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Steve Kloves: "In a Cynical World, 'Potter' Stands Apart"

DH Film
Posted by: Rosi
November 11, 2010, 10:49 AM

Steve Kloves, screenwriter for seven of the eight Harry Potter films, has given a rare interview to the LA Times' HeroComplex Blog. Kloves speaks about the difficult position of writing for the successful book series, commenting, “If people like a ‘Harry Potter’ movie, it’s because of the book [...] But if they don’t like it, then it’s my fault.”

Kloves reflected on his initial choice to adapt Harry Potter and the Philosophers' Stone, having been sent a list of titles Warner Bros. held the rights for and were looking to make into films:

“The truth is ‘Potter’ was really strange for me, right from the beginning, it wasn’t the sort of thing I ever expected to be doing,” he said. “It was really, really nice in many ways but always a little odd…. I always saw myself writing movies that, you know, people don’t go see.”

“At that point, this was 1998, ‘Potter’ wasn’t that big a deal here in the States, and later one of my friends said to me, ‘If it had been on the cover of Time magazine before you signed up, you never would have done it,’” Kloves said. “And that’s absolutely the case.”
The screenwriter also spoke to his friendship with Jo Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books:
“The single greatest thing I take from the experience of the past 10 years is becoming friends with Jo. That’s a separate thing from all of this now, separate from ‘Potter,’ and it’s become a very important part of my life. I used to say she’s the coolest chick on the face of the planet. You read that first book and you thought, ‘Angela Lansbury wrote this book,’ then you meet her and she knows all of your music references and she’s funny. The first thing you pick up sitting down with her though is the intelligence. We had to make movies as smart as her books and as smart as her.”

Kloves is proud of the work he’s done but he still gets spooked by its reach and ripple. “I still don’t understand the magnitude of it,” he said. “I only catch glimpses of the size in my peripheral vision. It kind of freaks me out.”
Kloves further commented on why he thinks Potter is unique:
“In a cynical world, ‘Potter’ stands apart,” Kloves said. “Look, to take a dystopian stance as a writer or a filmmaker is not that difficult. It’s much harder to be earnest about things like loyalty and courage and friendship. Jo Rowling has been able to deal with these things in her books without being saccharine.”
HeroComplex Blog also spoke to Executive Producer David Heyman about Steve Kloves. Heyman said he could think of "no other screenwriter who can capture an author's voice" as successfully as Kloves:
“He did so in ‘The Wonder Boys’ and hehas done so in all the Harry Potter films he has written. He has the ability to get inside an author’s head and bring their voice to the script, to the screen. That is the greatest of so many gifts he has given to the Harry Potter films. There were even times when he wrote scenes that were not in the book that Jo said she wished she had thought of. He understood what to leave in, what to leave out, he gave the characters their voices, he was able to turn on a dime, from a dramatic moment to a comedic moment, from the intimate to the epic and he was able to adapt to the styles and demands of each of the four directors and give them what they needed and wanted. The Harry Potter films would be much less without him.”
You can read the full interview at this link on the HeroComplex Blog.

Thanks, Jamie, for emailing in!

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96 Points

I don’t care if they have to cut some sub-plots from the movies, that’s understandable.

However, Kloves fails at writing the characterizations properly, and that is unforgivable. It’s unfortunate that the HP franchise got stuck with such a bad writer, the movies could have been.. should have been a lot better.

Posted by j@m on November 11, 2010, 03:38 PM report to moderator
404 Points

As the person who suggested Leaky highlight this rare and candid interview, and as a major Kloves fan, I knew I was risking the wrath of the haters. But the man is truly gifted and has done an admirable stab at a thankless job. As he says at the top of the interview “if people like a Harry Potter movie it’s because of the book … if they don’t … it’s my fault.”

I love all the films, and my favourites have been penned by Steve. We love the books too much to forgive any cuts or alterations — but Jo has expressed nothing but praise for his work. If it’s good enough for her, then it surely is good enough for me. :)

Posted by Hagiographer13 on November 11, 2010, 03:44 PM report to moderator
1317 Points

The movies did one thing very well and that was the casting of the characters. This gave me a mental picture to use when rereading the books and for that I will always be grateful. Converting books to movies is a thankless job and never satisfies those that are fans (rabid) of the books. If Jo is satisfied with the end results I guess that should (?) be good enough for us.

Posted by hewy on November 11, 2010, 05:08 PM report to moderator

Even the Kloves lovers cannot explain the reduction of Ron’s role and the increase of Hermoine’s. The first newpaper review of DH1 in tonight’s Daily Mail Online says that the movie should be called “Hermoine goes on a road trip” !

Oh no- here we go again.

Posted by Beazle on November 11, 2010, 05:13 PM report to moderator
2389 Points

Ahhh, poor Kloves, he always takes the brunt of every little thing that people don’t care for…… I personally think he did an excellent job, even if there were a few things cut that shouldn’t have been and a few screwed up characterizations. But those weren’t all his fault. I mean, he’s not the one who made Dumbledore a crazy, yelling psycho in GOF. All those lines were perfectly able to be said calmly. I must agree that he HAS favored Hermione a bit too much, by giving her some of Ron’s SMART lines. But otherwise I feel he kept very close to the characters in his writing.
And in my opinion, the only movie that got butchered was Prisoner of Azkaban, and that was not Kloves’s fault.

Posted by Bellatrix The Strange on November 11, 2010, 05:33 PM report to moderator
4852 Points

He is a very good screenwriter!

