Alderson, Andrew. "'They really do look as I'd imagined they would inside my head.'" November 11, 2001.

J K ROWLING last night spoke of her delight that the film version of her first Harry Potter novel had remained faithful to the book and had used an all-British cast including her "dream" choice of actors.

In an interview with Iain Johnstone, the British journalist and screen writer, which was released in America last night, she said she was "enormously relieved" when she saw the film.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which has its world premiere tonight, will be released in Britain next week and is expected to be the biggest film of the year.

Rowling lauded the talent of the cast and singled out three actors for special praise: Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid, and Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall.

"The first time I met Chris Columbus, the director, he promised me two things: he promised that he would remain as faithful to the book as he possibly could within the constraints of film; and he promised me that he would have an all-British cast. And, he kept both promises and so I was a happy woman," Rowling said.

She revealed that she had initially turned down many film offers, but had changed her mind when she became convinced that Warner Bros, the film-makers, would retain the spirit of her books and their characters.

"I said 'no' to everyone initially. I think it was around the time the second book was published . . . probably wouldn't be too strong to say there was a flood of film and television offers and all sorts of adaptions were in the air . . . and I said 'no' to all of them. And, in fact, I initially said 'no' to Warner Bros too.

"It was about a year after that I said 'yes' to Warner Bros. I had had many an assurance from Warner Bros that they would do it in a certain way.

"And, what was most important to me was . . . the absolute crux of the matter for me was . . . that they did not take my characters and take them off to do something that I didn't want them to do . . . because I am obviously in the middle of a seven-book series."

Rowling said that she had been moved by certain scenes in the film including the fight with the troll, [the game of] Quidditch, seeing Diagon Alley and the interior of Hogwarts. "Admittedly, I'd been given a lot of input on how things looked," she said.

"But they really do look as I'd imagined they would inside my head. So, obviously, that's the best thing for the writer of the original work, not to see something distorted on the screen.

"They did give me an awful lot of input . . . they asked me a lot of questions . . . and so I feel they've really taken my information and used it well.

"There are, for sure, going to be people out there that will say that this is not my Great Hall but, I can promise them, it is my Great Hall. So, from my point of view, it's obviously wonderful."

She said of the portrayal of Harry: "I just love Daniel's face. He's such an endearing face . . . It was a very hard part to cast . . . as I am sure people will remember because it was in the press a lot . . . they just couldn't find Harry.

"It was just turning into some sort of children's version of trying to find Scarlett O'Hara. And they found Dan in the most extraordinary way. David Heyman, the producer, went to the theatre one night with Chris Columbus, the director, and they literally sat down next to Dan."

Rowling said that Daniel had done a great job in a difficult part. "It's a harder part than Ron or Hermione because Harry, I think, is more a book character.

"He's very introspective. He's the readers' eyes on to the world . . . He wears the glasses, and that's not easy to convey . . . for, I believe, any actor . . . let alone an actor of 11 or 12.

"But what Daniel's got, I think, is the ability to listen and react very well on screen . . . Dan nailed it. And I am very pleased."

Rowling said that Coltrane had been at the top of her list in "`my dream cast . . . and, as I've said, I did get a lot of my dream cast . . . but absolutely top of the list: Robbie Coltrane for Hagrid and Maggie Smith for McGonagall.

"I think that anyone who knows the books and knows those actors - which I think would be pretty much everyone - would agree with me.

"Robbie is just perfect for Hagrid because Hagrid is a very loveable character, quite likeable, quite comic . . . but he had to have - you really do have to sense - a certain toughness underneath . . . and I think Robbie does that perfectly."

Rowling's final praise was for Mr Heyman and Mr Columbus. "They have been very, very keen to faithfully represent the world within the books . . . and obviously that was the quick way to my heart."

Last week Rowling told BBC`s Newsround programme that she was excited, then frightened about seeing the film. "I was terrified because it was way too late if bits were wrong. But at the end of the film I was happy."

Original page date 13 March 2007; last updated 13 March 2007.