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J. K. Rowling Recounts Collaborative Relationship with "Potter" Screenwriter Steve Kloves for Written By Magazine

J.K. Rowling
Posted by: Edward
April 19, 2011, 08:08 PM

Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling has written for the Writer's Guild's Written by magazine about her collaborative relationship with "Potter" Film screenwriter Steve Kloves for their April/May issue.  The full piece, which can be read in its entirety via this link, details the 12-year-long "email correspondence" which resulted in seven adapted screenplays of Ms. Rowling's book series.  Rowling and Kloves began their work together following an early film production meeting in Los Angeles, California when the screenwriter shared his knowledge of the books and favorite character (Hermione) with the author.  The three-page article revisits a handful of moments throughout the 12-year correspondence which crafted the film's scripts, as well as details some of the moments in which Kloves was let in on secrets of the stories early, in order to ensure continuity of the story.

To read this fascinating piece by J. K. Rowling, please do click here!

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54 Comments

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…And just to once again bring up the point of Mega-Fans remembering things incorrectly from the books, in their commentary on Sorcerer’s Stone, not just Melissa but also John makes mention of the absurdity of the fact that Hermione lights Snape’s cloak on fire, stating that in the book that just didn’t happen. Nope, that’s exactly what happens in the book…why they remembered it differently, I don’t know, but it shows that people remember what they want to remember, and some people were so dead-set that Kloves was doing nothing but making changes that they were seeing it even in places where he was being devoutly faithful to the books. And for every Potter fan who loves a purist approach to the books, where characters and plotlines remain unscathed and whole, there are non-book fans who wanted Kloves to mess around with canon even more…most people who hadn’t read the books claim PoA as their favorite film, even though it takes a lot of liberties with characters, simply because it is visually stunning, well-paced, and easier to understand (since Kloves cuts out a lot of backstory and detail that’s in the book). So Kloves is being pulled in two or three different directions, being told to write the screenplays one way by the creative minds behind the films, another way by one camp of fans, and another way by another camp of fans. There is no way he’s going to please everyone.

I know a lot of people think they’re really snubbing Kloves by praising Michael Goldenberg’s script for Order of the Phoenix, saying Goldenberg got the Trio right, but again, for the life of me, I see no discernable difference in their back-and-forth patter. Ron is still portrayed as being condescending towards Hermione (his claim that he’ll “go easy” on her during dueling practice, and then Hermione blasts him away…if Kloves had written that, critics would have claimed he was making Hermione into “Super-Hermione” again). Give me an specific example of how Goldenberg got the Trio “right” and I’ll serve myself up a slice of humble pie, but I really don’t see much of a difference between his take and Kloves (or Rowling’s for that matter).

Posted by critterfur on April 20, 2011, 05:59 PM report to moderator
Prophecy_thumb
799 Points

Prisoner of Azkaban – Shrieking Shack – Harry under invisibility cloak after sneaking out of castle. They combined two scenes for the movie but that’s fine. That will happen in the interest of time. My problem is that in the book, Ron thinks it’s a great joke and played into what Harry was doing to Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle. In the movie…where do I begin? Okay, first of all, when Draco threatens Ron, Hermione leaps in front of Ron to protect him and Ron cowers (yes, cowers) behind her. When Harry assaults Draco and company with snow, Hermione thinks it’s great fun and Ron was terrified and said it wasn’t funny at all. The movie goes completely against the innate characters of both Ron and Hermione in order to present Hermione in a better light and Ron as a farce of a character. It also bothers me that Harry stole Neville’s lolly in Honeydukes.

I have read a couple of different interviews with Kloves wherein he has said that he will always choose to write for Hermione if given the opportunity. He admits that he gives her the lines of other characters. I love canon Ron and Hermione. I think Ron is a great mate. He had a lot of growing up to do but don’t we all. He has a great sense of humor and will always go to any length to defend a friend. Hermione had a great journey in the books as well. She’s not perfect. She’s not always right. She panics under pressure. These things make her lovable, charming, real, and human. In the movies, Ron is background noise and Hermione is omniscient, omnipotent, and perfect. There is nothing about movie Hermione that is appealing to me. If all I had to go on was the movies, I would not like Hermione at all and I would not understand the point of Ron even existing. Thank God for the books. They enable me to love both Ron and Hermione.

That said, as much as I adore and respect Jo Rowling, I will never need anyone to tell me what my opinion is. This article changes nothing about my opinion of Steve Kloves. I think he is a fine script writer and a subpar adaptation writer. I’m glad that Jo is happy with the adaptations. I, however, am not. I don’t intend to offend anyone with that statement. It’s just what I believe and I am entitled to state my opinion without being attacked for it which I have been, on this very site, in the past.

Posted by DeliaDee on April 20, 2011, 10:00 PM report to moderator
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IMO, JKR made a big mistake (money most likely played a large role) in allowing the movies to be made before the series was fully written, and by allowing the movie makers to change characterization.
As the previous poster said, it’s good to know that JKR likes the adaptations, but many of her readers do not. The first film was the closest to the books, but after that, the characters became more and more distorted, and directors/Kloves added/changed things to their liking.
I once joked (a long time ago, in a forum that no longer exists) that I wouldn’t be surprised if Hermione got Ron’s line in PoA, and of course, she did, plus many more.
A scriptwriter/director admitting a huge preference for a certain character is a problem, and I’m fairly convinced that JKR’s later books were influenced by the movies.
There were even fans speculating that in the movies Hermione would choose Harry instead of Ron, since in the movies the relationships were very much changed, and so were the characters, to the point that Ron became an unrecognizable parody.
Rupert is a very good actor (watch his range in the first movie, and the last one, and his other works), so saying that he is a quiet person and therefore Ron is, too, makes no sense.
So, no, this article did not change my opinion on Kloves’ skills in any way.

