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Chris Columbus Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (3) | Trivia (56) | Personal Quotes (22) | Salary (1)

Overview (3)

Born in Spangler, Pennsylvania, USA
Birth NameChristopher Columbus
Height 5' 8½" (1.74 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Born in Pennsylvania and raised in Ohio, Chris Columbus was first inspired to make movies after seeing "The Godfather" at age 15. After enrolling at NYU film school, he sold his first screenplay (never produced) while a sophomore there. After graduation Columbus tried to sell his fourth script, "Gremlins", with no success, until Steven Spielberg optioned it; Columbus moved to Los Angeles for a year during rewrites on the project in Spielberg's bungalow at Universal. After writing two more scripts for Spielberg, "The Goonies" and "Young Sherlock Holmes", Columbus' own directing career was launched a few years later with "Adventures in Babysitting". He is best known to audiences as the director of the runaway hit "Home Alone", written and produced by John Hughes its sequel "Home Alone 2", and most recently "Mrs. Doubtfire".

- IMDb Mini Biography By: James Koonce <jkoonce@wma.com>

Spouse (1)

Monica Devereux (6 August 1983 - present) (4 children)

Trade Mark (3)

Leading characters who are underage and develops through situations
His films often have a brief, often humorous, scene after or during the end credits.
Common theme in his movies is children triumphing over adults

Trivia (56)

