This emotional HBO Max special, which united many key cast members and crew at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, gave us many magical moments as we looked back at 20 years since Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone first hit cinema screens. From brand new cast discussions and personal annecdotes, insights from the creative team behind the magic, and comments from the creator of the wizarding world, J.K. Rowling alongside the eight films' various directors, there was a lot of magic to unfurl.
If you’ve watched the show, see if we picked any of your favourite parts!
The start of the show sees the likes of Daniel Radcliffe, Robbie Coltrane and Emma Watson receiving their Hogwarts letters in distinctly Muggle locations, such as taxis and coffee shops. Seeing that familiar handwriting on those now iconic-looking letters (conceived by graphic design team MinaLima) immediately catapulted us back into the wizarding world – and by the looks on the actors’ faces, they were transported right alongside us.
From the moment Emma Watson and Tom Felton clap eyes on each other in the Great Hall set, you can immediately see the bond this pair have as actors – despite playing adversaries in the films. Throughout the show, Emma and Tom talk candidly about how much love and respect they had for each other growing up – Hermione and Draco would be shocked!
Throughout the show we see other Hogwarts alumni catching up, such as Alfred Enoch, Evanna Lynch, Matthew Lewis and many more!
Rubeus Hagrid is very much a father-figure to not just Harry, but Ron and Hermione too throughout their Hogwarts journey – after all, what’s a bunch of adventures if you can’t debrief at Hagrid’s Hut afterwards? So, seeing Robbie Coltrane’s behind-the-scenes antics in full Hagrid costume brought real joy to our screens – especially seeing Robbie riff about trying to shave his big bushy Hagrid beard.
Losing touch with childhood friends is a hugely relatable feeling – and one we got to share with Emma Watson and Rupert Grint – who famously portrayed best friends (and soon – a couple!) in the films. Seeing Rupert telling Emma he still loved her, before chuckling “as friends”, was such a Ron-thing to do, and seeing the mutual admiration the pair still obviously have for each other certainly will have tugged on a few heartstrings!
The Harry Potter films welcomed many huge acting powerhouses into the wizarding world family, many of whom we get to meet again in the show. From seeing Ralph Fiennes cheerily discuss his time as the evil Lord Voldemort to Jason Isaacs reminiscing about his time as Lucius Malfoy, you realise just how many veterans gave the magic touch to the Harry Potter series. We particularly enjoyed seeing Daniel Radcliffe reunite with his on-screen godfather Gary Oldman AKA Sirius Black – and seeing these two actors really relish in eachother’s company.
We’ve always been jealous of the Weasleys and their cosy get-togethers at The Burrow, and here, we see Bonnie Wright, the Phelps brothers and Mark Williams enjoy a wholesome moment together in their family home again. Oh, to be able to grab a cup of tea and join them.
It isn’t just the actors who we get to meet again – but the outstanding talent behind the cameras that really helped bring the Harry Potter magic to the screen. Every director involved in Harry Potter, including Christopher Columbus, Alfonso Cuaron, Mike Newell and David Yates all brought a unique vision to their respective films – and it is interesting seeing them all discuss their takes on the wizarding world in the show.
The great Helena Bonham Carter always brought such wickedness to her character, Bellatrix Lestrange, so seeing the actor be so cheeky reuniting with Daniel Radcliffe was brilliant to behold. Daniel Radcliffe recalling a letter he once wrote to her is a particular highlight.
The show takes time and care to appreciate the people involved in the films who are no longer with us, with touching tributes to Helen McCrory, Alan Rickman and Richard Harris, to name a few. Seeing everyone’s names flash up on the screen was a deeply touching moment, especially realising just how many talented individuals worked on the series and have since passed on.
Starring in such a life-changing film series together from such a young age is certainly a daunting task, but Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint speak about their experiences so gracefully. From laughing about a memory arranging a funeral for Emma’s hamster, to emotionally admitting that they all had to be strong for each other as they got older was a truly cathartic scene.
From the moment we saw Robbie Coltrane’s lip wobble, we were absolutely gone. Yes, during the crescendo of Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts, things start getting teary, as various cast members talk about their all-encompassing love for the wizarding world J.K. Rowling has created and their experiences with Harry Potter as a whole. Many cast members reminisce about reading the books (or learning about the books from family members) and how much the wizarding world has changed their lives - as well as ruminating on its legacy all over the world.
Seeing the journey from page to screen develop throughout the show clearly means a lot to the cast and crew involved in this sequence. We’re sure there were a few tear-stained faces watching at home too!
And if you want to find out how to catch up on Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts in your territory, you can browse our guide here.