A Look Back

Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, ...
Image credit: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Murray Close

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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
My memories of the second film blur with the first, because we made both back-to-back. But there was that intense fall of 2001, where Chris was finishing the first, prepping the second, and on top of it all, being an American abroad and grappling with the horror and ramifications of September 11. How he juggled all of that was inspiring. The thing about Chris is his energy. Where Alfonso Cuarón and Mike Newell were basically dragging themselves across the finish line of films 3 and 4, Chris was still on his feet, filled with boundless energy. Nonetheless, he made a decision toward the end of the second film that he was exhausted. He wanted to take his family home, do other things. It was hard, especially for the kids. But you move on.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
With Azkaban, we moved to an 18-month cycle, to give each production the time it required, especially as we were moving toward using different directors for each film. But Azkaban, for me, began with the death of our first Professor Dumbledore, Richard Harris, who was a longtime friend of my family. I visited him in the hospital when he was really sick, and when it came time to make the third film, he was clinging on, saying ''Don't recast!'' He was determined to do it. These were really hard shoes to fill — but Michael Gambon is one of the greats. And he was Alfonso Cuarón's choice. I knew we were getting a different kind of artist with Alfonso, but I don't think I really knew how different until the day Alfonso hired an avant-garde underwater puppeteer from San Francisco named Basil Twist just so he could study different ways a Dementor might move. Just weird and wild and wonderful. Tonally and stylistically, he was the perfect fit.

Originally posted Oct 28, 2005 Published in issue #849 Nov 11, 2005 Order article reprints

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