By Mike Collett-White
LONDON (Reuters) - The young actors who have worked on the "Harry Potter" movies for half their lives said on Wednesday they were struggling to come to grips with the series ending.
Their journey began with "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" (Sorcerer's Stone in the U.S.), which was released by Warner Bros in 2001, and it ends 10 years later with "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2" which has its world premiere in London on Thursday.
The central cast members, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, were between 9 and 11 years-old when they were chosen for the parts of Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, respectively, meaning they grew up in a bubble of global movie stardom and personal wealth.
At their final press conference before the movie's launch, the stars were asked to reflect on how well they will cope with no longer being on the job.
"I don't think I still have really come to terms with that," said Grint, now 22. "After we finished (filming) a year ago now I have felt a little bit lost without it, really, and not really knowing what to do with myself.
"It's been such a constant part of my life and to suddenly have that come down to this one film, it is quite sad and I'm really genuinely going to miss it and miss everyone."
Watson, 21, described how she believed playing Hermione pushed her to become a better person in real life.
"I will actually just miss being her, getting to come into work every day and be this girl that lives in this magical amazing world and get to go on all the adventures that she goes on. That part's quite devastating."
Radcliffe, who addressed the packed press room in a pre-taped video because he was appearing in a play on Broadway, said the three share a strong friendship.
"I do think the bond between me and Rupert and Emma is pretty unbreakable, because I don't think anyone knows what it's like to go through this craziness. I will miss them both very, very much but hopefully we will find other projects to work together on."
NO OSCARS? NO PROBLEM
Director David Yates, who made the final four "Potter" films, was asked whether he was bothered by the fact that the Potter films had been consistently overlooked for major film awards, including the Oscars.
Despite several nominations, mainly in technical departments, the seven films released so far have failed to pick up a single Academy Award, a fact some critics argued was a major oversight.
"I think we've all made peace with that in a way," Yates said. "There are so many things to enjoy being part of this whole series of films, most of all the affection of the fans and the fact that there's a global community who follow these stories with great passion."
He pointed out that hundreds of Potter fans from around the world were camping in Trafalgar Square, the venue of Thursday's red carpet premiere, just to be a part of the final chapter.
"That's more of a compensation than lots of trophies so I think we're cool about that," Yates said.
The seven previous films have made around $6.4 billion at the box office, and J.K. Rowling's books on which they are based have sold more than 400 million copies worldwide.
"Deathly Hallows - Part 2" is the first "Potter" movie to be available in 3D, and industry experts predict it to perform strongly when it hits theatres, starting on July 13. The British and U.S. release date is July 15.
Asked to explain the franchise's success, Yates replied: "It's the beautiful books that they're based on that have this global fan base, and this eclectic series of characters...there's kind of something for everybody I think.
"Also the fact that their world offers us something bigger and more extraordinary than our ordinary lives and I think there's a sort of sense of wish fulfillment in that."
In "Deathly Hallows - Part 2," Harry moves inexorably toward a final showdown with his nemesis Lord Voldemort, played by Ralph Fiennes.
One effects-laden battle scene at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry seems straight out of a war movie, with death and destruction on a large scale as the young magicians struggle to stave off the forces of evil.
Yates and producer David Heyman said they were confident there would not be another Harry Potter novel or film.
"It (the series) will be sorely missed," Yates said. "It's going to create a huge hole."
(Reporting by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)