Filmmaker Chris Columbus has long been a dominant creative force in Hollywood, responsible for a variety of beloved movies, including Gremlins, Home Alone, and Mrs. Doubtfire. But for 90s kids, Columbus’s greatest work was as director of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and its sequel Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. In an interview with Collider, Columbus revealed that working on Sorcerer’s Stone was a highly stressful time for him, with the recurring fear of getting fired.
“The reality is the pressure of the world was upon us, and on me particularly because I knew if I screwed this one up it’s all over… The first film was fraught with anxiety for me. The first two weeks I thought I was gonna get fired every day. Everything looked good, I just thought if I do one thing wrong, if I f**k up, I’m fired. And that was intense. I didn’t let any of that show on the set, there was no frustration, I’m not a screamer, I get along with everybody and I want everybody to feel like they’re part of the family, so I just had to hide that side of my emotions.”
It is strange to consider that a project that was so stressful for Chris Columbus ended up being the most fun-filled and whimsical entry in the Harry Potter film series. By the time Sorcerer’s Stone was finished, and had its first screening in Chicago, audiences loved the movie that Columbus had made. The filmmaker recalls kids being undaunted by the two hours and fifty minutes runtime of the rough cut and wanting the film to be even longer. Thanks to the success of Sorcerer’s Stone, Columbus was able to tackle Chamber of Secrets with new confidence.
“I started to feel a little relief, and then when the first movie opened well I had so much more fun on Chamber of Secrets. It was like night and day, because then I could really let loose a little bit and bring a little bit more of my particular style to the movie. That was a very specific choice, the style of the first Potter movie, but part of it we were boxed into because as I said we had three cameras on the kids at a time. They were brand new, they had never been on movie sets, so they would say a line and they would look into the camera and smile. The first week they were just so delighted that they were in Harry Potter, it meant the world to them, so they would just be smiling like they were in a trance. So that was something we had to overcome as well.”
Despite the success of the first two movies, Columbus was replaced as director for the rest of the Harry Potter franchise. Three other directors came in to put their own spin on the series as it outgrew its original innocence and became much darker. While Columbus would have liked to have worked on the final two movies as well, he is appreciative of what director David Yates was able to do with the material instead.
“I always wanted to go back and shoot the final two movies, but Yates decided he was gonna stay with the series, and it was a great thing to do because I particularly love the very last movie. I think that is just a brilliant film, the second part of Deathly Hallows.”
This news comes from Collider.