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Friday, 25 October, 2002, 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK
Potter director hails 'unstarry' actors
Scene from Harry Potter film
Radcliffe said he was quite similar to Harry Potter

Director Chris Columbus has described working on the Harry Potter films as the best experience of his career, because of there was "no starry nonsense" from the British actors.

Columbus, whose second Harry Potter film The Chamber of Secrets is due for release next month, also praised the English crew, saying they were the best he had ever worked with.

The film's cast includes classical British actors Kenneth Branagh, Dame Maggie Smith, Richard Harris and Alan Rickman, as well as child stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson.

Columbus, who also directed Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - a huge box office success - added that it was "easier second-time round".

Kenneth Branagh
Branagh does a comic turn in the film as Gilderoy Lockhart
Work began on the second film just three days after the first one was released in November 2001, and the knowledge that it was proving popular gave the team a confidence boost, he said.

The film, which is an adaptation of the globally successful book by J K Rowling, sees Harry and his schoolfriends embark on more magical adventures at their school for wizards, Hogwarts.

Columbus explained he learned from the first film that it was more effective to do the special effects beforehand, and he was determined to better the effects in the Philosopher's Stone.

The film includes scenes with computer-generated (CG) spiders, a huge snake and a character called Dobby the elf.

Chris Columbus
Chris Columbus is stepping down as director for the third film
"I'm not naming any names, but I didn't want Dobby to be annoying," Columbus said, alluding to other films which received heavy criticism for computer-generated characters.

He also praised Radcliffe's ability to work with a CG character, which meant he had to act next to a "green ball on a stick" as the animation was added in afterwards.

"I've never seen anyone focus like that," he said.

The young 13-year-old star said that being in the films had not changed his life that much, aside from being recognised in the street, which was "fun and cool".

"I still do normal kids' stuff like pizza parties with my friends and being lazy boys," he said.

Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint
Watson, Radcliffe and Grint enjoy making the films
He also revealed that aside from acting, he has a huge passion for punk rock, and reeled off a list of bands including The Sex Pistols and The Stranglers as being among his favourites.

Grint added that although many of the spiders in the film were created by computers, the biggest and scariest was a model, and that he did not have to act during those scenes as he was genuinely terrified.

But all three child actors would not be drawn on whether they would appear in future Harry Potter films.

Rowling is to complete seven books about the boy wizard, and is currently working on the fifth, but the young stars said they had not thought further than the third film, which they will all appear in.

Richard Harris
Harris plays Hogwarts' headmaster Dumbledore
"I'd like to do more of them - they're so much fun," said Grint, 14, with his fellow stars adding that they also loved working on them.

Columbus said he had advised them to continue with the films for as long as they find them enjoyable.

He is going to produce the third film but will not direct it "due to family commitments" - it will be directed by Alfonso Cuaron, who wrote and directed the 18-certificate Y Tu Mama Tambien (And Your Mother Too).

Draco Malfoy in Harry Potter
Draco Malfoy is still Harry Potter's rival
Jason Isaacs was one of the new additions to the cast, playing the father of Harry's arch-rival Draco Malfoy, Lucius.

Isaacs, who recently starred in Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down and The Patriot, with Mel Gibson, joked that working with such a tight-knit group of people was easy.

"It was like turning up at a party when everyone's bored of each other and they're thrilled when the doorbell rings," he said.

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