Robin Williams Was Turned Down For Integral Role in Harry Potter

Robin Williams

Looking back on films of our youth, it’s hard to imagine that roles and stories could have possibly gone any other way. The impact these films have had on our lives is so astronomical that to think anything could be remotely different than what we remember is almost absurd. However, that’s exactly what almost happened in one of the most iconic franchises of our lives, when it was revealed that Robin Williams wanted to play Hagrid, Hogwart’s half-giant groundskeeper in the magical world of Harry Potter.

Robin Williams

It’s rather difficult to think that he could have possibly been a part of the cast, especially playing someone as memorable as Hagrid, but it’s worth mentioning that that possibility was very short lived. According to an interview with Huffington Post, casting director Janet Hirshenson made it perfectly clear that Williams, who passed away in 2014, had spoken with director Chris Columbus about his interest in playing Hagrid, but was ultimately turned down. Williams had reached out to Columbus due to their past working together (Columbus had directed both Bicentennial Man and Mrs. Doubtfire), but the decision to not hire him for the part fell on the issue of his nationality. According to The Guardian, Robin had interviewed with the New York Post in 2001, explaining that they only wanted British actors in the movies. Hirshenson confirmed this in her interview with 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. ~Janet Hirshenson, casting director

This isn’t the only time a major role was almost passed off to an entirely different actor. Earlier this year it was revealed that David Bowie had nearly been cast as Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings saga. Ultimately the role was passed onto Sir Ian Mckellen due to time constraints on Bowie’s part, leaving us with the grey wizard we all know so well these days. In this case, the director of the film had reached out to Bowie for the part, instead of the other way around, but it seems fate knows exactly who is meant for what part, and simply couldn’t allow for anyone else to be cast in the role. In Robin Williams’ case, not being British had really been the only reason why he’d been turned down. This seems like a pretty stiff rule to adhere to, but ultimately we got a wonderful and loveable version of Hagrid with Robbie Coltrane’s rendition of the character so we really can’t complain much. Besides, it’s hard imagining Hagrid being anything like the Genie from Aladdin!

Robin Williams

So what do you think of this news break? Do you believe they made the right choice in passing up Robin Williams for the part of Hagrid? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


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