Emboldened by the return of Lord Voldemort, the Death Eaters are wreaking havoc in both the Muggle and wizarding worlds and Hogwarts is no longer the safe haven it once was. Harry suspects that new dangers may lie within the castle, but Dumbledore is more intent upon preparing him for the final battle that he knows is fast approaching. He needs Harry to help him uncover a vital key to unlocking Voldemort's defenses--critical information known only to Hogwarts' former Potions Professor, Horace Slughorn. With that in mind, Dumbledore manipulates his old colleague into returning to his previous post with promises of more money, a bigger office…and the chance to teach the famous Harry Potter.
Meanwhile, the students are under attack from a very different adversary as teenage hormones rage across the ramparts. Harry's long friendship with Ginny Weasley is growing into something deeper, but standing in the way is Ginny's boyfriend, Dean Thomas, not to mention her big brother Ron. But Ron's got romantic entanglements of his own to worry about, with Lavender Brown lavishing her affections on him, leaving Hermione simmering with jealousy yet determined not to show her feelings. And then a box of love potion-laced chocolates ends up in the wrong hands and changes everything.
As romance blossoms, one student remains aloof with far more important matters on his mind. He is determined to make his mark, albeit a dark one. Love is in the air, but tragedy lies ahead and Hogwarts may never be the same again.
David Yates, who directed the 2007 summer blockbuster "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," returned to direct "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." David Heyman, the producer of all of the Harry Potter films, produced the film, together with David Barron. Screenwriter Steve Kloves, who scripted the first four installments of the film franchise, adapted the screenplay based on the book by J.K. Rowling.
DARKNESS AND LIGHT
"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" not only represents a new chapter in the lives of Harry and his friends and foes, it is one that blends humor and heartbreak, romance and redemption, and the past and the present as never before. And in the wake of Lord Voldemort's return, the choice between good and evil has never had more serious ramifications.
Heyman offers, "One of the central themes in the Harry Potter books is the choices we make are what ultimately define us. It's also something we have explored and will continue to explore in the films. Each of the books, as well as the respective films, chronicles a different year in Harry's life, and the sixth installment is no exception. In the last film, we were watching Harry at a difficult stage--tormented by dreams, questioning himself and beset by personal demons. Now he's a year older and that brings a different set of issues and responsibilities."
"For me, the films have always been about a loss of innocence," says Daniel Radcliffe, the actor behind the title character, who can perhaps no longer be called the boy wizard. "When Harry came into this world, it was all just amazing and brilliant and kind of pure. But as the films have gone on, that's totally disintegrated, and he's realizing that the wizarding world has just as many, if not more, challenges than the world he grew up in before."
However, there are some challenges shared by teenagers in both worlds, whether wizard or Muggle. Producer David Barron acknowledges that there is no magic spell to evade the perils of adolescence, noting, "Romantic entanglements are never easy, at whatever age we are, but in adolescence they can be particularly difficult. I think Jo (J.K. Rowling) captured that wonderfully in the book and our remarkable director, David Yates, and our talented cast have brought it beautifully to the screen with both heart and humor."
Heyman states, "Jo gave us the gift of these magnificent books and every one is a jewel. Her imagination never ceases to amaze me. Each Harry Potter book brings us new challenges and new opportunities, so coming into this movie, we were as excited as ever."
Director David Yates had entered the world of Harry Potter with "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," the fifth film in the series. "I had such a great experience on the last film and was thrilled to be asked back," he says. "I loved the sixth book. It is hugely entertaining, bringing more romance to Hogwarts than we've ever seen before combined with an intriguing uncovering of Voldemort's past that has huge implications for the rest of the series.
"Another year brings up another set of challenges for Harry, Ron and Hermione, and the older they get the more complex they become," Yates continues. "I really enjoyed exploring deeper aspects of the characters further with Dan, Rupert (Grint) and Emma (Watson). They are really keen to push and be pushed in their roles because we all want these characters to grow and develop both with the unfolding stories and the audience."
The cast has equal praise for their director. "David is a joy to work with," says Radcliffe. "I always looked forward to seeing him on the set because he has so much energy and enthusiasm, which is fantastic."
Rupert Grint, who plays the role of Harry's best friend, Ron Weasley, adds, "We all got on really well with David, so we were pleased he was coming back. Going through the script, he really listened to what we had to say about our characters, but he also offered a lot of help and guidance."
Having scripted the first four Harry Potter films, Steve Kloves returned to the franchise to write the screenplay for "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." Heyman comments, "In this film, more than in the previous ones, there were a number of narrative threads to follow, so that was one of the great challenges. We were blessed to have another wonderful screenplay from Steve Kloves, who wove them all together brilliantly. And David Yates really made them gel. He is a formidable director. Apart from telling a good story, the humanity of the characters is so important to him and he continues to draw out new sides of our actors that even I had never seen before."
