Rachel M. Johnson is a lover of all things pop culture. She's been writing about music and entertainment online for years.
1. Chris Columbus, director of the first two Harry Potter films, wanted Daniel Radcliffe as the titular character after he saw him in the BBC's production of David Copperfield. Radcliffe's parents were protective over their son and initially refused to let him audition. Columbus was successfully able to convince his parents that Daniel would be protected from media intrusion, and they agreed to let him play Harry.
2. J.K. Rowling revealed via her website that she was asked to portray Harry's mother Lily during the Mirror of Erised scene, but she declined due to her not being an actress and worrying she would mess it up. Geraldine Somerville ultimately took the role.
3. Alan Rickman was handpicked by J.K. Rowling to play Severus Snape, and received special instructions from her about the character. The author even provided him with important details about the Snape's backstory that were not revealed until the final novel.
4. Christopher Lee, Sean Connery, and Patrick McGoohan were all initially offered the role of Albus Dumbledore, but each declined. Connery did not like the film's subject matter and McGoohan was in ill health, while Lee turned it down do to scheduling conflicts. The late, great Richard Harris would iconically portray the role.
5. The Hogwarts' motto, "Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus", means "never tickle a sleeping dragon."
6. Both Robin Williams and Rosie O'Donnell wanted to be cast in the film without pay, but they were turned down by Rowling because she wanted a cast strictly from the British Isles. Williams wanted to play Hagrid and O'Donnell Molly Weasley.
7. J.K. Rowling handpicked Dame Maggie Smith (Minerva McGonagall), Robbie Coltrane (Rubeus Hagrid), and Alan Rickman (Severus Snape) for their roles.
8. In order to emphasize how unpleasant the Dursley's and their home was, set decorator Stephenie McMillan deliberately found the ugliest furnishings possible.
9. Richard Harris only agreed to take the part of Albus Dumbledore after his 11-year-old granddaughter threatened never to speak to him again. He would star in the first two films before sadly passing away of Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2002. Michael Gambon then took over the role.
10. Producers of the series actually trained owls to carry letters. This process took months to complete, and production even hand-wrote all the Hogwarts acceptance letters brought to the Harry in the first film.
11. Despite being "The Chosen One", Harry does not cast a single spell in the first film. He makes the glass at the zoo disappear and learns to fly on a broom, but no magic is cast from his wand.
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12. During the filming of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Daniel Radcliffe changed the screen language on Robbie Coltrane's (Hagrid) cell phone to Turkish. Coltrane had to contact hair designer Eithne Fennel's Turkish father to set the phone back to English.
13. During the production of all the films, Daniel Radcliffe went through 160 pairs of glasses.
14. Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) auditioned for the role by sending a video of himself rapping while explaining why he wanted the part.
15. Robbie Coltrane's 6'10 body double for Hagrid was former England rugby International player Martin Bayfield.
16. Emma Watson's Oxford theater teacher passed her name on to casting agents, and she had to do over five interviews before she got the part. Watson took the audition very seriously but according to her, "never really thought I had any chance of getting the role." Producers were impressed by her self-confidence and she won the role.
17. Steven Spielberg was initially hired to direct the first film, but he dropped out after a few months of production. He said he did not feel he was ready to make an all-kids movie and Chris Columbus was brought in.
18. J.K. Rowling made up the names of the four Hogwarts houses while on a plane. She wrote them down on a barf bag so she would remember them.
19. Tom Felton originally auditioned for the roles of Harry and Ron before being cast as Draco Malfoy. He had to bleach his hair in order to portray the character, as he naturally had light brown hair.
20. It was Jason Issacs' (Lucius Malfoy) idea for the character to have long, blonde hair and carry a walking stick concealing his wand.
21. The Weasleys' car is a Ford Anglia. This is the same color and model car in which J.K. Rowling and her best friend from school used to ride around when they were younger.
22. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Tom Felton (Malfoy) forgot his line when he sees Harry disguised as Goyle, so he improvised, "I didn't know you could read."
23. Rupert Grint has such a severe case of arachnophobia that he has still not watched the entire scene where Ron and Harry are in Aragog's hollow. His fear and squirming during the scene were Grint's real reactions.
24. Eddie Redmayne, who was cast as Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016), auditioned for the role of Tom Riddle but was turned down.
25. Hugh Grant was originally cast as Gilderoy Lockhart, but he was forced to drop out due to scheduling conflicts. Kenneth Branagh then took the role.
26. J.K. Rowling actually created a guide to teach the cast members how to speak Parseltongue.
27. Dobby's ears were based on an art department dog named Max that used to sit under the designer's desk.
29. During the filming of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Tom Felton's robes were sewn shut to prevent him from sneaking food onto the set.
30. The tattoos on Sirius Black's body and hands are borrowed from Russian prison gangs. They are markings which identify the person as a man to be both feared and respected.
31. Harry Melling (Dudley Dursley) lost so much weight before the third film that he was almost recast. Eventually, he was approved to continue playing the character and he had to wear a fat suit in order to look heavier.
32. Gary Oldman took on the role of Sirius Black because he needed the money and hadn't acted in several years, stepping away to spend more time with his children. He said he was "surprised by how difficult it was to pull off" and compared the role to Shakespearean dialogue.
33. Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort) did not wear any makeup to cover up his nose. Editor's digitally removed it.
34. The books that formed Dumbledore's library are actually phone directories in disguise.
35. During the filming of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Alan Rickman banned Rupert Grint and Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom) from being within five meters of his new BMW, because during the filming of the previous installment they spilled a milkshake in his car.
36. Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) beat out 15,000 girls for the role. She was ninth in a line of thirty finalists when it came to the audition videos, and when producer David Barron saw her audition, he said, "She is Luna."
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) - IMDb. (n.d.). www.imdb.com. Retrieved October 27, 2021 from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0373889/trivia/?ref_=tt_trv_trv
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) - IMDb. (n.d). www.imdb.com. Retrieved October 27, 2021 from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0241527/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0
Kickham, D. (2019, November 28). These "Harry Potter" Behind-The-Scenes Movie Facts Are So Magical. Elite Daily. https://www.elitedaily.com/entertainment/harry-potter-behind-the-scenes-movie-facts-secrets
© 2021 Rachel M Johnson