In 2001 the first adaptations of the Harry Potter books flew into theaters with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and took the world by storm. Although the books were already a global phenomenon, something about seeing that magic translated to the screen made the imaginations of children and adults alike catch fire.
From then on, the actors who snagged these iconic roles have become synonymous with the commercial and critical success of the franchise. While it's hard to imagine a world in which Daniel Radcliffe didn't play Harry Potter, that was almost the case. Here are 17 actors and actresses who were almost cast in the Harry Potter movies:
1. Liam Aiken - Harry Potter
Liam Aiken (Stepmom) was originally the top contender for the part of the Boy Who Lived. Appearances wise, he definitely looks the part, but he ended up losing the role for just one reason to Daniel Radcliffe - because he wasn't British. Even though Aiken didn't end up playing Harry Potter, he did get to star in another adaptation of a beloved book in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. Still, it's really a bummer he wasn't born in the right country.
2. Hatty Jones - Hermione Granger
The adorable Hatty Jones, best known for playing the French schoolgirl Madeline in the movie adaptation, was reportedly auditioning for the role of Hermione Granger during casting for the first film. But, as we all know, the role went to the equally charming Emma Watson instead.
3. Ian McKellen - Dumbledore
If you've always thought that Sir Ian McKellan needed to play another grey, bearded wizard, then your wish almost came true. The man we know as playing Gandalf the Grey and Magneto almost played the Hogwarts Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore. As we all know, the role was played by Richard Harris, and then Michael Gambon following Harris' death.
4. Robin Williams - Rubeus Hagrid
Before J.K. Rowling insisted that the part of the Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts be played by British actor Robbie Coltrane, Warner Bros. studio insisted that at least one character be portrayed by a big name American actor. Their first choice was Robin Williams, who also expressed great interest in playing the half-giant. While Coltrane's performance was stellar, it's hard not to think about what could have been had the late comedian won the role instead.
5. Tim Roth - Severus Snape
Contrary to the popular rumor that J.K. Rowling hand-picked Alan Rickman for the role of Professor Snape, Tim Roth (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction) was also in talks to play the steely Potions Master. Roth instead went with the role of General Thade in Planet of the Apes. I don't know about you, but I think this definitely turned out for the best.
6. Tilda Swinton - Sybill Trelawney
Before the lovely Emma Thompson took on the role of the quirky Professor Trelawney, it was offered to Tilda Swinton. While I never had even an ounce of doubt in the actress' ability, seeing Swinton donning prosthetics in last year's Snowpiercer has me thinking that she could have been outstanding in this role. Then again, I think Tilda could play anyone and I'd be a fan.
7. Billy Connolly - Xenophilius Lovegood
After readers officially met his character in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it was rumored that the Scottish comedian Billy Connolly would take on the role of Luna's father, Xenophilius Lovegood. Instead Rhys Ifans ended up being cast as the quirky Editor of The Quibbler.
8. Rosamund Pike - Rita Skeeter
The original casting choice for the nosey, hyperbolic journalist, Rita Skeeter, went first to Gone Girl's Rosamund Pike. The role ultimately went to Miranda Richardson who played the supporting character excellently.
9. David Walliams - Barty Crouch Jr.
Amongst the number of famous British comedians involved in the Harry Potter franchise, one more was almost added to the mix. Originally, Little Britain's David Walliams was offered the role of Barty Crouch Jr. sans Polyjuice Potion. The role ultimately went to Doctor Who's David Tennant, who added the now iconic tongue flick.
10. Robson Green - Sirus Black
Before leaving the franchise, Director Chris Columbus suggested bringing on television actor Robson Green on for the role of Harry's godfather, Sirius Black, in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Instead, Alfonso Cuarón went with Gary Oldman, who only accepted the role because of the paycheck. And boy, are we glad he did!
11. Bob Hoskins - Horace Slughorn
Bob Hoskins (Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Hook) was on the potential casting list to play the man who taught us about Felix Felicis and Horcruxes, but Jim Broadbent ended up snagging the role.
12. Hugh Grant - Gilderoy Lockhart
Now this is one I could see. Apparently before Kenneth Branagh was cast to play the vain, smarmy Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Hugh Grant was cast to play Gilderoy Lockhart. Grant ended up having to pull out of the film though due to scheduling conflicts.
13. Kate Winslet - Helena Ravenclaw
It's a small role but an essential one nonetheless! Rumor has it that Kate Winslet was eyed for the role of the ghost of Helena Ravenclaw. Even in the star-studded Harry Potter cast, Kate Winslet would have been a pretty huge get, especially for a role with such limited screentime. Unfortunately, or fortunately for Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk Empire), Winslet's reps reportedly turned down the offer before Kate even got wind of it.
14. David Thewlis - Quirinus Quirrell
Before taking on the role of everyone's favorite chocolate-loving, werewolf-ified, Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Remus Lupin, David Thewlis auditioned to play Professor Quirrell. Lord Voldemort's human vessel ended up being played by Ian Hart. I feel like this was a near-casting that turned out for the very best for Thewlis.
15. Richard E. Grant - Lucius Malfoy
Having been a part of the films since Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the elder Malfoy male played a rather large part in the series. Although we became extremely comfortable with Jason Isaacs' portrayal, Richard E. Grant (Penelope, Corpse Bride) was also considered for the role.
16. Naomi Watts - Narcissa Malfoy
Initially, Naomi Watts was slated to play Lucius Malfoy's wife Narcissa, but her agency ended up rejecting the role on her behalf. The role went to Skyfall's Helen McRory instead.
17. Jamie Campbell-Bower - Tom Riddle
While Jamie Campbell-Bower lost the role of the young Tom Riddle in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to Frank Dillane, he still played a part in the Harry Potter franchise as the young Gellert Grindelwald. His ties to the series also extend outside the films as he was formerly engaged to Bonnie Wright (a.k.a Ginny Weasley).
In the end, I think all of these casting choices ended up for the best! But now you get to tell us. Do you think the right choices were made in the end?
(Source: IMDb, WhatCulture)