HBO rang in the new year with the release of Return to Hogwarts, the reunion special Harry Potter fans have long awaited. The world finally got a glimpse of what happened behind the scenes of the movies many consider a touchstone of millennial culture.
Though they may be remembered best as their younger selves, the cast of Harry Potter is now fully grown and recounts their childhoods on set fondly. Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) finally revealed her past crush on coworker and antagonist to her character, Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy). The two describe a “kinship” with each other as adults, but deny any romance between them, to the disappointment of fans.
Watson also solidified her platonic bonds with costars, Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley). According to Watson, there was a point where she and Radcliffe would go to each other for advice on how to text back their crushes. Matthew Lewis (Neville) recounts a setting where people dated and broke up just like they would in school, saying,
“It was exactly the same environment, but it was just in a Defense Against the Dark Arts class.”
There was a slight mix-up involving Watson in the editing room, where her narration played over a childhood picture that was supposed to be of her, but actually belonged to Emma Roberts. Viewers deduced this by sifting through old Instagram photos of the cast, and brought it to the attention of the studio. The error was fixed, and Harry Potter fans proved their dedication has remained throughout the years.
But despite its feel-good nature, the reunion is not without controversy. Harry Potter author JK Rowling was largely absent from the special, only appearing in a few brief clips to discuss the casting process. Some speculate this was to distance the film from her recent (and past) statements where she has come out against transgender rights. Many fans, especially those that are LGBTQ+, claim that that it has become difficult to revisit Harry Potter in light of its creator’s bigotry.
While Rowling’s online comments are hard to ignore, especially next to her narrative of acceptance, many HP enthusiasts have still found lessons of kindness and love persevering to latch onto as the years go by. With a passionate cast and audience, Harry Potter proves that even after all this time, it is a fantastical story that will remain in our hearts always.