When he talks about his past, it is as if he is talking about someone else, ... He never emotionalizes it. He never colors it. It's just: That's what happened. In 'Oliver Twist,' it's much more concealed, but I think it is entirely autobiographical, because of what happens to a little boy, and how he does come through.

That argument enters into the equation of fiction and prevents the real judgment of character.

My own theory is that Roman thinks of himself as Oliver Twist.

He wanted to make a picture for children. So I read a lot of stuff and he read a lot of stuff. . . . But I don't like all those fantasy books, I'm not good at 'Lord of the Rings' and the 'Harry Potters.' . . . It's not my world. I like things to do with reality and the world we live in -- or lived in.

[Both men are consciously Jewish. Neither, says Harwood, was bothered by Dickens's anti-Semitic overtones.] I can honestly say we never talked about it, ... I wouldn't insult him. We're both grown men.