New ‘Harry Potter’ Interviews & Unseen Concept Art Revealed By Entertainment Weekly!

Oct 22, 2018

Posted by: Emma Pocock

Actor Interviews, Alfonso Cuaron, Art, Columbus, Cover Art, Cover Artists, Directors, Fantastic Beasts Movie, GrandPre, HP Cast, Interviews, J.K. Rowling, MinaLima, Movie Art, Movies, Newell, News, Phelps, Phelps Interviews

Entertainment Weekly’s special Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts edition gives some spectacular insight into J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world, and the latest exclusives drawn from the issue cover interviews with original Scholastic cover artist, Mary GrandPré, creative director David Saylor, and editor Arthur A. Levine, interviews with the Directors of each film on their favorite scenes, as well as showing off scrapped concept art from the films (including a glimpse at what Peeves might have looked like!), and interviews with Oliver Phelps (George Weasley) on his experience on set…

After a brilliant panel at San Diego Comic Con discussing the U.S. editions of Harry Potter (moderated by Leaky’s own Webmistress, Melissa Anelli!), illustrator Mary GrandPré, Scholastic creative director David Saylor, and editor Arthur A. Levine joined Entertainment Weekly to discuss some of the finer details and secrets of the Sorcerer’s Stone cover by Scholastic.

Of course, one of the most controversial and lasting debates surrounding the books is whether fans use the Philosopher’s vs Sorcerer’s Stone title. Bringing the books to the U.S. twenty years ago meant making changes to the language in the books to appeal to a greater audience (after all, nobody knew quite how much the books would capture the hearts of the world!), but little did we know that the first book could have been called Harry Potter and the School of Magic!

Take a look at an early sketch from Mary GrandPré, showing the scrapped title:

Harry Potter Book Series  Mary Grandpre Original Sketches 'The School of Magic'/'The Sorcerer's Stone' alternate cover

J.K. Rowling proposed the alternative title of Sorcerer’s Stone, and Levine explains the change, which was ultimately a tactical marketing decision:

“I think they would have done fine with Philosopher’s Stone. But they were on a mission to get every child in America to read this book. In the end, I feel like history proves that was not a bad decision.”


GrandPré says she tried to hide a few details in the cover, putting in Dumbledore peeking out from behind a column on the back cover, and Quidditch players flying behind Harry in the distance. We also know that GrandPré was the artist behind the iconic lightning-style Harry Potter logo, after asking David Saylor if she could try to write the title onto her design for the cover. Saylor is still taken aback by the fame that logo would receive:

We weren’t even thinking of it as a logo at the time, but now it’s one of the few I can think of that was so successful on a book, the movies used it, too. It’s extremely rare for a movie company to pick up book typography and use it on their movie. It’s been imitated in other languages. I mean, they’ll take letterforms in Cyrillic and add lightning bolts to it!”

Saylor also reveals that J.K. Rowling was utterly captivated when she first saw the finished artwork, reaching out to touch the painting (which GrandPré created using unfixed pastels) and nearly giving Saylor a heart attack! Thankfully, the artwork wasn’t smudged – a near miss!

Harry Potter Book Series  Mary Grandpre Original Sketches 'The School of Magic'/'The Sorcerer's Stone' alternate cover


GrandPré shared that she was surprised she didn’t include any illustrations whatsoever of Ron and Hermione in the first book, even in the leading chapter sketches and portraits, which even Dudley featured in! GrandPré explains:

“I think perhaps…we know they became friends, but there was so much to talk about in that first book. This boy with magical powers at this new school, and all these creatures and characters and professors in between. So maybe there was just so much juicy stuff happening in all the chapters, we just never quite made it to them visually. Maybe Ron and Hermione are just too normal!”

Read the full piece here, and be sure to head to the History of Magic exhibition in New York (or read / listen to the official book of the exhibition) to see more exclusive sketches and information from Scholastic, GrandPré and new cover illustrator Brian Selznick, and to find out more about the U.S. editions of the books!

sorcerer's stone poster

In another piece from Entertainment Weekly, we find out more about the Harry Potter films – specifically the scenes and characters which didn’t make the cut. EW shares some exclusive concept art from the Warner Bros archives, allowing fans to take a look at what could have been.

Devon Murray (Seamus Finnigan) said in our interview with him at LeakyCon that the one thing he wished had made it into the Potter films was Peeves – the late Rik Mayall filmed a scene with Harry and friends (Devon included) in a Hogwarts corridor, where Mayall brought Peeves to life. Devon told us that nobody could keep a straight face – perhaps he was too funny! Columbus explained the cut to EW:

“[It’s] one of my biggest regrets about the first movie […] Compared to a complex character like Dobby — he’s funny, but he’s also a tragic figure — Peeves is more of a one-note guy, and comedy doesn’t translate so well through CGI,” Columbus explains. “Peeves was really Rik’s creation. He managed to tap into that character on the page, so we didn’t feel comfortable just recreating Rik as a CGI character. It felt like we were taking the soul away from Peeves.”

Take a look at concept art for what Peeves might have looked like below:


Of course, magical creatures are coming to the forefront of the wizarding world now that the Fantastic Beasts series is in full swing! Artists behind these films have been hard at work creating concept art for the creatures residing inside Newt’s case (and his basement magical menagerie!), but – as we know – many creatures and magical beings requiring special effects were also designed for the Potter series. We got to see goblins, House Elves, Hippogriffs, Thestrals, Lupin as a werewolf,  Dementors and even dragons! Exclusive concept art in EW’s latest special edition include full-scale desgins of the Goblet of Fire Triwizard Tournament dragons not seen on-screen in full glory (the Welsh Green, the Chinese Fireball and Swedish Short Snout). Stuart Craig said on the creations: “From the outset, their designs had great credibility. They were totally believable.”

