‘Harry Potter’ countdown: The story behind the most controversial scene in ‘Hallows’

Nov. 14, 2010 | 9:13 a.m.

A MONTH OF MAGIC: Hero Complex is counting down to Friday’s 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 look at an unexpected scene in “Deathly Hallows” that leads to a moment that will have fans talking (and debating) for weeks.

hpdh1 03087 Harry Potter countdown: The story behind the most controversial scene in Hallows

Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1" (Warner Bros)

There’s no way to take a beloved bookshelf sensation like the “Harry Potter” novels and put them on the silver screen without courting some controversy, and Steve Kloves knows that better than anyone.  But the man who wrote seven of the eight “Potter” screenplays is clearly doing something right, and for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1,” he successfully pushed for a scene that never appeared in the pages of J.K. Rowling’s books  but may end up as the most-discussed moment in the film.

Harry and Hermione are on the run as fugitives in the increasingly dark wizarding world and Ron has left in frustration — and after expressing suspicion that his two oldest friends have feelings for each other. In a quiet moment, Harry listens as the broadcast on a scratchy little radio shifts from grim news dispatches to a forlorn song. He holds out his hand and invites his childhood friend to dance. After a pained expression, she agrees. There are awkward glances and a crosscurrent of emotions — they are tired, scared, confused and expecting to die at any moment. The tension builds and it seems as if something is about to happen. And then … well, you’d better go see the movie for that.

The inspiration for the scene came to Kloves while he was driving home from work one day back during the “Half-Blood Prince” shoot, and he jotted his idea down on a yellow piece of paper. With uncertainty, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of “Wonder Boys”  brought the somewhat audacious little concept to the leadership group for the “Potter” films as far as story — director David Yates, producer David Heyman and, with a less persistent but always weighty presence, Rowling herself.

“When I wrote it down, I thought, ‘Well this is strange,'” Kloves said. “But it stuck with me and I thought there were good reasons for it. I was surprised when I took it to the group that it was very well-received.  It was real stroke of courage, just in terms of pushing the envelope in the ‘Potter’ universe.”

The scene, especially with those crackling radio reports of resistance casualties, conjured up the raw emotion of a World War II interlude  in which men and women confronted with death and loss look for human connection, even if it’s not with the most expected — or proper — person. “That’s exactly what we were going for, there’s lot of complicated emotions there, a lot of history too.” The scene also hard-wires even more emotion into the return of Ron and adds to dark doubts he has about his budding romance with Hermione.

Some industry observers who have viewed the movie call the scene one of the most affecting in the film — but how will all those “Potter” purists respond? Let the debate begin.

— Geoff Boucher


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51 Responses to ‘Harry Potter’ countdown: The story behind the most controversial scene in ‘Hallows’

  1. Ihateharry says:

    "It was real stroke of courage, just in terms of pushing the envelope in the ‘Potter’ universe.”

    It's nice when a writer can give himself a pat on the back and talk about his own courage for WRITING A SCENE!


  2. Chatty says:

    I understand that Rowling said this was her favorite of all the HP movies so far. Therefore, if it doesn't bother her, why should it bother anyone else? I'm sure the 'shippers' of this particular duo will be quite thrilled. Thank you for posting this interview. Having seen the one that Daniel gave on the subject, I had suspected that he had asked the screenwriter to add the scene so he could live out this fantasy. Ha! Good to know the truth.

  3. Elijah says:

    Even though I think it's a great idea, trust me; sh*t's gonna go down. There are going to be riots in the streets from idiot purists abound.

  4. stephanie says:

    If it's not in the book it shouldn't be in the movie, especially a sex scene.

    • Andy says:

      Nobody has stated that it's a sex scene (and common sense leads me to believe that it won't be). To me at least, this scene seems really plausible because of the close bond that Harry and Hermione share. It's not the first time they are a source of comfort for each other either, and in those dark times it is only logical that they become closer, while stil staying platonic. That's the feeling the book seems to give off. Besides, two teenagers alone in a tent for weeks, scared out of their minds and lonely? Wouldn't you look for comfort? I just think that this scene talks a lot about their friendship, their relationship and what they truly mean to each other–it doesn't matter if you believe it's platonic or not.

