Chris Columbus' Time Directing Harry Potter Taught Daniel Radcliffe To Love Filmmaking

Looking back, the success of the "Harry Potter" movies seem inevitable. It was based off a beloved children's book series, filled with a cast of renowned British actors, and we know now that the main trio of child actors would grow into their roles just fine. But as "Percy Jackson" fans learned the hard way in the early 2010s, a bad first impression can easily kill this sort of series. The two "Percy Jackson" movies technically did fine at the box office, but the adaptation of the third novel never panned out, possibly because the movies had so thoroughly destroyed any goodwill fans of the book might've had for them. If alternate universes exist, there's definitely one out there where the "Harry Potter" franchise fizzled out after one or two mediocre films.

Arguably, the biggest difference between the two franchises comes down to casting. This sounds obvious, but good child actors are sometimes hard to come by. Still, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint were definitely not amazing actors straight out of the gate. They gave great performances in the later films, but there were definitely some rough awkward moments in the first film, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." Luckily for these newbie child actors, director Chris Columbus was great at working with children. 

"The person that I think had the greatest influence on me out of all of those is Chris Columbus." Daniel Radcliffe explained in a recent interview. "The crews of the first two Potter films would've followed Chris Columbus into hell, you know? They would. We just loved him so much."

Staying positive in an exhausting situation

"I think every director kind of came on at a point we needed them to, and where we were all ready to be then taken to another, you know, development, developmental stage of our acting," Radcliffe said. "I don't think anyone else could have started the series in the way Chris did. I don't think anyone else could have wrangled 30 kids and kept us all focused and happy in the way that he did."

The production for the first two movies was famously difficult, consisting of "roughly 320 days" of "back-to-back shooting." While Columbus certainly had his work cut out for him as he dealt with so many new child actors at a time, he was still pleasantly surprised by Radcliffe in particular, who was enthusiastically chosen for the role by both Columbus and author J.K. Rowling. "We knew we were onto something with Dan," Columbus said, referring to a particularly honest, emotional performance the kid gave on the second day of filming. 

Columbus left the series after "Chamber of Secrets" due to sheer exhaustion, but as far as the kids on set were concerned, he was nothing but a consistently kind, encouraging figure. "I think a huge amount of his enthusiasm for being on set is sort of where I take mine from," Radcliffe said, "and the reason I think I love the job so much is in no small part due to him."