Behind the scenes: Fred and George Weasley

Acting as the comic relief of the Harry Potter series, Fred and George Weasley are eternal fan favourites. But initially, the Phelps twins weren’t overly enthused at the prospect of portraying the pranksters.

Fred and George Weasley
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Extracted from Harry Potter: The Character Vault

James and Oliver Phelps, who play Fred and George Weasley, respectively, were fans of the Harry Potter books from the start but admit that when their mother told them about an open casting call for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, they were more interested in having a day off from school. ‘We said, “Okay, yeah, all right, if we have to,”’ recalls James. At the audition, they realised that they were the only twins not wearing identical clothing, so ran to the nearest shop to find matching shirts.

Then none of their friends believed them when they were eventually cast as the Weasley twins until they turned up at school one day with ginger-coloured hair. The final hitch was when they showed up for the first script read-through. ‘When we got there,’ recalls Oliver, ‘we went to one of the associate directors to ask who was playing who?’ ‘We had gotten two scripts,’ James continues, ‘but no one had told us who was Fred and who was George! Finally, someone from casting told us who was who, but we were never sure if it was planned or just a quick decision.’

The Weasley's in school uniform
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

When not in Hogwarts robes, Fred and George were dressed identically in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, holding up their end of the Weasley homemade style. Jany Temime continued the tradition until Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, when it’s clear that the twins are establishing their own identities as they begin the process of becoming entrepreneurs.

In addition to wearing their school clothing differently, following Temime’s approach that this was a way for the students to express their personalities, she dressed the twins in similar shirts and sweaters, but in complementary colours.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

For Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, as the twins have now created their own business, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Temime saw them as establishing their own ‘brand.’ Their three-piece suits still match, but their shirts and shoes contrast, as well as their light-up ties. The suits were made by a London tailor, who was asked to provide a special pocket in the suit. ‘There’s a little secret compartment inside the waistcoat,’ explains Oliver, ‘that holds a battery, which is how we control the flashing tie.’ Overall, Temime wanted them to be chic. ‘They have their own shop, so they have money, so they can be stylish. In their own way, of course, but stylish.’

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1, George Weasley loses an ear during the transfer of Harry to The Burrow and so Oliver Phelps needed to have a life cast done of his head, ‘The only time I’ve felt claustrophobic,’ he admits. ‘We thought that it would be, like, six blue dots around his ear,’ says James, ‘and the rest would be done by the computer, but it wasn’t.’

Three prosthetic pieces were created for the effect, underneath a bandage and a wig that Oliver wore. At one point, he and director David Yates came up with the idea that ‘Maybe George had put a cartoonish-type ear on, and we had a competition for ideas, which Rupert won. We didn’t do it, but I think maybe George didn’t want to fix it, for the jokes. He did get to stick a toothbrush in the ear.’ ‘Well,’ teases James, ‘there isn’t much brain there to keep the thing from falling out.’

Fred and George are about to drink Polyjuice Potion.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1

Harry Potter: The Character Vault book cover

Extracted from
'Harry Potter: The Character Vault'