Harry Potter Director Chris Columbus Reflects on Original Film's 20th Anniversary

The Harry Potter book series started enchanting young readers in the late '90s, making it a beloved series among fantasy fans, though it wasn't until 2001 that the Wizarding World really took the world of pop culture by storm, thanks to the feature-film adaptation of the debut book. Released in the U.S. as Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone, that first film was directed by Chris Columbus, establishing the tone and mythology of the franchise going forward, as well as enlisting young actors who would bring these characters to life in seven subsequent films over the next decade. Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone celebrates its 20th anniversary on November 16th.

"The goal was always to cast kids who you hoped could carry the franchise for the next several years," Columbus detailed to ComicBook.com of the challenge of casting performers for an entire franchise. "None of us have any idea how kids are going to age, or if they're going to become better and better actors. But as a result of casting those three kids ... The first film I always call 'acting class' because none of them had that much experience. If you notice, there's a lot of cuts in the first film. We had to cut, we had four cameras running, because we never knew what the kids were going to do, but by the time they got to the second film and particularly [Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban], these kids were able to walk, talk, deliver an entire scene and you could do it in one shot. I always felt great about where they got to in terms of acting abilities under the first two films, but I never even expected them to age as wonderfully as they did. And their acting just continued to get better and better. A lot of luck in that particular situation."

In addition to Sorceror's Stone becoming an immensely popular film at the time, both critically and financially, it continues to have a legacy and new generations of fans continue to discover it. With the project bringing with it some inherent risks, as does any adaptation of a beloved property, Columbus noted that it's not a film that he revisits, as he sees too much of his own work on the production and notices the elements he wished he could have improved.

"There's only one film I'll watch front to back, but very few will I sit there and watch them all," the director admitted. "If they're on TV, I'll start to watch the film and then suddenly my hands start to shake. I start to think, 'Oh, my God, I could have done that better. I could have...' And you don't want to drive yourself to that level of madness, so I just turn the channel."

Following the release of the final film in the Harry Potter series back in 2011, the franchise continues to expand, thanks to the Fantastic Beasts series of films and the rumors of a Harry Potter TV series coming to HBO Max. Despite his absence from the series over the years, Columbus could see himself returning to adapt the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child into a film, which follows Harry's exploits nearly two decades after the end of the book series.

"I flirted with the idea -- not flirted, I think it would be just wonderful to do a version of the stage play, Cursed Child, with the original cast because J.J. Abrams did such a wonderful job on rebooting Star Wars with the original cast, that sense of nostalgia immediately, there's something very emotional about that," Columbus confirmed. "And those kids, not such kids anymore, are about the right age to play those roles."

Stay tuned for details on the future of the Harry Potter franchise.

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