LA Times Interview with Screenwriter Steve Kloves on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Jun 17, 2009
The Hero blog for the LA Times is launching a Harry Potter countdown with a series of new articles, the first being a new and rare interview with screenwriter Steve Kloves. In this interview, Mr. Kloves speaks about some canon tidbits he learned while working with Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, some of the pivotal moments in his adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, including the decision to cut out some scenes, as well as the final dramatic moments of the story, with the screenwriter giving high praise to actor Alan Rickman as Snape.While the entire interview is quite fascinating and well worth reading, here are some particular quotes of interest:
What, if anything, can you say about the climactic moment between Snape and Dumbledore? In the book, it’s a short but intense scene.
It is informed by everything [Potter readers] have come to know is true. So if you watch the film carefully, there are performance moments that are quite extraordinary, Alan Rickman [who plays Snape] especially. There is something we added that you can look forward to, a short scene between Harry and Snape prior to the big event. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays to the audience. It should be a haunting moment for Harry. While I was writing, I just had a notion about a moment between him and Snape, something Harry could look back on and question as to why he didn’t act differently.
I’ve also read that most of Dumbledore’s pensieve memories of young Voldemort, then Tom Riddle, have been cut from the film. (Not to mention: Dumbledore’s funeral!)
In my original draft, I had every single memory but one, I believe. I even dramatized a couple of things that weren’t in the book in terms of Voldemort, like the death of Tom’s parents, things like that. I’m a Harry Potter fan, so my first drafts tend to reflect that, in that they tend to be long and all-inclusive. When [director] David Yates came in, he had a very specific point of view, which was that he wanted to showcase Voldemort’s rise without getting overly involved with his past as Riddle. He didn’t think that most of the memories would be as compelling on-screen as they are on the page. He liked them in the script, but he really felt that in the movie experience Voldemort’s story was more important than young Riddle˜s. We went back and forth on that for quite a bit. But he was very convincing, and I think it wound up working out well.
Are there any other changes or additions that you can talk about?
I know one thing David is very proud of is getting Quidditch right. I do think it’s the first time that it feels like a sport. And it’s comic, which is fun. Rupert Grint [who plays Ron] is great. We also do a lot with the kids coming of age, navigating sexual politics and all that. It’s pretty interesting to see these characters doing that because the movies have always been a bit chaste, and they continue to be on some level, but there’s more happening in this one. You realize how complicated it is between boys and girls. It’s a lot of fun seeing Ron navigate his first girlfriend
What kind of things do you run by Rowling?
A range of things, even something really simple. I once asked about the 12 uses of dragon’s blood, which is referenced in the books. There are writers who would write “12 uses of dragon’s blood” and not have a clue what they are; it just sounds cool. But I emailed her to ask (and this was 10 years ago), and 25 seconds later I get an email back with a list.
Do tell. She’s only mentioned “oven cleaner” in interviews.
One is an oven cleaner, yes. Another is a spot remover. . . . It was really amazing. Really, the books are only the thinnest surface of what she knows about the series. Where Jo is helpful in a more serious way for me is when I want to know more about motivation or background, when Harry realized certain things, when characters understood things. There was one case where I was violating a plot thing — it had something to do with Dobby, I think — and she said, “No, you don’t want to do that,” as she knew what was to come. She’s a great resource for problem solving and she has such a facile mind, she can help with complicated things. Though her plots are so fiendish that they’re really difficult for cinema.