The Harry Potter films are renowned the world over, cherished by a generation of young people and equally as enjoyed by adults.
From the humble beginnings in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, through to the wonderful two-part climax Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, audiences were thrilled by the story of the child wizard and his friends at Hogwarts. The first film took a total of $978m from a budget of $125m, with the final two taking well over $2bn from a $250m budget.
Not only were they profitable films, but the franchise made global stars out of its actors, especially those youngsters who played Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint). As well as the films, the series originally derived from JK Rowling’s books also lends its imagery and ideas to a range of different platforms, with the current Fantastic Beasts franchise one such example. There has also been a Harry Potter play and numerous games both directly and indirectly linked to the films. Renowned gaming portal Foxy Bingo has a slot game entitled White Wizard which draws from the series’ imagery, with wizardry also finding its way into popular console games too. The Harry Potter Lego PS4 game proved that the appeal is still as strong as ever, almost nine years since Daniel Radcliffe last brandished a wand in anger.
Sadly for some, they missed out on becoming a part of the phenomenon. Much like the fifth Beatle Pete Best, they have had to watch on whilst other actors have become famous for playing roles they could have had.
Here are four actors who missed out on playing life-changing roles in the Harry Potter films.
Tim Roth – Severus Snape
Professor Snape, played by Alan Rickman, was one of the few characters who had fans of the series split. He seemed to be a villain throughout, only to leave you aghast as his true motivations played out towards the end of the series.
Rickman was menacing, mysterious and brilliant as Snape, but the role could have gone elsewhere; Quentin Tarantino favourite Tim Roth had been earmarked for the role but allegedly didn’t want to see his image on lunchboxes, suggesting he wasn’t ready to have his later career defined by a single role.
Robin Williams – Hagrid
JK Rowling allegedly insisted that English actors play the main Hogwarts staff roles, which does suggest she might have had a say in Roth not playing Snape. Allegedly, the producers desperately wanted comic genius Robin Williams to play the lovable giant, but the franchise creator had other ideas.
It is believed that Williams was also keen to be in the film; after his success with Jumanji, he proved his versatility in fantasy films and would have made a great Hagrid. Still, few fans of the series could imagine anyone other than Robbie Coltrane providing wise words of advice for the wizarding trio.
Rosamund Pike – Rita Skeeter
Pike rose to fame after starring in another popular British franchise, appearing in James Bond film Die Another Day back in 2002. With only a handful of films behind her, she was reportedly offered the role of reporter Rita Skeeter in the 2005 film Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire but turned it down after hearing she would be forced to return for the following instalment with far less screen time.
Pike has since gone on to impress in films such as Entebbe, Beirut and Gone Girl, whilst fellow Brit Miranda Richardson became the Daily Prophet’s poison-pen writer.
Naomi Watts – Narcissa Malfoy
The face of the Lestrange family could have been quite different had one actress’s agent not intervened. Naomi Watts could have been one of the evil sisters, but she lost out to Helen McCroy and Helena Bonham-Carter. Initially, McCroy has been in line to play Bellatrix Lestrange but had to drop out due to pregnancy. That paved the way for the menacing depiction from Bonham-Carter, leaving the role of Draco Malfoy’s mother free for Watts.
Watts’ agent turned down the role on her behalf, which opened the door for McCroy to appear in the films after all, only as of the other Lestrange sister. Missing out has not impacted Watts’ career too badly; she was nominated for an Oscar in 2013 for her role in The Impossible.