Extracted from Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey.
‘I think it must be a wonderful moment for the actors,’ says concept designer Adam Brockbank, ‘when they put on their costumes for the first time and wield their wands, which are the sheerest expressions of their characters.’
Snape’s wand is slim and spare, with no embellishments, while Bellatrix Lestrange’s has a curve in it, almost like the talon of a bird of prey. Embedded in Dolores Umbridge’s wand is a jewel – pink, of course.
‘On the handle end of Horace Slughorn’s wand,’ art director Hattie Storey notes, ‘are two little antennae, like a slug or a snail.’
Brockbank designed Narcissa Malfoy’s wand to echo her husband, Lucius’s. ‘I took the same black wood that was used for Lucius’s cane,’ he says, ‘and embedded silver studs, essentially doing a more feminine version of his wand.’
Brockbank also designed Voldemort’s wand. ‘I had this idea that it was carved to resemble a bone, probably a human one. The tapered tip leads to a thicker section, where you can see the honeycomb of the bone. That comes to a “knuckle joint”, and then there’s a hook on the end, like a claw, which Ralph Fiennes actually tucks around his little finger. It’s quite an evil shape.’
Some wands were immediately fixed upon first design, but others evolved during the course of the films, including Harry’s. While directing Prisoner of Azkaban, Alfonso Cuarón offered the young principal actors a selection of new wands to choose from.
Art director Hattie Storey approved of Daniel Radcliffe’s choice of a wand with a tree trunk-type handle. ‘I think the more successful wands are organic looking, maybe whittled out of a bit of root or branch,’ she says. ‘To me they are more mysterious and magical.’
The Death Eaters’ wands, in contrast, exhibit ‘showy aesthetics’, says Storey. ‘Their masks are made out of filigreed silver, and their costumes are quite intricate, so the idea was that they show off with their wands too.’
Once the look of each wand was decided, a master copy was made – which often occasioned a search for special materials. ‘We looked for interesting pieces of precious woods, with burrs or interesting shapes,’ says supervising modeller Pierre Bohanna. ‘Then we’d make a mould and replace it in resin. Duplicates were created in case a wand broke, and rubber versions were made for stunt work.’
Not all wands were tailored to their owners, though. For crowd scenes, such as the gathering in the courtyard after Dumbledore’s death in Half-Blood Prince, where more than 150 additional wands were needed, Storey admits there was a selection of generic wands. ‘We had three different types of handles and sticks that Pierre cast in different colours and materials,’ she recalls.