When it comes to Harry Potter-related casting, stakes are always going to be high. Countless readers fell in love with Rowling’s series, tried to picture what the book’s characters would look like in real life, and eagerly waited to hear who would play each highly coveted role once the books were being turned into movies. I mean, can you imagine the pressure casting directors must have felt to get it right?
Well, it turns out that there was a bit of trial-and-error when it came to certain characters. At this point, your brain probably associates the name Daniel Radcliffe with Harry Potter, BUT did you know that he wasn’t the first pick for The Chosen One? And just wait until you hear about who was asked to play the iconic Dumbledore…
Try to say, “Turn to page three-hundred and ninety-four,” without imitating Alan Rickman’s voice. Seriously. We can’t even read this simple statement without hearing his voice in our heads.
Alas, Rickman almost lost the part of Snape before it was even in his grasp! (Which is a tough situation for us to picture.) Instead, Tim Roth was up for the role, but decided to give it up so that he could play Thade in Planet of the Apes. Roth also starred in Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, and The Incredible Hulk. While this does make for an impressive IMDb profile, we still have to wonder: Does Roth regret giving up the role of Snape? Or, does he feel that Rickman was the perfect choice in the end?
When you think of Jamie Campbell-Bower, what characters come to mind? Sweeney Todd‘s Anthony? Caius from the Twilight movies? Or – speaking of Harry Potter – maybe you think of young Gellert Grindelwald?
Despite his Grindelwald connection, Campbell-Bower had initially wanted another role: Tom Riddle. For this part, he was up against Frank Dillane (who plays Nick in Fear the Walking Dead). While he didn’t end up acting as this infamous antagonist, he did get to play Dumbledore’s childhood friend/adult enemy (which is still pretty awesome.)
Before the lovely Emma Thompson joined forces with the Wizarding World to play the cooky Professor Trelawney, someone else was offered the part: the equally wonderful Tilda Swinton. Based on the Narnia movies, we all know that Swinton has dabbled in the magical arts, so we can’t help but think she’d be just as perfect for the role. Then again, Emma Thompson is really good at playing eccentric characters.
Gone Girl and Harry Potter sounds like a weird combination, right? Yet, Rosamund Pike was the first choice to play journalist Rita Skeeter. So, what happened? Well… she said no and that was that. Instead, the part went to Miranda Richardson, who did a top-notch job at making audiences have a love/hate relationship with Miss Skeeter.
If anyone call play narcissism well in a comical, entertaining, even sexy(?!!?!?) way, it’s Hugh Grant. That would explain why he was originally cast as Defense Against the Dark Arts Gilderoy Lockhart. But then, things went downhill when scheduling conflicts interfered and he had to turn down the role. To fill this spot, Kenneth Branagh came in and instantly transformed himself into Lockhart.
Oh. My. God. Naomi Watts was going to play Ms. Malfoy. However, her agency crossed out the role with a big red X. Actress Helen McRory then took over and gave us the perfect Malfoy matriarch. (It’s quite a short casting story – but one with a happy ending, so we’re cool with it.)
If you really think about it, Professor Quirrell was the one who got the Voldemort ship sailing. In other words, this role is pretty important when you consider the series as a whole.
In the beginning, David Thewlis had his name right next to Quirrell’s, but he lost the part to Ian Hart and ended up as Lupin instead. Then again, isn’t this so much better? Lupin is way cooler and he doesn’t die in the very first movie. So it seems that Thewlis was the lucky one here.
Remember Slughorn? The one who taught Tom Riddle everything he needed to know about Horcruxes 101? Well, this professor was played by Jim Broadbent, who is known for his recent roles in Cloud Atlas, Moulin Rouge!, and Gangs of New York.
Now, you probably already guessed that Broadbent wasn’t always Slughorn. In fact, the late, great Bob Hoskins was deemed worthy of this role from the start.
Wait a minute… Daniel Radcliffe wasn’t always Harry Potter? How is that even possible?!
Unfortunately for actor Liam Aiken, he was given the role of Harry… and it was taken away from him exactly one day later. Why? Because he wasn’t British and producers weren’t going to budge when it came to Potter having a 100% authentic accent.
Alright, we saved Dumbledore for last because there’s a lot of casting drama surrounding this character.
As you know, two different actors portrayed Dumbledore: Richard Harris (who tragically passed away after battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma) and Michale Gambon (who took his place). It also turns out that Sir Ian McKellen’s name was thrown into the mix, just in case you didn’t already have enough headmasters on your mind.
While most fans thought that Harris was the perfect fit, they felt differently about Gambon. Since Dumbledore was supposed to be a gentle soul with a calming personality, many felt that Gambon didn’t portray him properly. Oh… and he also admitted that he didn’t read the books (which actually breaks out hearts).
In the end, we’re so happy we got eight movies out of this seven-book series. And they will always have a special place in our hearts
[Image via Warner Bros., Shutterstock]