64 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001) Movie Facts You Haven’t Heard Before
The first instalment of the Harry Potter franchise, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was released on the 16th of November 2001 in the United Kingdom. The first Harry Potter film was directed by Chris Columbus and was based on J. K. Rowling’s first book of the same name which was released in 1997. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone movie facts include why they had to stop using real food in the Great Hall after this film, which actor found out about their character's backstory long before anyone else, and which acting role J.K. Rowling nearly accepted.
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The first instalment of the Harry Potter franchise, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was released on the 16th of November 2001 in the United Kingdom. It premiered at the Odeon Leicester Square and saw a young Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson step into the limelight. The first Harry Potter film was directed by Chris Columbus and was based on J. K. Rowling’s first book of the same name which was released in 1997. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is followed by seven sequels; the next being released in 2002 and the last in 2011 which was nearly 10 years after the first film’s release.
In the first Harry Potter film, audiences were introduced to the Wizarding World for the first time as Harry made his way to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry away from his unkind Aunt and Uncle. Audiences in the USA will be familiar with the film under a different name, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
1. Warner Bros. Paid £1M For The Philosopher’s Stone Film Rights
Warner Bros. bought the rights to J. K. Rowling’s book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 1999 for £1 million. She was hesitant at first to sell the rights to the Harry Potter series because she did not want to handover full control over the rest of the story. By selling the rights to the Harry Potter characters, a production company would have been able to make sequels with them not associated with J.K. Rowling.
2. Spielberg Turned Down Directing The Harry Potter Franchise
Chris Columbus was chosen as the director of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone from a shortlist of Directors that included Steven Spielberg (Jurassic Park 1993 and Jaws 1975) and Rob Reiner (The Princess Bride 1987 and When Harry Met Sally 1989). Stephen Spielberg did negotiate to direct the film however he declined reportedly because he wanted the Harry Potter adaptation to be an animated film. It is also reported that he wanted the actor Haley Joel Osment, known for films such as The Sixth Sense (Shyamalan 1999) to voice Harry Potter. Producer David Heyman has said in interviews that Spielberg opted to direct the film A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) instead.
In an interview with Hollywood (dot) com, Spielberg is quoted in saying that the Harry Potter films, while a commercial certainty, were not a challenge to direct. “It’s just a slam dunk. It’s just like with drawing $1 billion and putting it into your personal bank accounts. There is no challenge.“
3. J.K. Rowling Wanted Terry Gilliam To Direct Harry Potter
A whole host of other Directors were consulted about the Harry Potter franchise after Steven Spielberg rejected the offer. This included Terry Gilliam, Tim Robbins, M. Night Shyamalan, Peter Weir, Wolfgang Peterson and Ivan Reitman. J. K. Rowling’s first choice for director was Terry Gilliam, the former member of Monty Python and Director of Monty Python and The Holy Grail (1975) and 12 Monkeys (1995). However Warner Bros. chose Chris Columbus stating that his work on Home Alone (1990) and Mrs Doubtfire (1993) spoke for itself.
4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Grossed US$Billion
The budget of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was US$125 million and grossed US$974 million at the Box Office worldwide during its initial run and has since grossed over US$1 billion with subsequent rereleases. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone became the highest grossing film of 2001 and the second highest grossing film at the time.
5. Harry Potter Films Wouldn’t Be Made Without “The Ogre Downstairs”
Producer David Heyman was searching for a children’s book that could be adapted into a film in 1997. He had originally planned to produce a novel called “The Ogre Downstairs” by Diana Wynne Jones but the plans fell through. His assistant suggested that he take a look at Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone instead and he ended up pitching it to Warner Bros.
6. J.K. Rowling Only Allowed British & Irish Actors To Be Cast
J. K. Rowling insisted that the entire cast of the Harry Potter films must be from Britain and Ireland. Actors from overseas were only used when absolutely necessary including in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire when French and Eastern European students are introduced.
