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Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2 – Ralph Fiennes and Jason Isaacs interview

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2

Interview by Rob Carnevale

RALPH Fiennes and Jason Isaacs discuss some of their memories of making the Harry Potter movies, including the final instalment, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2.

Ralph Fiennes, in particular, reminisces about the troublesome nature of his cloak and wand lessons. They were speaking at the London press conference for the final film.

Q. Mr Fiennes, how do people respond to you when they see you given that you’re playing such an evil character in Voldemort? Have you noticed any reaction from younger fans?
Ralph Fiennes: I had a letter the other day from a man who was shocked at the narcissism of Voldemort and disturbed. Mostly, I don’t get recognised because I have my own nose and a full head of hair. But it’s been a wonderful part to play, a great high definition villain and I’ve loved it as much as I’ve loved working with everyone here.

Q. Still, when you’re creating what could be the ultimate movie villain, how do you strike the balance so he’s not too frightening for kids but scary enough to make an impact?
Ralph Fiennes: Well, I rely on a great director. Seriously, it’s a high definition villain, it demands a degree of theatricality and then also you have to find a balance and a nuance of an inner life. I have to say I think that initially working with Mike Newell and then with David, they were two great directors who helped me, I hope, to find the right balance. People say he’s frightening and if that’s the case, then that’s great. I think he should be.

Q. We’ve asked a lot of cast members about their favourite prop over the years. But I gather you have an interesting tale to tell about your costume and what lies beneath?
Ralph Fiennes: Well, I liked my wand and I had some teeth… bad teeth. But I really would like to talk about a moment of liberation to do with my costume because it was an irritating costume to wear. It was too long and sometimes I would trip over it. Underneath, I started off wearing tights and the gusset above the tights would drop down between my thighs and this made it very difficult to walk with any kind of dignity.

So, eventually, I said to my dresser – a lovely young man called Neil – I said: “You’re going to have to cut these tights and I’m going to have to have garters…” So, I enjoyed then having these garter belts on each leg and sometimes when the stunt team were getting too macho I would tease them with my inner thigh [laughs].

Q. So, what was your favourite prop Jason?
Jason Isaacs: Well, I did have that lovely wand inside the cane, which had a very, very heavy snake-head. In one of my favourite scenes, which was cut of course in the very first movie, I had to smack Tom [Felton] very hard on the knuckles but I’d just been handed it and didn’t quite have the weight of it right, and I think it really did some damage! Poor little Tom looked up at me, I think he thought I was acting and he had to react, so instead of going ‘ow’, he got on with it. I cracked his knuckle very hard with it, which was the beginning of a very torturous relationship between Draco and Malfoy.

But in fact my favourite thing is the wig because I’m a very lazy actor so every time I put it on, in order to keep it straight, they kept on telling me to tip my head back because otherwise I was eating it all the time. So, if I tipped my head back I was looking down my nose at people and there was an instant character reference in that.

Q. Ralph, did you have to have wand lessons?
Ralph Fiennes: Well, Michael [Gambon] and I had wand lessons. [Two years]. We had special wand coaching. David [Yates] brought in a young man, a dancer, who taught us different wand action. When I was first discussing the part I talked to the design department about creating a little hook, like a bird’s claw on the end, so it could rest in an open hand, which I quite liked.

Q. Jason, how have the films impacted on your well-established career?
Jason Isaacs: It always upsets me when I hear it called a franchise because that’s when someone sells burgers and someone says I’ll have some of that and opens a shop selling burgers as well. This is one story, essentially, that has taken 10 years to tell so beautifully, and with such care, it seems to me there isn’t one drop of cynicism in anyone’s participation, or mine. It’s an odd thing to be asked how it affected your career because I don’t have a parallel career, I don’t know what it would have been had I not been doing this, I would have been doing something else I presume.

I just know that I loved doing it, every second of my participation in the film, and oddly for me, I don’t usually care what happens after I do my job, which is the acting, I love that part of it, I love the story-telling, but very unusually for me I love being part of everything to do with Harry Potter and seeing how much pleasure… actually seeing that it’s received with as much love what I give is a very rare experience. I haven’t a clue what I would have happened to my career if I’d not been part of it, it’s like being asked what would I do if I wasn’t an actor. I don’t know, you offering me a job? I’ll follow you around and make you a coffee… I don’t know. So, no idea but I’m really glad it has turned out this way.

Q. What’s your favourite line?
Jason Isaacs: My favourite line is one of Daniel’s because my first day’s work, one of my first shots, was walking away from Dumbledore’s desk and I remember saying to Chris Columbus: “I’d really like an exit line.” And he said: “Ok, let’s go again and we’ll make something up.” And we didn’t tell Daniel, and he was only waist high, and I turned to Daniel, unexpectedly to him, and said: “Let’s hope Mr Potter will always be around to save the day!” And he puffed out his chest and said: “Don’t worry, I will be!” I thought that was pretty impressive for a 12-year-old boy and he stayed that impressive ever since.

Q. And Ralph?
Ralph Fiennes: The only line I can remember is: “I can touch you now.” That’s my favourite line.

Read our review of Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2

Read our interview with Rupert Grint and Tom Felton