RARE PHOTO: The day Daniel Radcliffe met Rupert Grint…

July 21, 2009 | 12:12 a.m.

“Potter” producer David Heyman reflects on the magical journey and shares a photo of a special moment: When Harry met pally…

Daneil Radcliffe and Ruper Grint 2000

Like a proud father, David Heyman, the producer of the “Harry Potter” films, reached for a box of photographs when a visitor asked him about the young stars of the history-making franchise.

“They are not my own children, obviously, but they are like nephews and nieces or perhaps godchildren, and I feel really protective of them,” Heyman said as he sat in his office at the converted aviation factory here that serves as the movie set for the “Potter” series. “Here, look at this one — this is a photo taken the day the boys met. No one’s really seen this before. They were taking a little walk together to get know one another…”

The black-and-white snapshot showed “Potter” stars Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint as chubby-cheeked adolescents strolling side by side, their eyes cast down to their shadows. Heyman took the photo in 2000. Much has happened since then. Those meek boys are now world-famous young men, and their sixth film together, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” has, since its Wednesday opening, racked up more than $400 million worldwide.

David Heyman

For those keeping track, that puts the saga of the Hogwarts School at a staggering $4.87 billion in lifetime box office.

At the very center of the franchise is the erudite Heyman, the 47-year-old London native who has been the architect of the franchise from Day One. On the set in Watford, outside London, Heyman has been the steady steward for a massive franchise that has employed four different directors but chugged along with a remarkable lack of friction or frenzy, as least by all outward appearances.

That’s not to say the going has been entirely smooth. Heyman, who prides himself on his affinity for “Potter” fans, found himself with a muggle revolt last year when Warner Bros. abruptly postponed “Half-Blood Prince” for eight months to better position the film in the marketplace. He agreed with the logic and praises Warners as a partner but added: “I won’t kid you. My heart sank when they came to me with the idea.”

Heyman and company have also struggled mightily to keep the large cast intact and their paydays manageable in a franchise that makes a mountain of money but also fills entire valleys with the fortune spent on salaries, effects and marketing.

Over two interviews — one last year on the movie set and one last week in Santa Monica — the producer explained that his success has been keyed by keeping the veteran “Potter” crew largely intact and somewhat sequestered on the Watford set, which, he says “remains a place of pride but no ego, more like an academy, which it plays on screen.”

He also enjoyed the kind of luck that makes you believe in magic.

Heyman had studied art history at Harvard, and after stints in L.A. and New York he was back in London with a plan: “I wanted to make films based on books. I’m passionate about books, and you need passion in this business because it can be brutal.”

In late 1997, a copy of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (its title would be tweaked for its U.S. release) came through the office and was quickly banished to the shelf for low-priority prospects. A secretary happened to pluck it from the pile and took it home for a weekend. Her favorable review got Heyman to look past “the rubbish title.” He fell in love with the book and snatched up the rights.
Fast-forward to the summer of 2000. J.K. Rowling’s books were a sensation and Heyman was seven months into his increasingly anxious search for a lead actor.

“One night, looking for a break, I went to the theater with Steve Kloves, the screenwriter who has written five of the six films. There sitting behind me was this boy with these big blue eyes. It was Dan Radcliffe. I remember my first impressions: He was curious and funny and so energetic. There was real generosity too, and sweetness. But at the same time he was really voracious and with hunger for knowledge of whatever kind.”

He coaxed the youngster’s parents into bringing him by for an audition. “I watched that audition tape recently — we’ll be putting it on one of the DVD releases — and I barely recognized him.”

The casting of Radcliffe as Harry, Grint as Ron Weasley and Emma Watson as Hermione Granger is especially impressive  in hindsight. The trio’s selection was arguably one of the best show-business decisions over the past decade, considering the instant risks and eventual rewards. Critics are praising

Harry Potter, boy wizard

their acting in this latest film as a leap forward for each of them, and, more than that, they have shown admirable grace and steadiness in the face of teen superstardom. In other words, there wasn’t a Britney in the bunch.

“I know they all will have great success in whatever they choose to do,” Heyman said at his Watford office, putting away his photo collection. “Emma is astonishingly bright. She is radiant and relaxed. Dan is extremely focused on his acting, and I have the fortune too to read his poetry and short stories, and there are some major poets who have written the most glowing, supportive things about his work. And Rupert — Rupert is the most natural comedian of the bunch. I think that he is like an old person in a young person’s body. He is a wonderful eccentric, a distinct original.”

This week, the “Potter” crew will hit Day 100 of the planned 250-day shoot for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” the series finale that will be released as two films.

Heyman said it’s too soon to contemplate the end of it all, especially considering the afterlife of franchises of this magnitude. Outside his office were blueprints of the “Harry Potter” theme park, which is scheduled to open in Orlando next year and has Heyman and “Potter” production designer Stuart Craig on board. There’s also a museum tour of props and costumes planned and years’ worth of home-video repackaging projects to consider, he noted with a chuckle.

Yet Heyman is also looking beyond Hogwarts. He’s excited to adapt British novelist Mark Haddon’s quirky “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” with Kloves on board to script and direct. Heyman is also developing the film future of Paddington Bear, who last year celebrated his 50th anniversary as a gentle institution of the British bookshelf.

The “Potter” franchise will be a hard act to follow. Heyman said he measures his life by the franchise; he got married while filming the fourth, for instance, and his son was born during the making of the sixth. But like an academy, seasons pass and graduations come.

“This place is like going off to school,” he said of the cavernous Watford site, which houses high-tech movie gear in a somewhat moldering old fortress. “It even smells like school. There’s concrete stairs; it smells a little bit bad, like a dormitory. The school is falling apart a bit; three people have been hired full time to patch the roof. The set may fall apart the day we’re done with it, and maybe that’s the way it should be.”

