Ever since the release of the first Harry Potter film in 2001, audiences around the world have been enthralled by the boy wizard’s spectacular cinematic saga. The eight-strong series is the jewel in the crown of the modern British film industry and to celebrate this, fans young and old alike can step behind the scenes at the Warner Bros Studio Tour in London.
Now that the May half-term is underway, the Studio Tour is hosting a special temporary event that gives visitors the opportunity to meet some of the franchise’s lesser-known stars – the owls, cats, dogs, rats and toads that made Hogwarts a veritable menagerie.
While groundbreaking special effects brought magical creatures like ogres and dragons to life on the screen, real animals played no less an important role in the Harry Potter series. This week, some of the film world’s finest animal handlers have cooperated with Studio Tour curators to let these four-legged and feathered thesps revisit the sets they once frequented.
Harry Potter fans can have their photos taken with Hedwig and Pigwideon, the iconic owls who shared screen-time with Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson. Meanwhile, the famous felines who played Mrs Norris and Crookshanks will prowl the Gryffindor Common Room.
Head animal trainer Julie Tottman and her team will be on hand to answer questions relating to the daunting task of coordinating the troupe over the course of eight films. Guests will learn about how different animals are trained for the silver screen, from the Neapolitan Mastiff who played Hagrid’s hound Fang to Ron Weasley’s rat Scabbers.
One of the biggest challenges faced by trainers in the entire series was preparing 40 kittens to star on the porcelain plates in Dolores Umbridge’s office. Visitors will have a chance to see how this project was undertaken through a spectacular week-long recreation.
The Warner Bros Studio Tour lies on the outskirts of the capital, just a short trip away for those staying in central London hotels. The animals and their handlers will be in residence until Sunday (June 2nd).