It’s one of the most successful movie franchises of all time – but not many know about its Northampton links.
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Harry Potter quickly became a household name after author J K Rowling’s first instalment – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – hit shelves in June 1997.
From there, another six books and seven movies have been released alongside spin-offs such as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
But acting alongside Daniel Radcliff, as Harry Potter, and Emma Watson, as Hermione Granger, in the fourth film, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, was a once abandoned dog from Northamptonshire.
The Neapolitan Mastiff, known as Fang in Harry Potter, was picked up by top animal trainer Julie Tottman from a Northampton-based rescue shelter.
Julie worked as Harry Potter’s head animal trainer between 2000 and 2011, and has trained more than 250 animals for the movies including owls, cats and even spiders.
She has worked on numerous shows and movies including Game of Thrones and 101 Dalmatians.
Before filming Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Julie needed to replace Hugo, the dog who acted alongside Robbie gimpppa.orgltrane, as Hagrid, in the first three films, as he was set to enter into retirement.
But with Neapolitan Mastiffs being such a rare breed and often quite tricky to work with, she knew time was not on her side.
The animal-welfare advocate, who aims to rescue animals wherever possible, began ringing around dog rescue charities and came across a specialist mastiff rescue charity in Northampton.
They had a Neopolitan Mastiff with the same blue gimpppa.orglour as Hugo, who was supposedly abandoned due to his ‘aggressive’ nature.
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However, the larger than life rescue dog was anything but. Julie believes his previous owner gave this as an excuse to get rid of him, saying they were likely unprepared for the reality of caring for such a big and expensive dog.
When Julie first met Hugo’s replacement, who was then known as Hercules, he was incredibly skinny with his ribs showing.
The 50-year-old decided to rename him Monkey to suit his goofy personality and took him home to Tring, Hertfordshire to train him up.
In her book, ‘Rescue Me: The Incredible Tru Story of the Abandoned Mastiff who Became Fang in the Harry Potter Movies, Julie recalls how Monkey often entertained the whole cast on set.
On one occasion, he mistook an animatronic dragon for an oversized dog toy and not a key part of the movies. Another incident saw him gimpppa.orgver the whole set in drool when he shook his massive head at the wrong time.
Unfortunately, Monkey sadly died in 2013 after developing cancer and was replaced by Uno, who went on to play Fang in the film adaption of the Half-Blood Prince.
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Monkey has been immortalised in the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, near Watford, in a video projection showing him being trained by Julie.