      J.K. Rowling wouldn't have allowed it anyway if it went against the canon, but haven't you, as Ron, ever wondered "what if?" It just opens a whole new world of possibilities. It's one of the things I personally love about the Harry Potter books, because things could have gone a thousand different ways, and she chose one road, but whose to say what could have happened if she chose differently?

    • Lysky says:

      Please. The Harry Potter books are amazing, the films are amazing. They don't have to be identical to be good. It's a story. This argument annoys the piss out of me.

    • Amanda says:

      I seriously doubt it's a 'sex' scene, it sounds more like a kiss, tops. And I disagree that the movies should be the exact same as the books. It's an entirely different medium, far more visual, without the ability to sort of look into our character's heads and be told what they're thinking. It has to be demonstrated. I look at the movies more as an alternate reality to the books, it keeps me from going crazy about the differences, although it is fun for me and my sister to pick them apart on the ride home and list all the 'errors'.

    • cjblack says:

      There was no sex scene. Please, see the film before commenting on it.

    • Anna says:

      What sex scene O.O Did I miss something!?

  5. Thiyaga says:

    Whatever man, the Potter movie are dumb, incoherent and aimless compared to the books. And going against the original story is just not a good idea.

  6. Elan says:

    I really really hope that they do not kiss. The only time they should be kissing is the "riddle" them in the locket. Otherwise When Ron fears that there could be somethings going on and Harry tells him how she cried when Ron left and how she's like a sister to him, it just wouldn't be the same.

  7. noo says:

    it's actually disgusting that they would turn this into a love triangle. that is one of the great things about the books. harry and hermione had a very platonic relationship with no need to get romantic. some men and women CAN be just friends.

    • phoebe says:

      it's not a love triangle.
      it's an emotional dance between two best friends who have had to face death, troubles and darkness all their life

    • HPFan says:

      Who said the dance wasn't platonic? Harry and Hermione have been through a lot together in the books and they are best friends. People can dance with their friends. When I saw that scene in the movie, I felt that he was just trying to cheer her up and they both knew she was thinking about Ron. I didn't think it meant anything romantic.

  8. Bob says:

    This is exactly what I enjoy about taking my KIDS to the Harry Potter movies. If I can't catch a little skin when my kids are with me when can I?

    • Kirsten says:

      Why are you taking your kids to a PG-13 movie in the first place? People like you are hilarious! You take your kids to a PG-13 movie when they're not 13 then when they have nightmares or see something inappropriate for their age you blame the movie! I love the way people expect society to parent their children for them instead of maybe bothering to see the film yourself first or at least doing a little research about it before allowing them to see it if you find the ratings system too vague.

  9. Sally says:

    I think it's ridiculous. They haven't even properly developed Ron/Hermione or Harry/Ginny and yet they're pushing this. It'll only confuse people.

    • Siddhesh says:

      Is it really so ridiculous? JKR herself gave only brief pages to the romance between R/Hr and H/G, so why should the movies not do the same? H/Hr have always been given preference by the movies, and this is no different. Personally, the movies at least seem to have gotten it right, even if JKR herself didn't.

  10. Peter says:

    The last Potter movie was a tedious, vapid travesty. I hope I can summon the enthusiasm to see this, when I didn't even care for the book.

  11. pressgirl says:

    I'm with "chatty," if Rowling didn't object, I don't either. I'm always considering what happens between those pages, what they talk about over dinner, what they do to blow all those hours alone, under duress, in a tent, in the middle of nowhere. I can't imagine it goes too far… after all, we know where their hearts really lie. But surely every once-teenager can remember loneliness and awkward moments with someone who really was just a friend?

  12. Jeff says:

    Really can't do with a huge SPOILER ALERT warning at the top of the article?? How annoying. I thought this was referring the "bloody hands" mini-controversy involving Hermione in the trailers. I had no idea there was such a scene like this in the movie until this report. Thanks, LA Times.

