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In Depth Preview of ITV Documentary on J.K.Rowling

J.K. Rowling
Posted by: sue
December 10, 2007, 12:39 PM

We have an special in depth preview today of the upcoming documentary on J.K. Rowling, that will be airing in the UK later this month. ITV sent us information that provides some new quotes and detail regarding the special that will air on the UK channel December 30. New details include the exact time Jo turned over her complete manuscript of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" are available (The handover is at Heathrow airport at 10.43 on Friday 12th January 2007), as well as new quotes from JKR, her publishers and even her husband, Dr. Neil Murray are included in the preview. Of note are quotes from our favorite author at the moment she finished the book in Edinburgh, Scotland:

“Some people will loathe it, they will absolutely loathe it. But the thing is that’s how it should be, and for some people to love it others must loathe it. That’s just in the nature of the plot. Some people won’t be happy because what they wanted to happen won’t have happened. “And to an extent there‘s so much expectation from the hard core fans that I’m not sure I could ever match up to it. I’m actually really, really happy with it, and it’s very odd to think that this will be broadcast after loads of people have read it and people may right now be throwing things at the screen.”

As we reported previously, this documentary follows JKR during the writing and publication of the last Harry Potter novel, and reflects the various moods and obstacles Jo faced during her completion of the book. She also speaks to attending the Order of the Phoenix premiere in London, England, which took place several weeks before the release of book seven.

"Some of it’s fun,” she says, “and some of it’s frankly horrible. The fun bits are when you get to talk to people who’ve read your books. That bit of it is great. What I find difficult is the sort of stagy, midnight moment business, because I’m not very good at it. I don’t think that makes me a better person because I’m not good at it I hasten to add, but I’m not good at it. I am not a natural ‘ta-daa’ kind of person. I get all up tight about having to do that sort of stuff and I feel like a prat. “People definitely expect you to be visibly enjoying yourself, and I think Quentin Crisp said that was the secret to being good on television, just look happy to be there, and I haven’t always looked happy to be there. In fact, sometimes I’ve looked bloody miserable to be there and I know that’s not televisually good.”

While you can read the entire lengthy preview below, there is also a short Q & A the film maker James Runcie conducted with J.K. Rowling as follows:
What’s your favourite virtue?

Courage

What vice do you most despise? Bigotry

What are you most willing to forgive? Gluttony

What’s your most marked characteristic? I’m a tryer

What are you afraid of? Losing someone I love

What’s the quality you most like in a man? Morals

What’s the quality you most like in a woman? Generosity

What do you most value about your friends? Tolerance

What’s your principle defect? Short fuse

What’s your favourite occupation? Writer

What’s your dream of happiness?A happy family

PREVIEW OF J.K. ROWLING DOCUMENTARY:

For the first time in her phenomenal career, author JK Rowling invites a camera into the heart of her personal world.Filmmaker James Runcie, a fellow author, films Jo for twelve months as she completes and launches the seventh and final Harry Potter book – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

The documentary paints an intimate portrait of a woman at the height of staggering success which often overawes her, who never expected the international fame that her books have brought her, and provides an honest, poignant and often humorous insight into her past, her personal life and her devotion to her writing and the character she describes as her own hero, Harry.

During the documentary she returns, for the very first time, to the flat where she started writing the Harry Potter saga and faces the well-worn ghosts of her past - the poverty and struggle she endured during her early writing. In stark contrast, and testament to her inimitable success, she is later filmed on a private jet with her husband as they travel to the US for the eagerly anticipated book tour. She also reveals what influenced her writing, notably the death of her mother and how this seeped in to every aspect of the books, and why she felt Harry had to triumph in the end.

It’s November 2006, and Jo is working in secret on the final chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in the Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh. No one knows she is there, and James is poised, ready to capture the moment she completes the series.As she reads from her notes she spots something: “I’ve helpfully made a note for myself, ‘This will need very serious planning’…I don’t know when I wrote that, and I was quite right in that,” she laughs.

An epic saga of childhood confusion, danger and adventure, the Harry Potter series has taken 17 years to write. In the programme, Jo’s vivid account of her own childhood and key events in her life offer a profound understanding of Potter’s development as an intensely moral fable about good and evil, love and hatred, and life and death.

Like her orphaned hero, Jo grew up on a suburban estate with her parents and sister, Diane. At first they lived in Yate just outside Bristol, then a few miles down the road in Winterborne. As Jo leafs through her family album with her sister Di, they discuss growing up, and in particular, their tragic childhood hair cuts. Of their terrible boyish haircuts, Jo says: “Mine was always crooked!”

The sisters always wore similar clothes. Jo says to Diane: “You always wore pink and I always wore blue.” “Because you were the boy, Jo? Because you were the eldest?” asks James. “Yeah and I was supposed to be a boy. I was supposed to be Simon John, I even know who I was supposed to be!”

