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Feature: Harry Potter

Political Animal

Director David Yates

Director David Yates tells us about taking the helm for the fifth movie in the record-breaking series, and how his past work helped him establish the tone for The Order of the Phoenix

Director David Yates is the new boy. Whereas the cast, producers and many of the crew have been working on Harry Potter for most of the century, this is not only the director’s first work on the franchise, but also his first major movie, after a career spent almost entirely on television. But, as producers David Heyman and David Bowen explain elsewhere, it was precisely that television work that made him the perfect choice for this installment in the saga, and since we met him on set they’ve confirmed their confidence by selecting him to direct sixth movie The Half-Blood Prince. But one thing Yates didn’t bring to the table was an intimate knowledge of Harry Potter…

“I knew very little actually,” the director admits, as he prepares to shoot the climactic final sequences of the film. “I’d been so busy doing my television work, so I had to catch up with everything. I got a phone call asking whether or not I’d be interested in coming on board, and so I said, ‘Well, please send the book,’ and they sent the book, the first Potter book I’d ever read, but it took me about five minutes to fall in love with the world and the characters, because it’s difficult not to. It’s such a fantastic… so I was never a Potter fan before I started, but I have become one since I entered Hogwarts, it’s become irresistible really.

“I’d certainly watched the movies, yeah,” he adds, “but I hadn’t quite caught up with Jo’s original books. That was the most fun I had, working with the books over a three week period,” describing the sort of job most kids would love to have when they grow up. “Started with the first one, so it was an intensive Potter catch-up.

“There’s obviously so much more material in the books than could ever end up in the films,” Yates continues, comparing the two versions and considering the efforts of his predecessors, Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuaron and Mike Newell, “but I thought Chris Columbus made a really sensible adaptation of the first two, because they’re so deeply loved, and they seem to be very faithful adaptations of the worlds that existed. I think Alfonso’s very personal point of view was the first one to make a bit more of a leap with things, and I thought Mike’s was enormous fun, but there’s always the challenge of trying to distil so much material, its always a challenge.”

Read the full interview and much more on Harry Potter in
Xposé Special #32

Photo © Warner Bros
Feature © Visual Imagination 2007. Not for reproduction

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Xposé Special #32, see below for ordering options
Xposé Special #32
Special - Harry Potter 5 2007
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