Open calls were held for the three lead characters to play Harry, Ron and Hermione and Chris Columbus only considered children without ‘stage parents’. J.K. Rowling also insisted that Richard Harris play Dumbledore and Fiona Shaw play Petunia Dursley. Sir Alec Guinness was considered for the role of Dumbledore but he sadly died shortly before casting.
J.K. Rowling has said many times that she had no role in choosing the director of the Harry Potter films.
7. Harry Potter Auditionees Had To Improvise Arriving At Hogwarts
As mentioned an open call was held to find the leading roles of Harry, Ron and Hermione and, as per J. K. Rowling‘s rule, only British children were considered. Each of those auditioning had to read a page from the first novel and improvise a scene of the students arriving at Hogwarts for the first time. They then had to read several pages from the script in front of Chris Columbus. Chris Columbus reportedly also used the script for his 1985 film Young Sherlock Holmes during the Harry Potter auditions.
8. Chris Columbus Was Inspired By The Godfather When Making Harry Potter
Director Chris Columbus pitched his idea for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone which came to two hours long. He took inspiration from David Lean and his adaptation of Oliver Twist (1948) and Great Expectations (1946) for the dreary Muggle World. He then contrasted the scenes set in the Wizarding World with colour, mood and detail citing inspiration from The Godfather! (Coppola 1972).
9. J.K. Rowling Was “Prepared To Hate” The Harry Potter Script Writer
The writer tasked with adapting J. K. Rowling’s novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone into a film script was Steve Kloves. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, J. K. Rowling admitted that she was ready to “hate” Steve Kloves when they first met due to fearing how the book would be written as a script. She warmed to him when he divulged that his favourite character was Hermione. She was pleasantly surprised by how much of a fan he was.
10. The Philosopher’s Stone Was Meant To Be Released On 4th July
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was initially meant to be released on the 4th of July 2001 however this wasn’t long enough to finish production and caused many directors to decline the film. The release date was put back to the 16th of November 2001 making for a more realistic time schedule.
11. The Main Cast Were Secured In August 2000
While open calls were going on to find the child actors to star in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Alan Rickman and Richard Harris were in final talks to play Severus Snape and Albus Dumbledore. They were confirmed by August 2000. Also in the August, Maggie Smith and Robbie Coltrane were cast as Minerva McGonagall and Rubeus Hagrid.
It was on the 21st of August 2000 that Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson were selected to play Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger.
The last few actors to star in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone were cast in November 2000, including Julie Walters as Molly Weasley and John Cleese as ghost Nearly Headless Nick.
12. Canterbury Cathedral Declined Being Used As Hogwarts
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was predominantly filmed at Leavesden Film Studios and in historic buildings around the UK. Filming began in September 2000 and wrapped up in March 2001. Canterbury Cathedral in Kent and Inverailort House in Inverness were both scouted by location managers as possible locations for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Canterbury Cathedral rejected Warner Bros. Proposal as the representatives were concerned about the film’s link to witchcraft and it’s “pagan themes”. The Dean of Canterbury was the one to ultimately refuse the Harry Potter production team use of the cathedral and its grounds.
13. The Dean Of Gloucester Cathedral Was A Harry Potter Fan
Reverend Nicholas Bury, the Dean of Gloucester Cathedral took a completely different stance and claim to be a huge fan of the Harry Potter series allowing the production to be filmed at Gloucester Cathedral instead. There was a large media outcry when the public found out that Gloucester Cathedral was going to be used for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Protesters wrote letters into local newspapers claiming that the production was blasphemous and many promised to block access to the Cathedral to anyone associated with the film’s production. Amusingly when it came down to a protest, local reports suggest that only one person turned up.
The religious imagery and modern signage used in Gloucester Cathedral had to be concealed behind panels that were painted to match the rest of the stone walls. The stained glass windows had to be modified in order to hide religious imagery and conceal the fact that the building is a church. Some of the religious symbols were covered with coloured plastic filter paper to blend in with the surrounding glass.
