Producer of Harry Potter
British producer and actor David Heyman is widely popular as the producer of the massively successful Harry Potter movies: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone” (2001), “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” (2002), “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (2004), “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” (2005) and “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” (2007), and the upcoming sequels “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” (2009), “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I” (2010) and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II” (2011). He won the Children's Award at the 2004 BAFTA Awards for his work in the third movie and was the recipient of the 2003 ShoWest Convention award for Producer of the Year, making him the first Englishman to have ever been presented with the award.
Starting out as a production runner, the founder of Heyday Films has also produced other movies like D.J. Caruso's “Taking Lives” (2004), Francis Lawrence's “I Am Legend” (2007), Mark Herman's “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” (2008), John Crowley's “Is There Anybody There” (2008) and Peyton Reed's “Yes Man” (2008). He will also lend his producing talent for the based-on-novel “The History of Love” (2010),
When asked about his plans after the Harry Potter series come to an end, Heyman, who was named one of EW's “50 Smartest People in Hollywood” in 2007 said, “I am both excited and frankly a little saddened by the end of the series growing closer. Working on Harry Potter has been the gift of all gifts. It has changed my life in every which way. Every day working on it, I promise you, has been an absolute pleasure and something that will never be repeated. I am sure that when the time comes it will be a very sad day. I work with certain groups of people every day and I will not be doing that in the same way in the future. I will also be very proud because I am very proud of the films and very proud of the body of work that I have been a part of. At the same time I will be very excited about the new challenges that lie ahead. I am working on a book called ‘The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time,’ which I look forward to working with Steve Kloves who has written the Harry Potter films and who will write and direct that. Even now, I am working on ‘Paddington Bear’ and some other more adult films. I also made a few other films while I was producing Harry Potter so I am looking forward to having a little more time to work on those things. But Harry Potter will always be a part of me and what an amazing journey it has been.”
Childhood and Family:
David Heyman was born in 1961 in London, England, to film producers John Heyman (1970's “The Go-Between” and 1979's “Jesus”) and Norman Heyman (1988's “Dangerous Liaisons” and 2005's “Mrs Henderson Presents”). He was educated in both England and the United States, where he received a degree in art history from Harvard University in 1983. He relocated to Los Angeles in 1986 and after finding some success as an executive, he moved back to England in 1997 to establish his own production company.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
10-year-old David Heyman had his first taste of show business when he landed a supporting part in the British film “Bloomfield,” based on the novel of Joseph Gross. Directed by Richard Harris and Uri Zohar, the drama was produced by his dad and released in the U.S. in August 1972. Heyman, however, did not make another appearance in front of the camera until over two and a half decades later in the 1997 short “Cookin,’” directed and written by Micky Hohl. By this time, Heyman had emerged as quite a successful executive in America.
A graduate of Harvard University, London-born Heyman nearly pursued a career as an art dealer before eventually entering the world of producing. He started as a production runner on the Milos Forman-helmed “Ragtime” (1981) and the David Lean-directed “A Passage to India” (1984), starring Judy Davis. Three years after graduating from Harvard, he headed to Hollywood to become a Creative Executive at Warner Bros., during which time he oversaw such movies as Michael Apted's “Gorillas in the Mist” (1988) and Martin Scorsese's “Goodfellas” (1990, starred Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino, Frank Sivero, Tony Darrow, Mike Starr, Frank Vincent, Chuck Low and Frank DiLeo). In the late 1980s, he was promoted as a vice president at United Artist.
However, it was not until 1992 that Heyman made his debut as an independent producer. His first movie, “Juice,” was directed by Ernest R. Dickerson and starred Omar Epps, Tupac Shakur, Jermaine 'Huggy' Hopkins and Khalil Kain. He next produced the comedy “The Stöned Age” (1994), which was directed by James Melkonian and starred Michael Kopelow and Bradford Tatum, and the HBO Original Film “Blind Justice” (also 1994), for director Richard Spence. He then served as executive producer on Greg Mottola's “The Daytrippers” (1996), which starred Stanley Tucci and Hope Davis.
