There was one bit of romantic intrigue that didn't make it into Prince, however. In Kloves' first draft of the screenplay, he had written a line (not in the book) in which Dumbledore fondly recalls a Muggle girl from his youth. He was quickly, quietly corrected. ''I was walking through Leavesden with Jo on our way to the first reading,'' Kloves remembers. ''As we entered the Great Hall, she leaned toward me and whispered, 'I saw the line you gave Dumbledore, but the thing is this: Dumbledore is gay.''' After Rowling revealed the wizard's sexuality to the rest of the filmmaking team and before she made international headlines last fall by sharing this news publicly Yates decided to strike the line. ''I just felt the scene worked without it,'' he says. ''I think the fact that Dumbledore is gay is wonderful. It feels very authentic to the character.''
Prince's lovey-dovey angles make for a warmer film than Phoenix and serve as the calm before the storm that is Hallows, but the movie isn't When Harry Met Sally.... ''This is very much a love story set against the backdrop of war,'' says producer David Heyman. In a new scene, approved by Rowling and designed to dramatize Harry's embattled world, an idyllic interlude at the Weasley home is violently interrupted by an attack from the Death Eaters. The film also includes the heaviest moment in the franchise to date the one involving He Whose Death Must Not Be Named (so as not to spoil it for people who haven't read the book). Radcliffe says shooting that sequence challenged him because there were extras on set at the time, many of whom treated it like a party. Complicating matters, the young actor has limited experience dealing with death, and worried over how to play the scene. ''I don't pretend to have given an incredibly accurate rendering,'' he says. ''To people who have lost people in their lives, if I don't bring to the screen what they would want or expect to see, I take responsibility for that and apologize.''
He's sensitive and respectful, self-deprecating yet serious it's hard not to be impressed by Radcliffe. By all the kids. It has been fashionable to bash director Chris Columbus for his too-literal adaptations of the first two Potter books, but damn if his casting doesn't make him look smart. ''There's an awful lot of so-called 'child stars' who get sucked into this business, and next thing you know they're 15 and in rehab,'' says Robbie Coltrane, who plays Hagrid. ''That hasn't happened here. If anyone came here and said a rude thing about them, I think 300 strong men would leap into action and kill.''
NEXT PAGE: ''It's been such a big part of my life half my life, actually, by the time we finish. Hopefully, I'll do other stuff when this is over.''