Robin Williams Almost Played Hagrid, But A Strict Casting Rule Stopped The Magic From Happening
When you talk about dream casting for a Harry Potter film, it may be tough to think of a non-British actor stepping into a character's shoes. But what if I told you Robin Williams reportedly wanted to play Hagrid in the first Harry Potter film? That's right, back in the early days of casting for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Williams actually lobbied to audition for the role of Hagrid. Can you even imagine the possibilities that would have come from Williams appearing in a Harry Potter film? I mean, it would have been pretty life-changing.
But alas, there was one big casting rule that prevented Williams from ever getting in the audition room. It was recently revealed to the Huffington Post by the casting director for the Harry Potter films, Janet Hirshenson, that an "only British" casting rule for the Harry Potter films had been implemented by the time she came on board. When Williams' name came up, apparently director Chris Columbus was eager to audition him, but the casting directors had their orders, ostensibly from the studio and J.K. Rowling herself. Hirshenson told HuffPost,
"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."
Can you say buzzkill?
There's no doubt in my mind that Williams would have left a heck of an impression in that audition room. It's no secret that Williams was one of the greatest character actors to ever live. He was known for his ability to transform — in voice, body, and personality — for any role that came his way. The idea that he so badly wanted to play Hagrid, but was unable to be considered (despite the fact that he was a literal superstar when the film was in pre-production in the early '00s) because of a silly rule is just annoying.
I suppose it was meant to be, right? The actor who eventually became Hagrid, Robbie Coltrane, had always been Rowling's first choice to play the Hogwarts groundskeeper. Coltrane is the one who made Hagrid into the living, breathing, lovable character fans know today. Coltrane simply is Hagrid.
But isn't it just fun to imagine what Williams would have been like in the world of Harry Potter? Oh, what could have been.