The original eight-film Harry Potter series was known for its British-only casting policy, but up until this point, we weren’t fully aware of just how many international actors were turned away from roles they would have excelled at because of that rule.
In a new interview with The Huffington Post, casting director Janet Hirshenson spoke about the team’s struggle to cast Harry – the role that ultimately went to Daniel Radcliffe – and having to turn down qualified (but international) actors for a number of roles.
By the time Hirshenson joined the production, casting had already been underway for over a year. Ron and Hermione’s roles had been narrowed down to a select few candidates, but an actor for Harry remained elusive. One American actor was screen tested, but the “British only” rule prevailed, eliminating him for the running.
How seriously did they take that rule? Serious enough to turn down Robin Williams as Hagrid!
“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.”
Ultimately, the role went to British actor Robbie Coltrane, who brilliantly portrayed the beloved character Hagrid in all eight films. It was a good fit – Coltrane was J.K. Rowling’s top choice for the role.
It’s hard to imagine the Harry Potter films any differently than we experienced them. Their legacy will be around for quite some time, and ultimately, fans remained happy with every decision made by the production team. However, it’s fun to imagine what could have been had the British-only rule not been in place.
Imagine the Genie from Aladdin temporarily re-homing to Hagrid’s Hut. We’ll leave you with that.