Harry Potter, Ron Weasely and Hermione Granger are gathered around Sirius Black as the full moon rises. It’s a crucial scene in The Prisoner of Azkaban in which the escaped convict sheds his human form and becomes a werewolf, thwarting the trio’s capture of Peter Pettigrew, the man who betrayed Harry’s parents. There’s only one problem. The moon is completely covered by clouds.
“I think it took about four or five months from the initial request to actually get the scene done,” Richard Wild tells me. Over the past two decades, Wild — chief meteorologist at weather data site WeatherNet — has become Hollywood’s unofficial weatherman. When a studio wants rain, fog, sunshine, snow or a full moon on a clear night, Wild is the man to call. From the new game of Thrones spin off house of the dragon to Impossible Missionand come rain or shine, wild is her man.
While one might not expect the meteorological conditions for a multitude of major Hollywood films to be in the hands of an optimistic, middle-aged Cheshire man, they very much are. Blockbuster hits such as Jurassic World: Dominion, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, The Northman, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, The Batman, No Time to Dieand Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker are just some of his recent projects.
Wild’s showbiz career took off in 2002 after a Warner Bros executive got tired of dealing with a long list of people at the Met Office named Wild instead. He asked him to do the prediction at their studios in Leavesden, Hertfordshire, where Pierce Brosnan’s Bond film, die Another Day, was shot. “He was like a pebble in a pond,” says Wild. “He just fell over and waves went out. I have over a thousand and a half now [industry] Contacts and 200-250 film credits in my name.”
It’s an interesting career turn for a man who readily admits he’s not a huge movie buff. So much so that Wild forgets the names of films he’s been in and it’s up to me to flesh them out based on the various plot points he can remember. “I feel sorry for the kids and the real fans because I’ve been touching props, meeting people and not really caring,” says Wild. For example, Wild worked extensively on Harry Potter and was given special access to the set and was able to meet the core cast of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. Upon exiting, Wild saw a crowd of fans in the studio hoping to catch a glimpse of the trio. “I saw so many fans begging for stuff and I think I touched Emma Watson’s cat,” he says of his run-in with Crookshanks, Hermione’s feline companion.
However, not all special requests are like full moon. Wild tells me his work can range from quick £13 jobs for a one-off forecast to many thousands of pounds when working on a project long-term. The events of the First World War drama by Sam Mendes 1917 take place almost exclusively outdoors, and Wild was so involved in the process that he received credit for the film. “To see my name on the big screen with all, all of the producers,” he says. “It’s really a humbling moment.”
Of course, the weather is a cruel mistress and not always willing to bow to the wishes of meteorologists and filmmakers. Additionally, a single incorrect forecast could cause delays and cost manufacturing companies huge sums of money. Has Wild ever faced the wrath of a producer when Mother Nature wasn’t quite there? “We did something in the Plymouth area and it was just awful in every way. There’s sea fog coming up… It’s very difficult to predict.” Of course, the fog decided to linger and the producer of the ad, for which he had been asked to forecast, was “furious”. “I said, ‘I warned about sea fog and it was predicted.’ I think she was just frustrated that we weren’t accurate, and I said, ‘You’re trying to be precise with a weather hazard that’s not precise!'”
Fortunately, Wild adds that most producers understand that it’s difficult to predict the unpredictable. “They realize things go wrong and I have no problem calling up and saying, ‘Listen, I know it went wrong. I am very sorry. We just do our best.” And they accept it. But I feel bad when it’s really, really wrong,” says Wild.
Wild has previously described his job as “magic” — I ask why. “You meet people you wouldn’t expect. And touching things and seeing things like Dumbledore’s office,” he says. “These little quirky things make me feel very fortunate and privileged to have the job that I have.”
I’ll leave him to return to his tenth installment prognosis Fast and Furious Franchise. in the Fast XIt may or may not rain on Vin Diesel – and that’s entirely up to Richard Wild.
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/harry-potter-house-of-the-dragon-weather-b2139262.html “I feel bad when it’s gone wrong”: Meet the Cheshire weatherman behind Harry Potter and Game of Thrones