LA Times Interview with Screenwriter Steve Kloves on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
June 17, 2009, 01:33 PM
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.
Kloves is the best.
Part of me thinks it´s good Dumbledores funeral is left out.Had it been in the movie they probably would have had to carry me and “Mrs Fred Weasely” out of the cinema on stretchers
How interesting is this man??!! I think I love him. lol
Can you imagine asking Jo the 10 uses of dragon’s blood? freezes I think it’d be the best day in my life. I hope she’ll write sooooo much informations in the Scottish Book…. dreams
Saffran, I think you are right ;). Would be difficult to watch, we will cry enough as it is!
It’s best to wait until I have watched the film before I say much, I mean I see pieces of the film here and read an interview there, when it all comes together it will probably be great. No film is perfect and no-one can make a film that everybody loves. But if they could get every detail in the film I would watch it, no matter how long it would be!
I understand that the movies are different from the books. However I feel that both Alfonso Cuaron and Mike Newell had the ability to create adaptations which were much more engaging and interesting than OotP . I have a feeling that Cuaron would have found an amazing way of incorporating the other memories into the story. I just don’t like Yates’s creative ideas and his way of directing.
moonyloony, I have heard from some who were test screeners that the scene they created to replace the funeral was extremely moving, some said more moving than the book funeral.
As for calling Yates a hack, sorry I disagree. I, and many others, loved his “State of Play” mini-series for which he won numerous awards, and I am very much looking forward to what he brings to HBP.
I’m not going to argue the toss with you about the relative merits of the choices made with regard to what is kept/changed/cut because we would be here forever. I have found from many years of film viewing that how we view the success or failure of a film is a very individual thing and we are all never going to agree on everything. We all view the books/films through a different prism, we all see diffferent elements as important, I just happen to think that Yates can get the story that they are telling in the film across without showing every single memory.
Putting aside the memories, my main issue is with those fans who don’t want anything at all changed. To be honest, there are several parts of this film that have been changed from the book that I am really looking forward to seeing, which probably makes me a heretic in the eyes of some but I can live with some changes as long as, as Kloves quoted Jo as saying, it remains true to the characters. These scenes I am referring to appear to remain true to the characters while putting a slightly different spin on the progression of their story.
No Gaunts, no Trelawney…so, we not only learn nothing about Riddle’s family, but nothing about the Ring as well? Or that Trelawney made a prediction that Snape overheard, setting in motion the events that form the basis for the entire series? Sorry folks, I like my story lines to come together coherently, and with the omissions from OotP and what appears to be missing from HBP, I’m really uncertain how everything can be brought together in DH… (will we get lame lines such as: Dumbledore tells Harry, as they sit in Kings Cross Station, “Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you…”).
I must wonder if Yates himself has ever bothered to read the books thoroughly.
Please, put Evanna Lynch in charge of all plot decisions!!!
Only four more weeks!!! Then we can start counting down to DH 1.
And we can then patiently await whatever JKR decides to write next….
Steve is an honest guy. He makes me curious about the behind the scenes making of the films!
how lucky of him to have the access to Ms. Rowling like that! i’m hoping she continues to write of Harry Potter, not so much as another book to the series, but more of a little biography on each character, for example, what they did after Voldemort is defeated, what they became and what they’re currently doing. they weren’t just characters, at least not to me… just something simple for us to know that of how they’re doing in life…
“Speaking of . . . how does the coming together of Ginny and Harry play out when we’ve all fallen for Cho Chang in the previous films?”
Speak for yourself ! I have never liked Cho. Pointless character in my oppinion.
So, he never answered the question of why Dumbledore’s funeral was cut from the film!
I’m glad Kloves said what he said about Hagrid at the end of COS. It almost made the movie unwatchable. It was not only terribly saccharin, but completely out of character. Nobody “loves” Hagrid, even some Gryffindors. That’s why Harry is so great. He relates to the misfits and outcasts which is most of us.
budb, to be honest I agree with you about waiting until 2011. I don’t think we can totally judge the films until all the films are out.
There are clearly parts of the storyline that will play out slightly differently over the final three films due to choices made by all the directors going right back to the first film because of time restraints, artistic choice, and lack of knowledge at the time how the books would finish. Jo may have given them guidance early on, but she didn’t share all of her secrets.
There are certain aspects of the story and some character arcs (Draco, Ginny and Snape spring immediately to mind) that might have played out differently in the earlier films if they knew what was coming but they now have three films to make some adjustments and give these story elements and characters their due so that the main story elements play out by the end of the series.
Let’s reconvene and discuss in two years time, lol.
i didnt read the whole interview (internet isnt working v well) but it was interesting. saaad about the memories!! and ive always wondered about the 12 uses of dragon blood!!