Screenwriter Steve Kloves, the writer who adapted seven of the eight Harry Potter books for film, recently chatted about his processes, cutting scenes from the books, and collaborating with J.K. Rowling.
On J.K Rowling’s input into the film scripts:
‘Jo’s become a really good friend, one of my best friends, and I wish I had more of her … from the beginning she has always said to me, “I know the movies will be very different. I know they can’t be the books, and I don’t want them to be the books. The only thing that matters to me is that you stay true to the characters.” So that’s always been the one thing I feel very much in charge of, protecting the characters, and it’s the thing that upsets me the most when I feel the characters are being violated. That’s when I push back hard.
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.’
On a character violation in Chamber of Secrets:
‘There’s one moment in “The Chamber of Secrets” that I don’t like, where Hagrid enters Hogwarts at the end of the movie and the whole group of assembled students applaud him. That would not happen. And it really upset me. I felt it was a real violation of character. And that was odd because [director] Christopher Columbus is a Potter fiend. He carried the book around with him. You could never catch Chris on anything. But I think Chris felt that he wanted the release of that moment. It was a mild disagreement.’
On the heavily-cut Half-Blood Prince memory scenes:
‘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.’