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“I think people will be amazed about what was created as a physical prop rather than fixed later in the computer,” added Warwick Davis, who played Hogwarts charms master Prof. Filius Flitwick and the goblin Griphook.

“Certainly for me, the filming experience on these was quite different to the work I’d done on ‘Star Wars,’ in the sense that stuff was here and real,” said Davis, who appeared in both “Return of the Jedi” and “The Phantom Menace.”

“George Lucas would’ve built the first six feet of wall and left the rest to the computer.”

Filming on the final Potter movie, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” finished last year, and it was released in July, to a global wave of emotion from fans. The studio tour is a way to keep the Harry Potter machine running _ but to be a success, it must avoid feeling like a cynical cash-in.

“I hope people will come on the sets and feel the warmth on the sets, and the experiences that have been here,” said Bonnie Wright, who played Ginny Weasley in the films. “They’re really lived in, all the sets. They don’t feel just like a studio, they do feel like a world.”

It will also be a working movie studio. The facility _ for years a ramshackle collection of aging buildings and temporary structures on the site of a former aircraft factory _ is being turned into Warner Bros‘ British base. The company says it will be the biggest studio complex in Europe when it opens next year.

Many people feared the end of the Potter series would bring job losses in Britain’s movie industry, but Warner Bros.‘ investment _ which will make it the only U.S. studio with a permanent base in Britain _ should bring a big boost.

“It’s lovely to see the redevelopment,” Davis said. “I just wish they’d done it before we filmed them. We spent years here in the damp and cold, and now I see these beautiful studios, with roofs.”

Felton says he hopes to return one day to shoot a new film here.

“And if the work dries up,” he said, “we can always come back and be tour guides.”




Jill Lawless can be reached at: