Pretty much every Harry Potter fan out there absolutely loves Hagrid. He was an incredibly central character to the book series and was brought to life magnificently by Robbie Coltrane in the movies. It turns out things could have been a whole lot different, because Robin Williams really wanted the role for himself, but he was ultimately rejected for it.
Janet Hirshenson, who served as the casting director for the Harry Potter movies, was recently interviewed by The Huffington Post and revealed that Robin Williams did indeed reach out to the team behind the movie about the part. Unfortunately, due to a “Brits-only” rule during the casting process, he wasn’t really considered seriously for the part of Hagrid. Here is what she had to say about it.
“Robin had called because he really wanted to be in the movie, but it was a British-only edict, and once he said no to Robin, he wasn’t going to say yes to anybody else, that’s for sure. It couldn’t be.”
You would be hard-pressed to find a Harry Potter fan who wasn’t happy with the way the casting worked out for the movies, especially in hindsight. For many, it would probably be very difficult to picture anyone but Robbie Coltrane in the role of Hagrid, who just so happened to be author J.K. Rowling‘s first choice for the part. That said, it would be equally hard not to see Robin Williams absolutely crushing it in a role like that. It is the type of thing he was truly great at doing. Even though it was an animated character, just look at what he was able to bring to the role of Genie in Aladdin. Couple that with his ability to do truly grounded, serious drama in something like Good Will Hunting and it is hard to argue against, in many ways.
The first entry in the franchise, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was released in 2001 and the final installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, was released in 2011. During that decade-long run, Robin Williams worked plenty, but he didn’t do anything nearly as significant in terms of critical acclaim or financial success as the Harry Potter movies. The closest thing would be the Night at the Museum trilogy, but that is simply dwarfed by the success of the Harry Potter. Not counting Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the Harry Potter movies made a grand total of $7.72 billion worldwide, making it one of the most successful franchises ever. Robin Williams talked a little bit about getting passed over for the part in 2001 in an interview with the New York Post. Here is what he had to say.
“There were a couple of parts I would have wanted to play, but there was a ban on [using] American actors.”
Sadly, we lost Robin Williams in 2014 but he remains a truly beloved actor and so much of his work is still celebrated regularly. It is hard to imagine how his legacy would have been shaped had he appeared as Hagrid in Harry Potter. It certainly would have had a major impact on his career in some way. Putting anyone, let alone someone as beloved as Robin Williams, in a hugely successful movie franchise can bring a lot of opportunity someone’s way. Things ultimately worked out well the way they did and at the very least, this is something interesting for fans of the Harry Potter franchise to think about.