What do a pubescent wizard and a team of E.T.-busters have in common? Producer David Heyman, who has helped shepherd all of the Harry Potter films to date and also executive-produces CBS' Threshold (airing Tuesdays at 10 pm/ET, beginning Nov. 22). On the occasion of the premiere of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, TVGuide.com seized the opportunity to have a one-on-one discussion with the man behind both big-screen magic and small-screen spookiness.
TVGuide.com: When all is told, after the seventh and final Harry Potter book makes its way into theaters, how many years of your life will have been consumed by the wizards?
David Heyman: Ten, I think. I got involved with Potter in 1997, started preproduction in 1999 and with No. 7, we'll be done in 2010. In a way, it's been like a TV series — although it probably costs more!
TVGuide.com: Was it daunting in the beginning to tackle such a beloved series of novels?
Heyman: It was challenging, but I'm a fan. I think everyone that works on [the films] is a fan. When you go into it as a fan — and I know it sounds strange — you don't really focus on the audience [reaction]. As a fan you're focused on making the best film you can. It's challenging and you have responsibilities, but you try not to get bogged down in that.
TVGuide.com: As a producer, what are you bracing yourself to face the most criticism for with Goblet of Fire? What will the fans pick on?
Heyman: I think the movie is really true to the spirit of the book, and Jo [Potter author J.K. Rowling] most certainly loved it! Inevitably, certain things are being cut — [Hermione's] SPEW [organization] is gone — and we have the Quidditch World Cup, but not as much game play as there is in the book. I actually think that's to the film's credit, and I know Jo felt the same way.
TVGuide.com: What sequence in Goblet of Fire are you most proud of?
Heyman: There are many. I'm very proud of the underwater sequence, because it was so challenging to make and to do. I also love when Harry returns to [Tom Riddle Sr.'s] grave, and when he is with the dead body of [a friend], the emotional power of that scene. And I'm really proud of the romantic and comedic aspects leading up to the Yule Ball.
TVGuide.com: Promotional materials have purposely kept a lid on how Ralph Fiennes' Voldemort looks. Will seeing him be worth the wait?
Heyman: The fans so far seem to have enjoyed it. I think it's one of the highlights of the film. [At a New York screening] last Saturday, there was a gasp when he appeared and a cheer when Harry left him.
TVGuide.com: Is it cemented that Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint are going to be in all of the films?
Heyman: Don't know yet. They're definitely in the fifth, [Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix]. That's just how we approach it — I haven't thought about going beyond the fifth, other than having a script written.
TVGuide.com: Isn't Daniel going to be, like, 45 at the end of the series?
Heyman: You could say the same for The Wizard of Oz or Grease. Actually, Dan is 16 playing a 15-year-old right now. My hope is that he will stay with us until the end.
TVGuide.com: Where do you stand with Order of the Phoenix?
Heyman: We start shooting in February.
TVGuide.com: Have any decisions been made regarding things that need to get cut from that installment?
Heyman: Ultimately, it's Harry's story, so that's where the focus lies. All the films are borne out of that.
TVGuide.com: Is there any recent casting news regarding Order of the Phoenix?
TVGuide.com: Do you feel as if you're locked into a PG-13 rating from Goblet of Fire on?
Heyman: It wouldn't surprise me. But I think that's a good thing. I think that if, with the fourth film, especially, it hadn't gotten a PG-13, the audience would have been disappointed. We're growing up with the book, and there's nothing in the film that's not in the book. My feeling is that we're being true to the source material.
TVGuide.com: Moving on to TV's Threshold, of which I am a fan: What was your reaction to the time-slot change?
Heyman: I'm thrilled and I think it's fantastic for the show. I think that many of the viewers who would have been watching it on Friday night are out at the movies. I think the move is going to be just great for us. I'm very excited.
TVGuide.com: Have you, in turn, been asked to make any tweaks for the remainder of the season?
Heyman: No, not really. We haven't been asked to change a thing.
TVGuide.com: Threshold often is singled out as being the best of this season's new supernatural bunch. Why do you think that is?
Heyman: I think that it's smart, it doesn't patronize its audience and it has really good acting. Carla Gugino is a wonderful star, and Peter Dinklage....
TVGuide.com: You certainly have one of the more interesting ensembles on television.
Heyman: I'm really proud of it. I also think the writing is good — it's unpredictable, not expected in any way.
TVGuide.com: What has surprised you most about Threshold's end product?
Heyman: This is my first experience in television, so the whole thing has been a bit surprising. In comparison to Harry Potter, where we shot for 163 days, here we shoot for eight days to make a 43-minute episode. Yet we're able to maintain that high quality, and that's really exciting.
TVGuide.com: Lastly, which of your upcoming non-Harry Potter films are you most excited about?
Heyman: It's hard to say, but I'm very excited about this book that I optioned, called The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; I'm waiting for Steven Kloves, who wrote [the screenplays of] the first four Potters and this fabulous film called The Fabulous Baker Boys, to go forward with it. I also have this wonderful kids' film called The Giants and the Joneses and this horror film [I Am Legend], which we're going to start filming sometime in March. There are things in life other than Potter and Threshold, and I'm looking forward to pursuing them. But I'm very thankful for the gifts of Potter and Threshold.
TVGuide.com: Will it be hard to say goodbye to the Potter movies after the last one is done?
Heyman: I think it will be sad. Working on Harry is like being with family, and the family doesn't get much better than this. Everything about working with Warner Brothers, these great directors, these amazing actors and this material that Jo has given us, to have each book be so different.... Of course there'll be sadness.