30 August 2007

Harry Potter Altogether

As I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, only months after Potter movie star Daniel Radcliffe had won good reviews for his performance in Equus on the London stage (publicity photo at left), I couldn't help noticing that J. K. Rowling had written a couple of nude scenes for Harry. Or at least for some reflections of Harry.

The first moment is in Chapter 4, when six of Harry's friends have taken on his form in order to fool the Death Eaters:

He watched as his six doppelgangers rummaged in the sacks, pulling out sets of clothes, putting on glasses, stuffing their own things away. He felt like asking them to show a little more respect for his privacy as they all began stripping off with impunity, clearly much more at ease with displaying his body than they would have been with their own.
And that theme returns in Chapter 35, with Harry's soul free of his body in "King's Cross":
...Harry became conscious that he was naked. Convinced as he was of his total solitude, this did not concern him, but it did intrigued him slightly. . . .

It was a pitiful noise, yet also slightly indecent. He had the uncomfortable feeling that he was eavesdropping on something furtive, shameful.

For the first time, he wished he were clothed.

Barely had the wish formed in his head than robes appeared a short distance away. He took them and pulled them on.
Was this motif in the book merely coincident with Radcliffe's theatrical performance? That seems unlikely. Radcliffe's contract to appear in Equus was announced in late July 2006, with headlines that played up the character's/actor's nudity. Rowling famously finished writing her Deathly Hallows manuscript in the Balmoral Hotel in January 2007, months later.

Harry is also self-conscious about being naked in Chapter 25 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when Moaning Myrtle visits him in the prefects' bathroom. And Radcliffe had spoken somewhat self-consciously about filming that scene in 2005. But that incident didn't have the same sense of letting it all hang out as the two passages from HP7. They read like a bit of a joke between author and actor.


fusenumber8 said...

Don't forget his bathtub sequence with Moaning Myrtle in "Goblet of Fire". This wasn't the first time the young man disrobed, it seems.

J. L. Bell said...

If you're talking about Daniel Radcliffe filming Goblet, in the interview linked in the last paragraph above he said he was wearing flesh-colored underwear during the making of that scene. And that he couldn't imagine why any company made flesh-colored underwear.

The British press, as is its wont, selectively quoted the interview to make it appear as if Radcliffe had actually been naked in the tub.