It’s hard to imagine Harry Potter without Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, but in the new HBO Max reunion special, the stars of the wizarding world revealed that they once considered walking away from the franchise.
The new special, titled Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts, reunites the cast of the films for a wide-spanning discussion of the legacy of the franchise. Watson recalled a time prior to filming 2007’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that she considered no longer continuing on with the rest of the cast. David Yates, the film’s director, recalled being told that Watson, who portrayed the brainy witch Hermione Granger, “wasn’t sure if she wants to come back.”
Watson said she felt “lonely” in her career, adding, “The fame thing had finally hit home in a big way.”
Tom Felton, who portrayed Draco Malfoy in the series, confirmed that Watson had a hard time, sharing that while Danielle Radcliffe, who played the titular character, had Grint on set, Watson was “not only younger, she was by herself.”
The Beauty and the Beast actress wasn’t the only one who considered backing out of the franchise. Grint, who starred as Ron Weasley, also said he experienced multiple moments where he pondered “what life would be like if I called it a day.”
Ultimately, however, Watson decided to stick around, explaining, “The fans genuinely wanted you to succeed, and we all genuinely have each other's backs. How great is that?”
While Watson may have completed her run as Hermione, the actress now knows where to draw boundaries when it comes to her personal life. In a 2017 conversation with Jessica Chastain for Interview, Watson opened up about why she maintains as much privacy as possible.
“Dan, Rupert and I were kids when we got cast in this fairy-tale series, and what happened to us was kind of a fantasy story in itself. The story of my life has been of public interest, which is why I’ve been so passionate about having a private identity,” she said. “When I step into a character, people have to be able to suspend their disbelief; they have to be able to divorce me from that girl. And not having everyone know every single intimate detail of my entire life is part of me trying to protect my ability to do my job well.”
Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts debuts on HBO Max on Jan. 1.