One instance included covering a stained glass window which depicted the naked figures of Adam and Eve. The production team covered them up with these filters and made them look like they were wearing Wizard Clothing and Lightening Scars instead.
14. Parts Of Hogwarts Were Filmed At The University of Oxford
Alnwick Castle in Northumberland and Gloucester Cathedral were eventually selected as the main locations of Hogwarts. Some scenes were also filmed at Harrow School in Greater London and Durham Cathedral including several shots of the corridors and classrooms.
The University of Oxford’s medieval building, the Divinity School, was used as Hogwarts’ Hospital Wing and Duke Humfrey’s at Bodleian Library was used as Hogwart’s Library and Restricted Section.
15. The Dursley’s Home Was Filmed In Bracknell, Berkshire
The home of Harry Potter’s unkind, Muggle Aunt and Uncle was Number 4 Privet Drive. Scouts chose a home on Picket Post Close in Bracknell, Berkshire as the exterior for the Dursley’s house. Filming in the street took two days (which was longer than planned) and residents were paid more for their cooperation. Subsequent scenes set in Privet Drive took place on a set in Leavesden film studios as it ended up being cheaper to rebuilt the homes than paying all of the residents on location in Bracknell.
Other Filming Locations Of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone:
• Australia House in London was used as a location for the Wizarding bank Gringotts.
• Christ Church College at the University of Oxford was used as the location of the Hogwart’s Trophy Room.
• London Zoo and the Reptile House were used as the real location in which Harry accidentally releases a snake.
• Kings Cross Station was used as it is name checked in the books themselves.
• Hagrid’s Hut was a real hut on a small patch on land near Leavesden Film Studios but it was demolished after the film’s release in case it became a pilgrimage for film fans!
• Several sets mimicking the cathedrals were created at Leavesden Film Studios including Hogwarts Great Hall and Diagon Alley.
16. Kings Cross Station Is Actually St Pancras International Station
The exterior shots used to represent Kings Cross Station are actually St Pancras International Station and the St Pancras hotel. Kings Cross Station is opposite in a much smaller and more modern building.
17. There Are Separate US and UK Versions Of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
As the film was the named differently in the USA, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, all scenes that mention the word Philosopher’s had to be shot twice. Once with the actors saying “Philosopher’s” and another where they say “Sorcerer’s”.
The reason that American audiences know Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone instead is that the US publisher Scholastic changed the title of the book believing that American audiences were more unfamiliar with the term “Philosopher’s”. J. K. Rowling has admitted in interviews that she regrets granting permission for the publisher to change the title but as a new author she wasn’t in a strong enough position to fight it at the time.
18. J.K. Rowling Was Advised To Not Publish Under The Name Joanne
J.K. Rowling was asked by her publisher in the early days of her writing career to shorten her name to J.K. instead of Joanne as they believed this would make Harry Potter more appealing to young teenage boys who may be unwilling to read a book written by a woman. Can you believe it! She has since written crime fiction for adults under the male pseudonym Robert Galbraith too.
19. J.K. Rowling Claims That She Is No Longer A Billionaire
J.K. Rowling is a UK success story for self-made millionaires. She began writing while living on benefits and ended up being listed as the World’s First Billionaire Author by Forbes. She has since disputed the claim that she is a Billionaire stating that she has given away much of her earnings to charity. Her sales in the UK total in excess of £238 million making her the best selling author alive in Britain today. The Sunday Times Rich list in 2021 estimated that J. K. Rowling’s fortune is around £820 million making her the 196th richest person in the UK.
20. The Harry Potter Child Actors Went To School On Set
The child actors in the Harry Potter franchise filmed for four hours and then had three hours to do the school work on the set of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
While acting in classroom scenes, the young child actors on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone would do their actual homework/school work in order to make their performances more believable but at the same time probably to get their studies done while acting!
One of the key characteristics about Harry Potter in the series is that he has the same colour eyes as his mother; both are meant to have green. However actor Daniel Radcliffe has blue eyes and was originally meant to wear contact lenses. He found that the contact lenses irritated his eyes at such a young age so after consulting J. K. Rowling the production team agreed that Harry could have blue eyes in the film.
