CLOSE
Original image
Warner Bros.

7 Characters That Didn’t Make It Into the Harry Potter Books

Original image
Warner Bros.

The books, movies, and play exploring the Harry Potter universe aren’t enough to satisfy some fans. Readers are ravenous for extra content, and J.K. Rowling has never been stingy about sharing it. Since publishing the series, she’s made several post-Potter revelations detailing tidbits that never made it into the official books. She’s also discussed a handful of early characters that were written out of the stories before they went to print. Here are the characters Rowling couldn’t find room for in the wizarding world.

1. MAFALDA

Hermione spends much of the Goblet of Fire coaching Harry through the Triwizard Tournament, flirting with Viktor Krum, and founding S.P.E.W. (the Society for Protection of Elfish Welfare). But in early drafts, she also spent time butting heads with Ron’s cousin. Mafalda was the daughter of Arthur Weasley’s second cousin, who’s briefly mentioned in the Sorcerer's Stone. In the fourth book, she was originally meant to stay with the Weasley clan for part of the summer and accompany them to the Quidditch World Cup. It soon became clear why her parents pawned her off on their relatives: Mafalda was a huge brat. "She turns out to be the most unpleasant child Mrs. Weasley has ever met," the author wrote at jkrowling.com.

She was also a Slytherin—a break in tradition for the Weasley name. But her house made her a useful resource to Harry, Ron, and Hermione. The 11-year-old was to be an excellent eavesdropper, and any valuable information she overheard from the children of Death Eaters she conveyed to her cousin and his friends in an attempt to impress them. Had she made it into the books, Mafalda may have become one of Hermione’s greatest rivals at Hogwarts. "The best thing about Mafalda was that she was a match for Hermione," Rowling wrote. "To the latter's horror, Mafalda was highly gifted and a real show-off, so that Hermione was torn between deploring the rule-breaking and longing to join in and beat her."

Even though J.K. Rowling was fond of the character, Mafalda didn’t make it into the finished story. Having a first-year student, albeit a clever one, gather the intel necessary to move the plot forward proved too difficult to write. Rowling ended up creating the gossip journalist Rita Skeeter to fill the role instead.

2. MOPSY THE DOG LOVER

Warner Bros.

The Potterverse is full of animal lovers, including fantastic beast-collector Hagrid and crazy cat lady Mrs. Figg. Another pet enthusiast was nearly added to the mix in Goblet of Fire. According to Rowling, the character, named Mopsy, was “a highly eccentric, dog-loving old witch” who “kept a pack of ill-assorted dogs [and] was on constant bad terms with her neighbors because of the barking and the mess.” When Mopsy saw Sirius in disguise as Padfoot, she took him for a stray and brought him into her flea-ridden home outside Hogsmeade.

Sadly, readers were never introduced to Mopsy. The book’s editor asked for the character to be cut because she didn’t add much to the plot—and Rowling had to agree. Instead, she gave Sirius an isolated cave to stay where Harry, Ron, and Hermione could discuss Barty Crouch Jr. without fear of being overheard.

3. PYRITES

Warner Bros.

In one early draft of the series’s opening chapter, Rowling gave Voldemort a servant named Pyrites, which means “fool’s gold.” His job was to meet Sirius Black outside the Potters’ house at the time of their murder. As Rowling wrote on her website, “he was a dandy and wore white silk gloves, which I thought I might stain artistically with blood from time to time.” The character was a victim of the editing process, along many other early attempts at the first chapter.

4. MOPSUS

Another character included in early drafts of the Sorcerer's Stone was Mopsus, a blind wizard who was skilled at predicting the future, or divining. (He had no relation to Mopsy as far as we know—his name came from the famous seer of Greek mythology.) He was so talented that his abilities threatened to complicate the plot. Rowling said at a 2005 press conference, “If there was somebody who really could do divination at the time that Harry was alive, it greatly diminished the drama of the story because someone out there knew what was going to happen.”

The gifted but incompetent Professor Trelawney took his place as the series’s most prominent seer. In book four, Rowling recycled many of the traits she envisioned for Mopsus when writing Mad-Eye Moody.

5. DUDLEY’S WIZARD SON

Warner Bros.

