John Hurt appeared in the very first Harry Potter film back in 2001 and he will be returning nearly ten years on to reprise his role of Ollivander in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II. His character appeared briefly in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, however he was being abducted by Death Eaters and had a bag over his head, so it probably wasn’t John Hurt.
Hurt spoke to Rotten Tomatoes about playing the wand shop-keeper again, and he also had a mini-rant about the British film industry.
JH: I’ve filmed one, which actually is the last one, and now I’ve got the penultimate one to do which is in November, and that wraps it all up. It’s a big loss for Britain in terms of having a big studio movie here, but it’s not representative of our culture in terms of the films that we make. I am convinced that though Pinewood and Shepperton — the big studios — playing host to big movies is very important, our film business is in the independent world. Of that I’m convinced…
Do you think the big franchise movies shooting in the UK give a false impression of the health of our industry? All these productions move in and hire local talent, but they aren’t British films.
JH: No, they’re not British films. Even Harry Potter isn’t a British [franchise]. We gave it to Warners, we just sit and collect. That always infuriates me. I do think huge areas of the industry are being neglected and we’ve lost the ability for middle-budget films. When we did have a stronger industry — and not just a business — we did have room for middle-budget films. They’ve gone out of the window, as they’ve done in America as well, but a $20m picture would be wonderful to make every now and then. We could do a lot for that.
But it’s like any country, if you don’t have a lot of money to spend. And it’s interesting seeing how much money gets spent on Harry Potter. It’s quite absurd, really. I watch it and think it’s just the same as Hollywood. I look around and you’ve got three costumes there, none of which are likely to be worn, and they’re all replicas of each other. It’s a vacuous waste of money and it drives me insane.”
I’ll have to agree with Hurt on this one. If you watch any behind the scene feature on any big movie you see lots of waste. Before Half-Blood Prince came out I saw a behind the scenes TV special on the joke shop set which Fred and George Weasley own in the film. Warner Bros. had craftsmen and designers working for weeks on background props that weren’t even shown on-camera. The scene itself lasted less than a minute. However, I suppose they did provide work for local people who needed it.
The ‘British’ thing is also quite annoying. Harry Potter was created by a British author, the movies star British actors with mostly British directors, producers and crew, and it’s shot in Britain. Yet when each movie makes $900+ million 95% of is goes into the bank accounts of Warner Bros. in America. I appreciate that without Warner Bros. ploughing $150+ million into each film they wouldn’t have happened in the first place, however it’s a shame the movies will have no major long lasting impact on the British film industry. The industry doesn’t have a lot of money floating around and it could have benefited from some Harry Potter coin.