Any dedicated fan of the Harry Potter series will be able to name a number of differences between the book and movie series. While ultimately it just makes sense that not everything from J.K Rowling's seven books could make it into the films, it doesn't help when you hear stories like I did today about one of my favorite minor characters almost making it into the film, before being dropped.
Peeves the mischievous poltergeist was a character who we were first introduced to at the very beginning of Harry's wizarding career, taunting and teasing the first year students, prefects and basically anyone else who got in his way. Professor Dumbledore and the Bloody Baron were the only people (is a ghost still a person?) who had any sort of control over Peeves (much to the constant annoyance of Argus Filch), and today I learned that he was supposed to be played by British comedian, Rik Mayall, in the films!
Mayall, who sadly died in 2014, appeared in many films including An American Werewolf in London and Drop Dead Fred, but it was in a behind-the-scenes interview for the 2011 film When Evil Calls: The Raven that he revealed that the favorite film he had ever acting in, was a film he didn't actually end up in: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone!
After lying to his agent about having read the Harry Potter series, Rik was awarded the part of the chaotic poltergeist, though as it turns out perhaps Mayall was a little too fitting for the role as an anecdote in the interview proves:
I got sent off the set because every time I tried to do a bit of acting, all the lads who were playing the school kids kept getting the giggles, they kept corpsing, so they threw me off.
Well, they asked me to do it with my back to them and they still laughed. So they asked me to do it around the other side of the cathedral and shout my lines, but they still laughed so they said they’d do my lines with someone else.
Ah! I wish they had left his scene in!
Unfortunately, as Mayall goes on, about three weeks later he got the call to say that Peeves' scenes had been cut from the upcoming film, but despite the disappointment that his scenes were cut, he still calls it the most exciting film he was ever in due to the fact that he still got paid for it! What a sense of humor.
Director of Sorcerer's Stone, Chris Columbus, has said in the past that the reason Peeves' scenes were cut from the film was because they weren't happy with how the Poltergeist looked. Though they had hoped to get the special effects up to standard and release the scenes at a later date, the footage with Rik Mayall as Peeves has never surfaced, and the character was omitted from all future Harry Potter films. It seems like such a shame that Peeves was left out, especially considering Moaning Myrtle was left in (I joke, I joke!).
While its now been over 14 years since Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was released, I still can't help but think that leaving the character of Peeves out of all eight films was an oversight, if not for the great scenes of him torturing Professor Umbridge in Order of the Phoenix, then at least to hear him sing that fantastic song after Voldemort was killed in the Deathly Hallows:
We did it, we bashed them, wee Potter's the one, and Voldy's gone moldy, so now let's have fun!
How great would that scene have been?!
Watch the whole interview with Mayall below (warning: strong language):