Director Chris Columbus Explains How Home Alone Influenced Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Home Alone (1990) and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) do have certain topical parallels. The main characters are sweater-clad children who find their lives threatened by malevolent adults because other adults failed to keep a closer eye on them. Both films are also pretty Christmas-y, albeit to varying degrees.
But the two classics share more than that. As Polygon reports, Chris Columbus—who directed both films—intentionally drew from Home Alone in a couple specific ways when working on the first Potter film. The first had to do with Macaulay Culkin: Columbus thought his performance as Kevin McCallister seemed exceptionally authentic, and he searched for kids who could achieve “that same sort of realism” while portraying Harry and his friends.
“What happens when you cast an actor who has not had a lot of experience is that they bring in a tremendous amount of reality, naturalism, and comedy based on instinct, not based on the fact that they’ve done seven years of a Nickelodeon show,” Columbus told Polygon. “So for me, [the goal] was finding these unknown actors who could basically become these characters.”
While working on Home Alone, Columbus instructed the costume department, the set designers, and everyone else to make decisions that would “feel timeless.” He embraced that directive for Harry Potter, too.
“The goal was, if you’re in Hogwarts, you may not be able to tell what year this movie was shot. This could have been shot in 1956, maybe 1977. Maybe it was shot in 2020. And that’s the thing I’m most proud of: You can’t really pinpoint it,” Columbus said.