The Harry Potter series of films have become one of the most successful film series of all-time. The films, which are based on the books by J.K. Rowling, have captured both child and adult audiences alike. The fantasy films follow the home and school life of Harry Potter, a special wizard who has defied the most feared enemy of the wizarding world. Despite their success, getting the movies off the ground was problematic and one of the main reasons for this was the casting.
The three main stars of the movies are Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Ranger. These characters are played by Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson, respectively. It was this series of films that launched their careers as prior to these, the three were unknown child actors. Their casting was perfect as they represent the characters just as they are depicted in the book and Rowling herself has said on many occasions that she was delighted with the choice of actors to portray these roles.
However, finding them was rather difficult. The main reason for this is that there was a stipulation that all actors involved in the movies had to be British. For this reason, casting director Janet Hirshenson could only see British actors. She broke this rule just once as she had considered American actor Liam Aiken for the role of Harry Potter as the young actor had worked with director Chris Columbus on ‘Stepmom’. However, the all-British rule was not broken as Daniel Radcliffe was chosen to play Potter.
This rule also applied to the casting of the adult roles. If you have ever seen the movies, you will notice that the cast includes many big names who are well-established in the entertainment industry. That is because it was so apparent that the movies would replicate the success of the books that famous actors were begging to be cast in the films.
One actor who was desperate for a role was Robin Williams. The famous actor was keen to take on the role of Hagrid. This character is the gamekeeper and the Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The character plays a key role in many of the major storylines from the books and movies as he befriends Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
The Huffington Post was told by Hirshenson that Robin Williams personally called Chris Columbus to express his interest in playing Hagrid. However, Columbus stuck to the British only rule and turned him down. The fact that such a talented actor was rejected just shows how important it was to Rowling, the producers, and the director that the cast only included British people.
In the end, the role of Rubeus Hagrid was given to Robbie Coltrane who portrays the gamekeeper to perfection. For ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’, Coltrane was nominated for both a BAFTA and a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor. The teen version of this character is played by Martin Bayfield. Robbie Coltrane is best-known for his roles in the television series ‘Cracker’ and the James Bond films ‘Goldeneye’ and ‘The World Is Not Enough’.