HarryPotter.com Nov. 21, 2002
The Harry Potter director speaks! 

HarryPotter.com is pleased to present the transcript of an exclusive live chat recently held with "Harry Potter" director Chris Columbus. This transcript is courtesy of AOL Live.

LIVEJessicaMae: As a HUGE 'Harry Potter' fan, I am thrilled to announce that Chris Columbus has arrived! How are you tonight?

Chris Columbus: I'm doing great! Thank you. It's great to be on AOL!

LIVEJessicaMae: Fun! Let's get started. LHSVikingchic08 is ready to dive right in. She writes:

Question: Hi, Chris. I really LOVED how true you stayed to the first book. Is it true that this is the last 'Harry Potter' movie you will be working on, because producers and scriptwriters don't want to follow the next five books as a guide when making the movie? ~Cathy, Ohio

Chris Columbus: No, the real reason I'm not directing the next 'Harry Potter' film is because I basically need more time to spend with my own family. We will continue to be faithful to the story lines of the book, yet we certainly will encourage Alfonzo Cuarón to bring his own vision and magical style to the film.

LIVEJessicaMae: You'll be missed in Potterland, but it will be fun to watch your other projects. Here's one from QBee27:

Question: As you know, everyone is a critic, especially when 'Harry Potter' is concerned. Were there any particular script changes that you had to make that you would like to defend?

Chris Columbus: We had to lose the Death Day party, and I do miss that, but...

LIVEJessicaMae: Poor Nearly Headless Nick!

Chris Columbus: ...to get everything we wanted into the film would have taken -- the film would have been eight hours long.

LIVEJessicaMae: GundamXcalibur07 would like to know:

Question: Chris, is it true that you and some of the other cast are some of the moving portraits in 'Chamber of Secrets'?

Chris Columbus: No, but some of our crew people are in those portraits. There are paintings of Stuart Craig, production designer; Mark Radcliffe, our producer and various other crew members.

LIVEJessicaMae: These questions are very cool and specific. JammyjIMS asks:

Question: Is the fact that this movie's name is the same both in the United States and internationally a nice change from the two different film titles that you had to deal with last year ('Philosopher's Stone' vs. 'Sorcerer's Stone')?

Chris Columbus: The name change didn't prove to be a big problem for us last time. There were only three scenes where we needed to shoot alternate footage for the films.

Question: Let's talk about Dobby. How did you prevent him from becoming the Jar Jar Binks of 'Harry Potter'?

Chris Columbus: The key to Dobby is that we wanted to -- we hired a stage actor to perform Dobby, and we wanted his performance to be very realistic and natural.

LIVEJessicaMae: SweetLiLSk8tr asks:

Question: Has the atmosphere of the 'Harry Potter' set changed at all? I know the stars -- Daniel, Emma and Rupert -- have grown up and all. Is that extremely evident, or are they still chirpy young kids?

Chris Columbus: They've grown up and become much more confident and self-assured as actors, but as people, they've remained the same. They're still incredibly polite and down-to-earth.

LIVEJessicaMae: Did any pranks go on during the filming of the movie?

Chris Columbus: Certainly not as many pranks as the last film. Everyone was pretty committed to their work.

LIVEJessicaMae: Here's one from Boots2LicKK:

Question: We know that Daniel Radcliffe had to learn Parseltongue for this movie. How did you handle this language of snakes in the movie?

Chris Columbus: We essentially invented a language for Parseltongue. We dealt with a linguistic expert from Oxford University, and I discussed with him the sound and the feeling I wanted to get out of Parseltongue. He went back and created an alphabet for Parseltongue, enabling us to translate any English phrases into Parseltongue.

LIVEJessicaMae: Did you pick up on it at all? If so, do you ever use it? It would be sweet to yell in snake -- LOL!

Chris Columbus: Well, I used it in the film, not in real life. If I ever start speaking in Parseltongue in real life, it's time to have myself committed!

LIVEJessicaMae: EnErGy985 has a good question:

Question: What do your children think about you directing 'Harry Potter'?

Chris Columbus: They love it, because they get to visit the set with their classmates. And we've actually created so much of the world of Hogwarts that it's like visiting various classrooms and corridors that exist in Hogwarts. We've actually renamed the studio where we're shooting 'Harry Potter' Potterland. It's a little joke amongst ourselves, because so much of Harry Potter's world is built on those stages.

LIVEJessicaMae: Do you think that they will miss having you work on the movie?

Chris Columbus: Well, I certainly will miss the kids, and I believe that our relationship was very strong and intensely collaborative. When you do two films like this, you become very close with the actors. So we will miss each other tremendously.

LIVEJessicaMae: Here's a hard one from SnowLover34:

Question: Describe your most difficult business challenge while making the second movie.

Chris Columbus: I have no comment. The question doesn't make any sense to me.

LIVEJessicaMae: Let's talk about the cast. Here's one from C8jO99:

Question: Did cast additions like Kenneth Branagh fit in with the rest of the cast?

Chris Columbus: Yes. We went to Kenneth Branagh because he's an incredible actor who can lose himself in a role. In other words, Ken actually became Gilderoy Lockhart. When you see him on screen, you believe he is Gilderoy Lockhart. And we needed an actor of his caliber to fit in with great English actors like Maggie Smith, Richard Harris and Alan Rickman.