During the filming of the whole Harry Potter franchise, Daniel Radcliffe went through a total of 160 pairs of glasses.
21. Emma Watson Originally Wore False Teeth As Hermione
Emma Watson was originally going to wear false teeth to mimic her character’s unconventional appearance as described in the book however she was unable to talk properly with the false teeth in her mouth so this idea was also dropped. Emma Watson has also stated in interviews that she hated how her hair looked in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, stating it was too bushy. In subsequent films, her hair was made to look more wavy instead.
22. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Features Nearly 600 Special Effects
When creating magical creatures in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, director Chris Columbus originally planned to use both CGI animation and animatronics. He enlisted the help of Nick Dudman, known for working on special effects on the Star Wars franchise to help bring creatures such as Fluffy the Three Headed Dog to life.
Dudman created prosthetics and Jim Henson’s Creature Shop provided the creature effects. The design for the magical creatures had to be changed multiple times due to accommodating these extensive special effects. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone features nearly 600 special effect shots and involved many companies to help achieve them. Separate companies created Lord Voldemort’s face on the back of Professor Quirrell’s head (Industrial Light & Magic - founded by George Lucas for Star Wars), Hagrid’s baby dragon Norbert (Rhythm & Hues known for Babe the Pig and the Tiger in Life of Pi) and the Quidditch match scenes (Sony Pictures Imageworks known for Stuart Little, The Polar Express and Cast Away).
23. Chris Columbus Was Disappointed With The Special Effects In Philosopher’s Stone
The director Chris Columbus however has said in interviews that he was disappointed with the way the special effects looked in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone stating that they seemed rushed and where never up to anyone’s standards. He aimed to improve them in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets which came out in 2002.
24. James Horner Was First In Line To Compose The Harry Potter Score
Composer John Williams was chosen to write a recognisable and cinematic score for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. He composed it at his home in Los Angeles before recording it in London in September 2001. The main theme that he composed is named “Hedwig’s Theme”.
Before John Williams, James Horner was the first choice to compose the score for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone after his work on the Titanic (Cameron 1997) and his extensive portfolio of work with notable directors including George Lucas, Stephen Spielberg and David Kirschner.
25. Steve Kloves Had To Remove One Line Of His Script Due To Spoilers
There are a few minor deviations from the book version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone however the film’s director Chris Columbus regularly checked with J. K. Rowling making sure to get all of the minor details correct. Interestingly in the first script for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the screen writer Steve Kloves had to remove a line of dialogue because J. K. Rowling said that it would directly contradict an event in the unreleased fifth instalment of the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
26. Rik Mayall Starred As Peeves But Was Cut From The Film
One of the most notable differences from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone the book is that several minor characters were removed from the film version. The one that is quoted most often is the Hogwarts poltergeist Peeves. Peeves was actually going to appear in the films as the production team had comedian Rik Mayall cast in the role. His scenes were ultimately cut from the film and never released.
Rik Mayall claims that he only realised that he was cut from the Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone when he saw it in the cinema. He assumes that he was cut because the young actors kept laughing at his performance on set!
Other differences between the book and film of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone are:
• The first chapter of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is told from the viewpoint of Harrys Aunt and Uncle Vernon and Petunia Dursley. However we do not get this first person account in the film.
• Harry Potter and his high school nemesis Draco Malfoy originally meet in their school robe fitting at Madam Malkins’ Robe Shop but this is not included in the film’s plot. Their planned Midnight Duel is also not included in the film.
• Norbert the Dragon is taken away by Dumbledore in the film unlike the book where Charlie Weasley is given him to look after.
• The reason that the children were given detention in the Forbidden Forest was changed. In the book Harry and Hermione are put in detention after being caught leaving the Astronomy Tower after hours. Neville and Malfoy are given detention when they caught in the corridor by Professor McGonagall. In the film Harry, Hermione and Ron get detention after Malfoy catches them in Hagrid’s hut after hours. Malfoy also recieves detention for being out of bed. Neville does not get detention in the film.
