Chris Columbus remembers difficult ghosts, Hermione’s teeth, and more in the first episode of EW's Binge
It’s the second best thing to receiving your own Hogwarts letter: the podcast debut of EW’s Binge of Harry Potter is finally here!
In our premiere episode — all about the first tale, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone — Entertainment Weekly writers Marc Snetiker and C. Molly Smith get on the line with director Chris Columbus (helmer of Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets) to quiz him about the stories he told on screen, and those he’s never told off screen. Plus, in this episode, Marc and Molly hash out the 10 biggest moments from Sorcerer’s Stone and revisit the introductions of everyone from Ron and Hermione to Snape and Fluffy.
As a special tease of what you can expect from this week’s podcast, here are five (of the many) highlights Columbus shares in the latest episode:
1. Peeves: The one that got away
Something that was especially hard to let go in translating the book to the screen was Peeves, the poltergeist and Columbus’ favorite character from Sorcerer’s Stone. “We needed to cut something because the film was close to three hours,” Columbus says. “He was going to be a completely CGI character and that saved us a considerable amount of money, but also created a considerable amount of heartbreak.” Fans never got to see Peeves, but Columbus describes the troublemaking character’s appearance — or, what he might have looked like had he made the cut. “The footage exists so there’s the potential that someday we could put it back together if people really were that interested.” (Yes, please.)
2. Emma’s fake teeth
Hermione had some cosmetic changes early on. “The thing we shot on the first day of Sorcerer’s Stone was the final train sequence where Harry looks at Hogwarts and Emma, Dan, and Rupert are huddled outside of the train,” Columbus explains. “It was a big thing in the books about [Hermione’s] teeth. She sort of had an overbite, so [Emma’s] wearing fake teeth in that scene.” That, however, didn’t last long, as Columbus explains in the podcast his reasoning for the change.
3. The Great Hall candle debacle
Columbus aimed to take a “hands-on approach in terms of practicality” through having tangible props on set, and while that helped ground the production, it also led to his hardest day shooting. “We designed the Great Hall with hundreds of candles that were on monofilament strings and all of them were lit with flames and they were hanging,” he says. “Those flames were…causing the candles to drop, so suddenly right before we were supposed to shoot all of the kids coming into the Great Hall, candles are dropping left and right.” So, did production shut down!?
4. Regrets about Hagrid
Looking back, Columbus wishes he could have made a certain half-giant man appear to be a little more, well, giant. “I always thought Hagrid should be a little bigger,” he says. “Believe it or not, we didn’t have the resources or the money to actually create a CGI version of Hagrid for the first couple of films, so we had a rugby player in a gigantic Hagrid suit who worked in the wide shots for us. He was actually walking there with the kids, and then we did forced perspective sets for Robbie (Coltrane) and created an image of Robbie being much bigger than he was, but I always thought Hagrid should be about two feet taller and about 100 pounds heavier.”
5. Basketball with Dumbledore
In their downtime, the cast and crew turned to sports to blow off steam. “I had Warner Bros. send me a backstop and a bunch of baseball equipment, so we built a baseball field outside of Leavesden and the cast and crew would play baseball everyday if it were nice, and if not, we built a basketball court inside of Leavesden with a huge Hogwarts painting in the middle,” Columbus recalls. “I remember Richard Harris dressed as Dumbledore cheering me on when I was playing basketball. That may be one of the more fun moments I’ve had in my life.” What we would give for a Pensieve right now to see this for ourselves.
But that’s not all! Listeners of EW’s BINGE have the chance to win a pair of tickets to EW PopFest where Eddie Redmayne will reveal an exclusive sneak peek of the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Just listen to the new episode and email your answer to the trivia question below to firstname.lastname@example.org. The winner will be chosen at random. EW PopFest runs from Oct. 29-30 at The Reef in Downtown Los Angeles. For more information, go to EWPopFest.com.
TRIVIA QUESTION: Aside from the Peeves sequence, what other scene didn’t make it into Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone?
Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast for more exciting giveaways from upcoming episodes. Send your questions and comments on Twitter to @marcsnetiker and@cmollysmith, or email email@example.com. EW’s Binge is produced by EW’s Cristina Everett and edited by Will Malnati of At Will Radio.