Despite the British-only rule, Robin Williams approched the director hoping to bag a role in the movies.
Believe it or not, it's already been 20 years since the first Harry Potter movie came out. And with that began a series of successful films that propelled the cast, including Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, and Tom Felton to success. But a few cast members would have looked very different from the ones we love so much had there not been a rule. Apparently, Robin Williams wanted to be a part of the magical team but he was rejected not once but two times.
While we cannot imagine anyone but Robbie Coltrane playing the role of Hagrid, Williams reportedly approached director Chris Columbus for it before Coltrane got cast. Casting director Janet Hirshenson told Huffington Post back in 2016 that the legendary comedian had reached out to Columbus "because he really wanted to be in the movie." However, there was one problem that simply could not be overlooked, not even for the great Robin Williams.
"Robin had called 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," she noted. The producers of the films wanted the cast of the film franchise to only feature Irish and British actors and thus Williams did not make the cut for the role of beloved half-giant and Hogwarts groundskeeper. But it sure would have been amazing to see his take on it.
During an interview with the New York Post Williams opened up about not being chosen to play a role in the Harry Potter movies. "There were a couple of parts I would have wanted to play, but there was a ban on [using] American actors," he said at the time.
After Hirshenson's revelation, Columbus recently revealed that Williams did not back down after the first rejection. Instead, he was interested in taking on the role of Remus Lupin, a new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, which was introduced in the third book and third film. However, with the "British cast only" rule still in place, the role was given to David Thewlis eventually.
"I had a conversation with Robin Williams, who wanted to play Lupin. It was very difficult for me to say 'It's all British. There's nothing I can do,'" recalled Columbus during an interview with Total Film in October, last year. A month later, during an interview with Insider, he admitted, "Robin would have been brilliant. It would have been a different interpretation — I thought David Thewlis was great — but Robin would have been brilliant."
Cover image source: Getty | Photo by Kevork Djansezian