• In the book version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the Quidditch pitch is described as a stadium rather than the open field which we see in the film.
• Also notably the timeline in the book is also not adhered to. It is said in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone book that Harry’s 11th birthday is 1991 but on the set of the film Dudleys primary school certificates display the year 2001.
27. They Released Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Video Games
A video game based on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was released on the 15th of November 2001 by EA Games. A port for the GameCube, PlayStation Two and Xbox was released in 2003. Lego also created a Lego Creator video game as well as a series of sets based on the buildings and scenes from the film. Hasbro produced confectionary products based on the Philosopher’s Stone and Mattel won the rights to produce toys based on the film exclusively sold through Warner Bros stores.
28. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Was Nominated For 3 Academy Awards
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone received three Academy Award nominations including Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design and Best Original Score for John Williams. This is the highest number for any of the Harry Potter films.
It was also nominated for seven BAFTA Awards, won a Saturn Award for Best Costume and was nominated for a further eight Saturn Awards. It won awards from the Casting Society of America and the Costume Designer’s Guild. It was nominated for the AFI Film Awards for it’s special effects and the Art Director’s Guild Award for it’s production design. It received the Broadcast Critics Award for Best Family Film and was nominated for a further two awards at the same ceremony.
29. Alan Rickman Knew Snape’s Backstory From The First Film
J. K. Rowling herself chose Alan Rickman for the part of Severus Snape and while filming, she gave him special insights into Snape’s back story and personality. This was so that he could play a convincing performance taking on board his character’s past which would only be revealed to audiences in the final novel and film. We assume Alan Rickman was told of Snape’s long harboured love to Harry’s Mother Lily and dislike of his Father James.
30. This Is What The Hogwarts Latin Motto Means
The Hogwart’s motto is “Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus” which can be translated from latin to say, “Never tickle a sleeping Dragon!”
31. Richard Harris Agreed To Play Dumbledore Because Of His Granddaughter
During the filming of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, veteran actor Richard Harris who played Albus Dumbledore had trouble remembering his lines. Child actor Daniel Radcliffe who played Harry Potter would ask him to help run lines with him to give Harris some more practice. Richard Harris had been acting for over 40 years when he was cast as Dumbledore but he stated that his performance in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was the most involved he had ever been with a cast.
Richard Harris claimed that he only agreed to take on the part of Albus Dumbledore after his 11-year-old granddaughter refused to never speak to him again if he didn’t! Actor Patrick McGoohan was officially offered the role of Albus Dumbledore first but turned it down due to ill health. Richard Harris himself became ill after filming Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and sadly passed away of a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma after the release of the second instalment, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002). The part of Albus Dumbledore was subsequently played by Michael Gambon.
32. J.K. Rowling Was Offered The Role Of Lily Potter
J. K. Rowling has revealed on her own website that she was approached to play Harry’s mother Lily Potter during the scene that includes the Mirror of Erised. She turned down the role claiming that she would’ve messed it up somehow. The role of Lily Potter was given to Geraldine Somerville instead.
33. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Was Nearly Animated
During the time that Stephen Spielberg was in the running to direct the Harry Potter franchise, Warner Bros. considered making the entire set of films animated and were hoping to combine several of the novels into one film. Reportedly the studios main reason for choosing animation was concern over hiring child actors who would then rapidly age during production delays between sequels. They did not want the hassle and risk of re-casting the actors midway through the franchise. J. K. Rowling, who had been very protective of her novels when working on the film adaptations, vetoed the idea of combining books and using animation. So Warner Bros. produced all of the eight movies back to back so that the same actors could play the parts while they themselves grew up.
