The Unusual Casting Requirement For Harry Potter Actors

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With the release of “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” another project expanding the Wizarding World has now been added to a list that began over 20 years ago with 2001’s “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” To honor that legacy, Potterheads were given a reunion special, “Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts,” on HBO Max. The Wizarding World is still going strong, although it is unclear whether Warner Bros. will continue the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise after this third installment, according to a report from Variety.

Either way, with all eight “Harry Potter” movies and the first two “Fantastic Beasts” movies streaming on HBO Max, it’s easy for fans to continue rewatching the series they love and the characters that have become household names around the world. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Tom Felton, Bonnie Wright, Matthew Lewis, and a number of other actors who played young witches and wizards at Hogwarts essentially grew up on the set. Needless to say, the roles they obtained at such a young age surely shaped the course of their lives, as many of them discussed during the “Return to Hogwarts” special.

Although actors like Watson have noted just how competitive it was landing their respective roles (via Interview Magazine), the odds were greatly improved due to a casting requirement set by J.K. Rowling, director Chris Columbus, and casting director Janet Hirshenson. Here’s what we know.

There was a British casting rule for the Harry Potter movies

“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” casting director Janet Hirshenson first alluded to the film series’ well-known British-only casting rule in a 2016 interview with HuffPost. In a 2021 interview with Total Film, Chris Columbus noted that they even had to turn down amazing actors like the late Robin Williams, who desperately wanted to play Remus Lupin.

The director further explained to Insider that same year that he and J.K. Rowling agreed right away that they wanted the cast to be “100% British,” and other than a couple of nonspeaking roles given to Verne Troyer, who stood in for the goblin Griphook, and Columbus’ daughter, Eleanor, who played Susan Bones, they stuck to that agreement. Even though it may have been interesting to see an American actor don an accent for a particular character in the series, most fans of “Harry Potter” would likely say they wouldn’t change much about the cast that provided them with the adaptations of the iconic book series.

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