Magic begins to wear off for young Potter filmstars

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The Independent Culture

As the young stars of the new Harry Potter film spent their fifth day in the glaring lights of the world's media, the indications were that – for them at least – the magic was beginning to wear off.

The British journalists who embarked yesterday morning on a mystery tour from London were presented to the three actors, combined age 33, at Knebworth House, Hertforshire.

But Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint – respectively Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione – were reluctant to give too much away.

Many questions were met by hesitation and reservation as the strain of meeting the demands of the marketing people began to show. Emma, 10, said the "most nerve-wracking" experience so far had been the series of press conferences.

Their weariness should come as no surprise. The previous 120 hours had been filled with meetings with journalists from around the globe but this was the first opportunity for British hacks to find out about the life-changing experience of starring in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

Chaperoning them were the director, Chris Columbus, the producer, David Heyman, and fellow actors Robbie Coltrane and Richard Harris.

Homage was paid to JK Rowling's imput and the three minor actors answered "child-friendly" questions about their wish-lists for Christmas, rewards for being stars and favourite film scenes. Mr Columbus reminded listeners that off-set lessons had ensured that the children's education was not allowed to suffer.

Most of the children's answers came after an initial, awkward pause – they may have appeared assured on screen, but facing the British press pack is something else, as the young actors discovered.

Daniel was quizzed more than once about his possible involvement in sequels, but he remained non-committal and suggested he was taking the intense limelight in his stride.

He said: "My mum and dad have said I should just enjoy it, so I'm doing that. There are a lot worse things happening than just being recognised."

Earlier, the reporters had been put in the mood – as if that were necessary, given the hype surrounding the film – with a tour of the stately home whose rooms had been transformed to resemble JK Rowling's training school for wizards. Knebworth was chosen because of its domes and gargoyles were so in keeping with Hogwarts.

Among the features installed were large wooden tables, Quidditch balls and wizard wands in glass cabinets. But there was a reminder of the harsher business of promoting the film outside, where a crew of security guards paced the gardens.