Steven Spielberg Turned Down Directing ‘Harry Potter’ – And Has No Regrets

Steven Spielberg

Harry Potter fans might not know that the first film almost had another director at the helm. Steven Spielberg actually turned down the opportunity to direct Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. And it was Chris Columbus that eventually signed on to lead the project.

While it may seem like something that Spielberg regrets, more than 20 years later, he still stands behind the decision. So what’s the reasoning?

Spielberg, 76, has seven children between his ex-wife, Amy Irving, and his current wife, Kate Capshaw. And he says he turned down the movie because he wanted to spend time with his family rather than on a film set.

Steven Spielberg Wanted to Spend More Time With His Family

“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 says.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Photo Credit: Warner Brothers

Spielberg continues on to explain that Harry Potter was just one of the multiple projects that he turned down for family reasons. 

“There were several films I chose not to make. I chose to turn down the first ‘Harry Potter’ to basically spend the next year and a half with my family, my young kids growing up,” Spielberg states. “So I’d sacrificed a great franchise. Which today looking back, I’m very happy to have done, to be with my family.”

Previously, Spielberg has made it known that he wasn’t ready at the time to make an “all-kids movie”.

“I just felt that I wasn’t ready to make an all-kids movie. And my kids thought I was crazy. And the books were by that time popular. So when I dropped out, I knew it was going to be a phenomenon.” Spielberg notes.


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