Robin Williams is no stranger to family-friendly franchises. He wowed audiences in Hook and he voiced the genie in the ’90s Disney animated feature Aladdin.
It turns out that the actor, who passed in 2014, was very interested in playing a role in the Harry Potter franchise.
Chris Columbus, who directed both Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, recently revealed that he spoke to Williams about the beloved actor playing Remus Lupin.
There was unfortunately an issue with this. There was a rule in place in the casting that all actors were British to “maintain a degree of authenticity.”
“I had a conversation with Robin Williams, who wanted to play Lupin,” Columbus said to Total Film. “It was very difficult for me to say ‘It’s all British. There’s nothing I can do.’”
Columbus also served as executive producer on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
The role went to British actor David Thewlis. In 2016, Harry Potter casting director Janet Hirshenson revealed that Williams also wanted to play Hagrid in the film.
“Robin had called [Chris Columbus] 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. It couldn’t be.”
Williams commented on his inability to get a role in the New York Post in 2001.
“There were a couple of parts I would have wanted to play, but there was a ban on American actors. Maybe one day. Say if [Harry] goes to Yale and becomes president.”
The Harry Potter franchise is one of the most successful of all time, grossing an estimated $7.73 billion from all eight films. We can only imagine just how much more magical and successful it would have been with Willaims as a part of it.