Just in case you haven't had enough of Harry Mania this week, I thought we'd travel back to when the whole movie craze started. Enjoy, Muggles!
Other actors who auditioned for the role of Harry: William Moseley, who eventually got the role of Peter Pevensie in The Chronicles of Narnia. Liam Aiken also auditioned and later went on to star as Klaus in another hit based on a hugely popular children's book - Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. Cody Linley was in fifth grade when he auditioned for the role of the Chosen One, but obviously didn't make the cut. He is probably best known now for portraying Jake Ryan, Miley Stewart's sometimes-love interest on Hannah Montana. According to NotStarring.com, M. Night Shyamalan turned down directing the movie because he preferred to devote his time to Unbreakable. It's likely - he has also expressed interest in directing the final film, saying his version would be exceptionally "dark and twisted." Rupert Grint, AKA Ron Weasley, got the part when he sent in a video of himself rapping about why he was perfect for the role. Richard Harris, who played Dumbledore until his death in 2002, almost didn’t take the part. His granddaughter changed his mind, insisting that she would never speak to him again if he didn’t take the part. Hagrid’s portrayer, Robbie Coltrane, was the only actor J.K. Rowling insisted on. Well, not insisted on, but suggested. Director Chris Columbus asked her if she had any actors in mind for any of the characters and, according to her, she said “RobbieColtraneforHagrid” all in one quick breath. Robbie Coltrane says the producers called him and said, “You’re playing Hagrid, and we’re having no arguments about it.” Luckily, he was already a fan of the books from reading them to his son and immediately agreed to the part. Rik Mayall, whom children of the early ‘90s will remember as Drop Dead Fred, was cast as Peeves the Poltergeist. Sadly, his scenes were eventually cut from the film.
Hogwarts is actually Alnwick Castle in Alnwick, Northumberland, England. The castle, which dates back to 1096, was used for both interior and exterior shots of the wizarding school. Other Hogwarts shots were filmed at Harrow, a school for boys located in the London suburbs; Gloucester Cathedral and Durham Cathedral (pictured). Photo from IGN.com Gringotts Bank can be found on the Strand in London; it’s called the Australia House and it masquerades as the building for Australian muggles’ state and federal government agencies in the U.K. It's rumored that Rosie O’Donnell offered to play the part of Molly Weasley for free because she loved the books so much. She was turned down because J.K. Rowling very strongly wanted the cast to be primarily British. Daniel Radcliffe has to wear contact lenses to portray Harry because his eyes are actually blue. Seems like a minor detail, but as any fan knows, Harry’s green eyes end up playing an important part in the series. However, sometimes the lenses bothered his eyes and the color had to be added by computer after the scenes were filmed. Drew Barrymore, a Potter fan, was supposed to have a cameo in the film, but it was cut after the first draft of the script. Three different birds portray Harry’s Snowy Owl, Hedwig. Their names are Gizmo, Ook and Sprout, but the one with the most screen time is Gizmo. Steven Spielberg had his hat in the ring to direct, but ended up choosing A.I. with Haley Joel Osment instead. There was a rumor that Spielberg wanted to make a Toy Story-esque movie with Osment as the voice of Harry and that idea alienated him from the rest of the team who was already on board to do the movie. Producer David Heyman insists that wasn’t the case, however. Check out the portraits on the moving staircase – one of them is Anne Boleyn. She was beheaded because of her attempts to use sorcery on Henry VIII (that was his excuse, anyway), so her likeness on the wall at Hogwarts is quite appropriate. In a bit of foreshadowing, one of the trophies in the trophy cabinet (it’s to the right of the Quidditch trophy) called “Service to the School” is engraved with the name “Tom M. Riddle.”
Alan Rickman, AKA Severus Snape, knew what was going to happen with Snape’s character long before the rest of us discovered it in book seven: J.K. Rowling provided him with essential details so he would know his character’s motivation and be able to portray him more accurately. The actor who ended up playing Professor Lupin, David Thewlis, auditioned for the part of Professor Quirrell. I’d say he got the better deal, wouldn’t you? And completely unrelated to the movie, Thewlis is in a relationship (and has a baby) with Anna Friel, better known to people in the U.S. as Chuck from Pushing Daisies. Also, he turned down the role of Simon Gruber in the Die Hard: With a Vengeance, which would have made him the onscreen brother of Alan Rickman, who played Hans Gruber in the first Die Hard. The movie's budget was an astronomical $125 million, but it made that back many times over: the worldwide gross was $976,475,550. Daniel Radcliffe’s voice changed while they were filming, but the movie was shot in sequence so it just gradually gets deeper throughout the film instead of being at different octaves here and there.