10 secrets we learned after watching ‘Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to

Warning: This article contains some spoilers from “Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts.”

After all this time, we’re still nostalgic for Harry Potter.

Fans of the beloved franchise got to go back to Hogwarts with the cast and learn secrets from the films thanks to the release of “Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts,” which debuted on Saturday.

J.K. Rowling, as previously disclosed by HBO Max/WarnerBros, is only seen in the special via archival footage from 2019. Also notably absent from the reunion, except for in clips: Robert Pattinson (Cedric’s dead, after all), Maggie Smith (too cool? Too busy? Who knows), Michael Gambon, Emma Thompson and a handful of others that helped bring the series to life.

But even with some beloved Hogwarts professors and classmates missing, the reunion, which is nearly two hours long, was nostalgia packed. And, of course, magical.

The directors, producers and cast spent much of the roughly hour and a half special reminiscing about every movie, the set designs and the bonds between various characters. Like all reunions, there were laughs, hugs, candid confessions, some tears and lots and lots of feels.  

Here are ten things we learned about the films after watching the reunion.

1. Richard Harris, aka OG Dumbledore, thought Fawkes was depicted by a real bird. 

During a portion of the reunion, which featured Daniel Radcliffe (who played Harry Potter) and director Chris Columbus (who directed “Sorcerer’s Stone” and “Chamber of Secrets”), the two recalled filming certain scenes with Harris, aka the OG Dumbledore.

In their conversation, the two shared a laugh while describing filming the scenes that involved Harris and Fawkes, the phoenix that served as Dumbledore’s animal companion.

In the films, Fawkes is animatronic. But Harris, who was succeeded by Michael Gambon in the films after his death, didn’t know that, according to Columbus and Radcliffe.

Director Chris Columbus and Daniel Radcliffe during “Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts.”Nick Wall / HBO Max

“Richard came in and looked at the phoenix, and said ‘wow they train these animals marvelously these days,'” Columbus said.

“We never told him,” Radcliffe said.

“He just thought it was a real bird,” Columbus said.

2. Even Alfonso Cuarón was blown away by all the talent on set.

Cuarón, an Oscar-winning director, helmed the third film of the franchise, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” which he described as a true “coming of age” story.

It was one scene in particular that blew him away: The scene at the Shrieking Shack where the trio learns the truth about Peter Pettigrew and Sirius Black.

That scene involved filming with Radcliffe, Emma Watson (who played Hermione), Rupert Grint (who played Ron), Gary Oldman (who played Black), David Thewlis (who played Remus Lupin) and Alan Rickman (who played Severus Snape).

“I had never done a scene with such an amazing cast in my life,” Cuarón said in the reunion.

It’s “an intense scene in which a lot of things are at stake,” He added. “You can see Rupert, Emma and Dan … they are completely committed to the scene.”

“I love it,” he said. “I have such a great memory of it.”

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