As part of promotions for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Warner Brothers has issued a series of articles online with interviews from various cast and crew. One such article is in relation to Draco Malfoy, the character Tom is mostly associated with, and features interviews with Tom, Helen McCrory (Narcissa), Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix), Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Director David Yates, Producer David Heyman, and Production Designer Stuart Craig. They discuss Draco’s motivations both internal and external, his family, loyalty, and his relationship with none other than Harry Potter himself.
For the rest of the articles in this promotional series, please check out Snitchseeker.com. There you will find articles concerning new Hogwart’s Professor Horace Slughorn, Harry’s Horcux mission, Quidditch, and that ever so important topic, love.
One student, however, has no time for fun and games. Draco Malfoy has been called upon by Lord Voldemort himself to carry out a mission of great importance and greater consequence. It is a task beyond his years, but Draco accepts it willingly because it will bring him the recognition he craves…and, in his eyes, will at last give him a status to match that of his arch-rival: Harry Potter.
Returning to the role of Draco Malfoy, Tom Felton allows, “He has always been envious of Harry’s limelight and his standing in the wizarding world as the ‘Chosen One.’ Now Draco has been given the opportunity to be the ‘Chosen One,’ and he revels in it at first. I think this is his coming of age, since his father has been put in Azkaban and he is left to redeem the family name. He wants to prove to Voldemort that he is the right man for the job but–more importantly–to make his father proud.”
Draco’s maturation is also evident in his manner of dress. He has discarded his school uniform in favor of a black suit and even has his father’s walking stick. “He is his father’s son and dresses accordingly,” Temime comments. “We really wanted to show that he considers himself on his way out of Hogwarts.”
Nevertheless, the task Draco has been charged with is so terrible and so risky that his mother, Narcissa Malfoy, risks the wrath of the Dark Lord by going to the home of Severus Snape to ask him to help her son complete it. Helen McCrory, who plays the part of the aristocratic Malfoy matriarch, relates, “Draco has been asked to fulfill an incredibly dangerous task, and she does not think he is capable of doing it. Therefore, she betrays what she believes is a true cause in order to secure her son’s safety. She’s desperate. In that moment, I think she must be secretly furious with Voldemort–it’s one thing to ask for your loyalty, but it’s another thing to ask for your child’s life. Narcissa may be a baddie, but she is a good mother.”
Narcissa is accompanied by her sister, the malevolent Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange. Bellatrix insists to her sister that it is an honor that Draco was personally chosen by the Dark Lord to execute his plans, while hissing her distrust of Snape. When he tells Narcissa he will help her son, Bellatrix tests his resolve by forcing him to make the Unbreakable Vow.
Helena Bonham Carter, who reprises the role of Bellatrix Lestrange, observes, “I think Bellatrix has contempt for Snape and others because she has been the most faithful to the Dark Lord. She believes she is Voldemort’s favorite because she went to Azkaban and stood by him when he vanished, whereas she thinks Snape is a coward who just keeps both sides happy.”
Relishing her freedom and emboldened by Voldemort’s return, Bellatrix has been rampaging through the wizarding and Muggle worlds, causing death and destruction. Terrorizing the country with the notoriously savage werewolf Fenrir Greyback (Dave Legeno) and other Death Eaters, she has even left the wizards’ beloved Diagon Alley in ruins. But she takes particular delight in targeting Harry Potter–taunting him about her murder of his godfather, Sirius Black–and his closest friends, especially the Weasley family.
“She’s a bit of a pyromaniac,” Bonham Carter declares, alluding to the fate of the Weasley home when she and Greyback drop in uninvited at holiday time, with calamitous results. “And now that the war has really begun,” she continues, “she can be as anarchic and naughty as she wants. She truly is barking mad; there’s no halfway with Bellatrix and that’s what makes her so much fun to play.”
While Bellatrix and her cohorts are causing mayhem, Draco is sneaking around the castle and experimenting with a mysterious Vanishing Cabinet inside the Room of Requirement, which looks quite different from the room as seen in the last film. “The nature of the Room of Requirement is that in meeting your requirement, it is inevitably going to have a distinct appearance every time,” notes Craig. “The architecture is the same, with that huge vaulted ceiling, but our theme this time was to make it more of a huge storeroom.” The floor-to-ceiling clutter of furniture and other random items makes it a perfect place to camouflage or hide away certain items…as required.
Just as Draco’s mother feared, the gravity of his mission begins to take its toll on the young wizard. “He is not quite the man he thinks he is,” Felton attests. “In previous years, he’s come off as confident and cocky, but now we see that he’s much weaker than he ever let on. I loved showing a more vulnerable side to him.”
“Draco has always wanted to be center stage,” Yates says. “He wants to be the ‘Chosen One,’ the one everyone talks about, and thinks that in fulfilling the terrible mission that Voldemort has set for him, he will achieve glory. But the pressure gets to him, and we see him begin to fragment…which was fun for Tom to play and me to direct.”
“As the story progresses, we see him start to unravel,” Heyman affirms. “He is only 16 or 17 years old and he is faced with the burden of doing things that he knows are very dark. Are they true to his nature? We may have been led to believe so. Is that the ultimate truth? I am not so sure. Draco Malfoy has always been the evil foil…a bit of a fool really. But we begin to see that beneath that smug, arrogant veneer lies a fragile, vulnerable person, which I think is so often true of bullies. It was really important to David Yates to explore the complexity of every character, whether bad or good, and he and Tom did a brilliant job bringing depth and humanity to Malfoy and his journey.”
“I love working with Tom,” Yates remarks. “He’s passionate about the work, and I think he did some really special stuff for us on this film.”
Malfoy’s behavior has raised the suspicions of Harry Potter, who is becoming more and more convinced that his longtime nemesis is now a full-fledged Death Eater, despite doubts expressed by Ron and Hermione. There is certainly no love lost between them and Draco Malfoy, but they can’t believe he’s gone that far. Radcliffe asserts, “Harry’s thinking is that Malfoy’s dad was one, so why not him? He starts stalking Malfoy, trying to figure out what he’s up to.”
When Harry corners Malfoy, it leads to their first truly physical fight. Although Harry and Draco had never gotten along, “our relationship was always just a bit of mouthing off; there was never really any violence,” says Felton. “This time, it gets more intense, to say the least.”
Spells are hurled back and forth until Harry delivers a crushing blow with a devastatingly powerful and potentially lethal spell…a spell he learned from the Half-Blood Prince.