Chris Columbus Says He Struggled Shooting These Harry Potter Scenes

At long last, the many creatives behind the Harry Potter films have reunited to celebrate their magical 20 year anniversary — that's right folks, it's officially been two decades since The Boy Who Lived first arrived in theaters. Try not to spiral down the god-I-feel-old rabbit hole just yet, because we have a ton of trivia to unpack from the two-hour fun fact fest of "Harry Potter: Return to Hogwarts." The HBO Max special wasn't kidding about getting everyone back together: the golden trio is joined by main cast members from throughout the franchise, along with the directors who helped bring each magical book to life. This includes the man who started it all, Chris Columbus, director of both "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets."

Among the many revelations addressed in the special, Columbus opens up about the challenges of bringing Harry's journey to the screen — especially as the person kicking off the franchise with its very first film. Finding the perfect cast, shooting a film with an army of children running around set, and giving the story the same magic it had on the page were all very daunting tasks. Literally every scene came with its own set of challenges. Just think of all the moments Columbus had to get on camera, including (but certainly not limited to) a ravenous three-headed dog attack, a battle with a giant basilisk, and the chaos of a flying car crash landing beside a magical castle. Despite the impossibility of those, Columbus revealed that the hardest scene to shoot was just a couple of wizards zipping through the air on brooms.

"You Can't Cancel Quidditch!"

As all Potter fans surely know, when Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) isn't busy saving the world from a magical, genocidal lunatic, the young wizard can be found hovering above the Hogwarts field, searching for a lightning-fast golden ball. Wizards on brooms may be a staple of magical worlds, but for "Sorcerer's Stone," Columbus had to transform that cliche into something entirely new: Quidditch! It's the only magical sport so powerful that it's managed to seep into the real world, now played globally on college campuses and with a major league of its very own. But unlike the version you'll catch in real life, there could be no tucking a mini broomstick between your legs and running across grass in "Sorcerer's Stone" — Columbus had to get 12-year old Daniel Radcliffe soaring through the air. He detailed the process in the special, saying:

"The hardest scene to shoot was Quidditch. And the audience had to understand the rules immediately. So Jo Rowling basically did a rulebook for us, a Quidditch rulebook, explaining every detail of the game. Then Stuart Craig, our production designer, designed the look of the quidditch pitch and really created a pitch that felt authentic and real for a game that is completely unreal."

The signature sport of the Wizarding World has a big role to play in the series (just ask Oliver Wood!). In the first film, it had to enchant both Harry and the audience by showcasing the lighter side of becoming a wizard and injecting magic into something as mundane as sports. At the same time, the stakes had to be clear and we had to understand the game — at least on some level. And as all readers know, Quidditch is nothing if not chaotic. Fans have spent many years combing through the rules of the made-up game and trying to make sense of its insane scoring system and the fact that catching a single ball (albeit a magically fast one) can cause an automatic win. Given all he had to grapple with, it's no wonder Columbus thought the Quidditch game was "the hardest scene to shoot."

"Harry Potter: Return to Hogwarts" is now streaming on HBO Max.