Friday, 5 July 2013

The Warner Bros. Harry Potter Tour - An Array Of Animal Actors


To celebrate reaching more than 1,000 page views - thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog, it means so much to me - I thought I'd write a special post about when myself, my boyfriend Conor and my sisters Zoe and Jodie went to the Warner Bros. Sudio Tour London: The Making of Harry Potter.

Apart from seeing all the great props, costumes and sets at the tour - we even sampled a Butterbeer - what particularly interested me was the section on the animal actors that played the parts of Fang, Hedwing, Scabbers, Crookshanks and Mrs Norris.

There, at the studios in Leavesden,  the backlot was home to 250 animals of the wizarding world, which were all managed by the Animal Department. Due to the decade long production of turning the seven books into the highly successful films that they are, this gave the animal trainers the unique opportunity to watch these animals grow and learn many new tricks.


Now one of the most famous owls in the world, Hedwig was played by four different snowy owls, all of which were trained to perform certain actions. Out of all the animals that were trained, owls are the most difficult and can take up to four months to learn  tricks such as retrieve. Depending on the bird, some can even take longer than this.

Some of the animal actors were rescued and the trainers found it was easier to train youngsters, rather than older animals. Playing the part of Hedwig were Gizmo, Wton, Elmo and Sprout, with each bird undertaking a certain trick. Gizmo was trained to pick up letters and carry broomsticks in his beak, Wton was trained for action and did the flying, Elmo was trained to sit in a cage and Sprout was carried around by Daniel Radcliffe. Gizmo, Wton and Elmo were all rescue owls, while Sprout was bought from a private collector.


Nine Neapolitan Mastiffs were cast as the part of Hagrid's dog Fang - the cause of plenty of slobber while on set! Dogs enjoy the whole training process, whereas the wild animals and cats needed breaks in between shoots.


Gunner, Hugo, Luigi, Bella, Monkey Uno, Bully, Vito and Kato all played their parts as the loveable Fang. Three of these were the original Fang actors, with Hugo used in The Philosopher's Stone - The Prisoner of Azkaban, Bella when shooting in the Ford Anglia in the Chamber of Secrets because she was comfortable in cars and Vito was the 'hero' dog in the first Harry Potter and was lent to the film studio by a local family.

Rescue Gunner performed in The Order of the Phoenix, another rescue Monkey was in The Goblet of Fire - The Half-blood Prince and Luigi was in the third film. Kato and Bully were cast as back ups and were never seen on screen, while Uno was never used due to script changes.


















Next are some cuddly critters who played Hermione's cat Crookshanks. Four red persians were cast as this part - Oliver, Crackerjack, Bo Bo and Prince. To make Crookshanks look unkempt, the Animal Department attached matted fur to the cats using hair clips.


A rescue cat, Oliver performed in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban while Prince featured in the sixth film. Bo Bo was the baby of the team and was cast in the third-sixth Harry Potter films. He was trained for action scenes like chasing Ron's rat Scabbers. The last red persian Crackerjack, a very clever cat, performed in the third - eighth films and chased Scabbers around for fun.


The three cats that played Mrs Norris, Cornelius, Max and Alanis, were seen in all of the nine films. This trio of Tabby Maine Coon cats are a breed from North America. Meanwhile, more than a dozen rats played Ron's pet rat Scabbers and the Creature Shop even developed an animatronic double.

I had an amazing time at the Harry Potter Tour and it was incredible to see of the different parts of the film come to life in front of my eyes. I would definitely recommend going there as it's so much fun!


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