The Harry Potter Films Almost Had an American Cast

Warner Home VIdeo
Warner Home VIdeo / Warner Home VIdeo

For 10 years, moviegoers watched Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, and the rest of the Harry Potter cast grow up right before their eyes. Even today, the actors are so closely associated with their Wizarding World characters that it's hard to imagine any other individuals in their roles. What's probably even harder to imagine is a cast of American actors playing Harry and the gang, but that's one option that was reportedly discussed while the film franchise was being developed.

JK Rowling's book series was already wildly popular among American readers when development on the first film in the series, 2001's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, began. It was suggested that a cast full of familiar American faces would attract a larger audience stateside.

One of the best-known names suggested was Robin Williams, who was apparently Warner Bros.’ first choice to play Hagrid. Though Williams would have brought an interesting twist to Hagrid, we can’t imagine the half-giant as anyone but Robbie Coltrane.

Director Chris Columbus wanted Liam Aiken, the American actor who played Klaus Baudelaire in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, to be cast as Harry over Daniel Radcliffe.

Rowling was adamant about keeping the cast primarily British, though that didn’t stop a couple of Americans from sneaking into the lineup. Eleanor Columbus, the daughter of the director, played a Hogwarts student in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Meanwhile, the late Verne Troyer played Gringotts’s goblin Griphook.

Actress Zoë Wanamaker, who played Madam Hooch in the first film, was born in America but spent most of her life in the United Kingdom.

While it would have been interesting to see some American faces in the Wizarding World, the classic films wouldn’t have been the same. American actors, including Johnny Depp, Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, and Zoë Kravitz, are now getting their shot at portraying characters of the magical world in the Fantastic Beasts movies.