— Geoff Boucher


Half Blood Prince poster

Which celebrity intimidates Emma Watson? You may be surprised

Dumbledore diss? Michael Gambon sees “no point” in reading Rowling

Daniel Radcliffe talks about life after Hogwarts

VOTE: Which film might get Oscar nom? “Up,” “Trek” or “Potter”?

Rupert Grint explains the pain of love … and quidditch

SCOOP: David Yates reveals where he will split “Deathly Hallows”

Jessie Cave spills about scaring, smooching Rupert Grint

QUIZ: How well do you know the halls of Hogwarts?

Getting to know the real-life Weasley boys

STILL WANT MORE?  All “HARRY POTTER” coverage at Hero Complex

Photo of Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint in 2000 by David Heyman. David Heyman portrait by Murray Close/Warner Bros. All other images: Warner Bros.


27 Responses to RARE PHOTO: The day Daniel Radcliffe met Rupert Grint…

  1. taylor anne rose says:

    hello to ron lol
    i am one of the people that just found out about hary ploper lol i think its kind of geeki but dorky at the same and i find that cute plz write back cya tay
    PS: get better

  2. Celia says:

    This is such a Great article. It almost makes me want to cry. You can really tell David Heyman cares so much about the books and he really has done an amazing job bringing them to the big screen. That photo of DAN and Rupert is sooo cute!! Omg! They did a spectacular job choosing the trio. All three of them have grown into brilliant, talented, down to earth, genorous people. I love them!!

  3. Joie Gould says:

    The correct spelling of the producer of Harry Potter, is David Hyman, not Heyman as written in the above story.
    Joie Gould

  4. Chris Casner says:

    Sorry Joie, but you're wrong. The spelling is correct.

  5. LA Times Reader says:

    I too enjoy the rare photo of the two young actors here. The casting of the trio could not have been better, and I am happy to see them completing the film series.
    BTW, I do believe that the author of this article has the spelling of the Harry Potter producer correct. It is "Heyman" as published here.

  6. Ron says:

    Sorry, looking at the back of my HP and the Order of the Phoenix and it lists the producer as David Heyman.

  7. Sashalize says:

    The correct spelling of his surname is indeed Heyman as per the article. His production company is also called Heyday Films. Thanks for the article, loved his take on the trio.

  8. Emily says:

    I almost cried when I read this. The trio has been through so much together, it's amazing to think back to the day when Dan and Rupert met.
    I personally think the audition tapes should be put at the end of the credits in the second part of Deathly Hallows. Opinions?

  9. Chris says:

    Nice article. I'm happy to say too that I thought Dan finally gave a truly great performance in this role. I think the play he did may have helped him as an actor. I regret the fact that his first directing mentor was that hack, Chris Columbus. It took years for him to unlearn how to mug for the camera. Oh well. Here's to a great final two films.

  10. Kim says:

    Wow. That is such a cute picture! Daniel is wearing his Harry Potter glasses — perhaps for one of the first times.
    This article is so amazing and I'm so glad I came across it. Found out today that Daniel writes poetry and short stories. Just like me.

  11. Lauren says:

    I'm very glad to read that Mr. Hyman/Heyman will be producing The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. It is indeed a wonderful book that students at my high school enjoy. I'm looking forward to see who is cast in lead roles. Good news to read.

  12. Bryan B. says:

    I really enjoyed this article on David Heyman.
    But it was even better meeting him in person at the Apple Store in Santa Monica last Monday. He's such a personable chap and it's nice to know his astronmical success hasn't gone to his head; rather it has encouraged him to pursue new adventures. His passion for books is especially refreshing, too.
    Thanks again, Geoff, for putting together a first-class event last week and a nice article today.
    Best wishes for much success on your future projects, David Heyman!

  13. Meg says:

    Aww, that's a sweet photo.

  14. shakha says:

    seriously such a nice article!!

  15. Wow, definantely not "Hyman", that's just vulgar. Loved the article, they are so cute! I just wish it was the trio….

  16. Alys says:

    what were dan and rupurt look/doing in that pic when they were little?

  17. lavanya says:

    hi daniel ur very handsome

  18. casey says:

    why are people always saying what good casting they made? rupert and tom are the only good young actors in this series. daniel has certainly improved each movie but he's still not a terribly good actor and emaa is awful too…actually she's more inconsistent than awful. sometime she's alright and sometimes she's dreadful. i think this has to be some of the worst casting ever…it's just that now everyone's used to them.

  19. Kerri says:

    I've been reading these books since I was in 2nd grade and I cant believe that the series is coming to an end. When I read the last book, I cried through just under half of it. I never knew how really attached I was to the books and the movies are never quite as good, but I guess it had to end sometime. I've read them all at least twice and I'm reading them for a third time. It's something I will definetley pass on to my children. I hope they can enjoy the same thrill and excitement I felt while reading these amazing books.

  20. Aya says:

    They are both cute!

  21. mitali says:

    love it and miss it a lot it was a part of my life

  22. sadie says:

    i loved harry potter and always would dream of being a wizard or even metting the cast themselfs im part british.im sad to c it end

  23. Smruti says:

    Hi Daniel,u r very handsome & also so cute.I like ur acting.I LOVE U.

  24. Potter fan says:

    I think the picture of Rupert and Daniel is so cute!! Now they are two talnted young men amazing

  25. Georgia says:

    for anyone who doesn't want the Harry Potter saga to end, like myself, go to checkmated.com and check out the amazing fan stories that are posted there. I'll admit that some of them are pretty cheesy, but there truly are some treasures in there.

  26. mahala says:

    awesome pic. im a huge fan of harry potter ive read every book! p.s. this is coming from a 5th grader!

  27. zachariah phillippe says:

    daniel u look awesome i'm mad about u

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