''Potter'' Exclusive: A look at the new movie, and more
Get an exclusive first look at the film adaptation of ''Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,'' and look into the future of the franchise
Does being the director of the fourth Harry Potter movie get you an early copy of J.K. Rowling’s sixth book? ”Absolutely not,” laughs Mike Newell with mock bitterness. So much for perks. Instead, the esteemed British helmer of Four Weddings and a Funeral will have to settle for the luster — and pressure — of bringing to screen the shaggy-locked teen wizard’s most pivotal adventure yet: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which finally unleashes the dreaded (and, until now, formless) Lord Voldemort and sets the stage for a war that will wage through the end of the series. It was with slight nervousness that Newell (top left with Daniel Radcliffe) spoke with EW about his unfinished film as he prepared for two test screenings in Chicago last week.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You are the third director to helm a Potter flick, after Chris Columbus and Alfonso Cuarón — though I understand you had a chance to direct the first film. Why did you pass on being the franchise’s founding father?
MIKE NEWELL At the time I was deep into a film [1999’s Pushing Tin], and even though it was a completely different story, it had a lot of computer graphics. I had read the first Potter novel; it was marvelous, but it was going to be difficult in that technical way, even more so because you’re inventing the world. And at that time I was having a difficult time with that same technique. I remember being tremendously conflicted: ”God, I know I should — but can I? Arrrgggh!” But the better man did it: Chris Columbus did a heroic job.
At 734 pages, Goblet was the first of Rowling’s so-called ”fat” Potter books. Was it easy for you and screenwriter Steve Kloves to condense?
Not in the least. We did about 12 formal drafts. A reader can read a rambling narrative like that with great satisfaction, but you can’t possibly do that in a two-and-a-half-hour movie. So there was great angst not only about what one took out but how you gave it a form. That’s one of the things I brought to it: This has to be a thriller, driven by Voldemort and his plot to get three drops of Harry’s blood to regenerate himself.
Image credit: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Murray Close FROM ONE WIZARD TO ANOTHER Director Newell (with Radcliffe) says his goal was to break the franchise ”out of this Goody Two-shoes feel”
Goblet has some extravagant set pieces, including a Quidditch World Cup match and a wizarding tournament between Hogwarts and two rival schools that involves a dragon, a killer hedge maze, and an undersea kingdom. How did you handle that last one?
We built a huge tank — far and away the biggest tank for filmmaking purposes in Europe. Dan [Radcliffe] and the other children involved had to do two seemingly simple things: keep their eyes open and their faces mobile enough to express emotion. They’re fish, you see — they’ve been magically given gills, so they can breathe. So there could be none of that ”screwing up your face and looking panicky because you’re running out of air” stuff. You had 12 seconds before we had to send people down with air masks. We were limited to extraordinarily short stretches of time for each take.
You tapped Ralph Fiennes for Voldemort. Why?
I wanted Voldemort to be a tremendously charismatic man, and Ralph has tremendous charisma. I wanted to have someone who was entirely cold in his heart, and I knew Ralph could do that very well from Schindler’s List. And he’s a star. He has all the presence and command that a star has. That is very useful for this part. You can’t have an undercooked Voldemort.
One of the reasons producer David Heyman wanted you for the job was because you were British, and therefore familiar with the nuances of British school life.
For the other directors, it was research; for me, it was instinct. But it was more than that. It’s my view that children are violent, dirty, corrupt anarchists. Just adults-in-waiting. I was very anxious to break [the franchise] out of this Goody Two-shoes feel. There was one scene where two characters have to fight. They simply weren’t fighting the way I knew they could fight. So I said, ”Which one of you wants to fight me?” One finally volunteered, and we started to fight, and he was still pulling his punches. I said, ”Don’t do that!” So I banged his head on the floor and he banged mine, and we got there. I got up from that with a banged rib.
Image credit: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Murray Close RISING ‘PHOENIX’ Watson, Radcliffe, and Grint (shown in Goblet of Fire) have not yet signed on for Order, but are expected to
A look ahead: Here’s what’s in store for ”Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”
”Rebellion” is how producer David Heyman sums up the plot of the fifth Potter flick, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, in which teenage Harry gets dark and angry, while Voldemort just gets darker and angrier. To direct Phoenix — which begins production early next year for a 2007 holiday release — Heyman tapped a relative unknown, at least Stateside: David Yates, an award-winning British TV director (best known for the politically charged miniseries State of Play) with a rep for visual flair, grit, and humanism. ”It’s important to ground these movies in reality,” says Heyman, who’d been itching to work with Yates for years. ”With Harry’s world on the precipice of war, I wanted a director that will make that feel true. And David can.”
While Yates hones the script with Peter Pan‘s Michael Goldenberg (replacing franchise scribe Steve Kloves, who wanted to focus on directing an adaptation of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), Heyman is making sure his Harry, Ron, and Hermione are ready to play: Officially, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson haven’t signed on for the new sequel — yet. ”We’re finalizing that now. But it’s certainly our intention to have them back,” says Heyman, who declined to elaborate. (Radcliffe told EW last month he was game for more.) Let’s hope Harry is the only one going through a rebellious phase…
Image credit: Harry Potter Fans: Tim Wimborne/Reuters/Corbis POTTER-Y BARN The series fans (like these kids in Sydney, Australia) ate up book 6, and are probably already hungry for book 7
A Harry Future
Based on clues from J.K. Rowling and ”Half-Blood Prince,” we take a stab at predicting what’s in store for book 7, the final in the Potter series
First things Dursley Harry will return to the Dursleys on Privet Drive as he promised Dumbledore. Of Aunt Petunia (his mom’s supposedly nonmagical sister), J.K. Rowling told Katie Couric on Today, ”There’s more to her than meets the eye.”
Horcrux of the issue Before a final showdown with Voldemort, Harry must find and destroy as many as four Horcruxes, objects in which the Dark Lord has hidden part of his soul. (Two others were already neutralized.) One Horcrux, the locket Albus Dumbledore and Harry seek in book 6, was swiped by someone initialed R.A.B. — probably Regulus Black, late brother of Harry’s godfather, Sirius. (In book 5, Harry and Co. found ”a heavy locket that none of them could open” in Black’s mansion.)
Hogwarts and all With the headmaster murdered by a teacher — talk about bad PR — there’s some doubt the school will reopen for Harry’s final year. Harry claims he won’t be back regardless. But Rowling this month acknowledged there ”must obviously be a new” Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, implying classes will resume. Plus, Voldemort might seek the Gryffindor sword Dumbledore said is safely hidden there.
Dead as a Dumbledorenail? The late headmaster had a long tie to phoenixes (he owned one named Fawkes), suggesting the possibility of a return — perhaps to tell Harry the ”thrilling” story he never shared in book 6 of how he grabbed the ring Horcrux. Dumbledore’s portrait at Hogwarts is last seen ”slumbering”; Rowling has never indicated how soon portraits begin to animate.
Brotherly love Rowling has said book 7 won’t introduce any ”major” characters, though previously minor ones may play bigger roles — including a member of the Order of the Phoenix whom readers ”have not yet met properly.” Could this be Aberforth Dumbledore, brother of Albus, the Hog’s Head barkeep who overheard the fateful prophecy about Harry?
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire