On Monday, July 11 I left my house at 7 a.m. to catch a train bound for New York City, where my sister Olivia and I planned to attend the premiere of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.” We hoped to get a glimpse of the celebrities attending the premiere or maybe even get an autograph. If only I had known then how magical the day would turn out.
We arrived at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center around 9 a.m., and the space was already crowded with fans. The celebrity arrivals did not start until 5 p.m., so we had a bit of waiting to do. Fans played games, chatted with each other and read the “Harry Potter” books of course. Many were dressed as characters from the movies – a girl dressed as the purple-haired Tonks stood right behind me – or painted lightning-shaped scars on their foreheads.
Waiting was agonizing – the temperature was above 90 degrees, and the amount of people in the square only increased as the day wore on. But we waited with the hope that we would see the stars.
By 5 p.m. what seemed like hundreds of fans had packed themselves into Lincoln Center Plaza. Director David Yates arrived first, followed by actors Rupert Grint, Tom Felton, Alan Rickman, Matthew Lewis and Emma Watson, as well as producers David Heyman and David Barron and screenwriter Steve Kloves.
When Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Potter himself, arrived, the cheers from the fans were deafening.
Other celebrity attendees included Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, America Ferrara and Whoopi Goldberg.
After the arrivals were completed, fans started to disperse. Olivia and I sat for a couple minutes, exhausted from the intensity of waiting, when a couple came up to us and offered us their tickets to watch the film.
We were stunned. This nameless couple had picked us out of a crowd, explaining that their daughter had won tickets, but that they did not want to see it. We thanked them, breathless with excitement, and ran to the entrance hardly daring to believe our luck.
Olivia and I presented the tickets to security and were quickly ushered onto the red carpet. The realization had not quite sunk in yet – we were still stunned, giddy with excitement. It even took a moment to realize that we were standing right in front of Alan Rickman, who plays Severus Snape in the films.
It was an awkward moment – a surprise encounter with a world-famous actor – and all we could think to do was wave and say hello breathlessly. He gave an exaggerated smile and wave in return, almost mocking us excited fans, and we hurried to get out of his way.
Our tickets led us to the top tier of the theater. At 7 p.m., producer David Heyman took the stage and thanked everyone. The actors and crew members each said their goodbyes to the fans. It was an emotional moment: Watson, who plays Hermione Granger in the films, teared up as she thanked the audience.
“This is my favorite place to watch a movie, because you all are such an emotional and generous audience,” she said. “It’s been a privilege and an honor.”
Radcliffe gave a “heartfelt thank you” to the crowd for the amazing journey, while Grint, who plays Ron Weasley, summed up his thoughts with a simple “Wow.”
Yates was quiet and emotional when he spoke to the audience.
“This seems like a goodbye to childhood,” he said quietly. “This film is our farewell to this ten-year journey, and we just want to say thank you. It’s your film now.”
And as the film started, I realized exactly that – watching the “Harry Potter” films develop over the past decade has been a part of every fan’s life. The films have made over $6 billion globally, and touched the lives of countless fans. So as Harry’s story comes to an end, so does a chapter in the life of a fan. But, as many posters made by fans at the premiere read, it was the end of an era, but the beginning of a legend.
Erin Bell can be reached at email@example.com.
Read Editor-in-Chief Nicholas Parco’s look back at the Harry Potter series through the years here.
And click here to read The Setonian’s review of the final Harry Potter film!