J.K. Rowling Wouldn’t Let Robin Williams Audition for ‘Harry Potter’ Parts

Williams wanted to play either Hagrid or Lupin, but Rowling wanted Americans to stay out of her series
J.K. Rowling Wouldn’t Let Robin Williams Audition for ‘Harry Potter’ Parts

Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling refused to allow Robin Williams to try out for a kids’ movie about a plucky orphan who stumbles upon a world of magic and fantasy – it’s like she never even saw Aladdin.

According to director Chris Columbus, who helmed the first two films of the fantasy franchise, the late, great Williams was desperately eager to join the cast of Harry Potter when he found out his long-time collaborator was in charge of launching the film series. However, Rowling insisted that the cast should be “100% British” to preserve the “authenticity” of the silly fantasy movies about flying brooms and magic Hitler. A fan of the book series, Williams was gunning for the roles of Rubeus Hagrid and Remus Lupin, but was denied an audition on the basis of Rowling’s “No Americans Allowed” policy that somehow did not extend to the first film’s director.

Frankly, Rowling’s ridiculous rule sounds like a convenient cover for the real reason she didn’t want Williams involved: The Columbus-directed Mrs. Doubtfire probably offended her TERF tastes.

"There were a couple of parts I would have wanted to play, but there was a ban on American actors," Williams told The New York Post in 2001. He joked that the then-unfinished franchise could eventually take Harry Potter and his pals across the pond, saying of a possible future cameo, “Maybe one day. Say if (Harry) goes to Yale and becomes president."

The role of Hagrid went to the recently deceased Robbie Coltrane, Rowling’s first pick for the part, whose performance as the affable Hogwarts groundskeeper was obviously irreplaceable. However, on the topic of Williams’ other choice, the werewolf Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Lupin, Columbus said, "Robin would have been brilliant. It would have been a different interpretation,” noting that the actor who eventually landed the part, David Thewlis, was no slouch – he just wasn’t Robin Williams either. “I thought David Thewlis was great - but Robin would have been brilliant," Columbus commented.

Columbus recalled the conversation with Williams when the comedy legend tried to plead his case for a Harry Potter appearance, lamenting, “It was very difficult for me to say 'It's all British. There's nothing I can do.'" If only there was a spell that could have convinced Rowling to let Williams work his magic on her film series – Auditionus Americanus or something stupid like that.

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