34. J.K. Rowling Mixed Up The Platforms In Kings Cross Station
Obviously the famous Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross station in London isn’t a real platform. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the platform used to represent the one going to Hogwarts was Platforms 4 and 5. J. K. Rowling has admitted that she may have mixed up the layout of King’s Cross Station as she meant the location to be in the intercity part of the station but in real life, Platforms 9 and 10 are part of the suburban platforms. King’s Cross railway station did create a Platform 9 3/4 - it is located in the walkway area between Platforms 9 and 10 for fans of Harry Potter to enjoy. At time of writing, you can get photographs holding half a trolley disappearing through a wall and shop at a Harry Potter merchandise shop next to it.
35. It Was The Widest Film Release Of All Time In The UK, USA, and Canada
The world premiere of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was at the Odeon Leicester Square in London on the 4th of November 2001 and the cinema had been decorated to resemble Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The film then previewed in 491 theatres on the 10th and 11th of November before officially opening on the 16th November 2001 at 507 cinemas in the UK and 3,672 in the USA and Canada. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was the widest film release of all time in the UK and the USA.
The first teaser trailer for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was released on the 2nd of March 2001 and debuted before showings of See Spot Run (Whiteshell 2001).
36. The Harry Potter Production Broke The Rules At The University Of Oxford
The restricted section of the Hogwarts library was filmed at the University of Oxford’s Duke Humfrey’s Section in the Bodleian Library. Due to the Library’s age and precious book collection, there are strict rules about having open flames such as lighters or cigarettes inside. The Harry Potter production team were allowed to break this rule and were the first to ever to do so in hundreds of years!
37. Robin Williams Wanted To Play Hagrid
Huge Hollywood actors Robin Williams and Rosie O’Donnell were two fans who asked for a role in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone without being paid. They wanted to play Molly Weasley and Hagrid. They didn’t get the roles - even with the no cash incentive - because J. K. Rowling was strict about casting actors from the UK and Ireland only.
38. “Dumbledore” And “Muggle” Were Real Words
According to the TV panel show QI, the word “Muggle” existed in the early to mid 1900s in the UK as a slang term for somebody who was smoking Marijuana. They also stated that the surname “Dumbledore” means Bumblebee in Old English.
39. The Floating Candles In The Great Hall Were Real
The floating candles that can be seen in the Hogwarts Great Hall were created using candle shape holders containing oil and burning wicks suspended from wires that moved up and down on a special effects rig to create the impression that they were floating in the air. After one of these snapped causing a candle to fall to the floor, the decision was made to recreate the candles using CGI for the following films as real candles were too much of a safety risk.
The Production Designer for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was Stuart Craig who decided to tile the floor in the Great Hall with York stone. A large amount of the production budget had to be invested in this stone, a decision that was questioned at the time, but it ended up being so durable that it lasted for all eight Harry Potter films.
40. All The Food Shown In The Great Hall Was Real
All of the food seen in the Hogwarts Great Hall for the Welcome feast is real. Chris Columbus wanted a very decadent feast to welcome the new students as described in detail in the book with Roast Beef, Turkey and all the trimmings. However while filming under the hot stage lighting for hours, the food began to smell. The meat was changed every two days and the vegetables were swapped twice a day. For the latter films, samples of real food were frozen so that replicas could be made out of resin. This eliminated the smell and probably saved on time and money!
41. Tom Felton Hadn’t Read Any Harry Potter Books When Auditioning
Child actor Tom Felton who plays Draco Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone had not actually read any of the Harry Potter books before auditioning for the part. During the audition Chris Columbus was asking the children what their favourite part of the book was. Felton repeated the same answer as the young actor before him which Columbus saw straight through! Tom Felton originally auditioned for the roles of both Harry and Ron before being given the part of Draco Malfoy.
42. David Bradley Went To Great Lengths To Play Filtch
Reportedly the actor David Bradley who plays the Hogwarts caretaker Filtch, rented a small Irish cottage and lived in it for a month alone with a cat before filming began. This was in order to portray a believable, lonely and isolated man! The cat used for Filtch’s tabby Mrs Norris ran away during filming but came back two days later.
