Chris Columbus Interview
May 15, 2004
The August issue of Fantasy Worlds magazine has a twelve page feature on POA. Included is a lengthy interview with Chris Columbus. As we told you earlier, he is leaving the Potter series after this film. He talks about his future plans..”big musical”, and “a smaller character piece.” He will also co-produce The Fantastic Four, based on the Marvel comic book. He speaks freely about working with the kids, handing the reins over to Alfonso Cuaron, and the pesky issue of ..clothing. Click below to read some excerpts.
About the cast , and how they’ve grown as actors:
“The kids are old pros at this point,” Columbus praises. “You can look at it from a technical point-of-view through all three movies. On the first film, we were lucky to get one or two lines from the kids, which made Sorcerer’s Stone much more cutty; we had cut around everything, every performance. On Chamber of Secrets, they were able to get through most of the scene, but it was still difficult to shoot an entire scene without cutting. But by the time we got to Azkaban, we could plan an entire shot for any one of the kids, which, to mie, is a major progression. We now have seasoned, professional film actors. They’re getting better by doing it every single day. So Mike Newell is going to have it easy [ when he directs the next feature, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire ]. It’s going to be a piece of cake. It will be like working with Jack Nicholson or Al Pacino. “
On handing the reigns over to Alfonso Cuaron:
“Columbus acknowledges that there existed a fine line between helping Cuaron, letting Cuaron create his own vision of Azkaban and stifling the director within himself- the guy who might have done things differently were he calling ‘Action’ and ‘Cut’ daily. ” I realized that Alfonso was the first of several directors who are going to be dealing with this, and I wanted to make absolutely certain that the directors are respectful of the fans and the world,” Columbus notes. “As a director myself, I know what’s annoying to me. If I have a producer over my shoulder constantly needling me, telling me what I should or shouldn’t be doing, that doesn’t help me work. It just makes me tense and anxious, and it doesn’t create a good working environment. I felt Alfonso needed the freedom to make his movie. Everything was in motion. Everything else was set.”
On clothes and creatures :
” People are talking about the wardrobe in Azkaban, but it isn’t Earth-shattering. We’ve given the kids some clothes they could have purchased at the Gap a year ago. The Earth-shattering thing about this movie is that it’s darker, edgier and visually spectacular. The visual effects continue to get better on these films, which is one of our big goals. The first time around, they were ok. On Chamber of Secrets, we understood the world clearly and the visual effects were pretty terrific. But on Azkaban, they’re that much better. Constant improvements in all areas is something we’ve always strived for.
I was anxious to see how Alfonso would deal with the Dementors,” Columbus offers. ” I thought he had a challenge there because of the Night Riders, the characters from The Lord of the Rings. And he came up with a completely unique and original vision for them. They’re incredibly frightening and exciting. I was also curious and concerned about how well he could get the hippogriffs to work. When you read the description of the hippogriffs on the page, its a bit daunting. They’re a combination of about 15 different animals. How is that going to look? Are they going to look like a bad Saturday morning cartoon character or something majestic and glorious? The final design is amazing. They’re the most exciting new characters and creatures in the fim. They’re a stunning creation.”
About actors Gary Oldman, David Thewlis and Emma Thompson:
“Gary is terrific, too. He’s a chameleon, and to play Sirius he had to convey a sense of fear and terror and almost a manic edge. At the same time, he had to spin around and turn him into a very likable, warm, almost father figure for Harry. That’s difficult for any actor to do, and Gary is one of the few who’s capable of it. One of the surprises in Azkaban is David’s performance. He’s outstanding in this picture. His warmth and intensity are wonderful. And then there’s the delightfully comic turn by Emma. She’s great as Professor Trelawney. “
On his future plans :
“As a writer, I did movies like Gremlin, The Goonies, and Young Sherlock Holmes, ” Columbus says. “And because they were successful, I was- and not unfairly- dubbed a comedy director after the Home Alone pictures. But my heart has always been squarely in the center of geekdom. I’ve always loved comic books. I adore science fiction and horror. I love that world, and i’ve always been obsessed with it.”
” I had a really difficult decision before I got the Harry Potter job,” Chris Columbus says. ” I was almost about to commit to Spiderman. So there was a point where I had to make a choice, and I went with Harry Potter instead. But the bottom line is that I’ve always loved these Marvel heroes, and the Fantastic Four is a great group of very interesting, fun characters. It’s something I would love to see on film. I basically want to do movies that I would be excited about seeing in the theatre myself. At lest that’s the way I’ve always worked. “