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Steven Spielberg refused to direct a Harry Potter movie for one reason

The first Harry Potter movie was initially set to be directed by Steven Spielberg, but the director ultimately turned the job down for one reason.

Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Steven Spielberg has revealed that he was lined up to direct the first Harry Potter movie, before ultimately rejecting it in favour of spending more time with his family. Best known for his movies from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. Steven Spielberg continues to be one of the greatest directors alive, and is regarded as one of the best directors of all time.


He is heralded with having helped to create and define the summer blockbuster with his thriller movie Jaws, before continuing to light up the box-office with the Indiana Jones movies, Jurassic Park, and much more since. As with his science fiction movie E.T., Spielberg has always had a fascination with childhood and innocence, themes which he’s explored further with his new movie The Fabelmans.

In a conversation with RRR director S. S. Rajamouli, Steven Spielberg has revealed that he almost added to his repertoire of kids movies when he was asked to direct the first Harry Potter movie, however it was an offer he ultimately rejected.

Spielberg said “There were several films I chose not to make. 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.”

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In the end director Chris Columbus was hired to take on the task and he got the magical fantasy movies off to a steady start. He helmed both Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, before being replaced for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (by far the best movie in the franchise).

It’s easy to see why Spielberg was initially lined up to take the franchise on, though, and the first movie’s sense of wonder, whimsy, and magic has a lot in common with some of Spielberg’s movies. While it would have been fun to see what Spielberg would have come up with, it’s also good that the director had the chance to work on some different projects in the early 2000s, not being locked into a franchise.

For more on Harry Potter, check out our guide to Dumbledore, and the Harry Potter cast. We’ve also got a guide breaking down everything we know about the upcoming Harry Potter TV series release date.

The creator of the Harry Potter series, JK Rowling, has made a number of transphobic remarks on social media in recent years. If you’d like to learn more about transgender equality or lend your support, here are two important charities we encourage you to check out: the National Center for Transgender Equality in the US, and Mermaids in the UK.