Anybody else see a slight resemblance between the Swedish Short Snout and the baby Demogorgon in Stranger Things?

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Swedish Short Snout Dragon concept art


The Sneakoscope was a pretty great foreshadowing device in Prisoner of Azkaban, and though we never got to see the scene where it was given to Harry in the Great Hall, concept art for the device can be seen in this latest issue (and on the website, here).

Even more exciting is the concept art for “Big little Hagrid”, designed for the flashback scene in Chamber of Secrets where we see Tom Riddle confront Hagrid about Aragog, implying that he had killed a student. We never see Hagrid’s face in the film – only Robbie Coltrane’s body double, Martin Bayfield, cloaked in shadow. Columbus tells EW that this was mainly down to a lack of “face replacement” technology, and gives his thoughts on what he wishes they could have done with the scene:

“That was a difficult sequence to pull off because Robbie is so well-associated with the role […] I would’ve loved to have done a version like they did in Guardians [of the Galaxy Vol. 2], with a young Kurt Russell.”

Take a look at the concept art below – doesn’t he look vaguely like Dudley?

Harry Potter Young Hagrid concept art

Take a look at the rest of the concept art here.

Oliver Phelps also spoke to EW about his experience playing George Weasley in the Potter series, sharing that Alfonso Cuarón actually took inspiration for Fred and George’s on-screen relationship from James and Oliver’s own relationship as twins:

“[Alfonso] liked the way we always cut each other off […] he got the script slightly changed so Fred and George were always finishing each other’s lines off, which we ended up doing in the film.”


He discussing the scene where he and his brother share the delights of the Marauder’s Map with Harry in Prisoner of Azkaban.


We find out more about the behind-the-scenes of this particular moment in the film, which used three versions of the map: a prop (like the replicas you can buy from Warner Bros), a green-screen version for special effects, and another with a “physical exterior that unfolded into a green screen for more effects to be added in post”. Phelps also shared that Harry’s footprints in the snow were created with practical hydraulic effects, which created foot-shaped prints in the snow at the press of a button.

Phelps says this scene is particularly memorable for him, thanks to their late grandfather, who told James and Oliver that the Marauder’s Map scene is where you see Fred and George “for the first time in their own element”. Oliver tells EW:

“I still remember to this day calling my granddad from the hotel and telling him how it went and everything,” he explains. “Unfortunately, he ended up passing away before the film came out.”

James and Oliver would have made their grandfather proud! Read the full interview here to find out more about the scene.


Another scene unpacked by Oliver was the scene when Fred and George are thrown back from the Goblet of Fire, after trying to trick it into thinking they meet the age requirements! The scene meant James and Oliver got fitted for their beards and elderly make-over, and also dabble in stunt work in preparation for being thrown back from the goblet. Oliver tells EW that sadly he and his brother ended up not being able to do the stunt, after all:

“We did some training with the stunt guys on the harness being thrown up and landing on to the mats on the floor,” he explains. But when it came time to film the scene, the production team decided to leave the stunt to the professionals. “We were both a bit annoyed about that. We want to be able to say we did our stunts and stuff,” Phelps explains. “But it turned out the guy who played myself or James ended up dislocating his elbow on the fall, so it was probably a good job they knew what they were doing with that and didn’t let us do it because it was quite the dangerous stunt.”

Oliver also shared that director Mike Newell had to help with some inspiration for Fred and George’s scuffle following this scene! Read more here.


Finally, Entertainment Weekly also shared interviews with the directors of the Potter films (and producer David Heyman), in which they share their favorite moments from each film. Alfonso Cuaron particularly loved the shrieking shack scene, which brings together not just the trio, but some of Britain’s finest actors:

“I remember fondly shooting the Shrieking Shack scene just because I had the joy to be working with Daniel and Rupert and Emma, but also with Gary Oldman and David Thewlis and Timothy Spall and Alan Rickman. All of them in this very crazy scene but with such conviction.”

Herman explained some of the effects which went into Goblet of Fire, saying that the second Triwizard challenge scene was tricky to get right:

“Filming in an actual loch would have been too cold and impractical. We looked into doing a process called ‘dry for wet,’ where you suspend an actor and blow wind on them to give the illusion that they are underwater, but the hair didn’t undulate convincingly.”

David Yates got to explore a lot of the darkness of Potter in the latter films in the series, and one scene that sticks with him in particular is the scene after Dumbledore’s death in Half Blood Prince:

“There was always something stirring and moving about seeing pupils and teachers stand together against the darkness, united.”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley, Emma Watson as Hermione Granger, and Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter

He also commented on one of the last scenes of Deathly Hallows Part 2:

“This is where they were saying goodbye to their extraordinary journey and their childhood.”

Be sure to check out more content from Entertainment Weekly’ s special edition, including exclusive Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts cast interviews, new photos from Crimes of Grindelwald, a rare chat with J.K. Rowling, the first interview with Johnny Depp on his role as Grindelwald, an interview with Claudia Kim (AKA Nagini) on her audition for the role, a first look at Nicolas Flamel’s housemore information on new Fantastic Beasts character Yusuf Kama (exclusively from Pottermore).




The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.