I know because I interviewed Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint in 2001, when they were on their first press tour to promote the first movie, 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.' At the time, they were bright-eyed, enthusiastic pre-teens, kids who felt like the luckiest 'Harry Potter' fans in the world for being granted the privilege of acting out their favorite stories. They knew they were going to spend their teen years filming the next six books (three of which J.K. Rowling hadn't even written yet). There was only a hint of the serious, poised adults that the actors (and their characters) would become.
Still, re-reading their remarks a decade later, it's easy to see traits of Hermione in the young Watson (intellectually curious), of Ron in Grint (fun-loving, a little goofy), and Harry in Radcliffe (thoughtful, modest, well aware of the heavy responsibility placed on his slender shoulders). Looking back, it's touching to see the naive enthusiasm with which they approached what turned out to be a massive undertaking that would occupy half their lifetimes, as well as to marvel at how much of that childlike wonder seems to have survived in them after a decade of working hard, enduring unending scrutiny and bearing the weight of the hopes and dreams of hundreds of millions of fans.
Were you a fan of the 'Harry Potter' books before you auditioned?
Daniel Radcliffe: I really enjoyed them but I wasn't really obsessed. But then I reread them when I got the part, and now I am completely obsessed.
Rupert Grint: I was, like, the biggest Harry Potter fan before I even knew it was going to be a film.
Emma Watson: I was already in the middle of the third one when I started auditioning, and I finished the fourth by the time I got the role. So I'm a major Harry Potter fan.
How did you land your role?
RG: I was a fish in Noah's ark in the school play, and now I'm in 'Harry Potter.' It's a big step. I first found out about the auditions in Newsround. They said to send in some information about yourself and a photograph. So I sent one in and waited weeks and weeks and weeks, and nothing happened. I really wanted this part because I was the biggest Harry Potter fan at the time. I went on the website of Newsround, and some of the kids had been sending in videotapes of themselves reading from the book. So I made a videotape. First, I dressed up as my drama teacher, who's a girl, so that was kind of scary. Then I made this rap song of how much I wanted to be in the film.
How did you learn you had been cast?
DR: I was sitting in the bath, and I heard the phone ring, and I heard my dad go downstairs, pick it up, and say, 'Hello, David.' David Heyman, the producer, was the only David we knew at the time. So I knew it was him, but I thought it was going to be a let-down phone call to tell me I hadn't got the part. But my dad then came up and told me. I just sat there for a while, and then I started to cry. Then I woke up at 2 a.m. and thought it was a dream.
How are you like your character?
RG: I felt like I could relate to Ron because we've both got red hair, we both like sweets, we both are scared of spiders, and we both have got lots of brothers and sisters. I have one brother and three sisters.
EW: I enjoy school but I'm not obsessed with school. I really enjoy sports. But I'm not obsessed. I'm not obsessed. Hockey, rounders, tennis. I play for my school.
Having become famous before anyone really knows anything about you, do you feel more akin to Harry now?
DR: I can relate to Harry in other ways, but not that way. I'm loyal. I enjoy being with lots of people, but I also enjoy being on my own. I'm curious. I can stand up for myself.
Is it true that you were a practical joker on the set?
DR: There was this one time when it was getting on to Halloween. I'd gone out and bought these blood capsules, vampire things. You put them in your mouth and chew them, and you let the blood dribble down your chin. I went to the makeup bus, and they have these steel steps outside. I whacked them really hard with my hand to make it sound like I'd fallen. Then I rushed in and spit blood all over the floor. If David Heyman had been there at the time, I think he may have died.
And I changed the language on Robbie Coltrane's phone to Turkish. [Of this prank, Coltrane, who plays Hogwarts gameskeeper Hagrid in the series, recalled: "I have a Motorola, and it has 17 languages in it, and the wee bugger went into it and found Turkish and changed it. So you'd think [to fix it] you could just go into 'language change,' but of course to go into 'language change,' you have to know the Turkish for 'language change.' So we had to phone-up one of the makeup guys had married a Turkish girl. It was like an episode of 'Fawlty Towers.' At the time, it was very funny."]
What did you think of the completed film?
DR: Again I was speechless. And again I cried. But I'm not a wimp. Don't let that mislead you.
The red carpet at the London premiere was mobbed. What was that like?
RG: It was scary.
EW: I really enjoyed myself. At the beginning, the red carpet was pretty freaky. But once we got inside, I really enjoyed the film.
DR: It was terrifying. It was really great fun, but it was very scary. It was great meeting all the famous people. That was cool.
Which celebrities were you most thrilled to meet?
DR: Ben Stiller. I met Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, which was very cool.
Is the attention from press and fans a downside?
DR: No, this is actually one of the coolest bits. If I had to pick one, it's writing the autographs. My name is too long. I'm going to try to work on it to get a quicker signature. I do enjoy [being recognized]. My teacher always said I was an attention seeker.
How many reporters have you talked to recently?
EW: Oh my God.
RG: I've lost count. About three million.
Do they all ask the same questions?
RG: Yeah, but it's cool.
EW: They come up with exactly the same questions, and you can say exactly the same answers. So you don't have to think. You can just stand there like a broken record.
What has been the biggest perk?
RG: What does perk mean?
EW: I'd say going to different places. We went to loads of different locations, which was really fun. We met interesting people. And we had really good co-stars, i.e., Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Zoe Wanamaker, Julie Walters. It was just a great cast.
RG: For me, probably the sweets.
EW: I make this long, sobby speech, and he says, 'Sweets.'
If you could have a magical power in real life, what would it be?
DR: Probably invisibility. Then I could sneak into rock concerts and films.
EW: I think I'd make myself invisible so I could go into movies for over-15s.
RG: Yeah, I'd be invisible so I could sneak out of detention.
You're about to start filming the next movie, 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.' What can you reveal about it?
RG: It's going to be fun. I can't wait to cough up slugs.
Follow Gary Susman on Twitter @garysusman.