‘Harry Potter’ countdown: Phelps twins talk about life, death, acting and Weasley courage

Nov. 12, 2010 | 8:37 a.m.

A MONTH OF MAGIC: Hero Complex is counting down to the Nov. 19 release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” — the penultimate film in the history-making “Potter” franchise — with exclusive interviews, photos, videos and reports from the set. Today, a chat with the Brothers Phelps, who portray the Weasley twins.

phelps Harry Potter countdown: Phelps twins talk about life, death, acting and Weasley courage

The Phelps Brothers (Getty)


Fans may have lamented the loss of Fred Weasley’s life and George Weasley’s ear when they read “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” but James and Oliver Phelps, who play the mischievous Weasley twins in the “Potter” movies, were excited for the gore. “To be honest with you, I think ever since we started these movies, not specifically this character, but I’ve always wanted to die on screen,” James said. “So I guess that was something ticked off the box.”

Though he was anxious to portray the “shocking” moment as readers had imagined it, he said, dying wasn’t all that difficult. “I just had to lie there,” he said. “I guess that was quite easy.” Losing an ear also proved pain-free for Oliver. “It was amazing how comfortable it was, losing an ear,” he said. “I’ve always wanted a bit of a gory effect, really, in any of the films, so to get to do something like this was really cool.” Less exciting for Oliver was having to play the part of a brother who survives his twin.

phelps1 Harry Potter countdown: Phelps twins talk about life, death, acting and Weasley courage

Phelps twins in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" (Warner Bros)

“I had to get myself into that mindset of what it would be like and try to make it feel as real as possible,” Oliver said. “There’s a scene where he’s laid out in the Great Hall, and to look at that, that was really surreal, actually, because they pale him up and everything. For me, it was really quite an odd scene to film, especially because I was supposed to be crying my eyes out, and to do it with the whole Great Hall full of people, as well. It was a different day of filming from anything we’d done before.”

The first film in the two-part “Harry Potter” finale marks the beginning of the end for the 10-year, eight-film franchise that showcased the brightest of British talent.

For the Phelps twins, now 24 years old, it’s the end of their first — and in all probability, their biggest — acting gig, though both plan to continue in acting.

Robbie Coltrane told us on our first movie [“Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone”], ‘This is like having a Rolls Royce for your first car, because you’ll be very lucky if you ever get anything better than this,’” James said. “It’s been as good as you’d expect and better, because they are genuinely really nice people. You go on set with all these legends, and I suppose you’d assume them to be big egos, but not at all. they’re all just really down-to-earth and really approachable.”

Oliver said that he and James often turned to Julie Walters, who plays Molly Weasley, for her advice on working specific scenes. And when the brothers were going to perform a reading with the Hallé orchestra, Michael Gambon read through the lines with them, showing them how he’d perform it. “I think we’ve almost been spoiled, really. It is almost like leaving a university-type place where we’ve had these great lecturers we’ve been able to always go to to advice,” Oliver said. “We’ve been at Hogwarts for longer than most people have been at high school.” Oliver speculates that George Weasley’s character has rubbed off on his “subconscious state” after a decade playing the prankster on screen.

“We have been (pranksters) the past. Whether that’s the character rubbing off on myself, or whether I would have been like that my whole life, I’m not too sure,” Oliver said. “At school, I was always, not the class clown or anything, but I’d always have a bit of a joke with my friends and that. And just being able to do it for 10 years, especially in that stage when you’re growing up and learning who you are and such, I’m sure it has taken root somewhat.”

It works both ways. James and Oliver Phelps have also rubbed off on Fred and George Weasley in the films. The Phelps twins occasionally find themselves finishing each other’s sentences, Oliver said, which is how the Weasley twins began speaking in unison on the big screen.

“That’s how it all came into the film really,” Oliver said. “On the third film, we were having a meeting with Alfonso [Cuarón], and either James cut me off or I cut James off, and you just saw a smile appear on Alfonso’s face, and he said, ‘Oh, I like that, I like that. Lets work that into it.’”

hp7a trl 2913 Harry Potter countdown: Phelps twins talk about life, death, acting and Weasley courage

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1" (Warner Bros)

But James is quick to point out that twins aren’t identical in every way, even when they’re as closely knit as the Weasleys. “We may be completely wrong, but to us it kind of seems that Fred’s a bit more of the leader, and George kind of just goes with it, which is completely different to Oliver and I, because we’re both trying to boss each other around,” James said. “When people aren’t twins or haven’t got twins in the family, they kind of relate them as just one group.”

Oliver said he and James support rival soccer teams. James dresses more casually. “And I’m definitely the tidiest of the two of us,” Oliver said. “Definitely. We live together, and it always seems to be me putting the dishes away.”

They said they enjoyed being among “older kids” in the cast, growing up alongside their characters.

weasleys Harry Potter countdown: Phelps twins talk about life, death, acting and Weasley courage

Weasleysin earlier days (Warner Bros)

“While everyone else is learning math and science and that, we’re playing darts and wasting the day, as it were,” Oliver joked.

