Wednesday, November 2, 2011
J.K. Rowling on why Hagrid was spared, and what sealed Lupin's fate
J.K. Rowling is in a dishy mood. Or at least she was last year when Harry Potter‘s creator sat down with the character’s big screen portrayer Daniel Radcliffe for a conversation filmed for the Blu-ray edition of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2, on sale next week. By now you’ve probably heard about one provocative excerpt — how Rowling considered killing Harry’s red-headed best bud Ron Weasley while writing the seven novel series. The disclosure comes after Radcliffe asks if the author considered killing any of the big three: Harry, Hermione, and Ron. “Funnily enough, I planned from the start none of them would die,” Rowling says. “Then, midway through [writing the series] — which I think was a reflection of the fact that I was not in a very happy place – I started thinking about polishing one of them off. Out of sheer spite!”
But there’s more.
Rowling reveals that from the start, she always knew that the final chapters of the last novel would include these beats: That Harry would walk willingly to his death; that he would be joined by the spirits of his parents and other loved ones during that death march; and that Hagrid would carry Harry’s (apparently) lifeless body out of The Forbidden Forest. Rowling tells Radcliffe that the image of Hagrid cradling “dead” Harry — a bookend to the beginning of the series, when Hagrid brought infant Harry to the Dursleys – stuck with her the entire time she wrote the books and she never let it go. If she had, Rowling says Hagrid would have been a “natural” target for elimination. “That image kept him safe,” she says.
Rowling also reveals that in her original “sketch” (her word) of the series climax, one of the most beloved characters in the Potter canon survived: Remus Lupin — tragic werewolf, former Defense Against The Dark Arts professor, and husband to the metamorphmagus and auror, Nymphadora Tonks. (Gotta love the wordplay and names.) The seventh book tells us that before their deaths during the Battle of Hogwarts, Lupin and Tonks had a child. On the DVD, Rowling shares with Radcliffe that when she created Lupin’s character, she planned for him to survive the finale. While the author has said as much in other interviews, here, she elaborates, explaining that she changed her mind when she realized that her last Harry Potter story was really about war, and that “one of the most horrifying things about war is how it leaves children fatherless and motherless.” The most powerful way she could dramatize that idea, she says, was to kill a set of parents that were dear to readers. “I had no intention of killing [Lupin],” says Rowling. “But then it dawned on me he had to die.”
There’s much more to the interview, including the Professor McGonagall backstory that never made it into the books (a tragic romance with a Muggle; a vow of celibacy), and a moment where Radcliffe busts Rowling’s chops for making the business with the wands so complex in the last book… but we won’t spoil everything.