Eight years ago, when my eldest granddaughter was 7 years old, she, like millions of other kids, became obsessed with Harry Potter and his friends at Hogwarts.
I shared her passion. I was also very excited and proud to learn that the producer was a man I had first me when he wasn't much older than she was. She was beyond excited to hear this. "Please, please, please I have to go to Hogwarts. Please, please, ask your friend," she pleaded. I tried to explain to her that I hadn't been in touch with "my friend " for over twenty years. I didn't feel comfortable asking for such a favor.
How long can any grandmother hold out against the pleas of a much loved child. I found the courage to send David an email, apologizing for imposing and explaining my predicament. It didn't take a day for him to reply, "When do you want to bring her over?" Need I say more? I had won the love of this child for life.
It is a thrill to be able to go off on a trip with one's grandchild, particularly a fairytale journey. Two days after our arrival in London, a car and driver picked us up at our hotel and off we went. We were privy to one studio, which housed sets we'd seen in the first film. We watched workers painting props, and artists building an unbelievable world. Nothing was off limits to us. We were in Hogwarts. We were in the Dursley's house. We were at the train station. We were both in Heaven. We wandered for several hours, barely able to contain our amazement.
We were then driven to another studio, where they were filming and a special lunch awaited us. Then one of the young assistants escorted us down a corridor and knocked on a door. A petite woman opened it, looked at us, and with a big smile said to my grandchild, "You must be Sarah -- Daniel is waiting to say hello." For those of you dear readers who don't know, Daniel of course was Daniel Radcliffe, aka Harry Potter. Sarah, who I tell you without prejudice looked absolutely adorable, tightly held her copy of the book, which she had carried across the ocean. Daniel came into the room, immediately walked to her and greeted her with a big hug. The poor child almost collapsed and couldn't open her mouth. He valiantly attempted a conversation, but she just stared at him, wordlessly, with her huge green. He, bless him, saw the book in her hands and asked if she wanted him to sign it. She looked up at him and shook her head yes. He wrote a long message and told her it was just for her. I think she managed a "thank you."
Leaving his dressing room, we were ushered to the set. The director, Chris Columbus, a warm and kind man, insisted that Sarah climb up to his director's chair to watch the scene he was preparing to shoot. When he realized she was hesitant, he asked me to go with her. She sat on my lap, and the two of us watched mesmerized as the Weasley brothers flew to Harry's room in a blue car to rescue him.
Needless to say, our trip was something that neither one of us will ever forget.
Cut to last summer. My granddaughter was now 14 ½ . Suddenly I received a letter from camp "To the best grandmother in the world" -- pages and pages of Please, Please PLEASE, I have to go back to Hogwarts!" She'd learned they were filming the last two movies and begged me, "please ask your friend."
I felt David had been more than kind seven years earlier and didn't want to impose again. I was tempted to fib and tell her that I had asked him and he hadn't replied, but I couldn't lie to my grandchild and it wouldn't be fair to David either. I gave in and wonderful David, once again, sent an invitation. Just before the start of school we had our second adventure to London.
But the purpose of this blog is to tell you about Daniel Radcliffe. After a tour of the studio, we were taken to the soundstage where we waited until Daniel and Rupert (Harry and Ron) reached our side. As they were introduced to us, both polite young men said, "pleased to meet you," and shook our hands. My granddaughter who is no longer tongue-tied, replied, "Oh we've met before." They both looked startled. I couldn't let the moment pass and said, "We were here when you were filming the scene with the flying car." Daniel looked at Sarah with his eyes wide open, and replied, "You were that little girl? You were the little girl I've always felt so awful about. I scared you half to death. I talked about you for years."
"You remembered me?" she asked. "Oh my God,"
"I always felt terrible. I thought, 'that poor little girl'." He smiled. Then he and Rupert laughed as he said, "Boy have you changed." As that point I walked away and let them talk until it was time to leave. Once again she had carried a book with her, and this time both boys signed it.
We've all had moments in our lives when we wished we could have done it differently. For Sarah, she had always wished so much that she hadn't been so shy the day she met Harry Potter, and now she'd had the chance to do it the way she wanted. Thank you Daniel Radcliffe and David Heyman for making it possible.