Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2 – David Yates interview
Interview by Rob Carnevale
DAVID Yates, the director of the last four Harry Potter movies, talks about finishing off the series with The Deathly Hallows Part 2 and why the franchise has become so beloved the world over.
He also talks about moving on from the films’ lack of awards and why he thinks JK Rowling shouldn’t write any more Harry Potter stories. He was speaking at the London press conference for the final film.
Q. How does it feel to be bringing this most successful franchise in movie history to a close?
David Yates: It’s a great privilege to be working with probably the world’s best cast and the world’s best story. I feel very, very lucky and like Daniel I think one of the things I’m going to miss is the people involved. We’ve had a tremendous family behind this series of films, behind and in front of the camera. I think there’s something we’ve all shared that we’ll all keep that’s unique between all of us. We’ve all been to the moon together, as it were. That’s very special and will endure for many years, I hope. It’s been a wonderful experience.
Q. Are you disappointed at the lack of award recognition for these films?
David Yates: Do you know I think we’ve all made peace with that in a way. There are so many things to enjoy being part of this whole series of films… most of all the affection of the fans, and the fact that there’s a global community who follow these stories with great passion. If you go down to Trafalgar Square right now you’ll see a mini Glastonbury of people from all over the world who’ve been camping out in the rain for the last three nights. That’s more of a compensation than lots of trophies. So I think we’re cool about that. That’s somehow more important.
Q. How close did you work with JK Rowling as she was a producer?
David Yates: Jo Rowling is an incredible partner in these films but she keeps a discreet distance ultimately. She signs off on the screenplay and if she has any issues she communicates them and lets us know what she’s happy with and what she’s not happy with. And then she’s there at the end of the telephone if we need her, basically, and then she’ll watch the movie when it’s finished. It’s the perfect relationship for a group of filmmakers because she’s very enthusiastic about what we do, she always supports it, she’s not very territorial about her world in the sense that we take some liberties, we trim things out, we add things, and she always supports that. She understands the complexities of adaptation. So, it’s a fantastic relationship.
But she’s not particularly hands-on and she’s not around all the time. In the making of one of these films, we’ll probably see her two or three times absolute tops and that’s usually at the beginning. But this is her world and we’re interpreting it, so she’s there to guide us if we need it, which is always nice to know.
Q. What is the secret behind the films’ success and could it have a prequel?
David Yates: There are many reasons these films are so successful. It’s the beautiful books they’re based on, that have this global fan-base, this eclectic series of characters… I mean Jo is very generous in creating this world and she’s given us so many characters that are so vivid that there’s kind of someone for everybody. Also, the fact that the world offered us something bigger and more extraordinary than our ordinary lives. So, there’s a sense of wish fulfilment in that storytelling. And there are some very universal storytelling themes: the fight between good and evil and the power of love and faith and the feeling of loss. Death is a big feature of the movies too.
There’s an interesting YouTube documentary called Life in A Day and I was talking to the producer of that recently, and asked her: “What kind of films did you get being sent from people all over the world?” And she said: “Amazingly, a lot of them were about death.” People are interested in death but death as an issue isn’t really something that figures in the Hollywood rulebook when you make a blockbuster. But death is a theme that runs through Jo’s books and a sense of loss and a sense of dealing with loss. So, I think there are many reasons why these films are successful.
Q. Will there be a prequel?
David Yates: Well, Jo’s got such an extraordinary imagination… I don’t know how you put a stop on that. It must pour out of her all the time. But I think personally, I’m sure if she writes more the world will be very easy to consume and read. But I think there’s a time and a place for certain stories and certain experiences and I think this series of books and this series of films sit uniquely in a period of time and I think it would be a bit of shame, rally, to try and recreate or continue them.
Q. This is the biggest film series of all time and it’s British. How can the British film industry capitalise on its success to keep these kinds of films going with such a British sensibility to them?
David Yates: I think the remarkable thing that David [Heyman] and Jo Rowling did right at the beginning was to say: “This will stay in Britain and will be British.” It’s created such an infrastructure and such an industry that will be sorely missed. It’s going to create a huge hole. Beautiful things have happened. Stuart Craig’s art department, for example, has a way of bringing on young trainees and has been a mini industry for hundreds and thousands of people. So, it’s in all our interests within this creative community to find the next one. But I think lightning doesn’t strike twice and it will be very hard to follow the kinetic power of Harry Potter but believe you me there is no shortage of people looking for the next big possibility.
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