Posted by reader on April 21, 2011, 12:12 AM report to moderator
Harry_thumb
123 Points

Look at it this way, ye complainers- if Jo wasn’t fazed by how Steve altered the books to make them filmable, don’t you be, either. There is plenty of parts I wished he had left in but didn’t. But, overall, what he DID leave in was gospel, more or less. And any minor changes he made were done so with Jo’s blessing, based on her comments about him in the article.

Posted by Paskunius Senus on April 21, 2011, 12:01 PM report to moderator
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110 Points

That was really interesting to read. I liked seeing the book page and the script, but the script wasn’t final because there is a line that wasn’t in the movie. It was really cool!

Posted by moisenallie16 on April 21, 2011, 02:43 PM report to moderator
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Give me a break- of course Jo is not going to publicly criticise Kloves. There is too much money involved with film 8 due soon and then videos etc. This so called praise means nothing. Anyway- Stephen Fry has had a bigger influence on HER actual writing of the books than anyone- see the BBC conversation-Roling and Fry- Christmas 2006.

Posted by Beazle on April 21, 2011, 04:45 PM report to moderator
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444 Points

I loved hearing Rowling’s comments on Steve Kloves and his writing, understanding of the characters and his collaborative relationship with her.

It should really put to rest all the criticism of his scripts. I said a long time ago that if JKR was happy with the script writing, the rest of us should get over it.

I have always felt that the things that are missing or not properly done (imo) in the movies was more the fault of the director and producer. The director is at fault for leaving things out or putting things in (Cuaron’s shrunken heads) or the producers for insisting on marketing the films as children’s films after the first three or four.

It was also a great insight into what it must have been like for Rowling to share her vision with someone else. That would take such an enormous amount of trust, and if she trusted Kloves that much, then it’s good enough for me.

Posted by Eeyore on April 21, 2011, 05:23 PM report to moderator
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Beazle said:
Give me a break- of course Jo is not going to publicly criticise Kloves. There is too much money involved with film 8 due soon and then videos etc. This so called praise means nothing.

Exactly. It would be monumentally foolish to put down the last movie, or any of them.
We’ll probably never quite know how JKR really feels about the adaptations. She wasn’t nearly as involved in the later ones, as she was in the first film.

I hope that there will be a remake some day, taking its time with the books. Maybe a mini series.
Just because JKR says she loves the films doesn’t mean that everyone who has loved the books needs to agree, or keep quiet about the shortcomings.

Posted by reader on April 21, 2011, 06:02 PM report to moderator
Prophecy_thumb
799 Points

Exactly. I am not going to have my opinion told to me. As I said previously, if Jo is happy with the adaptations, I’m very pleased for her. That does not change what I think of them. Jo is not telling us all that we have to like the adaptations just because she does. Why are some of you saying that our opinion must mesh with Jo’s? I was happy enough with the first two movies despite the differences because, however little the changes made sense, they were small enough not to bother me over much. When the third movie opened with Harry doing several spells in a row in his room on Privet Drive whilst on summer vacation and not getting in trouble with the Ministry for it, I knew we were in trouble. Turns out I was right (in my humble opinion).

Posted by DeliaDee on April 21, 2011, 08:23 PM report to moderator
Prophecy_thumb
799 Points

Exactly. I am not going to have my opinion told to me. As I said previously, if Jo is happy with the adaptations, I’m very pleased for her. That does not change what I think of them. Jo is not telling us all that we have to like the adaptations just because she does. Why are some of you saying that our opinion must mesh with Jo’s? I was happy enough with the first two movies despite the differences because, however little the changes made sense, they were small enough not to bother me over much. When the third movie opened with Harry doing several spells in a row in his room on Privet Drive whilst on summer vacation and not getting in trouble with the Ministry for it, I knew we were in trouble. Turns out I was right (in my humble opinion).

Posted by DeliaDee on April 21, 2011, 08:24 PM report to moderator
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46 Points

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Posted by Ronniekins on April 21, 2011, 10:01 PM report to moderator
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3455 Points

awesome article! i love Jo’s openness, she is remarkable! however…i just have one ittsy-bittsy question about the “only table we were allowed to smoke at” part…Jo “with me its 40 a day or its nothing—i cant smoke” (documentary 2007). im confused…

Posted by Catherine ( *SQUEE!*) on April 22, 2011, 09:31 PM report to moderator
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799 Points

I don’t understand the confusion, JK jr. As you quoted, with her “it’s 40 a day or nothing”. Clearly, if she opts to smoke, she smokes constantly so it’s better if she doesn’t smoke at all. It’s very straight-forward. Or are you employing this a not-so-subtle dig at the fact that she does sometimes choose to exercise her right to smoke? (I’m teasing, just now. Please don’t take what I just said as being mean because it’s not. I’m just playing.)

Posted by DeliaDee on April 23, 2011, 06:59 AM report to moderator
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10471 Points

J.K.Rowling is so amazing. :D Did you guys hear that she’s making a Harry Potter Encyclopedia? I can’t wait!

Posted by . on April 23, 2011, 07:00 PM report to moderator
Lily___james_potter_thumb
948 Points

I just love how she ‘melted’ when she understood that he really gets Hermione and ‘Please don’t love Ron. Ron is so easy to love, please don’t love Ron’ made me laugh out loud!

Posted by Miss Weasley on April 24, 2011, 10:39 AM report to moderator
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