Dateline NBC » Harry Potter: The final chapter

By Meredith Vieira

NBC News

Part 4: Rowling reveals ‘Potter’ secrets

Meredith Vieira: What to you is the most satisfying part of the entire Harry Potter phenomenon?

J.K. Rowling: This. Talking to people like you about the books definitely … I mean, I loved the writing. But aside of the writing-- it staggers me that so many people have loved them and what's better than that? Nothing's better than that.

So get ready Potter fans -- because Jo Rowling can finally dish. Now that the final Harry Potter book is out there are no more secrets she needs to keep.

J.K. Rowling: This book has been under wraps for so long, much longer than-- than people would imagine. So--

Meredith Vieira: So is it a release then for you to be able to--

J.K. Rowling: Yeah, oh, it's totally a release. That's where the-- that's-- big lifting of pressure for me. It's wonderful.

And we left it to the kids to ask all of the questions they just had to have answered.

Kid: Yeah. Is Harry Potter based on anyone that you know? And why did you choose the name Harry Potter?

J.K. Rowling: He's not based on anyone I know. So don't believe anyone who crawls out of the woodwork to claim to be Harry Potter. No, Harry is entirely imaginary … and the name … I was looking for a name that was really quite mundane in a way but a name that I liked. So he became Harry. And then I-- it took me a while to find Potter. And Potter was the surname of a family I used to live near when I was growing up. And the son of that family then claimed to be Harry Potter, but he's not. Yeah, I just took the name. (SIGH)

J.K. Rowling: More than one have claimed to be Harry. It's interesting that no one ever claims to be Hermione. (LAUGHTER) Although maybe that's because I'm quite open and I say that Hermione was at least partially based on me when I was younger.

Meredith Vieira: least bits of her are like you-- (OVERTALK) --little girl. In what way?

J.K. Rowling: Annoy-- annoying.

Meredith Vieira: Annoying?

J.K. Rowling: Yeah. (LAUGHTER) But I loosened up quite a bit as I got older, and so does she through the books, under the healthy influence of Harry and Ron.

J.K. Rowling: Hermione's a bit of an exaggeration. But I was deeply insecure, as is Hermione, I think who it's clear, if you read the book, she's covering up a lot of insecurities by trying to get good marks and so on. That's the place she feels most secure is in the classroom with her hand up.

Meredith Vieira: I'm sure for these children are looking at you probably think you're the coolest thing on earth to hear that you were insecure...

J.K. Rowling: Well, everyone is-- everyone is insecure in some way, aren't they? Very few people aren't anyway.

Meredith Vieira: Why were you-- what made you insecure?

J.K. Rowling: Well, I have to say it's very like Hermione. I felt quite plain and I felt, you know, I definitely wasn't the consummate popular kid-- as most people aren't after all. So that-- I think that's why people identify with Harry, Ron, and Hermione a lot because they're-- because all three of them, in some ways, are outsiders.

Remember those spoiler alerts? Now we are about to have a big one.


Meredith Vieira: A lot of people were worried that Hagrid would die. Was that ever a plan?

J.K. Rowling: Yes … Everyone was up for grabs. Everyone. But actually from very early on … I wanted Hagrid to be the one who carried Harry out of the forest. That had been planned for so long. And I wanted Hagrid to believe that …

Meredith Vieira (to audience): Were any of you worried that Hagrid would die?

J.K. Rowling: I think a lot of people were worried about-- (OVERTALK)

Meredith Vieira: Yeah. I think I was one of them.

J.K. Rowling: Yeah? My sister. The last thing she said to me before she opened the book was "If Hagrid dies, I will never forgive you." But it wasn't because of her I kept him alive. I should pretend it was. I might get a better Christmas present?

Dumbledore knew what his weakness was and he learned it when he was 17. He learned that he-- his weakness and his temptation was power. He recognized that he was not really to be trusted with power.

And so he remained at Hogwarts. And it was important to me to see that Dumbledore made that choice. And Harry-- Harry I think admires him more for it.

