See, Rowling largely operates Harry’s generation in a clear system of parallels to the previous generation, Marauders and all. Harry is his father—Quidditch star, a little pig-headed sometimes, an excellent leader. Ron is Sirius Black—snarky and fun, loyal to a fault, mired in self-doubts. Hermione is Remus Lupin—book smart and meticulous, always level-headed, unfailingly perceptive. Ginny is Lily Evans—a firecracker, clever and kind, unwilling to take excuses. Draco Malfoy is Severus Snape—a natural foil to Harry, pretentious, possessed of the frailest ego and also deeper sense of right and wrong when it counts. And guess what? Neville Longbottom is Peter Pettigrew.
Neville is a perfect example of how one single ingredient in the recipe can either ruin your casserole (or stew, or treacle tart, whatever you like), or utterly perfect your whole dish. Neville is the tide-turner, the shiny hinge. And all because he happens to be in the same position as Wormtail… but makes all the hard choices that Pettigrew refused the first time around. Other characters are in similar positions, but none of them go so far as Neville. None of them prove that the shaping of destiny is all on the individual the way he does.
There’s always been a sort of bullshit message out there that was conveyed as supposed conventional wisdom: that women will root for a man as a protagonist and identify with him, but men won’t root for or identify with a woman protagonist. I think that’s a whole lot of B.S. and I hope that this movie has helped show that it’s a bunch of B.S.
I carefully avoided the car commercial aesthetics or the army recruitment video aesthetics. I avoided making a movie about an army with ranks. I avoided making any kind of message that says war is good. We have enough firepower in the world. I was very careful how I built the movie.
One of the other things I decided was that I wanted a female lead (Babel’s Rinko Kikuchi) who has the equal force as the male leads. She’s not going to be a sex kitten, she’s not going to come out in cutoff shorts and a tank top, and it’s going to be a real earnestly drawn character. One of the decisions we made as we went along in the process of the movie was, let’s not have a love story. Let’s have a story about two people…
I have been offered movies that have huge budgets that have war at its centre and I said, ‘I don’t do that.’ I have two daughters and I wanted to make this movie for kids. It’s my lightest movie and yet it’s one of the most precise, adult exercises in world design I’ve ever made. It has the craft of a 48-year-old (del Toro’s age) and the heart of a 12-year-old.
What I wanted was for kids to see a movie where they don’t need to aspire to be in an army to aspire for an adventure. And I used very deliberate language that is a reference to westerns. I don’t have captains, majors, generals. I have a marshal, rangers…it has the language of an adventure movie. I want kids to come out of the movie and say, I want to be a Jaeger pilot! I really think that would be my dream come true.