HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN
Roundtable Interview with David Heyman, Christopher Columbus and Mark Radcliffe, producres
Azkaban press junket, May 24, 2004, New York City
Brought to you by The Leaky Cauldron, DanRadcliffe.com, HPANA and Mugglenet
Mugglenet: We know in Chamber of Secrets there were supposed to be subtle clues about what was coming in future books - is there any of that in the third movie?
DH: I’m not sure about the second movie having suggestions, but yeah I think that’s true, I think if you are true to the spirit of these, each book, all the books are setups for book seven. Book seven is the climax. Each book is building to that place. So each books sets up sort of what happens thereafter. In the third book you have the beginning of the Ron and Hermione relationship. I think there are little things in terms of the characterizations that suggest what’s going to happen. I don’t know - actually we’re just true to book three. I don’t know what happens in book six or seven, unfortunately.
Mugglenet: So there weren’t any glaringly obvious clues anywhere?
David Heyman: I think just, the Ron and Hermione thing is the most obvious, leading to book four and book five. But not really. I’m sure that there is some stuff with Neville, but not really. I don’t know what happens in book six or seven.
TLC: Did you guys have a heart attack when you saw the size of book five?
DH: Book four’s pretty big! [Laughter]
TLC: So how is that translating right now as you prepare to get it done?
DH: We started shooting three weeks ago. It’s going to be one film, it’s not going to be two. We will make choices, there will be things that will be cut. We cut things out of three, we cut things out of two, we cut things out of one. We’re going to have to cut a few more things out of four. But as long as we are true to the spirit of the books and as long as there’s a very strong narrative I think we’ll be ok.
Q: How different was it for you [Chris Columbus] to be producing instead of directing?
Chris Columbus: Not really, I had more, I got out for the reason of wanting to spend more time with my family, which I got to do. I got to do some writing, and I got to produce the movie, which was great. So the hardest part of directing these films is actually setting up the whole world. Casting all of these people, building all of those sets, which are still in use and will continue to be in use until they build the Harry Potter Theme Park [Laughter]. So, I feel great about that. Now we’ve created a world, that directors can come in and, basically, as a director, let’s be honest, you come in and the first thing you have to worry about are designing the sets [and] casting the movie. Our directors no longer have to worry about that. It’s a great playground for directors, and they can actually, there’s a sense of freedom and fun, coming in and directing a Harry Potter film. So I feel great about it. I love what Alfonso’s done with the material, I love what he’s done with the kids. The kids, who, at first, were, you know, basically having a little difficulty being on a set and performing as actors. They were able to get through one line before they looked in the camera or took a bite out of the microphone. So we were able to get them to the second movie and they were able to do two or three lines and that was very exciting. And then when I saw this film and I saw the dailies I thought, “God, he’s able to shoot an entire scene in one shot!” It was a revelation. These kids have now become professional working actors so I feel very, very proud.
DH: I think Alfonso also felt liberated by that. So much of the hard, I mean, there’s a lot of hard work ahead, but a lot of the foundations have been built by Chris and he embraced that, and yet I think we as a franchise have to continue to allow directors to make their own films. It’s really important that each director is able to make his or her own stamp on film. Chris made his stamp, Alfonso made his. But the foundations are there, and as long as you’re true to those foundations and to the spirit of the books, I think we’re in good shape.
Q: In the next book Hogwarts becomes host to different school and different nationalities. Have you stared casting, obviously you’re in production, so what kind of spin did that give to the Hogwarts franchise?
DH: We’ve been casting. We’ve cast a few of them, we’ve cast our Cho Chang, and we’ve cast a few of the other parts. There’s still some casting to do. We haven’t cast Voldemort in spit of what’s been written. But we are in the casting process and yes there’ll be, we got a French school, we got a Bulgarian school. It’s more international.
TLC: You’re almost past the halfway mark with this series - how has your approach to all of this changed since the beginning of these films?
DH: Well I’m the only one continuing, these two are leaving me behind. I am the only one. These two abandoned me.
CC: We’ve moved back to America.
Mark Radcliffe: it’s time to go home.
CC: We’re beating those English taxes. We’re tax dodgers. [laughter]
TLC: So how have you (Heyman) evolved as this experience has gone on, as a producer?
DH: I think you learn something from each experience and as a producer you learn every day teaches you something and every film teaches you something. And each film we hope is a development from the one before. As Chris and the kids are much better actors now and we’re hoping that will continue. The visual effects we’re learning more, the technology’s improved, we’ve learned more, so hopefully that will continue. The key job in all this is to be faithful to the books in spirit as they get larger and larger it’s harder and harder to be literally faithful but it’s spirit and I think that’s what’s most important.