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Exclusive: TRL's Goblet of Fire Contest Winner Chats to TLC

Posted by: Melissa
November 29, 2004, 02:44 AM

Today on MTV's Total Request Live, barring last-minute scheduling changes, we expect a report from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire featuring TRL's contest winner and his week on the set. TLC spoke with the lucky winner in July, the night before he flew off to start his adventure.

By Melissa

Photos courtesy Greg

Concert pianist Greg Anderson won a week as an intern on the Harry
Potter and the Goblet of Fire

On MTV, he'll be running
between Harry Potter stars, chatting with Dan Radcliffe, Emma Watson
and Rupert Grint. He might be shown at the Goblet of Fire maze, or
in the creature effects shop, hanging with the cast in the lunch cantina,
helping outfit an extra or even
one of the directors. Greg
doesn't really know what part of his internship is going to show
up on the MTV screen, and he's under so many confidentiality clauses he couldn't
say if he did. But one thing the 22-year-old classically trained concert pianist does know
is that the set of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the last
place he expected to show up.

In fact, when his friend
signed him up to be a guest on MTV’s Total Request Live (TRL) in May,
the then-Julliard-student's first thought was that he was not hip enough for
the show.

“I thought they were
going to look at me and say, ‘What’s your favorite Madonna album,’
or something,” he said. “I’m interested in pop culture to
a degree but I’m heavily into classical music. I mean, that’s my

His friend managed to drag
him to the Times Square studio taping, where he met a casting director briefly.
Greg screamed for the TRL camera as requested, then returned to Julliard to
graduate, receiving his bachelor’s degree in music. An hour after the
commencement ceremony he got a call asking him to be on an upcoming Harry
-themed TRL.

Two days and an interview
later newly-minted professional concert pianist Greg Anderson was in the New
York TRL studio, goggled and diving for snitches alongside his competitor, who
also happened to be one of his closest friends.

“It was really a
blast, it was fun,” Greg said. “But that’s not really me you
saw on the show. We generally don’t sit in front of a TV camera and scream
our heads off.”

Since he and his friend
Liz were the final two competitors, both knew they would be partaking of the
grand prize – a trip for two to London.

“We knew we were
going instantly after the second round, and we had to express excitement and
act all competitive with one another. After I had won and she had lost, it was
all this kind of fake confusing. They kept on telling us, ‘You have to
jump around, scream, as loud as you can, run around, jump into the camera, throw
the ball.’ They said so often they get people on the show and they just
stand there. So we gave it to them.”

The excitement was real,
even if the shouting was not, and soon Greg was once again competing for a Harry
prize, this time for the world championship on TRL UK in London. He was against HP experts from Brazil, Singapore, Mexico and England - and performed the tasks with a lightning-bolt-like
number "five" emblazoned on his forehead.

“Anyone could have
won,” he said. “Dan Radcliffe picked first, and he picked my number,”
moving him along to the next and final round. Greg guessed closest to Dan’s height
in videotapes, and that was it, he had won. A reluctant trip to the NYC TRL studios had
eventually handed him a prize most fans would kill to get.

Greg's studio ID

This August, the night
before Greg left New York to start his Goblet adventure, he took a minute to
talk to TLC about the turn of events that turned him from classical pianist
and Potter lover to one of the luckiest fans around.

TLC: How are you

Greg Anderson:
This is just ridiculously exciting. I’m so used to being so thrifty
in the classical music world and saving money wherever you can – WB bought
my tickets a few weeks ago and it's a couple thousand dollars just to send me
there, and they're sending the whole crew along!

TLC: Did you have
any idea that you were going to win?

GA: No. I don’t think
MTV knew at all who was going to win. They cared more about how we acted on
the screen, that we were excited to be there.

TLC: Why do you
think they chose you as a contestant?

GA: It’s so random.
I swear it was so weird. It’s kind of like fate. We went and interviewed
and the producer asked us questions, “Who plays Hagrid,” and all
that. “What's Harry's owl's name,” something ridiculous like that,
and then, “How many times have you seen the movie, how many times have
you read the books.” I know they definitely wanted fans.

Emma Watson, Dan Radcliffe, Greg, Rupert Grint on the set of TRL


TLC: What were
the differences between the UK and US TRLs?

GA: I think you can actually
watch it on line. They didn't have us so energized [in the UK], they really
were just like running at us. So they were obnoxious, in your face activities
[in New York], and then in London it was so much more laid back. I didn't have
to scream my head off. In MTV US, they built this enormous set for us to take
a test in that appeared on screen for 10, 15 seconds. It’s just amazing.
It’s just a world I’m not used to.

TLC: What was the
best part about that experience?

