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How Chris Columbus Dealt With The Pressure Of Directing The First Harry Potter Film

Can you believe it’s been 20 years since the theatrical release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone? The books were not yet finished, the actors were unknown, and director Chris Columbus was tasked with visually bringing to life the Wizard World which so many had already imagined from reading the books. Columbus has shared how he dealt with the pressure of directing the first film in the Harry Potter series. 

As someone who re-watches the entire series every fall, it still feels like just yesterday that I went to the midnight premiere of the first film with my family. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone has made a tremendous impact on so many, and it was the honor of my life to speak with Chris Columbus on behalf of CinemaBlend about making the film. We discussed the tremendous pressure he was under, and he shared the following about how he dealt with it:

Well, my enthusiasm for ‘yes, let’s tackle this’ was probably 20 seconds, and then sheer terror and anxiety set in and I thought ‘Oh, my God, what have I gotten myself into?’ I’ve got a billion people staring, you know, eyes on this particular movie. If I fail, if I do one thing wrong or a couple of things wrong, the movie would tank, the fans would hate me, and I’d have to go into the Witness Protection Program. So for me, it was a matter of really making absolutely certain that I stuck to my own vision. And the good news is, my vision was in sync with J.K. Rowling’s vision. So when I first met her and explained how I was going to shoot the movie, how the sets would look, how I wanted the cast to be all British, she said ‘I see it exactly the same way.’ So to have her support throughout the process was incredibly important.

To have the support of author J.K. Rowling was, of course, essential to the success of the Harry Potter film franchise. Even more, hearing that she and director Chris Columbus saw the Wizarding World “the exact same way” can only be described as magic. They created something that will forever live in our hearts, and fans around the world are immensely grateful. There are even multiple collections of Harry Potter gifts for Wizarding World fans!

It’s really cool to hear how seriously Chris Columbus took this job. With a long history in the entertainment industry, he’s no stranger to the process and knows that not every film can be a blockbuster success. But Harry Potter provided a new layer of stress because of the millions of book fans who had already envisioned the Wizard World and all of the characters. I won’t speak for all of the fans, but this fan thinks everyone involved made an absolutely perfect series.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Warner Brothers Entertainment has released Harry Potter Magical Movie Mode. With Magical Movie Mode, fans will discover filmmaking secrets, spell incantations, creatures, magical artifacts, trivia, and more in an enchanting collection of fun activities and curiosities. The entire Harry Potter series, along with Magical Movie Mode, is available to stream now on HBO Max.

Samantha LaBat

Obsessed with Hamilton and most things Disney. Gets too attached to TV show characters. Loves a good thriller, but will only tolerate so much blood.