Of all of the Harry Potter scenes that needed to look right, the “19 years later…” epilogue was definitely one of the most important. The brief scene at King’s Cross Station represented the final moment of a decade of cinematic storytelling, bringing Harry’s wizarding journey full circle back to the place where he first made his way to Hogwarts. But the first time they shot it, it went wrong.
In the Blu-ray commentary track for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, director David Yates admitted that the conclusion to one of the best movies in the franchise went a bit off the rails on their first try. They filmed on location at King’s Cross, with the main Harry Potter cast members covered in prosthetics to age them up two decades.
“I was so concerned about making them look old that I think we made them look too old,” Yates admitted. When you see behind-the-scenes footage of how the main Harry Potter characters would’ve looked in this version, it’s clear why Yates felt he needed to reshoot.
Daniel Radcliffe looks more like he should be claiming a pension than growing into middle-age and Rupert Grint looks like Donald Trump. It doesn’t work at all.
“Having done all manner of makeup effects with pointy ears and great big silicon things for giants and goblins, the actual biggest challenge makeup-wise came for this sequence,” said makeup designer Nick Dudman.
Dudman added: “For a variety of reasons, we actually went a tiny bit too far. It’s incredibly difficult to take somebody and move them through their twenties and into their late thirties without making a statement that’s going to jump off the screen at you.”
But this wasn’t the only problem with the scene. The hectic King’s Cross location meant that Yates was strapped for time and had struggled to get the best performances out of the young actors cast to play the next generation of Potters and Weasleys. He approached Warner Bros and asked for another crack at the scene.
“It’s the end of eight movies,” Yates remembered saying at the time. “It really matters that we get this right. I’m not happy with this scene and I think I can do a much better version of it.”
The production built a recreation of the King’s Cross platform at Leavesden Studios, giving Yates more freedom and time on his second attempt. The makeup changed too, as producer David Barron explained. “We re-designed the makeup slightly with visual effects, so that what you see is a combination of prosthetic makeup and visual effects.”
The makeup is still far from perfect in the finished version and there’s a simple change that could’ve fixed the whole thing, but we think the epilogue scene as it stands is pretty good.
We’ve watched the Harry Potter movies in order at least a dozen times by now, and we still can’t stop ourselves crying at the poignant ending. That probably wouldn’t have happened with the unfortunate original makeup – more unintentionally hilarious than emotional – so all involved made the right call.
For more from the Wizarding World, find out when we can expect the Harry Potter TV series release date to come around and see if you agree with our picks for the most devilish Harry Potter villains. Alternatively, learn how Harry Potter secretly redeemed Hermione’s darkest moment.
Elsewhere, we’ve looked ahead to the new movies coming in this franchise, including the Fantastic Beasts 4 release date and the Cursed Child release date. Speaking of the latter, find out why we think the Cursed Child movie should be a gay romance.
The creator of the Harry Potter series, JK Rowling, has made a number of transphobic remarks on social media in recent years. If you’d like to learn more about transgender equality or lend your support, here are two charities we encourage you to visit: the National Center for Transgender Equality in the US, and Mermaids in the UK.