GA: I remember, especially,
getting to talk with Dan and Emma briefly in the US on the show. They were so
nice, and so down to earth and just charming and engaging, I was just completely
blown away. It was really impressive to hear them conversing as real people.
They were so friendly. They were asking us questions. I just had this fear of
standing in front of them and being like, “So, uh.” Imagine the
overexcited fan. Especially because I'm 22, so it just seems a little weird
to be too enthusiastic. I just don't want to weird them out or anything. But
they made it so easy. Dan said they had just started filming the maze sequence…and
he seemed really excited by how they had done it and seemed to think it was
really impressive.

TLC: How did you
get into Harry Potter?

GA: It was the beginning
of my freshman year at college and I was just so stressed out, 12-hour days.
And I was preparing for some competition or another and it got to the point
where it was complete overload and practicing was just not helping at all. So
my teacher said, “Greg, take a break, watch a movie or something.”
I picked up the first Harry Potter book and then I read the first three that
weekend without stopping. I finished the four books and then read them all over
again over Christmas break and then I'm sure at this point I've read them all
four or five times. I've only read the new one three times - I apologize.

Greg wins the contest on MTV US

When I grew up I was so
fascinated with magic to begin with. I used to put on magic shows for all my
friends, I was so obsessed with magic. The kids at school got so obsessed with
seeing a magic trick because they want to figure out how it was done. To me
that was so frustrating. That's why I ended up going with music instead of magic.
Music, they don't try and figure out how it's done, they just sit there and
enjoy it.

TLC: Can you tell
us about your music career?

GA: It’s a wonderful
thing because it’s taken me around the world. It's just, once I took to
it I practiced all the time, then when you're good enough you get concerts,
and you're traveling and you get competitions, and I'm in New York City for
school, and of course I couldn’t ask for anything better because I love
to travel and I certainly love to be onstage.

I started when I was 7.
… Now I practice between four and eight hours a day, and if I’m
really in a cram, ten hours. Essentially I would say it’s music all day
and friends all night. It’s like people who sit down with Harry Potter
and read 24 hours without stopping. You become obsessed. It’s the farthest
thing from work.

TLC: What kind
of music do you generally play?

GA: I have a list: Bach,
Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, then I have thing for composing myself. I’m
not the biggest fan of modern classical music. I compose my own and perform
that quite a bit. I got on a weird technology kick for a while and did, “Variations
on a theme by Nokia,” because I was so annoyed with the cell phones destroying
the concerts. That's the one I've been doing most recently. It’s about
15 minutes, the variations I wrote on it, but I really tried to do two things
– completely mock the theme or try and say something beautiful about it,
which was really satisfying to do because now the theme does not bother me so

TLC: And now it’s
the night before you go off to be an intern on Goblet; what are you

GA: Freaking out, because
I’m still trying to finish packing here and the car is picking me up at
five in the morning. And I have to somehow get through this flight and jetlag
and appear somewhat energetic. And I'm actually visiting friends in Salt Lake
City. I was originally supposed to spend a week with them. But this is how I'm
going to spend my time instead.

TLC: Do you know
anything about how it’s going to go?

GA: The MTV thing, they
really want me racing around. They want to show me out of breath, and show me
pampering these stars and interacting with Dan and Emma and Rupert. They’re
only staying Friday and Monday and I have that weekend off, so I’m looking
forward to that. The next week is my actual internship. I won’t just be
making a fool of myself with the camera. The lady from Warner Brothers told
me I’d just be working on the set every day in a different department,
and she mentioned filming with the director and on the set itself.

I’m just daunted
by all of this.

TLC: What are you
most excited about?

GA: Just seeing how it's
all done. You just have a sense of this different world, when you see the backstage
documentary sort of things at the end of your DVD, but to actually be there
with all of the lights and the hot or the cold of the set and all the people
yelling before the actors say their lines in front of a camera, I just, I imagine
that energy is going to be unbelievable. You always hear how much money goes
into these movies, and to actually be there, seeing them expand it all with
the huge sets and the cameras – I just know it's going to be really exciting.
I feel slightly guilty because I feel like this would be the filmmaker’s
dream, the budding filmmaker who wanted just to see it all happen, it should
be them who gets to do this.

But you never know, maybe
it was meant to be. Maybe I’ll end up directing suddenly, or just change
my whole life professionally. I don’t see that happening, but you just
go with the flow.

We hope to have
more with Greg soon. In the meantime, to see how it all turned out, tune into
the Goblet of Fire set report today on Total Request Live on MTV (check
local listings)! During his visit he served as Assistant Director, and worked in the Art, Costumes, Visual Effects, Animals, Props, and Set departments.

For more on Greg, check out his site at

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