Seven things you didn't know about J.K. Rowling's 'Harry Potter' movies

Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter in The Sorcerer's Stone/The Philosopher's Stone
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter (credit: WireImage) (Image credit: WireImage)

Ever since Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone (The Philosopher's Stone, in the UK) was released back in 1997, the magical world created by legendary author J.K. Rowling has become a global phenomenon.

Seven books and eight blockbuster films later and Harry Potter is still a firm favorite with fans around the world. But, could there still be a few insider secrets we still don't know?

1. J.K. Rowling originally wrote the names of the Hogwarts houses on the back of an airplane sick bag 

J.K. Rowling leaning out of a train window with a Harry Potter book

J.K. Rowling used airplane sick bags to make notes for her books (Picture: Fred Duval/FilmMagic/Getty) (Image credit: FilmMagic)

Back in 2000, J.K. Rowling revealed — during a chat with schoolchildren in America —that she loves thinking of names for new characters and places in her books. 

She confessed: "I invented the names of the Houses on the back of an airplane sick bag. This is true. I love inventing names, but I also collect unusual names so that I can look through my notebook and choose one that suits a new character."

2. Helena Bonham Carter kept an unusual Bellatrix souvenir 

Helena Bonham Carter at Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows - Part 2 - World Film Premiere

Helena Bonham Carter kept an unusual Harry Potter souvenir! (credit: Getty images) (Image credit: Getty Images)

Helena Bonham Carter, who played Bellatrix in the Harry Potter films, admitted to Entertainment Weekly that she kept her character's teeth after filming finished... 😬

"I loved my fake teeth, I kept them because they don't fit anyone else. I keep them in a blue plastic thing in the bathroom and bring them out when I miss her!"

3. Harry's lightning bolt scar was applied more than 5000 times! 

Over the course of eight films, Daniel Radcliffe went through around 160 pairs of Harry's glasses, around 60-70 wands, and of course, his lightning bolt scar had to be applied each day for filming. 

In the first two films, it was painted directly onto Daniel's face. By the third movie, however, the makeup department used a special glue to stick it on. In total the scar was applied 5,800 times — not just on Daniel, but also on all the stunt doubles, too. 

4. Arthur Weasley was supposed to die in book five

J.K. Rowling has admitted that when she first plotted the books out, Ron's dad didn't make it after the vicious attack, by deadly snake Nagini 🐍, in Order of the Phoenix

But, when the author realized that there weren't enough good father figures in the book, she decided to let Arthur live after all!

5. Emma Watson had eight auditions for the role of Hermione 

JK Rowling, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint

Emma Watson had her first audition for Hermione in her school gym (Picture: Getty)

Not only did Emma Watson have to audition a huge number of times for her role as Hermione, but she also had her very first audition for the part in the gym at her school!

Rupert Grint had a very different approach to auditioning... he discovered you could audition by sending a video into BBC Children's Newsround TV show, and so he sent a video of himself rapping about why he wanted to play Ron.

6. The actress who played Moaning Myrtle was much older in real life 

Shirley Henderson

Harry Potter actress Shirley Henderson (Credit: Mike Marsland/WireImage) (Image credit: Mike Marsland/WireImage)

The actress who played the toilet-haunting ghost, Myrtle, was actually 37 when the films were made. Shirley Henderson — who played the 14-year-old spook — told the BBC it was much harder playing a ghost than a human. 

"Because of all the technical stuff involved it was much harder. I had to be strapped to a harness so it looked as if I was flying. It's physically very tiring and requires a lot of concentration."

7. J.K. Rowling kept Harry's fate a secret right until the end

J.K. Rowling was so determined that no one would find out what happened to Harry at the end of the final book that she didn't even tell her husband what happened. After Rowling saw Daniel in the stage hit Equus he asked her point-blank if his character was going to die, to which she admitted he had a death scene. But when her husband asked her what she'd told Daniel, she refused to tell him anything. She kept Harry's ultimate fate a secret from everyone — right until the very end.

Claire Crick
Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch

Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia. 

After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off

She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz! 

As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.