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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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38 Comments

Prophecy_thumb
799 Points

I respect the fact that Jo is fine with the movies but that doesn’t change my opinion nor will I ever hand the right to decide my opinion over to someone else.

That said, yes, adapting is a thankless job but that doesn’t change the fact that, if you are going to do it, you should respect the characters in the material you’re adapting. Look at the Lord of the Rings. Jackson, Walsh, and Boyens changed things around quite a bit due to the fact that you have to if you’re adapting books – especially books that huge – to film. However, they always respected the characters and refrained from turning them into what they would prefer them to be rather than who they were. Sure, there were still a lot of unhappy fans but no one can honestly say they weren’t true to the characters. Kloves changed the characters, made them less than what they are in the books. I would not have cared about these books so much if the characters had actually been the way Kloves portrays them and for that I will never forgive him.

Posted by DeliaDee on November 12, 2010, 07:34 AM report to moderator
Noavatar-thumb
62 Points

Kloves did a terrible job adapting the books to the big screen. I won’t repeat what others here have said—attributing lines to Hermione that were others’ lines in the books, adding scenes/things (the Shrunken Head was the WORST thing I’ve seen), etc.

Numerous people have told me that they have never read the books; they have only seen the movies. I have told them that they are missing 90% of what Harry Potter is, then, because Steve Kloves is NOT J.K. Rowling, and the magic of Harry Potter is brought to life because of Jo.

People for the most part “like” the movies because they are Harry Potter fans, have read the books and understand everything that is missing, so the movies become a Cliff’s Notes version of the books on the big screen.

Posted by Reader511 on November 12, 2010, 07:41 AM report to moderator
Noavatar-thumb
62 Points

Kloves did a terrible job adapting the books to the big screen. I won’t repeat what others here have said—attributing lines to Hermione that were others’ lines in the books, adding scenes/things (the Shrunken Head was the WORST thing I’ve seen), etc.

Numerous people have told me that they have never read the books; they have only seen the movies. I have told them that they are missing 90% of what Harry Potter is, then, because Steve Kloves is NOT J.K. Rowling, and the magic of Harry Potter is brought to life because of Jo.

People for the most part “like” the movies because they are Harry Potter fans, have read the books and understand everything that is missing, so the movies become a Cliff’s Notes version of the books on the big screen.

Posted by Reader511 on November 12, 2010, 07:41 AM report to moderator
Images_thumb
1603 Points

I’ve always loved Kloves’ work.. Some people say his writing is just cheesy but I like it.. For one thing , I felt the ‘magic’ was missing in OOTP. All right ,he did give Hermione more limelight than Ron but other than that his work was good.

Posted by vandy[FTC] on November 12, 2010, 08:22 AM report to moderator
Noavatar-thumb

Of course Jo is going to say that she like the films….she is after all, a pro and there is obviously an enormous financial incentive NOT to have the author panning the films !

But Kloves has made Ron into a barely necessary figure of derision. Remember the end of HBP when H &H are discussing the future and Ron is not included ! There are numerous other examples.

Unlike the respect and love shown by the Lord of the Rings writers, to totally change a central character’s role and to bolster that of another for no good reason is appalling.

Posted by Beazle on November 12, 2010, 09:31 AM report to moderator
9407947_thumb
398 Points

@dumblebridge. From the very beginning. JK has to say that she likes Kloves. There is really nothing she can do about it. She gave away her right to the screenplays. She is saving face.
Go look to the articles from very beginning. Ever since the third movie, she insisted to Kloves that Hermione and Harry are not going to happen.
She has to save face. These are her characters.
Go to imdb, you will be surprised.

Posted by sidnandragin on November 13, 2010, 03:29 AM report to moderator
9407947_thumb
398 Points

@Beazle… Thank you! My friend & I stated the same thing. Kloves wrote Ron as a buffoon. Ron was soo much more than that. Hermione is smart but Ron is just as smart. He plays chess, did Kloves pass over that fact? Because I know chess is a hard game to learn and there is no way a non thinker can walk into a game like chess and not be aware of the next move. It makes me sad that he is not good in keeping in tune with the characters. looking forward to the rewrite.
I love you Ron & Ginny. You were both robbed!

Posted by sidnandragin on November 13, 2010, 03:42 AM report to moderator
Noavatar-thumb

Are you doubting JKR’s integrity sidnandragin? and do you really think she needs to save face – she is the most successful woman in the world!! If she says she likes the films she likes the films. They are not meant to copy the books, they are their own universe.

Posted by Dumblebridge on November 13, 2010, 08:14 PM report to moderator
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