Meanwhile, the seemingly villainous Severus Snape -- the wizard who killed Dumbledore before Harry's eyes -- shows a somewhat more heroic side in the final book.

J.K. Rowling: Snape is a complicated man. He's bitter. He's … spiteful. He's a bully. All these things are still true of Snape, even at the end of this book. But was he brave? Yes, immensely.

Was he capable of love? Very definitely. So he's-- he's a very-- he was a flawed human being, like all of us.

Harry forgives him--- as we know, from the epilogue, Harry-- Harry really sees the good in Snape ultimately. I wanted there to be redemption and I wanted there to be forgiveness. And Harry forgives, even knowing that until the end Snape loathed him unjustifiably. it's totally, totally unfair that he loathes him so much but anyway.

Jackson: Is there anything you wish you had or hadn't written in Harry Potter-- mainly deaths?

J.K. Rowling: I-- no, the deaths were all very, very considered. I don't kill even fictional characters lightly. So I don't regret any of them. There are minor plot things that I-- I would change going back. I'd certainly-- edit Phoenix a bit better because it's-- I think it's too long.

Female voice: Which death was the hardest for you? Other than the seventh book?

J.K. Rowling: Which death?

Female voice: Yes.

J.K. Rowling: Probably Dumbledore. I didn't enjoy killing Sirius.

J.K. Rowling: Just before Phoenix was published … It's the first time I ever went online and looked at the Harry Potter fan sites. I'd just never done it before. And one afternoon I did. And boy, that was a bit of a revelation. I had no idea how much stuff was out there. And one of the fan sites I-- I found was-- dedicated entirely to Sirius Black.

J.K. Rowling: I had no idea he had his own fan site, his own fan club, started by these teenage girls, I think. They all loved Sirius. And I knew that he had about three--

J.K. Rowling: --to live. It was terrible....

And some young readers had some very grown-up questions.

Young voice: Voldemort's killing of Muggle-borns, it sounds a lot like ethnic cleansing. How much of the series is a political metaphor?

J.K. Rowling: Well, it is a political metaphor. But … I didn't sit down and think, "I want to recreate Nazi Germany," in the-- in the wizarding world. Because-- although there are-- quite consciously overtones of Nazi Germany, there are also associations with other political situations. So I can't really single one out.

Young voice: Harry's also referred to as the chosen one. So are there religious--

J.K. Rowling: Well, there-- there clearly is a religious-- undertone. And-- it's always been difficult to talk about that because until we reached Book Seven, views of what happens after death and so on, it would give away a lot of what was coming. So … yes, my belief and my struggling with religious belief and so on I think is quite apparent in this book.

Meredith Vieira: And what is the struggle?

J.K. Rowling: Well my struggle really is to keep believing.

Meredith Vieira: To keep believing?

J.K. Rowling: Yes.

Why did interviewing Rowling bring Vieira to tears?

Jo Rowling fills in some of the blanks in the epilogue for her fans.

Chelsea: In the end … you tell us that Neville is a professor at Hogwarts. What do-- Harry, Hermione, and Ron do?

J.K. Rowling: Harry and Ron utterly revolutionized the Auror Department in-- at the Ministry of Magic. So they-- I mean, they are now the consummate-- they are experts. It doesn't matter how old they are or what else they've done.

So Harry and Ron lead the way in recreating the new Auror Department. And by the time-- 19 years later -- I would imagine that Harry is heading up that department, which is not corrupt in any way. It's-- it's a really good place to be. And Hermione … I think she's now pretty high up in the Department for Magical Law Enforcement.

Where I would imagine that her brainpower and-- and her knowledge of how the dark arts operate would really give her a, you know, a sound grounding. So they're all at the ministry but it's a very new ministry. They made a new world.

Part 1: The magical world of J.K. Rowling

2: Love, family, heartbreak: Roots of ‘Potter’

3: No ‘Potter’ movies? Why Rowling held out

4: Rowling reveals ‘Potter’ secrets

5: ‘Potter’ author cried after Chapter 34

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