‘Harry Potter’ countdown: Getting to know the real-life Weasley boys
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Hero Complex has landed the Weasley boys -- who, last we saw them, left Hogwarts in a blaze of glory -- in our countdown to ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,’ which arrives in theaters July 15. Hero Complex newcomer Matthew Gibson gets to know James and Oliver Phelps, who have played Ron’s devilish older brothers in all of the films.
In ‘Half-Blood Prince,’ Fred and George Weasley are now the proud owners of the magical novelty shop Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. The Phelps twins talk about their experiences in the first six Potter films.
MG: How were you first cast in the Harry Potter films?
OP: My brother and I heard from a friend we both knew in Sussex about these six huge casting calls. We worked with casting director Janet Hircheson and eventually found out that we got the parts. We’ve done other small things on the side, but the Potter films were the first major pieces of acting we’d ever done. So I think we’ve sort of rolled with it and landed on our feet quite well.
MG: Had you read all of the Potter novels?
OP: Yes. When we were first auditioning for the parts of Fred and George, the fourth book, “Goblet of Fire,” had just come out, and it was the fastest-selling book ever at the time. I knew it was something special and have read all of them to help research my character.
MG: What was it like working with David Yates?
OP: It’s been stressful working with so many directors on these films [Yates as well as Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuarón, and Mike Newell].
JP: All the directors have been special in their own way, but David is definitely the quietest and gave us the most liberty to develop our characters.
OP: He really made us look inside ourselves for character development instead of relying solely on him for direction.
MG: What was your favorite experience working on “Half-Blood Prince’?
OP: That would be being a part of the Fred and George joke shop scene. The crew built an exquisite set, and there are a lot of special effects involved to simulate the magical pops and explosions. It’s a great scene.
JP: I really enjoyed working with the crew. Most of my actual acting I was able to complete in about two weeks. When I wasn’t acting, I would help the crew set up scenes and shots. I learned a lot more about direction and filmmaking in general, and that was pretty cool.
MG: Are you often confused for each other like the Weasley twins are in the movie?
OP: It’s funny that you should ask that, because we rarely are. When we first went in for casting calls and got the part, the crew was very methodical. They said to me “You’re George,” and to James, “You’re Fred” and I guess it stuck because no one ever really got confused.
MG: What are your plans once the last two Potter films have been shot?
OP: It’s been so much fun doing these films and I haven’t given much thought yet to what I’m going to do after them. I would certainly like to try my hand at other acting jobs, but we will spend most of next year working on the seventh film, “Deathly Hallows.”
JP: I would definitely like to continue working in the filmmaking industry. I’ve always been very interested in voice performance and have been looking into doing voiceovers for animated series and narration.
-- Matthew Gibson
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UPDATE: There was an error in a title in an earlier version of this post.