  13. mark says:

    Come on. If they really wanted to do something noteworthy, they should replace Daniel Radcliffe with someone who can act.

  14. michael says:

    Forgive me: Is this meant to be taken seriously?

  15. Jenna says:

    Sounds like they're trying to draw in the Harry/Hermione shippers who've sworn not to watch the movie, now that Hermione/Ron have been proven to be endgame. Pisses me off that they're catering to the shippers, instead of thinking about what's best for the movie. There was no need for a scene like this.

    It better be tastefull done, that's al I have to say.

  16. jpinsdca says:

    GEEZ! Everyone knows books are always better then the movies. The movies are entertaining. As an HP fan I always thought Hermonie had little something more for Harry than friendship in the beginning but since he never reciprocated ..a girl doesn't wanna put herself out there to be rejected. C'MON PEOPLE It's just a movie! A little added scene isn't keeping me from dropping my $10 to see the show.

  17. Frances says:

    Courage? What’s courageous about that? Kloves has been adding bollocks into the movies since day one. If he’s not giving everyone’s good lines to Hermione (even Arthurs, ffs), or making Ron look like a total buffoon, then he’s adding rubbish like the fire at the Burrow in HBP.

  18. Kj says:

    The way I read this, it’s just expanding on Ron’s imagination that Harry and Hermoine are secretly in love. These thoughts were due to the locket. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I definitely don’t always agree with these scenes that aren’t in the book, but I love to see the books on screen even when useless scenes are added. I more so get upset about what’s left out, but still realize books are always changed some for the screen. I just enjoy seeing ANY movies based on these books! My opinion will be very different if Harry and Hermoine get together in any way in a real scene. That totally goes against the book and Harry’s allegiance to Ron.

  19. Mdme M says:

    Any film writer that has to resort to sex (graphic or hinted at) to relay the non-sexual emotions he needs is a bad writer. Sex in films is a quick and cheap trick to cure lack of sophistication. It's the difference between a chef taking the time to properly prepare a gourmet meal vs picking up McDonald's on the way home. It's the difference between Rowling herself, who managed to convey everything she needed with no more sex than a kiss, and everyone else.

  20. Violet says:

    I do love Harry/Hermione's friendship and I think it's beautiful. But yeah, in the book, they are pretty much just best friends but let's face it, in the movies, Dan and Emma have like a full-on chemistry for some reason. I like that they put this scene in the movie and I think it should be really haunting and beautiful. Though I think that it's the best thing that JK could've done when she decided that Ron and Hermione are meant to be together. Ron and Hermione are just so great together. Harry and Hermione together is just sort of this strange, comforting and beautiful relationship. I'm not sure if I like the love triangle thing or not but I do enjoy it sometimes. And then again, face it, you don't really want the movies to be exactly just like the books. Otherwise, why do we need movies? Great review, btw.

  21. C.Michael says:

    Hysterical fan reaction to something they haven't even SEEN yet is both confusing and amusing at the same time. And anytime you see the word "shipper" used, you know you are dealing with someone who is WAY too involved with a piece of fiction.

    And just for the record, a completely "faithful" adaptation of a book to television or film is technically impossible, with the possible exception of Shakespeare, since everything including internal thoughts are spoken aloud by the actors. Anyone with half a brain should be able to figure this out if they would let go of their "obsessed fan" tendencies for a moment or two.

  22. Miffef says:

    Well, I'm not going to cry and wail and pund my fist into the wall about this. But truthfully, i am a little dissapointed in the directors, for I know one of them is Harry/Hermione shipper, and this just seems to be them acting out their own fantasy. But I do have some insight on this scene. Harry and Hermione and dancing, first it's awkward and then emotions are all wired up and just as something is about to happen, Ron pops into both of their heads, I believe reminding them of their loyalties and clears their teenage hormone head. If its a kiss or almost kiss, sure I'll be a tad miffed but in the end, I know it's going to be Ron and Hermion who get the REAL kiss

  23. Miffed says:

    . But if they make Harry and Hermione kiss, its going to portray Harry as a backstabbing friend and Hermione as kinda "easy" in a way, and it's going to justify Rons jealousy, which in the book was caused by the locket and his imagination. But if the kiss between Harry/Hermione does happen it wasn't just the locket that fueled Rons jealousy, he was actually sensing something there, which does go completely against the book. Harry even admitted he saw Hermione as a sister. Ok, lol now I'm really miffed.

