It’s been over 20 years since the first Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone hit shelves, but Potter-mania is still as present as ever. Just next week, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald will appear in theatres, the second movie in a spinoff from the original seven books.
What has kept fans engaged in the wizarding world of Harry Potter for so long? Josh Heuvelmans is an executive member of Western University’s Harry Potter fan club, Dumbledore’s Army, and thinks he knows why.
“What makes Harry Potter so special is that it unlocks a sense of magic that you had as a kid. When you’re a kid you believe in so many things, like Santa Clause and the Easter bunny, and the world is so magical. As you grow up you kind of get hit by reality, but Harry Potter allows you to escape that reality and relive the magic.”
Now aged 20, Heuvelmans has fond memories of the series throughout his childhood. The love for Harry Potter was passed down from his parents.
“The first book was actually released before I was born, and I remember growing up my mom and dad were really into the books. One time we were on a camping trip, and we stopped at a grocery store, and my mom bought the last Harry Potter book and read it as we were driving. So that was kind of my first exposure to the books.”
Despite the early introduction to the series, unlike most members of Dumbledore’s Army, Heuvelmans grew up on watching the movies and didn’t read the books until he was in high school, but he’s glad he did.
“When I read the books, it opened up a whole new world for me and it was quite amazing.”
Opening up a whole new world is a reason that Heuvelmans thinks the Fanatastic Beasts series has been able to interest original fans.
“You see some series where it’s obvious that the writers and the directors are just trying to get everything they can from the fans. They’re just trying to make money but they’re insulting the fans by not remaining true to the spirit of the original.”
He says he was extremely satisfied with the first movie in the spin off, and cannot wait to see the new one.
“It’s really nice that they didn’t go ‘Let’s just continue where the Harry Potter story left off’. They actually went back into the series and chose a pre-existing storyline that was touched on in the books but wasn’t developed. They explore it further in the movies, and I think that’s really cool.”
Whether or not the magic of Harry Potter will last forever is unknown, but Heuvelmans hopes it can last as long as possible. He says he’ll do his part in keeping the magic alive by passing the books down to his kids one day.
“It’d be interesting in a few hundred years if rather than studying Shakespeare, we’re studying J.K Rowling and her writing.”
WATCH: Josh Heuvelmans talks about how he’ll make sure Harry Potter lives on forever