Gremlins (1984), Columbus's fourth script, was written as a dark satire of It's a Wonderful Life (1946).
Got the directing gig on Harry Potter after longtime front-runner Steven Spielberg passed on the project. He met author J.K. Rowling in England and won the job over several other candidates after promising her he would film entirely in the U.K. and use an all-British cast. Most of the crew was also British.
Lived in England for a year and a half while filming the first two Harry Potter films. Opted out of the third film so he could come home and spend more time with his family.
At one time lived in River Forest, Illinois which shares a high school with the suburb, Oak Park, in which Adventures in Babysitting (1987) was based. Oak Park and River Forest High School's name was changed for the movie, however, to Hemingway High because Ernest Hemingway went there. They kept the style of the high school's jackets for the film, however.
Had a cameo in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) as a man in the toy store. He was holding his daughter Eleanor Columbus.
In the original script, Gremlins (1984) was meant to be a much darker horror film in which the mother was decapitated, the family dog was eaten, and the adorable Mogwai "Gizmo" actually turned into the infamous Gremlin "Stripe".
Son of Irene Columbus.
Considered directing Spider-Man (2002), however passed that up to direct Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001).
During its early stages of production, he was originally attached to direct Daredevil (2003).
Frequently is involved with composer John Williams.
At one point, was attached to direct Fantastic Four (2005).
Is of Italian and Czech descent.
All of his four children made cameos in the Harry Potter films he worked on.
He is the only American to have directed a Harry Potter installment.
He wrote a rejected script for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in which Indy traveled to Africa and dueled a Monkey prince. It was rejected because of too many negative African stereotypes but the tank chase sequence in the the script was used in the film.
Brother-in-law of actor Doyle Devereux, who is the bailiff on the Judge Mathis show.
Lives in San Francisco, California [January 2003]
The only Harry Potter director to not make a cameo appearance in one of the films.
Adventures in Babysitting (1987) was Columbus's first directorial job since his senior thesis film at NYU in 1980. It was his first time working with major lighting, cameras and cinematographers.
While in high school, he read an article in Time magazine about film school, and these magical words would teach him about the art of filmmaking.
When casting the role of Kevin McCallister in Home Alone (1990), Columbus had already seen Macaulay Culkin in Uncle Buck (1989) but he wanted to audition some other kids first while John Hughes had his heart set on Culkin. So Columbus met Culkin in New York and was very charmed by him and thought he was fantastic. Columbus auditioned five other kids and none of them shaped up to Culkin. Columbus went with Culkin because he was not as picture perfect and he had an instant relatability to the kids in the audience. Columbus knew the cameras would love him and he was immensely funny.
Writing screenplays seemed an inexpensive way for Columbus to graduate towards the directors chair.
The novelization for Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) uses the word omen; Richard Donner directed the The Omen (1976) and The Goonies (1985) the same year as Holmes, and both were scripted by Columbus.
When he scripted Young Sherlock Holmes (1985), Watson believed Holmes obsessed over a case even at Christmas, because unlike other boys his age, he had no family to return to, like Harry Potter or Kevin McCallister; Columbus has ties to both the Harry Potter and Home Alone franchises.
Before making Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Columbus had already seen Robin Williams in comedy clubs in Los Angeles.
Columbus was expected to follow in his parents footsteps which meant working in an automotive or aluminum factory.
When Columbus scripted Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) it foreshadowed his future association with the Harry Potter series; the teenage Watson resembles Harry Potter; school experiments; Holmes has a rivalry with another student, Dudley similar to Harry's with Draco Malfoy's; Dudley and Malfoy both come from rich parents; cavernous libraries; sweets; train stations; the novelization uses the word potty/Potter; students being injured and needing to see the school nurse; teachers and students eating in the Great Hall; Holmes, Watson and a third character Elizabeth solving mysteries at school while Harry, Ron and Hermione do the same at Hogwarts; staircases; Harry/Holmes and Watson creeping through a school library at night; both Watson and Hagrid say "sorry about that"; the end of school term; the threat of expulsion; no family for Harry to return to, even at Christmas; Harry has a scar on his forehead while Holmes has one on his cheek; seemingly innocent teaching staff exposed as the opposite; head boys, etc.
When he scripted Gremlins (1984), The Goonies (1985) and Young Sherlock Holmes (1985), all films have characters who are the inventors of eccentric inventions and all were produced by Steven Spielberg. Both men are big James Bond fans, and may reflect they're love of Bond style gadgetry.
When he scripted Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) and directed Home Alone (1990), both films have the line "it's Christmastime".
Financially, his two greatest successes were Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002).
A big fan of Marvel Comics as a child in the 1960s, he was especially impressed with the artwork because it was almost the same as filmmaking. He later moved to New York because Marvel Comics were largely set there. He wanted to write or draw for Marvel but decided against it because it's an isolated existence and he liked working with people. Columbus drew comic book panels in his basement like early storyboards as a child. When he later directed Adventures in Babysitting (1987), one of the characters, Sara is also a big Marvel fan.
Started going to the movies at age 10 on Saturday afternoons; one of the first was Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). It gave him an escape from the dreary factory town he lived in.
While staying at his wife's parents house in Chicago, after they just had their first child, Columbus was sent two scripts by John Hughes. One was for Home Alone (1990), which he fell in love with and struck a chord with him, and he felt he could make a really strong film out of it. He and Hughes hit it off instantly so Hughes gave him the job of directing it.
When making Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), he and Robin Williams would often clown around between takes, with Mrs Doubtfire introducing Columbus as his son.
After finishing Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992), Columbus wanted a new project and was sent the script for Mrs. Doubtfire (1993). He was initially critical of it saying it didn't work for him; he discussed it with them why he felt it didn't work.
Columbus cast Joe Pesci in Home Alone (1990) because he was one of his heroes although he didn't think he'd get him for such a broadly comedic role.
After securing Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern for Home Alone (1990), Columbus felt confident enough to cast actors who were his heroes growing up like Catherine O'Hara after seeing her work on SCTV (1976), as well as John Heard, and later Tim Curry and Rob Schneider on Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) because they were all open to the films.
Has a figure of Dobby the Elf from the Harry Potter films in his office.
Columbus is a big James Bond fan and he was crushed when Pierce Brosnan didn't get cast when he was offered the part during the making of Remington Steele (1982) but they wouldn't release him from his contract. When they worked together on Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Columbus told Brosnan he'd make a great James Bond but he thought that ship had sailed. In 1995, MGM called Columbus telling him they're looking for the next James Bond and Brosnan was one of the choices so Columbus recommended him; his little contribution to the James Bond saga.
Casting Harry Potter was a big challenge; they saw 5000 auditions and none of them felt right. Columbus saw Daniel Radcliffe in David Copperfield (1999) and showed it to the casting director and said Radcliffe was the one and that he was amazing. But she said they wouldn't get him because his parents want him to focus on his schoolwork and not acting as well as all the attention he'd get. So they interviewed Harry Potter's of different nationalities all over the world and still hadn't found him. She got frustrated with Columbus because he had his heart set on Radcliffe. By sheer coincidence, the producer and screenwriter of went to the theatre and in the front row was Radcliffe with his father, so they talked and slowly persuaded him to cast Radcliffe.
Columbus was amazed how beautifully Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint matured over the Harry Potter series, both physically and as actors, compared to some child actors who start out adorable or lose that and become bad actors as they grow older.
During the restaurant scene when Mrs Doubtfire's teeth fell into the wine glass, the cast didn't know Robin Williams would do that, so their reactions on film were genuine, mirroring the shock of the crew.
Columbus was amazed how far Robin Williams took his performance in Mrs. Doubtfire (1993); first he played each scene as scripted 2-3 times and then was allowed to improvise, or "playing" as Williams called it. Columbus allowed Williams to do a lot of improv because he felt that was where the film's funniest material came from. Scenes were shot between 15-22 times until Williams was satisfied he had the scene worked out of his system.
On the set of Home Alone (1990), Macaulay Culkin would jokingly direct the film for Columbus.
There are several versions of Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) because of the sheer volume of improv Robin Williams came up with, so it was difficult to edit the film to something resembling the script. Columbus likened it to editing a documentary. These other versions were unworkable because tonally they were all over the place.
One of Columbus's daughters had trouble reading until she read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in two days which opened her eyes to the world of books. After reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, she asked Columbus to make films out of them, but there were 50 other directors already interested. Columbus fell in love with the first two books and sat down with Warner Bros saying how obsessed he was with making the Philosopher's Stone more than anything else. Columbus asked to be the last director Warner Bros saw which took about ten days. Columbus stayed up until 3am rewriting the script each day. It was already a good script but Columbus wanted to talk about the visuals. He told Warner Bros he had rewritten the script for free and that made an impression on them. Because Columbus had done that without any pressure from them, it made the difference and after subsequent meetings and five weeks later, he got the job of directing.
Back in the early 1980s, Columbus lived in a loft on 26th Street in Manhattan. He threw down the key to his girlfriend who later became his wife.
After having a great working relationship with Steven Spielberg on Gremlins (1984), Spielberg produced the next two films Columbus scripted, The Goonies (1985), based on an idea Spielberg had, and Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) which was Columbus's idea, which altogether was two years working on those three films. Spielberg then wanted Columbus to script Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), a big step for Columbus as a writer. He accepted and went to meet Spielberg and George Lucas, two men he was very intimidated by, even though he had worked with Spielberg three times. Columbus acted as Spielberg and Lucas's secretary on The Last Crusade for five days taking down all their ideas. Lucas dictated the screenplay to Columbus making him fearful of changing any of it, and that went against what Columbus had learned at film school. To Columbus, the script seemed lifeless and without energy and there was nothing of Columbus in it. Columbus assumed Spielberg hired him for that last reason and when Columbus turned in the the draft, he was fired from the picture for all the above flaws in the script. It was a defining moment in Columbus's career, to never again ignore his base instincts on a movie.
Nine Months (1995) derived from Columbus wanting to tell the world about fatherhood.
Columbus dedicated Stepmom (1998) to his mother, Irene Columbus which was about losing a mother. She died of cancer in 1997.
His production company is called 1492 Pictures.
He and his production company are a play on the explorer Christopher Columbus and the year 1492.
His other production company is called Maiden Voyage Pictures.
Worked for Amblin Entertainment.
Wrote three House of Secrets books with Ned Vizzini.