As "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" opens, Yates observes, "It is a very tense time in the wizarding world because Lord Voldemort has returned from hiding."
Empowered by the return of the Dark Lord, the Death Eaters are attacking openly and at will, and even the Muggle world is not impervious to their reign of terror. As ominous dark clouds swirl over London, people look up, sensing an unfamiliar danger. Suddenly, three Death Eaters swoop out of the clouds and fly through the city, leaving a path of destruction in their wake. Unseen by the naked eye, they spiral around London's Millennium Bridge, causing it to buckle and then collapse, sending pedestrians running for their lives.
Heyman relates, "The anarchy wrought by Voldemort's followers that has begun to undermine the wizarding world is now washing over into the Muggle world."
We catch up with Harry Potter in a train station coffee shop, with one eye on the Daily Prophet story about the bridge attack and the other on the pretty waitress who needs no coaxing to tell him what time her shift ends. But before Harry can follow through on his date, Professor Dumbledore appears on the station platform and literally whisks him away on a mysterious mission.
Barron notes, "Harry has no idea where they are going or what Dumbledore is expecting of him when they get there. But he knows that if Dumbledore has asked him to do something, it must be important, so Harry doesn't ask questions; he just goes with it."
Reprising the role of the venerable Professor Dumbledore, Michael Gambon remarks, "The relationship between Harry and Dumbledore in this film goes beyond headmaster and student. As Harry has grown from a schoolboy into an intelligent young man, their relationship has grown into more of a close friendship."
Heyman elaborates, "What we're seeing in this film is Dumbledore preparing Harry to carry the mantle. As we have seen in the past, he is again a father figure to Harry, but no longer is Harry the child he was when the stories began. He is a young man and so Dumbledore deals with him on somewhat more equal terms. But we still see Dumbledore guiding him and helping him prepare for the future--a future that inevitably involves a confrontation with Voldemort."
Arriving in the village of Budleigh Babberton, Dumbledore takes Harry to the home of a Muggle family, which appears to have been ransacked. Though the house seems uninhabited, it doesn't take long before Dumbledore uncovers an interloper hiding amidst the mess: Horace Slughorn. Once a popular Potions professor at Hogwarts, Horace had retired years earlier, taking with him memories of his best students, including one Tom Riddle, who showed a particular interest in the Dark Arts.
When Voldemort was believed dead, memories of the boy he once was seemed of little consequence. But now that Voldemort is proven to be very much alive, the history of Tom Riddle's transformation into the Dark Lord could hold the clues to his power. And Dumbledore is sure that Horace Slughorn remembers Tom Riddle all too well because Tom had been one of his star pupils.
Barron explains, "Slughorn is a social climber. He loves to know the best people and to name drop the celebrities of their world. He's immensely proud that many of them had passed through his classes when he was a professor at Hogwarts, and that he can still call on them. It appeals to his vanity."
Veteran actor Jim Broadbent, who stars as Horace Slughorn, describes his role as "a fascinating and rich character. He's passionate about his work and incredibly knowledgeable as a Potions master. He's top-notch, but he's also flawed. There is a dark secret in his past that weighs heavily on him. He has gone to great lengths never to reveal it…and that's where Harry Potter comes in. Harry is the bait for Slughorn to return to Hogwarts."
Basking in the reflected glory of his most prized students, Slughorn keeps all their photographs on a shelf where he can point to them with pride. And Dumbledore has no doubt that the famous Harry Potter--the Chosen One himself--would be what he calls "the crowning jewel" of that collection.
Nevertheless, Slughorn tries his best not to appear too overeager: "He insists on a bigger office and a large pay raise," Broadbent asserts.
Slughorn's demands for a better office were the marching orders for production designer Stuart Craig and his team. "That was the directive: to give him a very substantial office," says Craig. "We wanted it to be rich and dramatic and have a strong architectural form. It has a huge fireplace and a splendid terrace with a view of the mountains. What it needed most of all was a sense of theatricality, as befitting the character."
"The set was magnificent. I'm glad Horace held out for better digs," Broadbent smiles. "It was wonderful."
Costume designer Jany Temime also had fun creating the wardrobe for the character she describes as "a bit of a dandy. Professor Slughorn is a rather eccentric English gentleman, who loves good wine, good food, good company and, of course, good clothes. We dressed him in tweed suits with big patterns and little bowties and he also has a lovely velour suit that he wears for his Christmas party. He looks extremely grand. At the same time, he has not been working for some time and his clothes have seen better days, so while his clothes are beautiful, there are a few buttons hanging, and so forth."