Posted by #1 Witch ROAR! on November 11, 2010, 06:30 PM report to moderator
4852 Points

But I don’t really understand what he said in the interview :S

Posted by #1 Witch ROAR! on November 11, 2010, 06:30 PM report to moderator
1061 Points

If Steve Kloves was a good writer we would be watching one of his books become a record breaking film, not him making someone elses.
Steve has missed out vital plot points in every film he’s ‘written’, the more films you watch the more confusing it gets.
He completely destroyed my favourite book (HBP) by removing the story, plot, pace and character development and exchanging them for a load of sexual innuendos and teen lust! Where was Harry understanding the decisions and thought processes that made Voldermort who he is? Nowhere! Harry’s now going to have to make a random stab in the dark when trying to figure out what (and where) the Horcuxes are! I can’t even begin to figure out how he’s going to explain eveything he left out of that film!
He’s ruined characters, every character is a shadow of the person they’re meant to be. And left out characters altogether, ‘you mean theres another Weasley brother we’ve never seen or heard of and he’s marrying Fleur?! Don’t be ridiculous!’
Ruined relationships, i wonder how many people were confused by Tonks calling Lupin “Sweetheart” in HBP when there was no on screen interaction between them beforehand. Harry and Ginny came out of nowhere! They could have easily had a minute of footage with Harry at the Weasleys in the summer, hanging out with Ginny, laughing at her jokes, having a conversation, the beginning of Harry seeing Ginny in a different way, but they didn’t, they chose to waste minutes by burning down the Burrow instead!
And the people saying that if Jo is happy then we should be too, don’t forget that she had to fight to get Kreacher in the fifth film at all!
Some things are the editor and producers fault, but everything to do with characters, storylines, character development, plot and the ridiculous things that some of the characters have said is solely the fault of Steve Kloves!
My favourite film is the fifth one, which Steve had nothing to do with!

“If people like a ‘Harry Potter’ movie, it’s because of the book, But if they don’t like it, then it’s my fault.”
He’s hit the nail on the head with that one!

Posted by Vicki_The_House_Elf *ROAR* ϟ on November 11, 2010, 06:40 PM report to moderator
96 Points

“My favourite film is the fifth one, which Steve had nothing to do with!”

I agree, OOTP is the best Potter film by far.

Posted by j@m on November 11, 2010, 07:10 PM report to moderator
112 Points

Adaptations of very popular books are never easy, and a screenwriter can’t fit the whole book, especially if it’s nearly 800 pages, into a 2 and a half hour movie. And critterfur is right, a screenwriter has very little control of the script once it has left their hands. My uncle is a screenwriter and he complains all the time about how the producers and directors mess with the script. And I think Kloves did the best job that he could. And let’s face it for all those that aren’t happy with the movie series, Harry Potter is so popular that the movies will probably be remade in 20 years or so.

Posted by hrslvr529 on November 11, 2010, 08:15 PM report to moderator
566 Points

I really appreciate his comment of how “In a cynical world, ‘Potter’ stands apart,” …

As someone that has wandered a bit I’ve encountered people who went out of their way to be kind when they could have just as easily turned their backs. That is one of the messages in the HP tales and from JKR too, I believe. It is one of the reasons I hold them so dearly. It is living life and choosing to approach each others best self.

Posted by 2tal - SpiritMagic174 on November 11, 2010, 09:23 PM report to moderator
10839 Points

wow its scary to see this side of so many harry potter fans…
i personally think books and movies are very different things… people who are hating on what the harry potter movies are, are just blinded by perfectionism.. i personally think he is a very good writer, i enjoy the movies, and if Jo Rowling put her stamp of approval on the films, then so do i…
people don’t understand that the movies are BASED on the books and are not meant to be exact replicas of the books…
On another note, I congratulate all the staff of the harry potter films for such an amazing accomplishment :D

Posted by ϟ☮Sindi a.k.a Remy [ROAR!!]☮ϟ on November 11, 2010, 09:31 PM report to moderator
660 Points

All I can say is the omission of “And now, Harry, let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.” (HBP3) in lieu of something like ‘Take my arm, Harry, do it now’ and the addition of “Your shoelace is untied” really diminished the HBP movie in my eyes.
Dumbledore is quirky in the books, not angry like in the movies.
And, don’t get me started about the diminishment of Ron to create a made up sexual tension between Harry and Hermione in the movies.
The movies are a really great work of fan fiction.
Personally, I am hoping for a BBC miniseries that sticks to the book.

Posted by Noble Birth Descending on November 11, 2010, 10:53 PM report to moderator
398 Points

tell the truth, he is a good writer but i was not a fan when he started to write the screenplays the way he wanted. Its not your story. He took away from so many characters and at the end had to do a rush job to put them in the screenplay. It is a shame that he couldnt do it properly.
Kloves & JK did not have that great of a relationship. Many a times she had to remind Kloves that there is no H/Hr romance. He insisted and she said no.
JK doesn’t care about the movies because she realized too late that they werent going to be done properly. She has to live with it. She was not Lucaslike in making sure she had a hand in the whole production. Like I said before, i look forward to when they do a proper write up in the way the book was written. To me, i always felt that harry was more sensitive to what ron was in his life than hermione. ron was the closest to him. hermione is there but given the choice, he chooses ron. all of a sudden hermione is the bestest friend? i dont think so.
kloves, write your own story and unite the characters you want. i am sure that someone else will take it and make it the way they want. not a fan. kloves **ows.

Posted by sidnandragin on November 11, 2010, 11:08 PM report to moderator

Where do you get all this from sidnandragin? Goes completely against what quotations I’ve read from JKR, and last night again she repeated that she loves all the movies!

Posted by Dumblebridge on November 12, 2010, 01:39 AM report to moderator
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