43. The Dursley’s Furniture Was Awful On Purpose
Set designer on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Stephanie McMillan, deliberately chose the most distasteful furniture she could find to include in the Dursley’s home in order to make them even more unlikeable.
44. J.K. Rowling Asked For Harry’s Scar To Be Off-Centre In The Films
Due to the artwork used on the cover of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, many readers had assumed that Harry’s scar was supposed to be in the centre of his forehead. In the film version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the scar is actually off centre. This was done at J. K. Rowling’s request as the books never specify exactly where on his forehead his scar is located but it makes for better viewing when Harry can move the front of his hair away to shockingly reveal his scar.
45. 5,000 Boys Auditioned For Harry Potter
During the open call casting for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Chris Columbus and the team saw around 5,000 boys audition for the role however none of them felt quite right. Chris Columbus saw Daniel Radcliffe perform in David Copperfield (TV Series 1999) and showed it to the Casting Director saying that Daniel Radcliffe was the one.
Radcliffe’s parents at the time wanted him to focus on his schoolwork instead of acting and were concerned about the amount of attention that he would get. The team ended up auditioning Harry Potters from different nationalities but still couldn’t find the right person for the part as Columbus had his heart set on Radcliffe!
Apparently two of the Producers on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone went to a theatre performance and saw Daniel Radcliffe sat with his Father in the front row. They ended up talking to them and slowly persuaded him to audition!
46. Chris Columbus’ Daughter Had A Role In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
The director Chris Columbus allowed his daughter Eleanor Columbus to play Susan Bones in the Sorting Hat scene. This was despite J. K. Rowling’s all British cast rule as Columbus was raised in Ohio. Eleanor doesn’t have any lines.
47. Emma Watson Got The Role Of Hermione Due To Her Confident Audition
Emma Watson was suggested to the Harry Potter casting agents by one of her theatre teachers at school. She claims that she had to do around five interviews before she got the part. She has said in interview since that she took her audition very seriously but never really thought that she had a chance of getting the role. It was her self confidence that impressed the Producers and she ended up outperforming thousands of other girls who applied to play Hermione Granger.
48. Three Owls Play Hedwig In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Three owls play Hedwig In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. She is mainly played by Gizmo but Ook and Sprout also have scenes. The owls used were brought over from Massachusetts to the UK for filming.
49. The Wizard Chess Set Is Based On The Lewis Chess Men
The Wizard’s Chess Set which Harry and Ron play in the Great Hall is based on the Lewis Chess Men which is an archaeological find dated from around the 12th century. They are a group of distinctive chess pieces made from Walrus Ivory and were discovered in 1831 on the island of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. When found, the chess set contained 93 artefacts including 78 Chess Pieces, 14 Table Men and a Belt Buckle. 82 of the pieces are owned and exhibited by the British Museum in London today and the rest are at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.
In the final chess match, Ron’s choice of opening is called the Centre Count Opening or the Scandinavian Defence. It is a symmetrical move said to be highly unpredictable and a difficult opening for either side. It rarely results in a draw.
50. Queen Elizabeth’s Cauldron Features In Professor Quirrell’s Classroom
Professor Quirrell’s Classroom is filmed on location at Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire in The Warming Room. The Cauldron seen in the room is actually not part of the set but belongs there and is believed to have been used by cooks who worked for Queen Elizabeth I over 500 years ago.
51. Rupert Grint Rapped In His Audition For Ron Weasley
As his audition, the young actor Rupert Grint sent a video of himself rapping and explaining why he wanted to be Ron Weasley so badly in the Harry Potter films.
52. There Was A Lot Of Hair Dye In Harry Potter
The actors who play the Weasley twins Fred and George are James and Oliver Phelps. The pair have naturally brown hair so they had to continuously dye it red for the films. Similarly, Tom Felton does not have bleach blonde hair like his character Draco Malfoy so he had to consistently dye his naturally brown hair blonde.
