‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’: The Emotional Moment That Made Director Chris Columbus Cry

It’s been two decades since Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone hit theaters. Now, director Chris Columbus shares his perspective on directing the first two movies in the iconic Harry Potter movie franchise. He even reveals a moment during filming that brought him to tears. 

The ‘Harry Potter’ director quit after two films

Harry Potter movie director Chris Columbus with cast members
Alfonso Cuaron, David Heyman, Robbie Coltrane, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Alan Rickman, and Chris Columbus | Don Emmert/AFP via Getty Images

While Home Alone director Chris Columbus thought he’d take on all seven of the Harry Potter movies, he only ended up directing two. And he packed a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into those two movies. 

Columbus told Jake Hamilton of Jake’s Takes that he was actually jealous of the director who ultimately took over for him on the third movie, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

“I am so envious of the fourth director who just got to go on set and have fun,” he laughed in the November 2021 video interview. “Not much left to do except move the camera.” 

He also admitted to feeling that the film took him away from his children. 

“I wasn’t seeing my kids, who were young at the time, growing up,” Columbus told The Hollywood Reporter. “I was missing dinners with them. I thought, ‘I can’t do another six, seven, eight years of this. My kids will grow up and I’ll never get to know them.” 

The grueling shooting schedule didn’t help. Columbus said the movies each took 160 consecutive days of shooting. Moreover, he filmed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets back-to-back. 

Chris Columbus revealed an emotional moment when filming ‘Sorcerer’s Stone’ 

In his interview with THR, Columbus reflected on the moment he knew Harry Potter would endure. He said he shot the movie’s final scene on the second day of shooting. It features Ron (Rupert Grint), Hermione (Emma Watson), and Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) leaving Hogwarts. 

“I’m not going home,” Radcliffe says quietly. “Not really.” 

And that moment, emphasized Columbus, was emotional for the entire set. These virtually unknown actors were on the cusp of an iconic and inimitable series of films. 

“When he did that and the camera slowly pushes in on him, I got tears in my eyes,” he said. “I turned to David Heyman, who’s at the monitor, and he had tears in his eyes. We just said, ‘Wow.’ We knew we were onto something with Dan and that’s day two of shooting. Those are the kinds of surprises you got from kids who had not been on a film set before.”

Chris Columbus previously said he wanted unknown actors in the lead roles 

The emotional moment was precisely the kind of impact Columbus planned on. He felt he could get an “honest” performance out of the kids by casting relatively inexperienced actors

“I wanted to go with an original, sort of very green cast,” he told Hamilton in the video interview. “It’s like we did on Home Alone with Macaulay Culkin, because they bring a sense of naturalism and honesty in their performances, even though it’s sometimes a little tough to get the performances. But when you get them, it’s something real, and that’s great.” 

To sum up, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone director Chris Columbus knew that casting unknown children in the roles of Harry, Ron, and Hermione would work. And given that Radcliffe made him tear up while filming, it seems he made the right choice. 

RELATED: ‘Harry Potter’ Director Chris Columbus Reveals Why He Left The Franchise: ‘I Wasn’t Seeing My Kids’