AFI Movie Club: HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE – American Film Institute
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Film Still - Daniel Radcliffe



A magician in his own right, AFI Life Achievement Award recipient John Williams brought the magic of his music to another iconic franchise in helping to tell the epic story of Harry Potter – beginning with HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE. The entire eight-film saga was honored with an AFI SPECIAL AWARD in 2011.

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DID YOU KNOW? Director Chris Columbus and Producer David Heyman auditioned thousands of young British actors for the role of Harry Potter. Columbus decided he wanted Daniel Radcliffe for the part when he saw him in a BBC production of DAVID COPPERFIELD.

DID YOU KNOW? Originally, Daniel Radcliffe’s parents were not allowing him to audition for the role but began to reconsider after a chance meeting at a play in London with producer Heyman and screenwriter Steve Kloves. Following the meeting, director Columbus met with them for tea at the Radcliffe home and he assured them that he would protect their son from the pressures that would come – and HARRY POTTER had its lead by the end of tea.

DID YOU KNOW? The original British title for the first book in the Harry Potter series is “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” – but was changed to “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” for American readers. The film followed suit; in the United States, the film’s title is HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE but is referred to by its original title everywhere else in the world. Due to this title change, every scene in which the stone is mentioned had to be shot twice – once with reference to “philosopher’s stone” and a second time as “sorcerer’s stone.”

DID YOU KNOW? Robin Williams wanted to play the part of Hagrid – but according to the film’s casting director, the production would only consider British actors. “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling got her first choice for the role when Robbie Coltrane was cast.

DID YOU KNOW? In the novels, Harry Potter has green eyes like his mother, but Daniel Radcliffe had an extreme reaction to the green contact lenses and was unable to wear them. Consequently, the filmmakers made sure to cast an actress to play Harry Potter’s mother who had the same color eyes as Radcliffe’s.

DID YOU KNOW? For Rupert Grint’s audition tape, he recorded himself dressed like his drama teacher and he performed a rap about why he would be perfect for the part of Ron Weasley. After catching the attention of the film’s casting director – and after many subsequent auditions – HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE became Grint’s screen debut.

DID YOU KNOW? Emma Watson’s theater teacher passed along her name to the casting directors of the film. Watson took the auditions seriously but never thought she had a chance. After eight auditions, Watson was cast in her first professional role as Hermione Granger.

DID YOU KNOW? When Alan Rickman was cast in the role of Snape, “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling told him a secret from a later book so he would better understand his character’s trajectory.

DID YOU KNOW? HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE was nominated for three Academy Awards® at the 2002 ceremony. The nominations included Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design and Best Original Score. The eight-film series earned a total of 12 Oscar® nominations.

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The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-Have you read the book “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”? Which do you prefer – and why? Does the movie hold up to what you imagined while reading the book?

-Do you think it was necessary to change the title of the book and movie in the United States? Would the series still have been as popular if the title was not changed?

-Now that the HARRY POTTER saga is complete, what moments in HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE foreshadow what is to come in future films?

-How does the death of his parents influence Harry’s character and the decisions that he makes over the course of the movie?

-Why was it important for Harry to be placed in Gryffindor House compared to being in Slytherin or Hufflepuff?

-Which of the Hogwarts houses do you think the sorting hat would place you in? Why?

-Was Professor Dumbledore correct to leave the infant Harry with the Dursley family instead of keeping him in the wizarding world?

-Why aren’t Harry and Malfoy friends?

-Could you ever see yourself feeling “at home” at school, the way Harry does at Hogwarts?


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