The Weasley twins left their school days in a blaze of glory near the end of the fifth film and opened their own joke shop, Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, in the sixth, selling tricks and novelties, like “Pimp-Your-Broomstick” kits, shoes that walk on walls, and spot-removal glamours. But in the final two films, the brothers focus less on childish pranks and more on the resistance movement.

“It was really cool, actually, because in the other films we’ve always been like the comic relief characters,” Oliver said. “We’ve always been able to turn up on set and just keep smiling while the camera’s rolling. It was really good being able to show a different side of the character, and being able to show that Fred and George are quite aggressive, as well. They see the danger, and they want to go at things full on.”

That’s not to say their methods don’t still have the Weasley flair for a good gag. In one scene called “Seven Harry scene,” six cast members all become Harry to help him in an escape plot, in the tradition of “The Thomas Crown Affair” – a typical Weasley twin stunt, James said.

“That kind of shows that they’re kind of growing up, and they’re men as well,” he said. “So although they like to joke, it shows the adult and serious side of Fred and George. Obviously, they’re ready to fight, and that isn’t really a laughing matter.”

In the end, James and Oliver said, the Weasleys are true Gryffindors. “Fred and George are pranksters, and Ron’s clumsy, and whatnot; I think deep down, all the Weasleys have got a good heart on them. They may not have a lot, but they like to share it,” James said. “It’s about being courageous, never-say-die, always keep going,” Oliver said. “They show that later on, certainly in the ‘Deathly Hallows,’ when they’re prepared give it their all, give up everything they have for the greater good.”

— Noelene Clark


hp7 dom rgb 1600x2366 Harry Potter countdown: Phelps twins talk about life, death, acting and Weasley courage

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85 Responses to ‘Harry Potter’ countdown: Phelps twins talk about life, death, acting and Weasley courage

  1. obj says:

    hey idiots, good job putting DEATH right in the title

  2. Goose says:

    Didn't read the Harry Potter books but love the movies? Why watch the highly anticipated movie when you can read a rambling article about it right here? Don't want to read the article? No worries, we'll attempt to spoil it for you in the headline. Then we'll put that headline front and center on the website. This way you can't avoid it.

    A news source who's name includes the city synonymous with movie making is giving out spoilers in headlines (not just articles) for major theatrical releases before opening weekend. Brilliant!

  3. Celia says:

    I love them. I bawled like a baby when…what happens happened in the book. It's so sad. It's going to be really hard to watch that on-screen.

    The twins are awesome!!

  4. Angie says:

    OMG I can’t believe its almost the end of harry potter. I remember going to see the first movie when I was 16 and loving it from the very begining. I’ve seen all the movies, and I can hardley wait for the next one in a week!!!!

  5. Matt says:

    They're not just pranksters–they're also great businessmen. Take a look at some business tips from Fred and George Weasley:

  6. Liberty says:

    The Weasleys are so inspiring and so humble and so

    courageous. I’m going to miss the HP series :( Great article!

  7. Fgsfds says:

    "For the greater good" I love them so much for saying that

  8. angela says:


  9. Kathleen Kennedy says:

    Can't wait until the 19 to see part one, oh no a year until part two

  10. sholeve says:

    if you didnt read the book and don't know whats gonna happen thats your own dam problem

  11. julia says:

    hola como andas?

  12. Katie (luna) says:

    You shouldn't call them idiots and the twins are awesome. i am a obessed harry potter fan, the twins being my favorite characters. They are true gryffindores and have a pure heart and if you can't see that you shouldn't be commenting on this.

  13. claudia leon says:

    me gustaria ver a los gemelos llorando porque en las peliculas siempre se vuelven pura risa y bromas

  14. CJ.B says:

    some people need to calm down, the people who havnt read or listened to the books clearly arnt true fans so its no one elses falt if they see a spoiler they have had enough time to read the book if they havnt they shouldnt be reading ANY artical on HP coz all of them will have some sort of information in!

  15. Michelle says:

    Oh read a book. It’s not hard.

  16. Carma says:

    I read the entire series and look foeward to each of the movies.

  17. JAXX says:

    I definitely Cried hardcore when that happend! No matter what though As long as they stay true to the last book All those years of going to the theatre id worth it!

  18. Ralph Sayah says:

    Would you stop this please? And the twins rocks !!! I have a twin brother !! :P Really

  19. Tia says:

    This is outrageous that any of you would comment so rudely about this article. Why read it if you were gonna put some crap down like that? Ignorance. Don’t pay attention to articles if you don’t care and have no respect for anyone.

  20. Sara Richardson says:

    It has been no secret that there is death surrounding the characters in the books and movies….it didn't say in the headline who dies….just that they talk about it. I think its great that he put a spoiler alert, he did that just to make sure people didn't read something they didn't want to know yet…..give the writer some credit, i liked the article.

  21. Fansies says:

    if you didn't want to read the article you shouldn't have clicked on the link. – duh

  22. Brey says:

    Amazing actors and an amazing interview. I will also be sad seeing what happens in the book on screen, I just hope it's how I pictured it.

  23. Greg Allen says:

    Great article Noelene!

