Iconic Hollywood director Steven Spielberg turned down the opportunity to direct the first Harry Potter movie, and he has no regrets about passing on what would become a massively popular blockbuster that kicked off a juggernaut film series.
Speaking to Variety, Spielberg said didn’t take the job to move to London to direct Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone because he didn’t want to leave Los Angeles, spend months in London, and be away from his children when they were young.
“Kate [Capshaw] and I started raising a family and we started having children. The choice I had to make was taking a job that would move me to another country for four or five months where I wouldn’t see my family every day…That was a ripping kind of experience,” Spielberg said.
Harry Potter was one of “several” movies that Spielberg opted out of so he could instead spend time with his family (though he didn’t name the others). Spielberg said he has no regrets.
“I chose to turn down the first Harry Potter to basically spend that next year and a half with my family, my young kids growing up,” he said. “So I’d sacrificed a great franchise, which today looking back I’m very happy to have done, to be with my family.”
Christopher Columbus (Home Alone) would go on to direct the first Harry Potter and the sequel, The Chamber of Secrets, before other directors came aboard for the other six.
Spielberg stayed in Los Angeles and directed A.I. Artificial Intelligence at the same he could have been in London making the first Harry Potter. A.I., however, was filmed largely in and around Los Angeles, which is where Spielberg lives with his family.
The mainline Harry Potter series ended in 2011 with Deathly Hallows: Part II. The spin-off prequel series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, premiered in 2016 and spawned two sequels. The series may not continue after Secrets of Dumbledore came up short at the box office.
Harry Potter is back in the news thanks to the recent launch of the video game Hogwarts Legacy, which is putting up massive numbers on Steam and Twitch.
Hogwarts Legacy is developed by Avalanche Software, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. The game has been embroiled in controversy due to transphobic remarks from Harry Potter author JK Rowling. Although she is not personally involved with its development, she stands to profit from its success. For more, read our in-depth article on how Rowling’s comments have impacted the trans community. In this article, you will also find links to trans creators you can support, as well as charities you can donate to.