Oliver and James Phelps
Oliver (George Weasley): Our Potter decade started when we heard of the auditions in Leeds [in Britain]. So we as a family - mum, dad, James and myself - drove to this big hotel on July 13, 2000. We thought we'd just go upstairs to a room - we thought auditions were like that - but we were asked to walk into this huge ballroom, with thousands of people vying for the parts.
James (Fred Weasley): There were people with huge CVs and we turned to each other going, 'Hmmm.' We weren't dressed the same, we hadn't even thought of that, but when we saw the other twins were we ran to a department store across the street and grabbed two shirts off the shelves. It was the first time we had worn the same clothes. We waited for about 2? hours after being given something like a raffle ticket. If it was being held in Birmingham, where we lived, we probab- ly would have gone home. But we had travelled three hours to get there so we thought we'd stick it out. When our number was called, there was a Sliding Doors moment: there was a door on the right and a door on the left. We went to the door on the left as another set of twins went to the other. They eventually became our doubles in the first movie [Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, 2001] and we still speak to this day. We went in and met Janet Hirshenson, who was the head casting director. She loved us and asked whether we had a photo or a CV. We said we didn't, so they took a small Polaroid photo of us. And that was that. On our way home we had a pint ... er, no we didn't, we were too young then [laughs]. We had a meal.
Oliver: A couple of days later we got a phone call saying, 'We'd like you to come down to a studio to meet us.' And we got lost going there because dad was driving and he was in a mood about not being able to find his way.
James: We got to meet David Heyman, the producer, Chris Columbus, the director, and I guess that was our real audition. We were called back to several more meetings and, after the third one, the assistant said something like, 'Thanks for that, have a nice life.' We thought that was the end of that. Then we were called back for a screen test. It was the first time we had been on a set and it scared the hell out of me. We did the scene and Chris came over and said, 'You really seem to be enjoying this. Who normally wins when you two have a fight?' I said, 'I normally do, because I have a good left hook.' He was obviously referring to a verbal fight, but the crew was on our side after that. Two days later, my mum answered the phone and heard the casting director asking, 'Is that the mother of Fred and George?'
James: Acting in the films made me more outgoing. Before, I was quite shy, never willing to push myself. Becoming an actor made me more confident and came in handy for when we had to give speeches to thousands of fans at premieres. I also worked as a runner on the sixth movie (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, 2009) and I'd recommend that to anyone. I learnt more about the film industry in those five days than in the first five years I spent acting in the films.
Oliver: My school report cards always had comments like, 'Oliver talks too much.' That hasn't really changed. But becoming an actor also got me used to going out on my own, like staying in hotels the whole time when we were filming. I also learnt how the film industry works and all the politics involved in distribution, or the pre-production and post-production and continuity and all that.
James: I think the main thing we learnt was how hair dyes are used ...
Oliver: Now we're faced with a new chapter in our lives, after spending 11 years on the Harry Potter films. When we return to London, that will be a defining moment, marking the end of an exciting period in our lives. We've kind of led two lives - a life back home in Birmingham and another in London, where we were filming. For the most part, this worked out really well - especially when we were spending time on set which, I know, millions of people around the world would love to do. We plan to continue acting and finding individual projects, so that people understand 'the twins' won't always be together and don't al- ways have to be together. We always cringe at the word 'twins'. Some people have asked the two of us to play one role, but we don't want to do that. Some plans are already in the pipeline - I have something which may start at the end of summer, and James has something starting at the end of September. It will be quite an interesting couple of months.
James: I'd be lying if I said I wasn't annoyed about us being seen as one unit. I'd like to think a lot of people are open-minded, but to some people we'll always have to be together. It will make it even more of a challenge for us to prove we can do things on our own. Other twins have gone on to do individual projects, so I'd love to be able to do that as well.
DOWN TO EARTH
Oliver: Making the Harry Potter films brought us closer than we would have been otherwise. Obviously, a lot of people go off to university when they finish school. And we probably would have gone to different universities, as we were taking completely different subjects. But I think we have a tighter bond because we've been away a lot and done cool things together.
James: We won't be hanging out all the time and this comes down to us having different interests. We've always been raised as individuals - our parents always told us it was important to be ourselves. We don't chat every day when we are not together. We just interact like normal brothers. Our family still live in the same area, we still live a mile from where we grew up, so we are lucky to still have relationships with old friends. That's what keeps us grounded.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is screening now.