After the phenomenal success of the books, and the hype surrounding the launch of the Harry Potter franchise, you’d think every young actor would have been well aware of the fantasy movie adaptations. But Tom Felton, the actor who played Harry Potter character Draco Malfoy in the series, didn’t have a clue what he was auditioning for at the time.
The incredible success of the movies based on books means the whole world knows about the Harry Potter movies now, but way back at the turn of the millennium the franchise wasn’t the cultural behemoth it is today. The family movies turned the Harry Potter cast into global superstars, with truly life-changing opportunities for many of the young actors involved.
In an interview with Square Mile back in 2021, Felton recalled the audition process for the first magical adventure movie, and how he pretty much had no idea what Harry Potter even was, having read none of the books beforehand, and no inclination as to how big the opportunity would prove to be.
Funnily enough, when Felton got the call to say he had nabbed the part in the 2000s movie, he was too busy playing football with his friend to really care. “Can I go back to playing football now?” Felton asked, having heard all he needed to hear.
One stage of the audition process saw 20 kids lined up, with director Chris Columbus asking each of them, “What are you most excited about from the book to the film?” This put Felton in an awkward position, given he had never read the books.
Felton recalled thinking: “Shit, he’s gonna ask me this question! I have no idea what Harry Potter is!” When in doubt, just copy the person next to you – what can go wrong?
“The kid next to me was like, ‘Gringotts. I’m really excited about Gringotts.’ Moved to me and I just repeated what he said! ‘Mate, those Gringotts. I can’t wait to see the Gringotts,'” Felton explained. “Obviously that doesn’t make any sense, so he knew straight away that I was bullshitting – which I think gave him an idea that maybe I would be a good Draco.”
We’d love to tell you that the motto ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ is a good one to live by, but it all worked out fine for Tom Felton in this case. If Harry Potter is your thing, you might like our list of the best kids movies.