  24. Crazygreek says:

    Did it not cross your minds that that migth be a magic effect of the locket on Ron… The locket may make him see this or imagine it… so yeah you are all rigth. It was some writer's fantasy yet it wont damage the flow of events. If that is the case evryone will be happy yes….?

  25. dave says:

    I went to this movie at midnight. How many young people were there, i could not count. That scene was completely absurd. Especially because of the fan base it involves. They could have got the point across another way instead of pushing the envelope as far as they can go. We are just going to see this crap more so in other movies now!

  26. Juan-john says:

    That scene didn't affect me as much as the kissing scene. When reading the books I never imagined Harry and Hermione being nude, and was initially surprised about it. In hindsight, though, it makes perfect sense.

  27. Casey says:

    holy hell, people. did any of you -read- the article? first of all, its hollywood. you absolutely must make a seperation between the books and the movies. yes, the movies are from the books, but it would be impossible to fit -all- the details of all the books into 2 hour movies. you would have to have multiple parts for each movie, but since that is not feasible, they need to cut things out and, in some cases (heaven forbid) add things to communicate something they may have left out. my wife, an avid harry potter fan, thought the scene in the beginning of the movie with hermione wiping her parents memory was -brilliant-. though not in the book, it perfectly portrayed the intensity of the situation.
    as for this scene. when people talk about the "most controversial scene" or the "sex scene" I think to myself "surely they are referring to when ron is about to destroy the locket", but no! they are referring to the dancing scene…how is this implied sex?? I agree with kloves himself and that WWII analogy. they were tired, they were scared, they were upset, they were best friends. I dont think it is catering to the shippers at all to have that scene. it was harry doing a very nice thing for a very worried hermione. adding this scene was in no way going -against- the story, the plot is still the same.
    I think the books are absolutely brilliant, and I think the movies are absolutely brilliant, and I think the absolute purists need to get over themselves and realize that never in the history of mankind has a movie stayed 100% true to the book, nor will such a movie ever exist. and there's nothing wrong with that, its the way things are. appreciate them for what they are.

  28. Guest says:

    I absolutely hated the scene. Different people have different interpretations of it, but obviously the people who made the scene intended for there to be sexual tension. The scene of Ron's return in the book is so movig because Harry assures Ron that his fears about Harry and Hermione having feelings for each other are baseless. In the movie, Harry can't do that because apparently Ron's fears are not baseless. This ruined the movie for me. Thanks Yates. Thanks Kloves. Thanks Emma

    • me1 says:

      Sorry, but you purists are so idiotic. How can one scene ruin the entire film? It's ridiculous! It's a MOVIE not a BOOK. Things need to be expressed differently.

      People need to learn that films and books are separate mediums! Why do i even bother explaining it because these so called "fans" will never see logic and the reality of things.

  29. Jillian says:

    The thing that made that scene so great was NOT something that should have appeased the "shippers" (who believe that Harry and Hermione should be together rather than Hermione and Ron, in case you didn't know). The beautiful thing about that scene, besides the obvious WWII allusion, is that it shows that a guy and a girl can be really good friends and not be lovers. I'm a "Potter Purist" and believe that scene added so much to the movie, more than any other addition in the other films, because of that.

  30. phoebe says:

    i don't know how many people commented before the film came out, but it wasn't a love (as in being attracted in that way love, not friendship or family love) scene. it was about two friends facing difficult times and harry comforting hermione when they needed it most. They've had to face horrible things practically all their life and they get the length of one song to return to their childhood and forget the danger they are in.
    i personally thought it was a great song, and a beautiful scene that was right for the film. just because it's not in the book (i think it would've been terrible in the book) doesn't mean you have to hate it instantly. of course, books generally are, and always will be, much better than the film adaptions, but i think they did well with this scene and it was a little breather from the darkness of the rest of the film.
    and harry's dancing was pretty hilarious too :)

  31. Ashley says:

    i personally hated this scene.

