In the April/May issue of the Writers Guild’s Written By Magazine, J.K. Rowling and screenwriter Steve Kloves talk about their 12-year email collaboration as he adapted six of the seven Harry Potter books that yielded Hollywood’s biggest blockbuster literary franchise. Rowling fell for Kloves during their first meeting on the Warners lot (even if she figured out that the studio executive dominating the conversation had never read the book), when the writer told her that Hermione was his favorite character. He had fallen for the first book before it became a global phenomenon. Now there’s a Wizarding World in Orlando, Florida–for which Kloves wrote 16 pages of text for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
Kloves understood, Rowling writes, that “when you strip away all the diversionary magic, the Potter novels boil down to the characters: our relationship with them and theirs with each other.” At one point during a read-through for The Half-Blood Prince, Rowling scribbled a note on her script: “Dumbledore’s gay.” She gave Kloves tips as they went along, as he tried to collapse long books into 135 page scripts, about which characters to favor–Dobby, for example–and not to take Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) at face value.
Needless to say everyone attached to this series as it reaches its conclusion (July 15) is hoping that the Academy will see fit to finally honor the eighth film (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, from the sprawling final book), the way they did with the ultimate Lord of the Rings installment, which won best picture and ten more Oscars. (LOTR earned more nominations and wins along the way.) Kloves is a good place to start. He adapted seven of the eight installments, or 2939 pages (the Brit editions) into 17 hours of film, sitting out the fifth, The Order of the Phoenix.
He stuck with the series as the directors came and went. And he stayed in L.A., even though Warners offered him the chance to direct. He didn’t want to move his family. “Here was the fictional tale of our time,” he says. “It really is. In this ironic age, it’s a story of honor and courage told in a way that doesn’t make your skin crawl.” A year after he has finished the series, Kloves tells writer Mary McNamara that he misses writing for the kids, who are his family. Next up: an adaptation of Mark Haddon’s A Curious Incident of the Dog in Night Time, also for Warners.