There could have been one more family at King’s Cross during the series’s epilogue. She considered giving Dudley Dursley a magical child for him to send off to Hogwarts at the same time as his cousin. Rowling ultimately abandoned the thought, writing on her website that “a short period of reflection convinced me that any latent wizarding genes would never survive contact with Uncle Vernon’s DNA.” Wizard child or no wizard child, Dudley remains on “Christmas Card” terms with Harry throughout his adulthood, according to Rowling.

6. PROFESSOR TROCAR

The world of Harry Potter is filled with ghosts, goblins, and werewolves. Vampires, though they exist in the universe, don’t show up as often. As Rowling explained on Pottermore, “The vampire myth is so rich, and has been exploited so many times in literature and on film, that I felt there was little I could add to the tradition.” She did, however, toy with the idea of writing a blood-sucking professor when first brainstorming the Hogwarts staff.

Professor Trocar wasn’t fully fleshed out—Rowling didn't even land on a subject for him to teach. Most of the time she invested in the character was spent picking out a name. A trocar is a sharp tool used to drain bodily fluids from a patient—an appropriate choice for a character who feeds on blood. Rowling made it clear that Trocar was not an early version of Snape, crushing the hopes of any “Snape-is-a-secret-vampire” fan theorists still out there.

7. HERMIONE’S SISTER

Warner Bros.

Rowling never intended to make Hermione an only child. As she told the BBC in a 2004 interview, she always imagined Hermione as having a younger sister. After publishing a few books that contained no mention of the second Granger child, though, Rowling figured it was too late to introduce her in a graceful way. Her omission was probably for the best: It meant Hermione had one less family member to obliviate in the final book.

Original image
Image Entertainment
arrow
entertainment
11 Terrifying Facts About The Hills Have Eyes
Original image
Image Entertainment

In the late 1970s, Wes Craven was a struggling filmmaker known for only one thing: a little horror flick called The Last House on the Left (1972). Though he was itching to branch out and make other kinds of movies, he could only find financing for horror films, so he agreed to make a movie about a group of hill people savaging a vacationing family. Though he may not have been in a hurry to admit it, Craven found that he was really good at scaring people.

Produced on a tight budget, under sometimes grueling conditions, The Hills Have Eyes cemented Craven as one of Hollywood’s great horror masters. The film was released 40 years ago today, and it’s just as brutal as ever. So let’s look back on its unflinching terror with 11 facts about the film’s production.

1. IT WAS BASED ON A TRUE STORY.

According to writer/director Wes Craven, The Hills Have Eyes was inspired by the story of Sawney Bean, the head of wild Scottish clan who murdered and cannibalized numerous people during the Middle Ages. Craven heard the story of the Bean clan, and noted that the road near where they lived was believed to be haunted because people kept disappearing while traveling on it. He adapted the story to instead be about a group of wild people in the American West, and The Hills Have Eyes was born.

2. IT WAS INSPIRED BY NECESSITY.

After Craven released The Last House on the Left in 1972, he tried his hand at making films outside of the horror genre, but according to the late director, “Nobody wanted to know about it.” In need of money and searching for a better career path, he finally answered the request of his friend, producer Peter Locke, to write a horror film. At the time, Locke’s wife Liz Torres was performing regularly in Las Vegas, and so Locke was frequently exposed to desert landscapes. He suggested that Craven set the film in the desert, and Craven began to craft the screenplay.

Budget was also a concern, so Craven structured the film to feature a relatively small cast and very few locations.

3. JANUS BLYTHE WON HER ROLE BASED PARTLY ON SPEED.

For the role of Ruby, the filmmakers needed an actress who could pull off the flighty and feral character convincingly, so, in the words of Locke: “We had sprints.” Actresses trying out for the role were asked to race each other, and Blythe’s speed won out.

4. PETER LOCKE PLAYS A SMALL ROLE IN THE FILM.

Because of the film’s small budget, even Locke was drafted to join the cast. He appears as “Mercury,” the feather-covered savage who appears only twice: once in the film’s opening minutes, and then again as he’s pushed off a cliff by the Carter family’s dog, Beast.

5. THE TARANTULA SCENE WASN’T PLANNED.

The scene in which Lynne Wood (Dee Wallace) discovers a tarantula in the family trailer is a foreboding moment that signals the trauma to come, but it wasn’t in the script. According to Craven, they simply found the spider on the road during shooting, put it in a terrarium, and decided to add it into the film. Don’t worry, though: Wallace didn’t actually stomp the spider in the scene.

