Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts is now streaming on HBO Max and the reunion special is taking fans of the beloved series down memory lane with the cast and crew of the iconic films as well as revealing some fascinating, behind-the-scenes secrets about the making of the movies. Among those interesting tidbits are the scenes that Chris Columbus, director of both Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets found to be the most challenging—a significant thing considering that bringing the magical world of Harry Potter to life on screen at all would be a daunting task. Columbus explained in the special that while there were indeed a number of challenges, the hardest thing to film was the game of Quidditch.
During the special, Columbus explained that it was the Quidditch scene in the first film that was the biggest challenge partly because of the logistics of the magical sport but also because it’s a game that needed to feel real despite being “completely unreal”.
“The hardest scene to shoot was Quidditch,” Columbus said (via SlashFilm). “And the audience had to understand the rules immediately. So, Jo Rowling basically did a rulebook for us, a Quidditch rulebook, explaining every detail of the game. Then Stuart Craig, our production designer, designed the look of the quidditch pitch and really created a pitch that felt authentic and real for a game that is completely unreal.”
In the end, the Quidditch scene turned out very well and helped fuel a real-life popularity for the game that is now played—albeit without flying—in real life and even has its own league. However, there were other challenges Columbus faced in making the first Harry Potter film and that was casting, something the director spoke with ComicBook.com about last fall.
“The goal was always to cast kids who you hoped could carry the franchise for the next several years,” Columbus detailed to ComicBook.com of the challenge of casting performers for an entire franchise. “None of us have any idea how kids are going to age, or if they’re going to become better and better actors. But as a result of casting those three kids … The first film I always call ‘acting class’ because none of them had that much experience. If you notice, there’s a lot of cuts in the first film. We had to cut, we had four cameras running, because we never knew what the kids were going to do, but by the time they got to the second film and particularly [Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban], these kids were able to walk, talk, deliver an entire scene and you could do it in one shot. I always felt great about where they got to in terms of acting abilities under the first two films, but I never even expected them to age as wonderfully as they did. And their acting just continued to get better and better. A lot of luck in that particular situation.”
Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts is now streaming on HBO Max.