'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' CastThe release of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2' has prompted many weepy farewells, not just from fans, but from the three actors who are bidding both their childhoods and the franchise goodbye. The tumultuous emotional journey that they (and we viewers) have taken over the course of eight movies and ten years is something they couldn't have imagined when the movie series launched a decade ago.

I know because I interviewed Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint in 2001, when they were on their first press tour to promote the first movie, 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.' At the time, they were bright-eyed, enthusiastic pre-teens, kids who felt like the luckiest 'Harry Potter' fans in the world for being granted the privilege of acting out their favorite stories. They knew they were going to spend their teen years filming the next six books (three of which J.K. Rowling hadn't even written yet). There was only a hint of the serious, poised adults that the actors (and their characters) would become.

Still, re-reading their remarks a decade later, it's easy to see traits of Hermione in the young Watson (intellectually curious), of Ron in Grint (fun-loving, a little goofy), and Harry in Radcliffe (thoughtful, modest, well aware of the heavy responsibility placed on his slender shoulders). Looking back, it's touching to see the naive enthusiasm with which they approached what turned out to be a massive undertaking that would occupy half their lifetimes, as well as to marvel at how much of that childlike wonder seems to have survived in them after a decade of working hard, enduring unending scrutiny and bearing the weight of the hopes and dreams of hundreds of millions of fans.