6. THE DEAD DOG WAS REAL (BUT THEY DIDN’T KILL IT).

During the scene in which Doug (Martin Speer) discovers the mutilated body of the family’s other German Shepherd, Beauty, a real dog corpse was used. According to Craven, though, the dog was already dead.

“Let’s just say we bought a dead dog from the county and leave it at that,” Craven said.

7. THE FILM WAS ORIGINALLY RATED X.

Though it might seem relatively tame by modern standards, the film’s graphic violence earned it an X (what we now call NC-17) rating from the MPAA, which meant cuts had to be made. According to Locke, significant footage was removed from the scene in which Papa Jupiter (James Whitworth) kills Fred (John Steadman), the scene in which Pluto (Michael Berryman) and Mars (Lance Gordon) terrorize the trailer, and the final confrontation with Papa Jupiter.

8. MICHAEL BERRYMAN CONSTANTLY FACED HEATSTROKE.

Berryman, who became a horror icon thanks to this film, was apparently game for just about anything Craven and company wanted him to do, though he personally told the producers he was born with “26 birth defects.” Among those birth defects was a lack of sweat glands, which meant that the intense desert heat was particularly hazardous to his health. He soldiered on, though, even in intense action sequences.

“We always had to cover him up as soon as we finished these scenes,” Craven recalled.

9. THE CLIMACTIC EXPLOSION COULD’VE BEEN DEADLY.

Because the budget was small, production on The Hills Have Eyes often meant taking risks. Actors performed stunts themselves, sometimes putting themselves in harm’s way. For the scene in which Brenda (Susan Lanier) and Bobby (Robert Houston) set a trap to kill Papa Jupiter by blowing up the trailer, the crew members who set the explosion actually couldn’t tell Craven whether it was safe to have the actors in the foreground of the shot.

“We didn’t know how much of a blow-up it was gonna be,” Craven said.

10. THE ORIGINAL ENDING WAS MUCH MORE HOPEFUL.

According to Locke, the film’s original scripted ending involved the surviving family members reuniting at the site of the trailer, including Doug and the baby, signifying that they had survived and could finally look forward. Craven, though, opted for something more bleak, and so the film ends on a shot of Doug brutally stabbing Mars while Ruby looks on in disgust, a reversal of roles that the director liked.

11. IT STARTED AN INTERESTING CHAIN OF HORROR HOMAGES.

The Hills Have Eyes is admired by fellow horror filmmakers, so much so that one of them—Evil Dead director Sam Raimi—chose to pay homage to it in a strange way. In the scene in which Brenda is quivering in bed after having been brutalized by Pluto and Mars, a ripped poster for Steven Spielberg’s Jaws is visible above her head. Raimi saw it as a message.

“I took it to mean that Wes Craven … was saying ‘Jaws was just pop horror. What I have here is real horror.’”

As a joking response to the scene, Raimi put a ripped poster for The Hills Have Eyes in his now-classic film The Evil Dead (1981). Not to be outdone, Craven responded by including a clip from The Evil Dead in his classic A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).

Additional Sources: The Hills Have Eyes DVD commentary by Wes Craven and Peter Locke (2003)

Original image
Radio Flyer
arrow
Pop Culture
Tiny Star Wars Fans Can Now Cruise Around in Their Very Own Landspeeders
Original image
Radio Flyer

Some kids collect Hot Wheels, while others own model lightsabers and dream of driving Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder through a galaxy far, far away. Soon, Mashable reports, these pint-sized Jedis-in-training can pilot their very own replicas of the fictional anti-gravity craft: an officially licensed, kid-sized Star Wars Landspeeder, coming in September from American toy company Radio Flyer.

The Landspeeder has an interactive dashboard with light-up buttons, and it plays sounds from the original Star Wars film. The two-seater doesn’t hover, exactly, but it can zoom across desert sands (or suburban sidewalks) at forward speeds of up to 5 mph, and go in reverse at 2 mph.

The vehicle's rechargeable battery allows for around five hours of drive time—just enough for tiny Star Wars fans to reenact their way through both the original 1977 movie and 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. (Sorry, grown-up sci-fi nerds: The toy ride supports only up to 130 pounds, so you’ll have to settle for pretending your car is the Death Star.)

Radio Flyer’s Landspeeder will be sold at Toys “R” Us stores. It costs $500, and is available for pre-order online now.

Watch it in action below:

[h/t Mashable]

SECTIONS

More from mental floss studios