Daniel Radcliffe, widely recognized as the face of the Harry Potter franchise, says that the director of the first two films inspired him the most while filming. Based on J.K. Rowling’s successful series of children and young adult fantasy novels, the Harry Potter films kicked off in 2001 with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, directed by Chris Columbus. The director stuck around for the second film as well, before handing the baton to Alfonso Cuarón for the third movie. Mike Newell sat in the director’s chair for fourth film Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, with Fantastic Beasts director David Yates wrapping the franchise with four more movies. All films starred Radcliffe as the titular wizard, with Rupert Grint and Emma Watson rounding out the series’ magical trio.
Since the films wrapped in 2011, their legacy has spawned another film franchise, though admittedly much less successful. Harry Potter fans still remain heavily invested in the original series of movies, and the cast has often spoken about the effects the experience of filming had on their careers and personal lives. Due to many of the film’s stars essentially growing up on set, starring in the movies for a decade from the time they were children, the Harry Potter stars have maintained a close bond, with Draco actor Tom Felton recently speaking out about his friendships with both Radcliffe and Watson.
In a video for GQ, Radcliffe opened up about the many actors and crew members who have influenced him since his time on Harry Potter. The franchise star cited the influence of several memorable talents over the years, including Imelda Staunton, Michael Gambon, David Thewlis, and Gary Oldman. Though Radcliffe stated that he learned the most from the actors who could « be just chatting away to everyone and having a nice day, and then able to give an incredibly terrifying or intense performance, » he revealed that the biggest influence on his career was actually the director of the first two films, Columbus. See why below:
“I’m incredibly lucky to have worked with all of them, but honestly the person that I think had the greatest influence on me out of all of those is Chris Columbus. When Chris came back for the twentieth anniversary reunion last year, he came to the studios, and there were people on set who were running across the set to see this director that they had not seen in twenty years, and they remembered him and he remembered them, and there are so few people. In the industry that can like, inspire that in people, like they genuinely…the crews on the first tow Potter films would have followed Chris Columbus into hell. We just loved him so much and I think a huge amount of his enthusiasm for like, being on set, is sort of where eI take mine from and the reason I think I love the job so much is in no small part due to him.”
Radcliffe wasn’t alone in feeling inspired by Columbus’ infectious energy, since many have credited Columbus’ genuine passion and enthusiasm as the reason that those first two films were able to successfully set up the rest of the franchise. When the Harry Potter films were starting out, there was no guarantee for the expensive films’ success despite the books’ lasting influence on pop culture. But Columbus was able to successfully translate the magic of the books onto the screen in a way that stayed faithful to the source material while adapting well to the on-screen format. With the high energy, joy, and coziness that the first two films emanated, the franchise was able to move into the darker tone of the later books with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban organically, having already established a universe bursting with magic and love.
Radcliffe’s depiction of his experiences on set offer another reason that Harry Potter remains so beloved in the public consciousness – those involved seemed to love it as much as the films’ fans. The 20th anniversary of the films, which aired on HBO Max earlier this year, brought the cast and crew together for an emotional and heartwarming celebration of the movies, and many acknowledged that Harry Potter will always be a huge part of them. As the years pass, those nostalgic for the wizarding world can look forward to hearing the cast continue to recall their experiences while filming, as well as rewatching the movies, which are streaming on Peacock.