Temime discloses that she also added something to help Broadbent be the measure of the man, so to speak. "We had to pad him because the character is much rounder than Jim is in reality. When we saw him for the first costume fitting, he came in as Jim Broadbent and left as Professor Slughorn. It was a pleasure to work with him."
Yates agrees. "Jim is a delight. He has a tremendous capacity for both comedy and pathos and I knew he would bring so much to the table. Slughorn is a very colorful character, and Jim wasn't afraid to take risks and try things that were heightened but still felt anchored in truth. Slughorn is also a real snob; he's only interested in talking to the most important person in the room and ignores everybody else. I thought Jim could have some fun with that and he did."
"We felt incredibly fortunate to have an actor of Jim's caliber join our Harry Potter family," adds Heyman. "From the very first film, we have been so honored by the depth of the acting talent in our casts, and he is one of the best. He was a warm and generous presence on the set."
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
DAVID YATES (Director) recently directed the blockbuster "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," for which he won an Empire Award for Best Director. He is currently helming the much-anticipated "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the two-part film adaptation of the final book in the best-selling series.
An award-winning television director, Yates won his first BAFTA TV Award for his work on the BBC miniseries "The Way We Live Now," a period drama starring Matthew Macfadyen and Miranda Otto. In 2003, he directed the drama series "State of Play," for which he received a BAFTA TV Award nomination and won the Directors Guild of Great Britain (DGGB) Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement. The project also won the Broadcasting Press Guild Award, the Royal Television Society (RTS) Award, and Banff Television Festival's Rockie Award for Best Series.
The following year, Yates directed the gritty two-part drama "Sex Traffic," for which he won another BAFTA TV Award and earned his second DGGB Award nomination. The unflinching look at sex trafficking also won a number of international awards, including eight BAFTA TV and four RTS Awards, both including Best Drama, as well as the Jury Prize for Best Miniseries at the Reims International Television Festival, and a Golden Nymph at the Monte Carlo Television Festival.
Yates earned an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special for his work on the 2005 HBO movie "The Girl in the Café," a love story starring Bill Nighy and Kelly Macdonald. His other television credits include the telefilm "The Young Visiters," starring Jim Broadbent and Hugh Laurie, and the miniseries "The Sins," starring Pete Postlethwaite and Geraldine James.
Yates grew up in St. Helens, Merseyside, and studied Politics at the University of Essex and at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. He began his directing career with the short film "When I Was a Girl," which he also wrote. The film brought him the prize for Best European Short Film at the Cork International Film Festival in Ireland and a Golden Gate Award at the San Francisco Film Festival. It also assured his entrance into the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield, England.
His graduation film, "Good Looks," won a Silver Hugo at the Chicago International Film Festival. In 1998, Yates made his feature film directorial debut with "The Tichborne Claimant," starring Stephen Fry and John Gielgud. His most recent short film, 2002's "Rank," was nominated for a BAFTA Award.
STEVE KLOVES (Screenwriter) wrote the screenplays for the first four films in the blockbuster Harry Potter film franchise, based on the bestselling books by J.K. Rowling. He shared in BAFTA Children's Award nominations for Best Feature for his work on "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets." He went on to script "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" and "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." Kloves most recently wrote the screenplay for the two-part "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," which will complete the franchise.
Kloves previously earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for Curtis Hanson's acclaimed 2000 drama "Wonder Boys," starring Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire and Frances McDormand. Kloves also won a Critics' Choice Award and earned BAFTA Award, Golden Globe and Writers Guild of America (WGA) Award nominations for his screenplay for the film.
Kloves began his film writing career in 1984 with the screenplay for "Racing with the Moon," a World War II-era coming-of-age story, directed by Richard Benjamin and starring Sean Penn, Elizabeth McGovern and Nicolas Cage.
In 1989, Kloves made his directorial debut with "The Fabulous Baker Boys," starring Jeff Bridges, Beau Bridges and Michelle Pfeiffer. The film, which Kloves also wrote, garnered four Academy Award® nominations, including one for Michelle Pfeiffer, who also won a Golden Globe and a BAFTA Award for her performance. Additionally, Kloves won a British Film Institute Award and received a WGA Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
Kloves also wrote and directed the psychological thriller "Flesh and Bone," starring Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan and Gwyneth Paltrow.
BEWITCHED, BOTHERED AND BEWILDERED
FIELD OF PLAY
A NEW CHOSEN ONE
THE JOURNEY TO THE ISOLATED CAVE
ABOUT THE CAST
READ MORE ABOUT HARRY POTTER AND THE PHOENIX
THE ART OF SEQUELS