  24. Sal says:

    I loved this article. This is an interesting interview and MAKES ME EVEN MORE excited to watch that scene but it's in part 2!!!!

  25. duh says:

    shouldn't have clicked on the link if you didn't want to read the article..

  26. leanne says:

    GREAT ARTICAL!!! I love the twins! I think their characters are so much fun and rebel, as most teenagers do!

  27. Aaron says:

    omg omg poor fred an george an defo harry ron an hermione coz there on the run from snatchers an death eaters an a few creatures from previous years i am obbssessd wiv harry potter more than i am n dubz haha lol

  28. Crys! says:

    aaw!! I Don't Want EITHER Of the twins to Die!!
    I Love ALL OF The Weasley Brothers!!! Especially The Twins!!
    Aaw It Sucks!!I Better Get Out The Tissues When I Enter The Cinemas!!!

  29. Kurby says:

    shocking – someone dies in Harry Potter. Too bad some people can't figure it out. Guess all the deaths in the first 6 books weren't a clue

  30. puru says:

    WAITING FOR THIS MOVIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    IN 3D!!!!!!!!

  31. tim says:

    i think all those who r ritin things like
    oh why did u ruin the story 4 me and all that LOOK UP THE TOP
    and besides the movies arent nerly as gud as the books so if u liked the 1st 6 movies reed the books coz the movies skip 1/2 the story such as doby he is in almost every if not in every book but only in the 2nd movie wich is reely annoying
    anyways loved the review hopefully it will b a gud movie unlike the 1st 6 :D

  32. Talin says:

    Um… The book/movie is titled, “Harry Potter and the DEATHLY Hallows.” One would assume that there is, in fact, going to be death somewhere in there. Probably lots of death. So no, no real spoiler in the article’s title, but thanks for playing.

    I for one am looking forward to the conclusion of this series. It will be a great chance for the cast members to really show how much they’ve grown and learned over a decade of filming and acting experience. Should be quite a show.

  33. Mariana says:

    eles arrazaram e eu ja li o livro e estou doida para ver o filme entao athe dia 19 haha aposto q vai ser o melhor filme do seculo de acordo com a senhora mcgonnagol kkk frases de harry no seu primeiro jogo de quadribol amoo xu…

  34. Therese says:

    :D I read the book and loved it, I think the first time around reading it was so shocked, especially after the great hall scene when you found out that Tonks and Lupin died as well. But anyway It seems a little surreal that its finally coming to a cxlose, I've grown up with all of these charachters both ink and paper and on the screen, its a little bittersweet to think that its going to be over…

  35. hoai says:

    I love this novel, and the film. make me excited when read. the fim is not well as novel but I love all actor and actress in it.

  36. nellie says:

    “On the third film, we were having a meeting with Alfonso [Cuarón], and either James cut me off or I cut James off, and you just saw a smile appear on Alfonso’s face, and he said, ‘Oh, I like that, I like that. Lets work that into it.’” hahaha:]
    twins are so awesome!!!!
    and it's so sad how Oliver mentions he CRIES in the movie!! omg it's gonna be soo freaking sad watching him cry!!!

  37. Carol Pope-Narag says:

    loved the book! and I'm sure I will love the film just as much! will be sad to see the franchise end.



  39. Hexiao Yu says:

    Goooo handsome twins~

  40. dulce says:

    me encanta harry potter

  41. RAJAT VERMA says:


  42. RAJAT VERMA says:


  43. read the books says:

    I've read all the books several times and love the movies. I anticipate watching the movies to see how they are translated on screen. Nothing is spoiled for me even when I know what is going to happen. True fans read the books.

  44. maria says:

    “Robbie Coltrane told us on our first movie [“Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone”], ‘This is like having a Rolls Royce for your first car, because you’ll be very lucky if you ever get anything better than this,’” wow that´s probably true.. but i wish the Phelps Twins and all cast good luck ..you are all great. Maria

  45. Chloe says:

    As wierd as it sounds, I'm really excited to see how the death scene plays out. It seems like they nailed it. I know I'm going to be bawling my eyes out for sure.

  46. Kala says:

    I'm 13 i love james and oliver phelps:) <3 there hot!!! how old are they? idc i love them. can't wait to see part 2!!! If i can date one of them it would be mh… james. <3

  47. Grace says:

    It's not our fault if you haven't read the books…It says at the top, under the picture of the twins, that this contains spoiler info. You could have read the books most of us, and calling them idiots is a really mean thing to say. I cried in the 7th book so many times…the twins are my favorite! The Deathly Hallows book was so sad…but also amazing at the same time.

  48. taslima poly says:

    i jst lov james nd oliver(both)……………i luv dem!<3

  49. BellaCullen says:

    Love those gorgeous Phelps twins!

    Post-Potter syndrome has hit hard, now that the last movie is out. The books and movies have meant so much to my me. I still remember watching the street on a hot summer day, back in 2000, for the FedEx truck to bring "Goblet of Fire."

  50. PikachuSquirtle says:

    I love these wonderful twins! 2014 and like…obsessed with the wonderful world of Harry potter! Fred and George= best characters ever!!!!!!!!!!!

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