It has been 20 years since we first saw actor Daniel Radcliffe play the part of Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. But, although it’s hard to imagine anyone else taking on the role of ‘the boy who lived’, it turns out Radcliffe almost didn’t get cast as the fantasy movie’s leading actor. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, director Christopher Columbus shared how he was initially told to “forget about” Radcliffe for the titular character in the magical franchise.
During an extensive interview discussing his time helming the 2001 family movie Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Columbus recalled seeing Radcliffe in BBC’s David Copperfield TV series. After watching Radcliffe play a young Copperfield, he knew that he had found the leading actor for his adaptation of J.K Rowling’s popular novels. However, when the director asked for a meeting with the young star, the Harry Potter casting director advised him to give up Radcliffe.
“You’re never going to get him. His parents are in the industry,” Columbus recalls the casting director saying. “They have no desire for him to do this. Just forget about him.” At the time, Warner Bros was also looking at Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) to play Harry Potter, but Radcliffe still managed to come out on top.
Despite the casting director’s insistence that Columbus look towards other actors, David Heyman (producer of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) managed to meet Radcliffe’s parents during a West End performance, and the rest is history.
“In David’s usual charming way, he was able to convince them to come in for a meeting,” Columbus explained. “That was sort of the end of it.” Ultimately Radcliffe was cast as Harry potter and would go on to play the character in seven more movies, while Tom Felton would be cast as his rival Draco Malfoy. In the end, it all worked out for the best, and it’s hard to imagine anyone else as the boy wizard battling Voldemort now.
Although Radcliffe has departed from the franchise, Columbus has said that he is open to direct a cinematic adaptation of The Cursed Child – a stage play that takes place 19 years after the Deathly Hallows movies. Radcliffe and his Hogwarts co-stars would be the right age to reprise their roles. However, currently, no new Harry Potter sequel is in development.
There is, however, another prequel film on its way. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore – the third flick in the Harry Potter spin-off series, which takes place 70 years before Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – is scheduled to hit theatres on April 15, 2022.