For fans of the era-defining Harry Potter series, it’s difficult to believe that two decades have passed since Daniel Radcliffe first picked up his wand as the titular Boy Who Lived. But, on New Year’s Day, Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts marked this milestone with a lavish and heartfelt reunion. It featured waltzes in the Great Hall, secrets shared in the Gryffindor common room, the revelation that Goblet of Fire director Mike Newell cracked his ribs while play-fighting with James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley), and that Radcliffe had penned a love letter to his co-star Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange).
Many of the standout moments in the nearly two-hour-long extravaganza, however, came courtesy of Emma Watson. The now 31-year-old actor, who has since played Belle in Beauty and the Beast and Meg March in Little Women, opened up about the joys and challenges of embodying the precocious Hermione Granger in eight blockbusters filmed over 10 years. She recalled how, as a 10-year-old, she wanted the part so badly that it worried her parents; the day she “fell in love” with Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy); and the time she considered leaving the franchise because “the fame thing had finally hit home”. Even more affecting? The scene where she and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) reflect on having grown up together and agree that they’ll always be family even if they don’t see each other all the time. As they hug and Watson wipes away a tear, even casual viewers are guaranteed to weep.
As we continue to pore over every detail of the TV special, Watson speaks exclusively to Vogue about its most emotional sequences, whether she would return to Hogwarts in another 20 years, and what she and Felton really think of the public reaction to their headline-making comments about each other.
Do you remember when you first heard about the possibility of a 20th-anniversary reunion?
Tom [Felton] gave the game away by hosting a “19-year reunion”, so the twentieth anniversary was definitely in my mind with a fair bit of run up!
How did it feel to be with your castmates again on those incredible sets?
Like heaven, honestly. I am just so happy they still exist! Most film sets are torn down the minute a scene is finished. I am so happy they are still there for people to enjoy, me included. Stuart Craig is truly a genius. What he did is perfect.
What was it like to sit down with Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint in the Gryffindor common room?
It was emotional and also intense to have such an intimate moment so closely watched. Mostly I was just so happy to have a mediator who could ask us these questions and get to be part of seeing how differently – and similarly – we had processed things. I love that we remembered different things.
You spoke about your childhood crush on Tom Felton and fans loved it. What has it been like for you and Tom to see that?
[Laughs] We speak most weeks, and we just think it’s sweet.
You have a lovely moment with Rupert towards the end. Was that the most emotional moment of the reunion for you, or was it something else?
No, that was the most emotional moment for me. When Rupert says things, he really means them. I was taken aback by how vulnerable and kind he was deciding to be so publicly. Similarly for Dan, it really touched me how reflective he had been over the years about how different it had been for me as a girl.
The response to the reunion has been amazing. Are you, Dan and Rupert on a group chat, and have you been talking about it?
They both hate WhatsApp and their phones in general. Actually, as a three, we really try and stay off electronics so that doesn’t help for a massive amount of back and forth. We aren’t on a group chat but we speak individually. Rupert sends me pictures of [his daughter] Wednesday and I die. Dan and I generally try and calm each other’s nerves. We both mainly try and stay out of the limelight so it’s been nice to have each other’s support, knowing there was going to be another wave of attention coming.
If you could go back in time and speak to that 10-year-old version of yourself who was so eager to play Hermione that it terrified her parents, what would you say?
That’s a whole article I might write one day.
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned from working on the Harry Potter films?
I don’t think there was anything I didn’t learn. That was the beauty of it. It was my kindergarten, school and university. Animals, special effects, media training, stunts… it was endless. I feel so thankful.
And would you come back to Hogwarts for another reunion 20 years from now?
What’s next for you in 2022?
You’ll have to wait and see, but there are projects…
Photographer: Mack Breeden
Art direction: Emma Watson
Hair: Jenny Harling
Makeup: Philippa Louise
Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts is available to stream on OSN.
Originally published on Vogue.co.uk