Last month marked the 15th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone. Since then we’ve had seven more Harry Potter films, while last month saw the release of the spin-off Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, too.
All of these films wouldn’t have been possible if the original outing hadn’t been such a success, which is why its casting was so integral. Especially since they knew that they were trying to clairvoyantly pick young actors that would then blossom over the course of the next decade in the future films. But while it’s impossible to imagine anyone other than Robbie Coltrane portraying Hagrid in the franchise, it’s now been revealed that Robin Williams craved the part badly.
There was just one problem, Robin Williams wasn’t English. Those in control of casting the Harry Potter franchise had a “only English” rule when it came to the film, and not even a phone call from the beloved comedian and Oscar-winning actor from Good Will Hunting could sway director Chris Columbus’ mind.
Casting director Janet Hirshenson made this revelation to the Huffington Post.
“Robin [Williams] had called [director Chris Columbus] because he really wanted to be in the movie, but it was a British-only edict, and once he said no to Robin, he wasn’t going to say yes to anybody else, that’s for sure. It couldn’t be.”
One of the biggest issues when it came to casting Harry Potter was actually finding the right actor to portray the titular role. Daniel Radcliffe was actually pinpointed as a frontrunner for Harry Potter at a very early stage. However Daniel Radcliffe scuppered these plans himself, because by the time it came to auditioning for the part in front of Chris Columbus and the Harry Potter kingpins, he’d become bored of acting and wanted to give up the profession. Janet Hirshenson explained Radcliffe’s position at the time.
“He just wasn’t interested. He didn’t want to be an actor anymore. One evening, David Heyman the producer went to the theater and he knew Daniel’s father, who was an agent… so the producer ran into Daniel and his dad and said to Daniel, ‘Why don’t you come in and audition? Think about it.’ So he said, ‘OK.'”
Once Daniel Radcliffe came into audition he immediately impressed the producers and director. However it was still a close run between the young thespian and another actor that had been nearly as impressive as Radcliffe.
“When we sat down to look at the tests. There was another guy that we kind of liked, too. There were two. Chris right away liked Daniel, but there were a couple of people who went, ‘Hmm. That other kid’s interesting.’ So we thought, ‘Let’s all go to sleep on it. We’ll come back and look at this again.’ We all came back and all said Daniel.”
At that point, the cast of Harry Potter had come together, with Rupert Grint and Emma Watson quickly picked as Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, too. When they brought the trio together to tell them that they’d been cast as the leading threesome in the Harry Potter films, Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe had an interaction that immediately proved they were the right choices.
Janet Hirshenson recalled that meeting.
“After we chose, they pulled the three of them up to Chris’s office, not telling them they got the part, but they were standing there, the three of them, looking at each other, probably figuring, ‘I think we may be it.’ So they told them they had it. ‘Yay, yay, yay,’ and then they started chattering amongst themselves because they hadn’t known each other very much. Emma asked Daniel if he liked the books and he said, ‘Yeah, I like WWF better,’ and she did a harumph or some Hermione thing that was so perfect, just as herself. ‘[Gasp] WWF!’ And we just all were like, ‘Whoa, this is them.'”
[Featured Image by Warner Bros]