updated 06/01/2004 AT 2:00 PM ET
•originally published 06/02/2004 AT 4:00 PM ET
School’s out for summer, but the kids of Hogwarts are just getting started. As Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban hits screens, the series’ heroes, Daniel Radcliffe (Harry), Emma Watson (Hermione) and Rupert Grint (Ron), talked to reporters about their third time out on the big screen, how they’re growing into their roles and what it’s like to face rabid fans.
Were you more confident this time?
Watson: You get more and more confident every time, really.
Radcliffe: That’s because we’ve had more experience with directors.
Watson: A lot of the crew who were on Harry Potter I are still doing Harry Potter III. So it’s great.
Radcliffe: Yeah, and now IV as well. It’s like a family.
How is it to see yourself onscreen?
Grint: It’s kind of scary.
Radcliffe: I saw the film with some friends and I was sitting in the front row of the cinema. And the last frame of the film is my face and it looked like I was about to eat the front row of the audience. It’s kind of scary and surreal.
Emma, you pull some punches this time around. How’d it feel to hit Harry’s nemesis, Malfoy?
Watson: I love every single second of it. Girl power. It was great. I would’ve done it for the whole week, but we got it in a couple of takes. I was like, “No. I want to do it again. I want to do it again.”
Radcliffe: It’s one of the moments that at the premiere, everyone cheered when she did it.
So Hermione’s one to be reckoned with?
Watson: She’s so charismatic. In the first two films, when Malfoy would say nasty things about her, she’d pretend she didn’t hear. In this one, she doesn’t take it anymore. She punches Malfoy, she storms out on teachers, she’s feisty.
Radcliffe: Whatever happens, happens. It’s a huge project. I’m not going to lie and say I’d be completely and absolutely fine with it if another actor were to play Harry because it would be extremely strange. But I would just have to get used to it.
Grint: Like Dan said, it would be weird.
What about your characters? Where do you see them going?
Radcliffe: I’m going to be really unpopular for saying this about Harry, but I’ve always had the suspicion – with everything that’s going on – that he might die. Harry and (and the villain) Voldemort have the same core in them. The only way Voldemort could die is if Harry dies as well.
Watson: In a way I feel very protective of my character. I just want her to be happy.
What do you do on the set to blow off steam? Some scenes can probably get pretty intense.
Watson: Dan listened to a lot of rock music. I have to say that in hair and makeup every morning, he was out jamming away in his chair.
Radcliffe: I think that the music does help to let off a lot of steam.
Watson: Between every single film, I go back to school. I see all my friends. I do everything that I used to do. I play sports. I go to normal teenage parties. All of my money is locked away in a bank until I’m 25 and I’m not going to see it until then, and I suppose I just have good friends and family who keep my feet on the ground and keep it real.
Any plans for other projects?
Radcliffe: I’d love to go off and do other films. I’d love to maybe form a band. … Hermione is actually a really quite fantastic singer too.
Watson: (Laughs) I’m okay. I would like to maybe do some stage work. I love to sing and dance. I love the adrenaline you get when you’re right there onstage with an audience responding to you.
Grint: When I was a kid I wanted to be an ice cream man. That still seems like a cool job.
This film comes with a new director, Alfonso Cuaron (Y Tu Mama Tambien). How was that? Did you learn anything different?
Watson: Yeah. One of the first things that he did when we met him is that he asked us to write an essay about our characters. Not just to help us, but to help him to see the character through our eyes. He gave us a lot of freedom.
Radcliffe: I think that it’s quite important to mention that when we did the essay, we basically did exactly what our characters would’ve done in that situation. I wrote a page and it was fine. It was okay. It wasn’t great. It’s what Harry does. Rupert didn’t do it. Rupert forgot to do it.
Harry Potter has some loyal fans. Any good stories about that?
Watson: Danny’s had a couple.
Radcliffe: I went to MTV and I’m about to go again. It was the first time that I’d been there and you’ve got the huge windows all around and Carson Daly took me over to one of windows and pointed down and there was a girl down there wrapped in a Harry Potter towel and nothing else and holding a sign that said “Nothing comes between me and Harry Potter.”