LIVEJessicaMae: He's amazing. I can't imagine a better choice. Here's another question about the cast. SweetLiLSk8tr asks:

Question: Do you think that the sudden and gigantic fame of the three stars -- Emma, Rupert and Daniel -- will have a big effect on them?

Chris Columbus: We've been very careful to prepare them for that, and obviously it's difficult to maintain a sense of anonymity when you are seen by millions of people all over the world. So the kids tend to get recognized on the street a little more, and their lives can be disrupted a little more than two years ago. However, we want them to live as normal a life as possible under these circumstances. And as a director, I encourage them to take things like film premieres and talk shows with a grain of salt. In other words, those things in life aren't really important or realistic, and to always put your friends and family first.

LIVEJessicaMae: Sounds like they're lucky to have you has a director and sort of mentor. Talksalot223 would like to know:

Question: How long did it take you to make the first and second 'Harry Potter' movies?

Chris Columbus: The first one was shot in 150 days, and the second film was shot in 165-170 days.

LIVEJessicaMae: A lot of fans are sad about the passing of Richard Harris. SWIM bee x22 asks:

Question: What are you going to do about Dumbledore since Richard Harris died?

Chris Columbus: It's too early to make a decision, but in our minds there's only one person we can think of as Dumbledore, and that's Richard Harris. I'm sure as time passes we'll be able to make some sort of decision about what will happen with that particular character, but it's going to take some time.

LIVEJessicaMae: SugarRush68 wants to know:

Question: What was the most memorable thing to happen on the set of 'Chamber'? -- Ashley

Chris Columbus: Every day was memorable, but I think the first day working with Kenneth Branagh was probably the most fun and exciting moment for all of our cast members and crew people.

Question: Are you the only American on the set?

Chris Columbus: No, there are our co-producers, Mark Radcliffe and Michael Barnathan. And our screenwriter, Steve Kloves, is American. We also have an associate producer, Paula DuPré Pesman, who is also American, and my assistant, Elizabeth Devereaux.

LIVEJessicaMae: Shout out to Elizabeth! HPTriviaClub sounds like a big fan:

Question: Hey, Chris. First of all, awesome job. And for my question, what do you think of Internet piracy and movies? Do you think it will affect the sales of not only 'Harry Potter,' but other movies as well?

Chris Columbus: I don't understand it, because as a film lover, nothing seems more depressing than watching a horrible-quality version of a film on the Internet. I think it's important to stop these people from pirating films, and with 'Harry Potter,' we have a process in place that will enable us to actually find the film pirates. Obviously we can't divulge the method we are using, but it's a very high-tech method that will take us directly to the doors of these people, and it's a process that will now be used in almost every film that's released.

LIVEJessicaMae: Oooo, secret-agent type stuff, eh? Sounds cool. SWIMGIRL3611 would like to know:

Question: What was the funniest thing that happened behind the camera? Can't wait to see the movie!

LIVEJessicaMae: These are hard ones, LOL! Sounds like a serious set.

Chris Columbus: We were so serious about the work that we had very little time to make jokes. But we spent a great deal of the day laughing, particularly Rupert Grint, who played Ron Weasley. He seemed to laugh at least once a day during each take, and his laughter was very contagious and it would get all of us laughing.

LIVEJessicaMae: Which 'Harry Potter' book is your favorite?

Chris Columbus: 'Chamber of Secrets,' followed by 'Goblet of Fire.'

LIVEJessicaMae: Has that one always been your favorite?

Chris Columbus: It changes from time to time. When I was working on 'Sorcerer's Stone,' that was my favorite. And I think you need to fall in love with the material that you are working with, as a director. And early on, before I started directing the film, 'The Prisoner of Azkaban' was my favorite. I do go back to the books every now and then and reread them purely for pleasure. So next year at this time I could have a new favorite!

LIVEJessicaMae: DSAngel61185 is diggin' a cast member we haven't talked about yet:

Question: Sean Biggerstaff is such an amazing actor! What was it like working with him?

Chris Columbus: We knew when we first cast Sean that he had the potential of being a big star. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of scenes with Sean in the 'Harry Potter' film, but I believe that this young man will be a major acting force in film.

LIVEJessicaMae: He's a cutie!

Chris Columbus: There's even one part of me that believes he may someday be playing James Bond.

LIVEJessicaMae: We are almost out of time. Let's take a few more questions.

Question: Do you have any other projects coming up in the near future?

Chris Columbus: No, we're working on -- obviously, I'll be producing 'Harry Potter III,' and I'm looking forward to producing the 'Fantastic Four.' After that, I'll be doing a lot of reading and looking for my next project.

LIVEJessicaMae: Maverick934 asks:

Question: Is it true that the third 'Harry Potter' movie will not be coming out until 2003?

Chris Columbus: The third 'Harry Potter' movie will be released sometime in 2004, probably the summer.

LIVEJessicaMae: ::gasp!:: That's a long time. I'll be anxiously waiting! Thank you so much for stopping by to chat about 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.' I wish that we could have gotten to more questions.

Chris Columbus: Thank you. It's been great to be here.

LIVEJessicaMae: Is there anything that you'd like to say to the fans?

Chris Columbus: Well, I feel 'The Chamber of Secrets' is the best film I've directed up until this point in my career, and I think you will be very happy with it. And thanks for all of your support over the years.

LIVEJessicaMae: Take care, and come see us again! I can't wait to see the movie on Friday, Nov. 15! And thanks to the audience. Have a great evening, and don't forget to check out Keyword: Harry Potter for movie exclusives and more!