''Harry Potter'' screen stars -- Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, and Tim Roth are rumored to have roles in the film adaptation of the first Harry Potter book

By Jeff Jensen
Updated July 21, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

Harry Potter has survived the Whomping Willow and Lord Voldemort, but can he withstand the terror of — eeek! — Hollywood adaptation? We’ll find out next year, when Warner Bros. releases the first of what the studio hopes will be a series of Harry flicks. Nobody knows who will play Harry, though stars rumored to be in the running for other roles include Tim Roth (as Professor Snape), Maggie Smith (Professor McGonagall), and Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid). Here’s J.K. Rowling’s take on the move to the big screen:

How do you feel about the movie?
The film makes me both a bit nervous and excited. The childish part of me — and I mean that in the best way — wants to watch Quidditch. In general, to physically see what I’ve had inside my head for 10 years will be the most extraordinary experience, and I do believe — because I’ve seen some things already — that it will be extraordinary.

So you’ve seen stuff? Like storyboards?
Maybe — maybe other stuff.

Will Hogwarts be an international school, as rumored?
It really does look like it’s going to be an entirely British cast. This is not me being nationalistic, this is me wanting to be true to the book. As far as people thinking it needs to be more international, this is people underestimating American children.

What do you think of Chris Columbus as the director?
I don’t think I can sing his praises highly enough. He really gets the books. The person I was most nervous about meeting, by far, was Steve Kloves, who’s writing the screenplay. [But] he’s great. Being a novelist, you couldn’t have a more solitary job if you tried. But working with Steve, to work collaboratively, it’s been a really nice change.

So you do have input into the script?
Yeah. Steve, again, has been fabulous. He e-mails me quite a long list of questions — like, What are the 12 uses of dragon’s blood? — and I e-mail him back the answers.

Is he working on the second [movie]?
I hope so. I honestly don’t know where we are with that, but I’d love him to do it.

I’ve heard there was discussion of filming two films back-to-back.
There has been. It’s a timing thing — I don’t know what they are going to do. But it’s still possible they will do that, yes.