Back in Edinburgh it’s January 11th 2007 and the end of 17 years of writing. As Jo finishes the book, James is there to capture it on camera.She says: “Some people will loathe it, they will absolutely loathe it. But the thing is that’s how it should be, and for some people to love it others must loathe it. That’s just in the nature of the plot. Some people won’t be happy because what they wanted to happen won’t have happened.

“And to an extent there‘s so much expectation from the hard core fans that I’m not sure I could ever match up to it. I’m actually really, really happy with it, and it’s very odd to think that this will be broadcast after loads of people have read it and people may right now be throwing things at the screen.”

Jo is now the keeper of the most valuable manuscript in publishing history. She takes it in person to her agent Christopher Little in London. The handover is at Heathrow airport at 10.43 on Friday 12th January 2007. Then the publicity machine swings in to action to launch the most anticipated book in history – all in the highest secrecy.

Sarah Beal, Marketing director for Bloomsbury – publishers of the Harry Potter books, says: “We want everybody to get the book at the same and then everybody will know what happens at the same time, depending on how fast they read of course.”

As the expectation from fans and critics grows and grows, Jo reflects on how the ambitions she had to become a writer are difficult to reconcile with the some of the unwelcome attention she now attracts because of her success. “I wished to be published, and I wished more than anything in the world to be a writer…it never occurred to me in a million years, James, that people would search through my dustbins, put a long lens camera on me on the beach, never occurred to me that a journalist would bang on the door of one of my oldest friends and offer her money to talk about me. Never occurred to me that my children would be scrutinised to see how spoilt they were because their parent is famous.”

Three weeks before the launch of the final book, Jo attends the film premiere of fifth book Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. She has superstar status, and is expected to behave like one. But as a writer, she is still not accustomed to the trappings and demands of Hollywood-style fame. On the razzmatazz of big events, Jo admits she still finds certain aspects difficult.

“Some of it’s fun,” she says, “and some of it’s frankly horrible. The fun bits are when you get to talk to people who’ve read your books. That bit of it is great. What I find difficult is the sort of stagy, midnight moment business, because I’m not very good at it. I don’t think that makes me a better person because I’m not good at it I hasten to add, but I’m not good at it. I am not a natural ‘ta-daa’ kind of person. I get all up tight about having to do that sort of stuff and I feel like a prat.

“People definitely expect you to be visibly enjoying yourself, and I think Quentin Crisp said that was the secret to being good on television, just look happy to be there, and I haven’t always looked happy to be there. In fact, sometimes I’ve looked bloody miserable to be there and I know that’s not televisually good.”

Set to become the fastest selling book in history, the seventh book’s impending arrival means Jo is in demand all over the world. James and his camera join her as she flies to the US with her husband Neil.Jo married Neil, a doctor in 2001 and they now have two children together – David and Mackenzie. James bravely asks Neil the question - what is JKR like to live with?

Neil: “When she becomes very stressed she will detach herself, and only trust one person and that’s herself. So everyone else gets blocked out and she becomes more and more stressed and less and less able to accept any help. The barriers go up and it’s not just me it’s everyone else around her. Only one person is trusted and she’s got to do everything herself despite the fact that it’s not possible to do everything herself.”

July 20th 2007. Launch day arrives and count downs are ticking over all around the globe, from New York to London to Sydney. At London’s Natural History Museum, 1,700 people picked out of a lottery of 90,000 applicants wait for the arrival of JK Rowling for the reading and book signing.Jo says she finds it hard to comprehend the level of expectation surrounding the final book.She says she swings between thinking, “It’s the best I can do, it’s how I always planned it to end so that is going to have to be good enough. And occasionally, ‘How can I ever live up to this?’”

That night from 12.20 am until 7am, Jo signs 1,700 copies of her book. In its first 24 hours, 2.65 million books are sold in the UK and 8.3 million books in the US – more than 7,000 copies a minute.The ending has been debated the world over by fans and critics – will Harry live or die? Will he ever beat his nemesis Voldemort? And now the world knows the outcome, Jo explains why she chose to end the book in the way she did.

“I felt that it would be a betrayal of the character if I showed Harry doing anything other than living, what all along, he has discovered to be true, which is that love is the strongest power there is.“I thought a lot of people that had been through terrible things like wars, and having to come home and rebuild normality after seeing horrors has always seemed to me like such a courageous thing to do. Climbing back to normality after trauma is much harder, it’s much harder to rebuild than to destroy.

“In some ways it would have been a neat ending to kill him [Harry], a neater ending to kill him. But I felt that would have been a betrayal, because I wanted my hero, and he’s my hero, to do what I think is the most noble thing. So he came back from war and he tried to build a better world I suppose – corny as that sounds – both on a small scale for a family and on a larger scale.”

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