The Harry Potter movies are some of the most beloved films ever to hit the big screen. However, not everyone is a fan of the cinematic Wizarding World, and filmmaker Terry Gilliam, who was originally up to direct the first movie in the franchise, hasn’t been shy about dishing out criticism.
The first fantasy movie in the franchise, Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, was released in 2001, but it went through several directors before going into production. Originally twelve filmmakers were in discussions to kick start the franchise, including the likes of Steven Spielberg, M. Night Shyamalan, Ivan Reitman, and Gilliam. Chris Columbus ultimately got the job and went on to direct the film that would become the highest-grossing movie of 2001. But, despite the flick’s success and not getting the gig, that didn’t stop Gilliam from sharing his thoughts on his rival’s adaptation of JK Rowling’s best-selling novel.
While promoting the 2005 movie The Brothers Grimm, in a quote from the New York Post, via an archive of Beyond Hogwarts, the director expressed his dismay at being a frontunner but not getting the gig. He didn’t mince words on watching Chris Columbus’ versions of The Philosopher’s Stone, and its sequel in 2002, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, either.
“I was the perfect guy to do Harry Potter. I remember leaving the meeting, getting in my car, and driving for about two hours along Mulholland Drive just so angry,” Gilliam said. “I mean, Chris Columbus’ versions are terrible. Just dull. Pedestrian.”
However, in an interview in 2006 with Total Film (via The Guardian), Gilliam later expressed relief that he didn’t get the gig despite hating Columbus’s versions. “I would have gone crazy. It’s a fucking factory, working on Harry Potter. It is. The studios are staking everything on the success of those movies.”
At the end of the day, it all seemed to work out for the best. Columbus’ films were a massive success, and Gilliam did go on to helm a number of other flicks, such as The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and Zero Theorem.