Robin Williams was turned down for Harry Potter role for not being British

Harry Potter director, Christopher Columbus, reveals that Robin Williams wasn't cast in Harry Potter because he was American

There is no denying that the Harry Potter movies continue to be a cultural phenomenon. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first film in the magical franchise, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, director Christopher Columbus has now gifted fans with a new casting story. During an interview with Total Film, the director revealed that the late Robin Williams originally had his heart set on playing a specific Hogwarts teacher; however, he was turned down due to being American.

According to Columbus (who directed Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), the production team had decided to use only British actors in the movies. The director clarified that this was to maintain a snippet of authenticity in the fantasy movie about England’s secret wizarding world. “That was the goal. No American actors in this film,” Columbus said.

This was bad news for Robin Williams, who wanted to take on the role of Remus Lupin – the Defence Against the Dark Arts tutor in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. “I had a conversation with Robin Williams, who wanted to play Lupin,” Columbus explained. “It was very difficult for me to say ‘It’s all British. There’s nothing I can do.'” The part of Lupin ultimately went to David Thewlis (Wonder Woman), who did a fantastic job at bringing the teacher with werewolf tendencies to life.

Despite not making the cut for the Harry Potter movies, Williams and Columbus had worked together previously. Previously, the two collaborated on the comedy movie Mrs Doubtfire, which blew critics away, winning two Golden Globe awards, and the Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. There is no doubt that Williams would have shined as any magical tutor in Harry Potter, and it is fascinating to imagine what the films would have looked like if the beloved actor was part of them.

The next instalment in the Harry Potter franchise is the third Fantastic Beasts movie, titled Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, which is scheduled to release on April 15, 2022.

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Emma-Jane Betts

Staff Writer

Updated: Oct 18, 2021


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