Harry Potter countdown: Day 6, The road to casting

Danielle Fox ('13)/Eastside entertainment editor

Though tonight will bring forth the much anticipated finale to the most magical Hollywood blockbuster of the century, eleven years ago JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, David Heyman, the producer of the Harry Potter films, and Chris Columbus, the director of the first tw0 Harry Potter films, were still searching for the actors and actresses that would make the film series the sensation that it is deemed to be today.  But after a few threats from relentless children, some twisting-of-the-truth, a rap or two and a few serendipitous events, the casting directors, along with Rowling, found themselves with a superlative cast.

Richard Harris (Albus Dumbledore for the first two films)

Despite Rowling’s upmost desire that Harris star as Hogwarts’ headmaster Dumbledore, Harris’s granddaughter acted as the ultimate catalyst for his long-awaited assent to join the world of wizardry. Concerned about the state of his health, Harris had apprehended that he most likely would not survive all six films, and sadly, he was correct.

According to WENN, Harris said, “The idea that I would have to do seven films, that intimidates me. I’m rebellious by nature and find commitment difficult to handle, but while I was floating all this around my family, my granddaughter said that if I didn’t play Dumbledore she would never speak to me again. So I had no choice.”

Robbie Coltrane (Rubeus Hagrid)

As Coltrane shockingly discovered he was Rowling’s spitting image of Hogwarts’ gamekeeper Hagrid, he was not only thrilled, but was also the first actor cast in an adult role for the series. However, finding the task of portraying the very effusive giant a tad difficult, Rowling helped put his character into perspective as she explained to Brian Pendreigh of jofilm.cop.uk, “Well, think of him as one of those really big Hell’s Angels that gets off a motorbike and then starts talking about how his garden is coming.”

Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom)

One of the Potter series’ most dedicated aficionados, Lewis knew exactly how to portray Longbottom, a blatantly clumsy character throughout the beginning of the series.

In an interview with Erin Hill, Lewis said, “I read the first books when I first got the part, so I knew the character of Neville, but I never anticipated what he was going to go on and become.”

Since Rowling obstinately kept his character’s transformation a secret, Lewis was proud to discover “the fighter” that Neville became.

Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy)

Felton actually attributes some of his ignorance regarding the Potter series as one of the reasons for his being casted as Potter’s foil throughout the series. He said, “It got to two [people] away from me when I realized I didn’t have an answer [to the director’s question]. The guy next to me said something about Gringotts and goblins so I was just like, ‘Yeah, those Gringotts sound awesome,’ and the director saw straight through me.”

Felton still swears his one instance of duplicity helped land him the role.

Emma Watson (Hermione Granger)

Even though Watson’s parents were persistent, telling her to keep in mind the realistic odds of landing the role of one of the Potter series’ three protagonists, Watson felt her inner connection to the quick-witted and industrious Granger too rare to not capture the attention of the casting directors.

In an interview with Derek Blasberg, Watson said, “I loved the books—I was a massive fan. I just felt like that part belonged to me. At the beginning, they were casting the other characters as well—but I always knew I was going out for Hermione. She came so naturally to me, Maybe so much of myself at the time was similar to her.”

Regarding her parents’ sentiments, she continued, “They were trying to make me stay realistic—but I wasn’t having any of it. I was going to get that part. My dad did a roast on a Sunday, and he gave me the wishbone, and I obviously made a wish that I would get this role. I still have that wishbone upstairs in my jewelry box.”

Rupert Grint (Ronald Weasley)

If Grint’s flaming red hair was not enough to grant him the role of Potter’s best mate, Ron Weasley, than his audition tape that featured an original rap definitely closed the deal.

In an interview with Justin Lee Collins, he shared the only line he remembers of his audition tape rap that explained why he should be cast as the leading Weasley: “Hello there, my name’s Rupert Grint, I hope you like this and don’t think I stink.”

As the video did anything but, the casting directors found a fiery persona that not only matched Ron’s hair, but disposition as well.

Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter)

With the necessity of being extremely selective in order to find the Harry Potter, it comes as no shocker that Radcliffe was one of the last actors cast. In fact, Radcliffe, oblivious to the fact that he was Columbus’s chosen one, may have not even been cast had not a few fortuitous events taken place.

After viewing Radcliffe in David Copperfield, Columbus vowed he had found his Potter; however, Radcliffe’s parents were rather disinclined to sign their young son up for an anticipated seven year film series.

“It took a couple serendipitous moments, including me happening to sit behind the producer and the screen writer of Harry Potter in the theater one night, for my mom and dad to think, okay, maybe it’s meant to be,” Radcliffe told Access Hollywood in an interview.

Reflecting on his time with the cast that brought the miracle of witchcraft and wizardry to the big screen, Felton names Radcliffe not only the most inspiring to be around, but the cornerstone of the production.  “He was always the most excited, the most eager, he had the most fun on set, and through that, I think everyone just kind of latched on to him and sort of followed his lead,” Felton said.

Acclaimed as a worldwide phenomenon soon to present a final glimpse into the magical world that is so revered, the Harry Potter series owes its sensation to the cast that brought the wizarding world to life.