53. Hagrid Is Meant To Be Around 12 Feet Tall
In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Hagrid actually stands around 8 Feet 6 Inches tall. An animatronic head was placed on the top of Robbie Coltrane’s own head in some scenes to make him look taller. In the original book, Hagrid is written as being around 12 feet tall. Robbie Coltrane also had body double for Hagrid who stood at 6 foot 10 inches. That was the former England rugby international player Martin Bayfield.
54. David Thewlis Nearly Played Professor Quirrell
Before the role went to Ian Hart, David Thewlis was considered to play Professor Quirrell. He however went on to play Professor Lupin in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004).
55. The Final Scene Of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Was Filmed First
Most of the scenes that include the leading three characters in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone were filmed in chronological order. However a notable exception is that the final scene was filmed first. It is the scene where the three of them return home. This was then followed by the scene in which Harry first sees the train at Platform 9 3/4. Both of the scenes required an actual train to be present present which is why they were filmed in this order.
The Quidditch match was actually the last scene to be filmed due to it being the most difficult for the visual effects department to figure out how on earth it could be shot.
56. Warwick Davis Plays Three Characters In The Philosopher’s Stone
Actor Warwick Davis who plays the Charms Professor Professor Flitwick and the first Goblin in Gringotts, also voices the character of Griphook in Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone as Verne Troyer who plays Griphook is American.
57. The Supervising Art Director Had A Cameo
The Quidditch trophy on which Harry sees his father’s name, also includes the name M. McGonagal referencing the now Transfiguration teacher. However it also displays R.J.H King in reference to the Supervising Art Director on the film.
58. The Honeydukes Witch Statue Appears In The Philosopher’s Stone
Eagle eyed viewers of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone may have spotted the statue of the humpback witch in the corridor leading to the room in which Fluffy is kept. This statue conceals the secret entrance to Honeydukes, a sweet shop in the nearby village of Hogsmeade. Harry uses that secret entrance three films later in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004).
59. Hagrid Should Actually Be Able To Spell
You may remember Hagrid’s sweet yet poor attempt at a birthday cake for Harry’s 11th birthday in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. In the film it looks quite squished and he has the misspelt “Happee Birthdae Harry” on it. However in the books, J.K. Rowling suggests Hagrid is able to spell perfectly well. The cake is described as “a large sticky chocolate cake with ‘Happy Birthday Harry’ written on it in green icing’.
60. Daniel Radcliffe Found Out That He Was Going To Be Harry Potter In The Bath
Daniel Radcliffe found out that he had secured the role of Harry Potter while he was in the bath. He has said in interviews that he never believed that he would play Harry in all of the films as he assumed he wouldn’t fit the part once he got older. He went on to play Harry successfully in all of the eight films and was reportedly paid US$1Million for his performance in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
61. The “T” In Voldemort Is Actually Meant To Be Silent
According to J. K. Rowling, the “t” at the end of Voldemort is meant to be silent as it is taken from the French word for death, “mort”. Jim Dale, who recorded the USA audiobook of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone originally left out the “t” before the films were released. In the films the characters say Voldemort with the “t” so he re-recorded his audiobook pronunciations.
62. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Is Missing Some Usual Details
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is the only Harry Potter film to not include Arthur Weasley who is played by Mark Williams. This is also the only film in the series to not include an “attacking” spell such as Avada Kedavra. Philosopher’s Stone is also the only film to not include a Magical themed Warner Bros. logo at the beginning.
63. Everyone On Privet Drive Owns A Vauxhall
All of the cars parked on Privet Drive are Vauxhalls no matter what time period the film is set in. The Dursley themselves own a silver 2000 Vauxhall Vectra Estate. The other cars that can be seen parked on Privet Drive are also Vectra Estates including an Astra, Belmont, and Cavalier saloons.
64. J.K. Rowling Came Up With The Hogwarts House Names On A Flight
J.K. Rowling came up with the names Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw for the four Hogwart’s houses while travelling on a plane. She wrote them down on a disused sick bag to remember them.
64 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001) Movie Facts You Haven’t Heard Before