There's some funny mojo permeating the halls of Hogwarts in the latest film adaptation of J.K Rowling's books, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. And, no, it has nothing to do with Dark Marks floating high in the sky or Voldemort's Death Eaters trying to get at Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon). Actually, most of the shenanigans have to do with the natural hocus pocus that ensues when a bunch of hormonal teenage boys and girls start locking lips and breaking hearts in a big way.
Yes, that's right. Love is in the air at Hogwarts. As Harry and his circle of friends find out in the Half-Blood Prince, sometimes it's lovely, as the case of Harry and Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright). Other times, it's just messy and shattering, as evidenced by the love triangle among Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Lavender Brown (Jessie Cave).
At a press conference promoting the film last week in New York, the Potter kids talked about diving headlong into the stories of the heart that drive so much of the humor and drama this go around.
"I find it endearing with Harry that he is a very, very acclaimed wizard and he's crap with women," Daniel Radcliffe said with a laugh about his character's awkward romantic forays. "I think it's a wonderful, rather endearing quality that he has. I think this film demonstrates basically two types of teenage relationships. One is mine and Bonnie's, which is that kind of teenage thing where you are just in love. It's pure, and all that matters in your life when you are 14 or 15. That's all there is. The other kind is much more carnal and energetic, which is the one Rupert was lucky enough to have."
Grint laughed at that. "I like to think this is Ron's best year at Hogwarts," he said. "He gets a girlfriend and he joins the Quidditch team for the first time."
But Ron also manages to break Hermione's heart, as she is quietly crushing on her BFF. Having to watch Ron and his enthusiastic groupie girlfriend Lavender endlessly snog in front of her eventually breaks poor Hermione.
Watson was grateful for the opportunity to show a new side to her character. "I think in the films we've seen quite a strong Hermione, the girl-power Hermione," she said. "She is the brains behind the operation and kind of driving the guys around with her. In this one, you see a very different Hermione. She is much more fragile and vulnerable and emotional. She is experiencing her first heartache, really. I think she's quite confused about how she feels about Ron and how upset she is when he kisses someone else. It was a challenge for me to play this much more emotional and vulnerable person."
Hermione turns to Harry for a literal shoulder to cry on as she spends much of the film trying to face her burgeoning feelings for Ron.
"Hermione is such a control freak," Watson said with a laugh. "She wants to control everything about her life: her destiny, her work, everything. Suddenly she just falls apart in this one, because she can't control the way she feels. I think, in her head, if she could have chosen who to fall in love with, it certainly wouldn't have been Ron. In the nicest possible way, she would have chosen someone much more serious, much smarter and much better suited to her. But you can't help who you fall in love with."
(Major spoilers ahead!)
Readers of the books know that Ron and Hermione are fated to be together, with their mutual love finally acknowledged in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and last volume in the series. The cast is currently shooting a two-part adaptation of that book in England, and Grint and Watson revealed they finally had their momentous first kiss a few weeks ago.
A slightly uncomfortable Grint shared, "It's not something that either of us was looking forward to," he said. "It was quite a strange thing to have to think about doing, but I think it was right in the end."
Watson added with a laugh, "[Director] David [Yates] doesn't really let us watch playback, but he let us watch playback in this circumstance, because Rupert and I were quite nervous that it might look ingenuous as we were quite desperate to get it over with. Rupert and I felt the pressure of this kiss. There is so much media interest and fan interest. It's, like, 10 years' worth of tension, hormones and chemistry in one moment, and we had to ace it. It was like, 'Oh, God!' Hopefully we did it. I'm sure you'll critique it then. Please be nice."
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is now playing.