Quint interviews HARRY POTTER director David Yates about the new movie and his plans for the next one!!!
Published at: June 22, 2007, 3:49 p.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. This is probably my favorite of the Harry Potter interviews.
I’m totally unfamiliar with David Yates’ filmography, a deficiency I’m going to remedy by hitting Virgin or HMV before I leave London. I’ve seen his work on this new Potter film, though, and while I can’t write my review until opening day, I will say that he did a great job and handled what I believe to the weakest of the books in a very smart way.
Yates is a soft-spoken man, but his enthusiasm nevertheless is always bubbling beneath the surface. We talk a lot about ORDER OF THE PHOENIX and he opens up about his thoughts on HALF-BLOOD PRINCE, the next in the Potter line that he is in fact directing.
Here’s the interview. Our conversation starts with talk about the site and ends up covering some major spoilers from the 6th book (and next movie) if you haven't read it… Hope you enjoy the interview!
David Yates: It’s quite influential, isn’t it? Sometimes I’ll log on just to see.
David Yates: It’s good, mate. It’s great. It’s really exciting. I love that democratization of everything. That’s what was brilliant about the net, you know? It opened the air…
David Yates: Yeah! That’s good!
Quint: I saw the movie yesterday and really dug it. I love that right at frame one you focus not on the magic of this world, but on the regular world we all live in, reminding us that all fantasy is happening alongside the world we know. And it’s quite a big moment then when the Dementors come in and the magic world steps over to ours.
David Yates: I love that notion. As a kid… and even now, as a 43 year old bloke, that notion that there could be this parallel world next to ours where there are wizards. That’s what got me excited when I first read the book because I just love the idea there could be a wizard just around the corner, or some extraordinary event.
When I was preparing the film, I had all sorts of ideas that touched upon that kind of line between the real world and the magical world. Back when I was growing up you would always create these imaginative worlds. You just did. That’s what’s beautiful about Jo (Rowling)’s books is she takes you into this world where you can see this fine line between.
I wanted it to feel a bit realer because I think it makes magic more extraordinary. If it’s all fantasy, then you kind of… the contact with the audience…
Quint: There’s a disconnect.
David Yates: Yeah, there’s a disconnect.
Quint: I think that’s why something like LORD OF THE RINGS works. It’s giant and a huge fantasy epic, but it’s grounded in some form of reality.
David Yates: Yeah, emotional reality. And there’s a real integrity to it.
Quint: Was it your priority when directing your actors to find and keep that realism? Because the kids have all turned in good performances in the past, but in this movie there’s a naturalism to the performances, just the way they hang out and interact…
David Yates: Good, because I love all that. For me it’s so important… it was an absolute priority for me to kind of get in there and work with them. Again, you talk about Peter Jackson’s work. What I love about that is I believe all those characters, I believe them as people.
I believe once you get the script right, the next biggest challenge is to make sure that you really feel there’s an emotional truth and an emotional reality to it. You could be defending some great kingdom from whoever, but you’ve got to believe it matters to that person you’re seeing on the screen.
Equally for Dan and Rupert. I know for me it was so crucial that they believed everything. That’s so crucial.
Quint: Another thing that I really loved about the movie, especially now that you’re coming back for the Sixth, that you laid so much bridgework. Just little things, like Ginny’s looks to Harry and Ron and Hermione’s relationship starting to show the first signs of growing to something more than friends… Was that intentional on your part to make sure all that was included?
David Yates: Yeah, no. Some of them weren’t really scripted. You’re on the floor and you suddenly go, “Oh fuck! As they’re all walking out, wouldn’t it be really really cool if…” you know that Ginny moment? I was just there and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great?” You always want to keep that tension alive.
Actually, it seems that with a series of films one of the things that the audience kind of likes is setting up something that you’re going to resolve later on. If you’re going to make a series of films, it seems to me that that, therefore, gives you a liberty to do that.
