Christopher Columbus, 'Harry Potter's' First Director, Looks Back on the Franchise in Awe

Courtesy of Warner Bros.
"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"

He had an early hand in the franchise's success and now he says goodbye.

Christopher Columbus may be a distant memory for many Harry Potter fans now, but he has much to do with its success.

He directed the first two installments (2001's Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone, 2002's Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) and produced the third (2004's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban). And now that the final chapter is hitting theatres this week, Columbus is feeling nostalgic.

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"I’ve waited to see the movie until the premiere because I know it’s going to be emotional," Columbus tells "Seeing the movie apart from England has been emotional because I’m looking at this movie thinking ‘Oh my god, I cast all these people, I built all these sets, and there’s still someone out there still making these movies.’  It’s very surreal. I don’t think it’s ever happened to me again in my life."

That's quite a statement for a man whose resume also includes the cult films, The Goonies and Gremlins, but obviously his time with the Harry Potter franchise still resonates strongly with him almost a decade later. 

He recalls that the first film was criticized for being too faithful to J.K. Rowling’s novel and now in hindsight Columbus believes that’s probably why the franchise is so successful.

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“If we weren’t that faithful, there wouldn’t have been an eighth movie,” he says. “You could have added cheerleaders to Hogwarts and all the nonsense that was talked about and we would be sitting here talking about remaking the first movie, as opposed to the series, so I think faithfulness is a really important thing."

And how does the he feel about how the young stars, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, have done since he helped place them in their roles? “We had no idea and we never knew that they would age so well,” he says. “In this Harry Potter world, for some reason we had this incredibly blessed cast of all these young kids who became great actors and who maintain some kind of movie star charisma."

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