Peeved about Peeves
The mischievous Hogwarts poltergeist ranked among the movies’ greatest losses for fans — including Sorcerer’s Stone director Chris Columbus. “[It’s] one of my biggest regrets about the first movie,” he admits. He even shot a lengthy scene in which Harry and friends encounter Peeves in a hallway, with the late Rik Mayall (The Young Ones) voicing the character with great bravado, only to cut it altogether. “Compared to a complex character like Dobby — he’s funny, but he’s also a tragic figure — Peeves is more of a one-note guy, and comedy doesn’t translate so well through CGI,” Columbus explains. “Peeves was really Rik’s creation. He managed to tap into that character on the page, so we didn’t feel comfortable just recreating Rik as a CGI character. It felt like we were taking the soul away from Peeves.”
Welsh Green (Dragon 1/3)
The Goblet of Fire introduced enormous dragons to battle Harry and his fellow champions. The process of designing the creatures — which never made it on screen at full scale, as seen here — proved complex and frustrating.
Chinese Fireball (Dragon 2/3)
Before even reaching the effects team, the art department labored over how to visually realize the beasts. Production designer Stuart Craig oversaw the concept art. “We first went to see a professor of anatomy, who put parts on a dragon skeleton,” he remembers. “[The professor] wanted us to put [the large model] in the Dark Arts classroom —we had to suspend this dragon skeleton from the ceiling.” Difficult? You bet.
Swedish Short Snout (Dragon 3/3)
The fact that dragons have six limbs (as opposed to four, like most real animals) rendered the conception especially labor-intensive. But Craig credits his artists — who specialized in creatures — for getting it so right that the final product was simply awe-inspiring. “From the outset, their designs had great credibility. They were totally believable.”
The spinning-top-resembling Dark Detector was meticulously designed and originally slated to appear in The Prisoner of Azkaban; in the original book, it’s where the Sneakoscope made its debut. A scene was conceived in the Great Hall, where Harry receives the Sneakoscope while being told about Hogsmeade, but it was ultimately cut.
Big little Hagrid
In The Chamber of Secrets, one flashback features Tom Riddle confronting a young Hagrid about the death of a student. But in the film version, Hagrid’s face stays in the shadows, barely visible. This wasn’t always the plan. “That was an unexplored avenue,” director Chris Columbus says. “At that particular time, face replacement wasn’t as solid as it is today, so we couldn’t really put a young Robbie Coltrane’s face on anyone.” The visual concept was then scrapped, with Hagrid’s body double, Martin Bayfield, stepping in to film the scene in obscurity. “That was a difficult sequence to pull off because Robbie is so well-associated with the role,” Columbus adds. He wishes he’d had a second chance at it: “I would’ve loved to have done a version like they did in Guardians [of the Galaxy Vol. 2], with a young Kurt Russell.”