So, we started to do a little bit of it. It’s more for the fans because I think if the audience don’t really know the films or the books, maybe they’ll not get that moment, but the fans certainly won’t.
Quint: Well, it certainly doesn’t hurt the movie. The people that know them and catch it, to them it’ll mean a lot and to those that don’t know it, they won’t even register it.
David Yates: Yeah, that is for sure.
Quint: Was there anything you shot that didn’t make it into the final movie?
David Yates: Yeah, there’s a few little things. It’s tricky sometimes because you shoot a scene that you absolutely adore or seems to work really well and then in the flow of everything it just kind of suddenly log jams.
I did this lovely thing with Imelda (Staunton) and Filch, because I love Filch, just after the fireworks where she’s standing with all these broken proclamations around and her hair is smoking. It’s about to ignite and she’s just standing there, like a still life, when he comes out. He can see that her hair is about to combust and he’s not quite sure what to do, whether he should warn her or whether or not he should put her hair out. So, he just kind of starts to gently blow, to try to extinguish her hair.
It’s like a PLANES, TRAINS & AUTOMOBILES moment. It’s just a really funny little comic tableau.
You know, we all loved it in dailies and we all thought it was great and then, in the flow of the film, it just kind of fell out.
There’s another lovely scene where Trelawney is being assessed by Umbridge, a big dialogue scene. I just ended up montaging the whole thing, but they’ll both end up on the DVD extras.
Quint: I want to touch on HALF-BLOOD PRINCE before I leave because it’s one of my favorite books of the series…
David Yates: It’s a great book.
Quint: I think one of the main reasons I love the book so much is because two of my favorite characters are focused upon. You have Dumbledore and his relationship with Harry, which is in the forefront much more than in any other of the books, and Snape and his story. Depending on what happens in the 7th book, of course, I think Snape could be the tragic hero of this series.
David Yates: Yeah, I know.
Quint: I don’t know how you’re planning on approaching it, but I’m hoping that the Snape story is very much… um…
David Yates: Forefronted, yeah.
Quint: Obviously you have to keep Harry the focus, but…
David Yates: No, no, no. It’s a very different film, actually, the 6th film. It’s Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘N Roll, a lot of it, because it’s so much about the sexual and emotional politics of those characters, which is great.
One of my favorite films is AMERICAN GRAFITTI. In this one we dealt with teenaged angst and that whole rebellious stage and struggling with yourself in that kind of magical, metaphorical way.
And in the next one, it’s going to have a very different rhythm. Snape is absolutely pivotal to it. I think he’s a great character because of the ambiguity.
Quint: And Alan Rickman plays him so well.
David Yates: And Rickman plays him brilliantly. And the ambiguity is so involving and exciting. I was saying to Steve Kloves, who is doing the adaptation, I was saying to him last night, “I can not wait to start directing some of this stuff. “ It just great, it’s really fun.
And it’s much less Dan’s story in the next movie. Dan’s got a great role in it. He gets a chance to stretch his comic muscles because he’s got some very funny scenes. And Rupert is big in the next one… and Lavender Brown and that whole relationship. And Rupert and Emma’s relationship is foregrounded. It’s some really fun stuff.
And the relationship between Dumbledore and Harry is really touching. Dumbledore’s quite interesting because it feels like he’s preparing for his own death in a really interesting way.
It’s a very different dynamic this time because there’s a lot more between Dumbledore and Harry. I think we’ll be alright on this one. I’ve got a good feeling.
Quint: Would you consider coming back for DEATHLY HALLOWS?
David Yates: You know what? We’ve talked about it, but I think I need to get stuck into this next one, really. We’ll get there eventually.
That’s what I got. I really dug Yates. I think he’s got the passion and the talent for this series. If he can make a really good movie out of the weakest book of the series, I can’t wait to see what he does with one of the best.
Alright, the only one left is my chat with Daniel Radcliffe. I’m not going to be able to transcribe it before I leave London, but I will make every effort to get it done and on the site early next week. It marks the triumphant return of my dirty joke question!