Steven Spielberg had the chance to direct the first Harry Potter film, 2001’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. But he ultimately said no to the project — and he’s glad that he did.
The experience played into the debate between art and family in Spielberg’s Oscar-nominated biographical film The Fabelmans, which tells the story of the famed director’s upbringing and the dissolution of his parents’ marriage.
Why Steven Spielberg Turned Down Harry Potter
“The personal meaning about [how the conflict between] art and family will tear you in half happened to me later, after I had already established myself as a filmmaker, as a working director,” Spielberg said in an interview opposite RRR director S.S. Rajamouli for Variety.
“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 added.
Looking back, the Jurassic Park and Jaws director doesn’t regret turning down Harry Potter at all. He stands by his decision. Ultimately, the first movie ended up being directed by Chris Columbus.
“There were several films I chose not to make,” Spielberg said. “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. So I’d sacrificed a great franchise, which today looking back I’m very happy to have done, to be with my family.”
Main Image: Danielle Radcliffe with Hedwig the Owl in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Photo Credit: Warner Bros.