The cast of Harry Potter have paid an emotional tribute to stars of the film franchise who have died since the films were released, in the Harry Potter 20th anniversary: Return to Hogwarts reunion programme.
An In Memorium section paid tribute to stars including Helen McCrory, Alan Rickman, Richard Griffiths, Richard Harris and John Hurt.
Discussing her late co-stars, Hermione Grainger actress Emma Watson said: "It's obviously amazing to be back, but I guess it's so shocking that so many people we both thought would be around for much longer than they have been, like Helen and Alan and Richard."
Ron Weasley actor Rupert Grint added: "They're like family, we grieve in the same way. Just too soon."
The section began with a clip of Richard Griffiths as Albus Dumbledore, followed by individual tributes to the stars, including clips of their performances and behind the scenes footage.
Speaking about the cast members, Daniel Radcliffe said: "I feel really lucky to have some little bit of touch with the amount of amazing people that have passed."
One person in particular that Daniel was very close to was Uncle Vernon actor Richard Griffiths, who died in 2013, following complications from heart surgery.
Despite their characters not getting along on screen, the actors had a close off-screen bond, with Daniel growing visibly emotional as he said: "His passing was the one that affected me the most because he was generous with knowledge and just wanted to share everything with you."
The cast also paid tribute to actress Helen McCrory, who died in 2021 of cancer.
Helen played Narcissa Malfoy, the mother of Draco and husband to Lucius Malfoy, with Lucius Malfoy actor Jason Isaacs saying: "I said, 'I think I've just met the best actress I've ever seen in my life'. I feel lucky to have worked with her and shared so much frankly adolescent laughter when we were on set."
On-screen son Tom Felton, who played Draco, also added that Helen had taught him a lot and nearly broke down in tears as he said: "She had this ability to show such empathy in her eyes which was a real treat to work with her."
Albus Dumbledore actor Richard Harris and stars including Alan Rickman and John Hurt, who played Severus Snape and wand maker Olivander, have also died since the films were released.
Speaking about the respect that Alan Rickman showed to the young cast on set, Emma Watson said: "Alan Rickman never talked to me like I was a child. He always took my thoughts and opinions very seriously, which I was always very touched by," with Voldemort actor Ralph Fiennes calling Alan "a very dear friend."
Both cast and crew shared their tributes to the late actors, with Chris Columbus also recalling fond memories of working with Albus Dumbledore actor Richard Harris on set during the first two Harry Potter films, saying: "Richard Harris was classic – probably one of the funniest men I've ever met."
He added: "He just had this glint in his eye that made him the perfect Dumbledore by the way."
His tribute followed behind the scenes footage of Richard Harris trying on his costume for Dumbledore and working with Daniel Radcliffe during the first film in the series.
The In Memorium section concluded with the names of all the cast and crew who have died since the films were made, ending with a voice-over of character Sirius Black's poignant quote: "The ones that love us never really leave us."
It featured near the end of the reunion programme, which saw the stars reunite 20 years after the release of the first film in the series – Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
The beginning of the programme saw stars of the franchise including Emma Watson, Robbie Coltrane and Matthew Lewis receive Hogwarts letters, with the reunion invitation inside.
Emma could then be seen boarding the Hogwarts Express, where she was reunited with fellow co-stars Evanna Lynch and Bonnie Wright, who played Luna Lovegood and Ginny Weasley, while Bellatrix LeStrange actress Helena Bonham Carter could be seen reading a Daily Prophet newspaper.
References to the films also continued throughout the opening sequence, which saw dancers in Hogwarts Great Hall re-enacting the dance that Beuxbatons School perform during Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Following a gathering of the cast members in the Great Hall, the nearly two-hour programme gave excited fans a glimpse into behind the scenes secrets of the films, as well as poignant reflections on the legacy of the Harry Potter series and how it changed the cast's lives.
Fans shared their delight for the reunion, which left many viewers also emotional, with one saying: "I think I'm going to cry buckets of tears."
A second viewer said: "are you emotionally stable this morning or are you all watching the Harry Potter reunion?" with a third adding: "I'M CRYING" next to crying emojis.
A fourth fan took to social media to say: "Am I 90 seconds into the Harry Potter 20th anniversary: Return to Hogwarts and crying? Yes, I am."
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