After several years working in the United States, Heyman decided to return to his native England in 1997 and set up Heyday Films. “Ravenous,” his first film under his own production company, premiered in the U.S. in March 1999 with Antonia Bird sitting in the director's chair and Guy Pearce starring in the role of Captain John Boyd. The film was nominated for a 2000 Saturn for Best Horror Film. Heyman also appeared in the film as Mr. Janus and had small roles in Chris Menges' drama “The Lost Son” (1999) and Peter M. Cohen's “Whipped” (2000). It was also in 1999 that Heyman purchased the film rights to the first four Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling for $2 million. The first movie, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone” (2001), directed by Chris Columbus and scripted by Steve Kloves, was a huge box office success in the U.S. and throughout the world. It was nominated for three Oscars in the categories of Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Costume Design and Best Music, Original Score and several other award nominations, including two BAFTA nominations for the Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film and the Children's Award for Best Feature Film for Heyman. The follow-up, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” (2002), was again an enormous hit and grossed over $800 million worldwide with a budget of $100 million. It also brought Heyman his next nomination at the BAFTA Awards for the Children's Award, an honor he shared with Columbus and Kloves.
Following the phenomenal success of the first two Harry Potter films, Heyman opened an office in Los Angeles. Its first U.S. debut, the based-on-novel “Taking Lives” (2004), starred Angelina Jolie and Ethan Hawke and was directed by D.J. Caruso. It was nominated for a Golden Trailer for Best Horror/Thriller. Heyman returned to the Harry Potter franchise later that same year with “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” which was directed by Alfonso Cuarón. Hailed as the best of the first three films, “The Prisoner of Azkaban” won the producer a 2004 BAFTA Children's Award for Best Feature Film and an Alexander Korda Award nomination for Best British Film and was again a big commercial success internationally. It was followed by “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” (2005), which was directed by Mike Newell, and “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” (2007), which was directed by David Yates and scripted by Michael Goldenberg.
Meanwhile, in 2005, Heyman executive produced the CBS television series “Threshold,” which starred Carla Gugino as Dr. Molly Anne Caffrey and Brian Van Holt as Sean Cavennaugh. The show, however, was canceled by the network after ten episodes. In 2007, Heyday Films, in collaboration with Warner Bros. Pictures, released the blockbuster “I Am Legend,” a thriller directed by Francis Lawrence and starring Will Smith and Alice Braga. Heyman next collaborated with BBC Films and Miramax Films to produce “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” (2008), Mark Herman's adaptation of John Boyne's novel of the same name. Set during WW II, the drama was nominated for an IFTA (Irish Film and Television Awards) Award for Best International Film and won an Audience Choice Award at the 2008 Chicago International Film Festival. He also produced the British film “Is There Anybody There,” which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2008, and the Jim Carrey comedy vehicle “Yes Man” (2008), which was based on a book by Scotland-born writer Danny Wallace.
After a two-year hiatus, Heyman returned to the Harry Potter franchise with “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” which will hopefully be released in the U.S. on July 17, 2009. The sixth movie is directed by David Yates and scripted by Steve Kloves. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II” will follow in 2010 and 2011, respectively.
“The fact is that my passion and that of everybody who works on the film is undiminished. It is called ‘the film business’ and the reason why Warner Bros moved the date was for business reasons. Because of the writer’s strike and other factors in Hollywood, there was not the pipeline of material for next year that they needed. They had a very big year with ‘The Dark Knight’ and they needed a big film for 2009 and Harry Potter filled that slot. I appreciate the disappointment, I really do. As a film maker, it is always nice to finish a film and move on to the next. But I think that the film will not be hurt by this experience at all. The studio has always been, and remains, committed to the film in every way. If the film had come out in November this year, there would have been a two year wait for the first part of ‘Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows.’ What now will happen is that there will be a two year gap between ‘Order Of The Phoenix’ and “The Half Blood Prince” and there will only be, in ball park terms, a 16 month gap between ‘Half Blood Prince’ and the first part of ‘The Deathly Hallows.’ ‘The Deathly Hallows’ is coming out in exactly the same schedule as was originally planned and we are starting principal photography in February as planned. So nothing has changed with the other films. As opposed to there being a two year gap between five and six, there will now be a two year gap between six and seven.”
In addition, Heyman serves as executive producer on the Peter Cattaneo-directed “We're the Millers” (2009), a drama about a thirty-something pot dealer (played by Steve Buscemi) who realizes his life has no meaning. He will also produce “The History of Love” (2010) for director Alfonso Cuarón, which is based on a novel by Nicole Krauss.
BAFTA: Children's Award, Best Feature Film, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” 2004
ShoWest Convention: Producer of the Year, 2003