‘I’m bad with spiders’ says Aragog creature designer Nick Dudman

The Pottermore News Team

Oliver and James Phelps with the model of Aragog at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London.
Oliver and James Phelps with the model of Aragog. TM & © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Harry Potter Publishing Rights © JKR.

Harry Potter creature designer Nick Dudman reveals he’s scared of spiders at a sneak peek event for the Forbidden Forest expansion at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London.

The man who created giant spider Aragog for the Harry Potter films says he’s a bit of an arachnophobe.

Speaking to Pottermore from the Forbidden Forest expansion at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Harry Potter effects and creature and make-up effects designer Nick Dudman admitted he isn’t fond of spiders.

‘To be honest, I’m bad with spiders,’ he said. ‘I’d be dreadful if I ran into Aragog. The spider sequence [from Chamber of Secrets] is creepy as hell.’

That said, Dudman is still quite attached to the oversized Acromantula, introduced in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as Hagrid’s former pet.

Model of Aragog at the Forbidden Forest extension of Warner Bros. Studio Tour London
The model of Aragog on display at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London. TM & © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Harry Potter Publishing Rights © JKR.

‘Aragog was completely mechanical and ridiculously complicated to make. We were trying to make sure that whatever we did when we re-made him, we used those old methods; painted him the same way, and had one hair inserted at a time. To some people, he’s just a rubber monster but to me, he’s a character.’

Members of the Harry Potter cast were also on hand at a sneak peek event of the Forbidden Forest expansion. Dudman was joined by Evanna Lynch, Jason Isaacs and Oliver and James Phelps, who played Luna Lovegood, Lucius Malfoy and the Weasley twins in the Harry Potter films.

Evanna Lynch didn’t film any scenes on the Forbidden Forest set as Luna, but said she loved the detail behind it.

‘I never had a chance to go on the set, but even now I can see that the roots look like claws. I love details like that.’

Jason Isaacs got nostalgic when he spotted his old house, Malfoy Manor, also on display.

He said: ‘I’ve been [to the Studio Tour] once before, but they didn’t have the scene from Malfoy Manor. When I got here earlier I said, “Wait a minute, that’s my house.” It’s surreal seeing my wig just over there.

‘It feels like it’s a gift from the filmmakers to the fans. I can’t wait for my kids to come and see it. But what I take the most from it all at the end of the day is seeing Evanna and the boys.’

Jason Isaacs, Evanna Lynch and Oliver and James Phelps pose at the Forbidden Forest extension at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London.
Jason Isaacs, Evanna Lynch and Oliver and James Phelps pose at the Forbidden Forest extension at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London. TM & © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Harry Potter Publishing Rights © JKR.

Although their characters in the films never got to see the Forbidden Forest, James and Oliver Phelps explored the set anyway – ‘because we could’, according to James.

Oliver said he enjoys coming back to visit the ear his character George lost during Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.

‘The funniest bit for me is the creature effects area, that’s where I had my ear done. A lady got mad at me once because I was posing with my ear for too long, and she didn’t realise who I was. I’ve got another ear on display at home which gets a few funny looks. Not a bloody ear, a nice clean ear.’

So, who would the Harry Potter cast not want to meet in a real Forbidden Forest?

Jason and James opted for a centaur, while Evanna chose a ‘bedraggled Professor Umbridge.’ Oliver, however, said a ‘vegan crossfitter.’

The Forbidden Forest expansion opens at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London on 31 March. The spooky location from the Potter films joins other iconic sets such as the Hogwarts Express and Hogwarts Great Hall.

The set was brought back to life by many of the Harry Potter film’s original creative team, including Nick Dudman and production designer Stuart Craig – who was recently nominated for an Oscar for his work on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Buckbeak displayed at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London.
Buckbeak the Hippogriff, on display at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London. TM & © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Harry Potter Publishing Rights © JKR.

‘It’s wonderful. It’s been seven months getting it all ready,’ said Dudman. ‘It’s been like rummaging around an old toy box finding your favourites.’

Visitors will be able to walk through the Forbidden Forest, surrounded by 19 trees each 12 feet in diameter, and meet Buckbeak the Hippogriff and Aragog along the way.

The Forbidden Forest opens to the public on 31 March at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter. For more details, visit their website.

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