  32. Ingrid Woigt says:

    Even if it's not in the book, I liked the scene. It shows how deep is the bond of friendship between Harry and Hermione, they are like brothers. They are there lonely and scared and she is clearly upset because Ron has gone. And Harry ask her to dance in order to make her feel better about that situation. He doesn’t know if it will help, but he’s trying. He is trying to be there for her and that is what friendship is all about. It shows how much he cares about her, about her happiness. This scene just proof that it is the most beautiful friendship ever. After all, they're in this together until the end.

  33. Celtic Lady says:

    I think Emma was right in believing this scene was right for the movie! It was as right as the scene where Voldemort's soul attacks Ron by using Harry and Hermione to instill Ron's doubts and anger, but in an totally different way. These hereos, we mustn't forget, are scared, tired teenagers who are running for their very lives against all odds. It is natural they would turn to each other like that for nonspoken understanding and support. Especially two people who really do love each other passionately as true and trusted friends. The desire for a human touch and comfort was well played and I am sure Rowling gave the scene her utmost blessing! Brilliant!

  34. ClareL says:

    I don't think anyone completely intended it to be a romantic scene at all. Harry and Hermione have been best friends for years, nothing more. Sure the scene could have made the people pushing them together a little overexcited, but in the end it was just a desperate return to childhood. Especially with the song they chose, the scene just perfectly exemplified the desperation of Harry and Hermione. They aren't children anymore, and they know they have to keep fighting. They've been fighting the war since they were 11, and the song with the dancing just shows how desperate they are to be children again or to regain a childhood they never had. It's not intended to be a love triangle. It's a battle to remember how life could have turned out, all the while knowing how very little hope they have left for the end. If it helps, listen to the song again and look at the lyrics.

  35. Dim says:

    I'm a Harry Potter fan, but not like the avid Potterheads, and you guys are cruel! You guys are so brutal at every little thing that changes. I personally loved the scene because I've been in a war zone and you never know what you're gonna do, so I get it. Bu that was a little scene that added mystery to the movie, which to me, is a good thing. You can interpret it anyway you like, and come on, it wasn't like they were having sex! It was a dance and I really don't understand why everyone's saying, "They took it too far," or "They could have done it another way." I've read the books, and I've always felt that it could have gone either ways. Hermione and Harry or Hermione and Ron. Even JK Rowling said that, so that was a smart decision and they didn't even kiss, which shows the depth of Hermione's feelings for Ron and Harry's for Ginny.

  36. Mika says:

    I think that scene was perfect. Harry and Hermione share a connection that Ron will never share with Hermione because he left. But this connection, I believe, is just "comfort", brotherly/sisterly… honestly, after all they'd been going through, they needed that. Plus who says two best friends can't dance together.? It's just a matter of putting things into perspective. Think about friendship, watch the dance scene and it's perfectly fine.

    Just my opinion. :)

  37. Kelly says:

    Having read the books I knew very well that Harry and hermione never had any strong feelings toward her that were more than that of a brother and sister. And in the books that is made quite clear. I feel that in the movie, the line is blurred so that those who haven’t read the books could be easily mistaken for something that isn’t there. And also I felt that the writers kept using hermione as a way to completely forget about ginny. You know, harry’s actual girlfriend who in the book he spent a lot of time thinking about and fell in love with yet had to leave for the sake of her safety. In the book they have a beautiful relationship cuppled with a great story; admiration from afar, roles being reversed, caring about the other so much to break up with them, having to spend boatloads of time not knowing where the other is, believing at one point that the other is dead, and it goes on and on. Yet the darn writers left out a good 90 percent of all that.

    Just bugs me. Well that’s my rant for the day

  38. breezy says:

    Definition of PENULTIMATE
    1: next to the last <the penultimate chapter of a book>

  39. breezy says:

    It's not over till it's over- if nothing else, the added scene will make people wonder and want to see how it ends up if they haven't read the books.

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