Robin Williams Was Denied A Role In The Biggest Fantasy Franchise Ever Made

Robin Williams wanted to play the part of Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter films.

By Chad Langen | Published

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Believe it or not, the late Robin Williams is rumored to have lobbied for the role of Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter films, but he was ultimately turned down because of his nationality.

According to The Guardian, the Patch Adams star revealed he longed to be cast as a character in franchise, but he was unable to secure a part because “there was a ban on American actors.” The role of the half-giant and half-human gamekeeper ended up going to Scottish actor Robbie Coltrane.

While speaking with the New York Post, Robin Williams reflected on his attempt to be cast in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. “There were a couple of parts I would have wanted to play,” he said. Still, even after being informed that the film would consist of an all-British cast, he remained hopefully saying, “Maybe one day.”

Having portrayed Hagrid in seven installments across eight films, it’s hard to imagine anybody else in the role of the loyal, softhearted character who is easily brought to tears than Robbie Coltrane. The late actor was a spitting image of the character depicted in the series of books by J.K. Rowling. Although Robin Williams was an extraordinary talent, we can’t fault director Chris Columbus for refusing to cast him in that particular Harry Potter role.

In addition to Hagrid, the other character Robin Williams was vying to play was Remus Lupin. He was a werewolf and the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Unfortunately, it was David Thewlis who nabbed the role because of the film’s all-British casting rule.

Chris Columbus, the director of the first two movies in Warner Bros.’ blockbuster franchise, collaborated with Robin Williams on Mrs. Doubtfire in 1993, which was years before J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was published. During an interview with Total Film in October 2021, Columbus discussed the tough conversation he had with the Oscar-winning actor. He reflected on how difficult it was to tell the star that it was all British, and his hands were tied.

During an interview with Insider a month later, the director praised Robin Williams as an actor and declared he would have delivered an incredible performance as Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter franchise. Columbus admitted that it would have been a completely different interpretation of the character, he maintained that the Jumanji star would have been amazing. Still, just like Robbie Coltrane’s portrayal of Hagrid, it’s hard to imagine someone other than David Thewlis in the role of Professor Lupin.

Although not casting Robin Williams as a character in the Harry Potter films seems like a missed opportunity, Columbus evidently knew what he was doing. The Sorcerer’s Stone grossed over $1 billion globally, and The Chamber of Secrets wasn’t too far behind it, earning approximately $925 million worldwide. The franchise is the fourth highest-grossing film series of all time, with $7.7 billion in worldwide receipts.

Fortunately, Robin Williams was a bonified movie star long before J.K. Rowling conceived Harry Potter. He racked up 111 acting credits before his untimely passing in August 2014. His final role was in the 2015 sci-fi comedy Absolutely Anything as the voice of Dennis the Dog.