Chris Columbus is from nearby Spangler, Pennsylvania!
Noteworthy Connections / Director of ‘Harry Potter’ Movies, is Spangler Native -by Veronica Orr -May 3, 2016 (The Tribune-Democrat)
A lover of comic books and horror movies, director Chris Columbus knew his dream career path after watching “The Godfather” when he was only 15 years old – turn words on the page into movie magic. Columbus, an only child, was born in Spangler. He has said that his family was not rich, and his parents often bought comic books and movies to entertain him because they were inexpensive. His father, Alex, was a coal miner, and his mother, Irene, worked in a factory. Due to the hazards that come with underground mining, Alex Columbus chose to move his family to Ohio, where he began working in an aluminum factory when Chris was only 3 years old.
“My father always said, ‘Don’t ever do a job that you hate,’ which meant that he hated his job,” Columbus said in an interview with The Guardian in 2013.
Columbus won a scholarship to pursue his movie-making dreams at The New York University Tisch School of the Arts. However, “I stupidly forgot to renew my scholarship by signing a few slips of paper, so I had to work in the (aluminum) factory that entire summer,” he said. Columbus credits the time spent in the factory as “pure incentive to get the hell out of there. … It saved my life. I benefitted from the terrifying reality I faced of having to live and work in that factory for the rest of my life in that town if I didn’t make it.”
Before his award-winning career as director and producer, Columbus began as a screen writer. His first big break came when director Steven Spielberg bought the screenplay for “Gremlins,” released in 1984. The movie grossed more than $12.5 million in its opening weekend, according to boxofficemojo.com. Since its release, the movie, its spinoffs and Gizmo the Mogwai have become pop-culture icons. Columbus went on to write another screenplay for Spielberg in 1985, this time following a group of misfits who “Never say die.” Much like “Gremlins,” “The Goonies” has become a cult classic, and features some of Hollywood’s biggest up-and-comers of the time – Sean Astin, Corey Feldman and Josh Brolin, among others. Columbus made his directorial debut in 1988 with “Adventures in Babysitting.” Although the film was not well-received by audiences or reviewers, his next movie, “Mrs. Doubtfire,” has become a beloved film and features the late actor Robin Williams. It has become one of Columbus’ most successful films, along with 1990’s “Home Alone.”
Since that time, Columbus has been the director and/or producer of many of Hollywood’s feel-good movies, such as “Jingle All the Way,” “Rent,” “I Love You, Beth Cooper,” “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer,” the “Night at the Museum” franchise, “The Help” and “Pixels.” He was also the director of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” and produced “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” Columbus brought J.K. Rowling’s visions to reality and created the first bits of magic fans of the series were craving to see on the big screen.
The successful director/producer has recently expanded his resume by writing the “House of Secrets” novels for young adults.
Columbus lives in northern California with his wife, actress Monica Devereux. They have four children, and daughter Eleanor appeared in the first two “Harry Potter” movies as Hogwarts student Susan Bones.
• Born: Sept. 10, 1958; native of Spangler.
• Lives: Northern California with his wife, Monica Devereux.
• Occupation: Movie producer/writer/director.
• Education: The New York University Tisch School of the Arts.
• Directed numerous successful Hollywood films, including: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (2001), “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” (2002), “Mrs. Doubtfire” (1993), “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” (2010), “Home Alone” (1990) and “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” (1992).
• Movie writing credits include “Gremlins” (1984) and “The Goonies” (1985).
• Producer for “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (2004).
• Academy Award nomination for producing “The Help” (2011).
• Founded 1492 Pictures production company in 1995.
• BAFTA winner, AFI Awards winner, Art Directors Guild winner
“Always listen to your own instincts. You can never be intimidated by the people you work with.”
Home Alone (1990):
The Goonies (1985):