It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since the first book in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series hit bookstores. All year, there have been celebrations of this global phenomenon’s two-decade milestone, but it’s not just the books celebrating a huge anniversary in 2017.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets premiered on Nov. 15, 2002. The film is 15 years old! Where has the time gone? In the wake of our nostalgia, we did a little digging to find 15 fun facts about the making of the Harry Potter films that just might surprise you.
1. One of Draco Malfoy’s best lines wasn’t in the script
In the Slytherin common room, when Harry-as-Goyle (Josh Herdman) says he wears glasses for reading, Draco (Tom Felton) sneers and says, “I didn’t know you could read.” Turns out the line was written at the last minute by director Chris Columbus.
2. An iconic exchange between Lucius Malfoy & Harry Potter was improvised
At the end of Chamber of Secrets, after Dumbledore explains everything that happened to Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs), he says, “Let us hope Mr. Potter will always be around to save the day.” Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) improvised back with, “Don’t worry. I will be.” Does every actor understand their character as perfectly as the Harry Potter cast?
3. Tom Felton used to sneak sweets in the pockets of his Hogwarts robes
When he was found out, the pockets were sewn shut. Felton talked about it at a 2014 fan convention: “The rumor was that they sewed them up after the third film because I was sneaking food and drink onto set. I want to clear this up because that is absolutely true.”
4. Crabbe (Jamie Waylett) was cut from the Potter movies after an arrest for drug possession
Vincent Crabbe, despite being in all the books, wasn’t in the final Harry Potter films. Actor Jamie Waylett was charged for possession of weed in 2009 and sentenced to community service. He was subsequently cut from the film franchise, leaving Crabbe out of an integral scene in the final Deathly Hallows. Later, he did some jail time for his part in the 2011 London riots.
5. Harry Potter and the Chamber of the Secrets is the longest movie in the series
Even though it’s the second-shortest book (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is the shortest), Chamber of Secrets comes in at 174 minutes, making it just six minutes short of a full three hours. Wowza.
6. Chamber of Secrets started filming 3 days after Sorcerer’s Stone finished
The first two movies are the only ones to actually be produced in the same year aside from Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Part 2, which were shot all at once.
7. Dobby was just a tennis ball
During filming, Daniel Radcliffe shot all of Harry’s scenes with Dobby the house elf opposite a ball on a stick.
8. Several Ford Anglias were harmed in the making of Chamber of Secrets
Sixteen to be exact. The flying car Harry and Ron crash-landed in the Whomping Willow took quite a beating before it escaped into the Forbidden Forest, becoming a wild and sentient thing that later saved the boys from Aragog the spider’s hungry, man-eating family. It took over a dozen duplicate models to complete scenes featuring the car.
9. Puberty made filming a little harder
During filming for Chamber of Secrets, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint (Ron) both had to deal with their voices breaking. There are rumors that Radcliffe had a voice double toward the end of filming.
Additionally, Radcliffe was required to shave his leg for the scene where Harry reveals to Dobby and Lucius Malfoy that he’s missing a sock!
10. Tom Riddle’s name was taken from an actual dead guy
Several of Rowling’s character names come from actual tombstones in the Greyfriars Kirk churchyard in Edinburgh, including Tom Riddle. Tom Riddell, Esq. died when he was 72 years old in 1806. Incidentally, when Voldemort dies in the final battle at Hogwarts, he’s 71.
11. In other languages, Lord Voldemort has different names
“I am Lord Voldemort,” is a cool anagram of Tom Marvolo Riddle, but only in English. To make the wordplay work in other languages, his name had to change. For example: in Spanish, his name is Tom Sorvolo Ryddle (“Yo soy Lord Voldemort“), and in German, it’s Tom Vorlost Riddle (“Ist Lord Voldemort“). The books have been translated into 68 languages.
12. Speaking of languages…
The Cambridge University linguistics department developed the actual language of Parseltongue, which Harry and Voldemort use to communicate with snakes.
13. Moaning Myrtle was the oldest student at Hogwarts
Literally and figuratively. In Chamber of Secrets, Myrtle would have been 63 years old — if she had lived. Actress Shirley Henderson, who plays Myrtle, was 36 at the time of filming.
14. John Williams supposedly reused some Star Wars beats for the Quidditch scenes
Ever wonder why some of the music in the Chamber of Secrets Quidditch match sounds familiar? Theories abound that composer John Williams recycled some of the beats from the music he wrote for the speeder chase in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.
15. The Chamber of Secrets theatrical trailer premiered before the live-action Scooby-Doo
In June 2002, moviegoers who went to see the live-action Scooby-Doo got a special trailer treat. How many people do you think went to the theater just for a sneak peek at Chamber of Secrets?