detailing his grammar school drama career. “'The Nativity Play,' I think I was a donkey. 'Cinderella,' I was just a chorus thing. And 'Rumplestiltskin,' I was Rumplestiltskin.”

On a useful magical power:

Then: "I would like to fly on a broom. Be invisible. Have all those magic sweets, that kind of stuff."

Now: "I do miss it, sometimes, the invisibility. Being able to get round [to the store]. Not meet anyone who wants to take a picture with you. It's manageable but it's just, like, constant."

Rupert Grint 2011

On school:

Then: "I do miss my school friends and the school atmosphere and stuff. But I think I'm learning a bit more [in tutoring] than I would if I was in school." Favorite subject? "Ummm … Probably don't have one. I guess I like chemistry, because you get to play with potions and things.  But other than that … "

Now: “I found it hard to work and study. After I finished school I just kind of watched daytime TV. I love the 'Antiques Roadshow,' yeah, or any old antiques program."

On impending fame:

Then: "It's gonna be really brilliant. It's gonna be fun."

Now: "I do, kind of, spend a lot. And just on stupid things. Because I don't really know what to do. What are you supposed to do? It just seems like way too much. We don't deserve it, at all, for what we do."

EMMA WATSON

While Watson has turned into a stylish fashion plate who goes to premieres in Elie Saab couture and is the new face of Lancombe, she was a fresh-faced 11-year-old wearing a plaid skirt and yellow dress shirt when I picked her up from her school in Oxfordshire in September, 2001.

On parental influence:

Then: "My mom and dad, who thought I was going to get overexcited about it, were going, 'Oh Emma, you do know that there’s millions of girls out there." And that kind of made me go, oh, I’ve got no chance, my mom and dad are right, there are probably millions and trillions and billions of girls. But still, I still really wanted to get it." 

Now: Would you let your child enter show business? "No… I probably wouldn't. If she really, really wanted to do it, then I would just make sure I was with her. I would make sure that she had the supportive family around her that I did." 

On schooling, from Oxfordshire to the Ivy League:

Then: "I do miss my school, quite a lot. My friends, mostly. Although I do have quite a lot of friends on the set as well.  I also miss my teachers.  That sounds really weird, but I do.  And I miss being in the whole class with everyone else, instead of sort of being on my own. 

Now: "I was in denial,” she said about going to Brown. “I wanted to pretend I wasn't as famous as I was. I was trying to seek out normality, but I kind of have to accept who I am, the position I'm in and what happened."

On objects of desire:

Now: “I’ve never understood having crushes on people who you don’t know in real life. I only crush on people I meet. I mean, I can appreciate that someone is good-looking, obviously, but I don’t intend to fantasize about people I don’t know!”

Then: "For the next movie, I think they should cast Brad Pitt." For what role? "Any role!"