Personal Quotes (22)

I was up on 140th Street in Harlem, in 1992. It was 3 in the morning, and I was walking back to get a cup of coffee. These two young kids came up to me and said to me, "What movie is this?" I said, "Home Alone 2," and they said, "What do you do?" And I said, "I'm the director." They said, "Oh, you're John Hughes!"
I can understand the validity of showing people the ugliness of the world, but I also think there is a place for movies to leave people with a sense of hope. If your film isn't going to do that, I just don't think it's worth making.
[Macaulay Culkin] An incredibly charming kid.
[Robin Williams doing standup] I was just blown away at his energy. One of the most brilliant minds I have ever come across in terms of comedy. This ball of fire on stage. It was really impressive.
Becoming a writer and having films made is probably the best way to become a director.
[reading Marvel comics as a child] It was the most magical time of my life. It represented to me everything that was exciting about life.
[Adventures in Babysitting, his directorial debut] It gave me the confidence to be back on the set again.
[Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid] I had never seen anything like it. It was just such a breath of fresh air. I loved being in that world.
My first day being on a set was extremely intimidating and frightening. But after a couple of hours, I just eased into it. I felt very secure and comfortable and I realized this is where I really want to be.
Nobody does anything for free in Hollywood. They have to be paid for everything.
[Robin Williams improvising in Mrs Doubtfire] Magical.
[Steven Spielberg and George Lucas] Two of my cinematic heroes.
Always listen to your own instincts. You can never be intimidated by the people you work with.
[Robin Williams as Mrs Doubtfire] You never had any concept of where he was going. You just never knew.
[recommending Pierce Brosnan to play James Bond to MGM] My little contribution to the James Bond saga.
Movies for adults are still great movies. Now we have a bigger genre of movies being made.
[Pierce Brosnan] A phenomenal actor.
[Sideways] A 70s movie made in contemporary times.
[26th Street in Manhattan in the early 80s] Not a particularly great area.
There's still an audience for smaller movies.
Martin Scorsese was a master of visuals while John Ford and Frank Capra were masters of storytelling.
Great comedy or dramas are made because someone is really passionate or obsessed by it. If not, it won't be a good film. Great filmmaking is something that can be esoteric which is all about the visual side of filmmaking or storytelling. When you develop a hunger for it, and there's something great out there, I want to see it before I find my great reward somewhere.

Salary (1)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) $10,000,000 + gross participations

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