Chris Columbus wanted Daniel Radcliffe to play Harry Potter early on in the process , but Radcliffe had already quit acting and his overprotective parents didn’t want him to deal with the problems that come with overwhelming fame. However, one night, producer David Heyman randomly ran into Radcliffe and his father at the theatre, and he asked Radcliffe to think about auditioning, and the rest is history.
Casting director Janet Hirshenson said that a few other child actors were considered for the role of Harry Potter, but ultimately, they went with Radcliffe because they knew that eventually Potter would grow up and have complex adult scenes and the other kid was “not going to have the balls that Daniel has.” That’s right, they picked a child based on his balls.
To be fair, Radcliffe has never been shy about showing the world his balls as he went full frontal nude for the stage play “Equus” and let his Golden Snitch hang out.
When J.K. Rowling saw Radcliffe’s audition tape, she said it was like “watching a son.” She made no mention of his balls.
Rupert Grint got the part of Ron Weasley by sending in an audition tape of himself dressed as a female drama teacher performing a short rap about how much he wanted to be in the film. Cool.
In their search for the perfect Hermione, the casting team traveled to local British primary schools. Unlike every other girl in her school, Emma Watson had no desire to try out. She was convinced to do so by her teacher and was actually the last girl in her school to audition.
Rowling spoke to Watson on the phone and fell in love. So when she finally met Watson in person and realized that she was far more beautiful than the Hermione Granger she had imagined, she was okay with it.
“It was really lucky I spoke to Emma first on the phone before I met her. Because I fell absolutely in love with her. She said to me, ‘I've only ever acted in school drama plays and oh my God I'm so nervous I can't believe I got the part,’ and then she spoke for, like, 60 seconds at least without drawing breath and I just said, ‘Emma, you're perfect.’ And then when I met her and she was this very beautiful - which she still is, of course - beautiful girl, I just kind of had to go, ‘Oh, okay. It's film, you know, deal with it.’ I'm going to still see my gawky, geeky, ugly duckling Hermione in my mind.”
Hatty Jones was the last girl cut before Watson was finally cast. Hatty Jones’ first ever film was Madeline. It was also her last ever film. On the other hand, Emma Watson is rich, famous, and has a long acting career ahead of her, which hopefully are all facts that Hatty Jones never thinks about.
Rowling has since said that Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint were all too attractive for their parts, but that Devon Murray was just right for Seamus Finnigan.
At one point, there was discussion of making Harry Potter as an animated film.
At first, producers wanted to combine the first two or three books into one film, but then they realized that they could make so much more money by doing each book individually.
The reason the producers wanted to animate or combine films was that they were concerned that any delays in filming would result in the child actors aging too much to continue their roles and require recasting. But because Rowling nixed the idea of doing either, the producers decided to film the entire series back-to-back so that the same actors could play the roles throughout.
Rowling made a specific request that everyone cast in the film be British.
Rowling cut out a line from “The Philosopher’s Stone” script because it conflicted with a plot point that hadn’t yet happened in “Order of the Phoenix.” It was never revealed what line was actually cut.
When production designer Stuart Craig asked Rowling about the geography of Hogwarts, she drew a detailed map on a piece of A4 paper, which still remained useful eight films later. It’s like Rowling created the whole world or something.
Rowling insisted that Robbie Coltrane play Hagrid and said that if he hadn’t signed on it would have been a deal breaker.
Despite being willing to work for free, Robin Williams was turned down for the role of Hagrid.
Rosie O’Donnell was also so desperate for a role in the film that she too was willing to do it for free. She wanted to play Molly Weasley. Unfortunately, she was also turned down. She will have to make do with the consolation prize of playing Steve Bannon.
Alan Rickman was also handpicked by Rowling to play Snape. In fact, Rowling gave Rickman secret details about Snape’s backstory (prior to its publication) so he could play the role properly.
Tim Roth was rejected for the role of Snape.
Every child working on the film still continued with their education, receiving three to five hours of schooling every day. They didn’t receive any homework though.
Because of their young age and those pesky child labor laws, Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint were only allowed to work for nine hours a day. Of those nine hours, one was lunch, and they got a fifteen minute break for every hour, so they only actually filmed for four and a half hours a day.
The three main actors were forbidden from skiing for the duration of the films.
The film reveals that the twelfth use of dragon’s blood is as an oven cleaner.
The part of Dumbledore was initially offered to Patrick McGoohan, but he turned it down citing health issues.
Rowling was offered the part of Lily Potter, to be seen in the Mirror of Erised, but she turned it down because she really didn’t see herself playing Lily in the mirror.
M. Night Shyamalan was one of the directors considered for taking the helm of the movie. Luckily, the job went to Chris Columbus and the world was spared a version of the movie where Harry Potter was an invincible mermaid who was actually dead all along.
Scenes with Peeves the Poltergeist were filmed with Rik Mayall playing the pesky ghost. Unfortunately, none of the scenes were used, even as deleted scenes on the DVD releases. Mayall didn’t find out that he had been cut from the film until he saw it in theaters. Ultimately, Peeves did not appear in any of the films.
When she was twelve, Emma had a crush on Tom Felton.
Emma Watson has had her career made by the Harry Potter franchise, but most folks don't realize that she almost quit the series after The Half Blood Prince when the filming was interfering with her academic studies. Is this not the most Hermione thing ever?
The tabby cat used in the movie ran away during filming but came back two days later. It refused to tell anyone where it had been, but it didn’t stop smiling for days.
The doors to Gringott’s are actual functioning doors.
Only one of the moving staircases at Hogwarts was functional. The rest of them were digitally created.
Most of the owls were also digital creations.
Two versions of Hagrid’s hut were built. One was built very large with big props so that the other actors would look diminutive inside it. The other was built normal-sized to make Hagrid look massive.
The Restricted Section scene was filmed in Duke Humfrey’s building at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. They have strict rules on bringing flame into the library. The makers of Harry Potter were the first to be allowed to break that rule in centuries.
Platform 9 ¾, the entrance to the part of King’s Cross Station where students could catch the Hogwart’s Express, was filmed on Platforms 4 and 5. Rowling admitted that she accidentally mixed up the layout of King’s Cross. She had meant for Platform 9 ¾ to be in the inter-city part of the station, but Platforms 9 and 10 are actually on the less grand suburban platforms.
King’s Cross actually installed a Platform 9 ¾ for fans of the film and for parents to convince their children to run into at full speed to teach their children that magic isn’t real.
The filmmakers originally wanted to use Canterbury Cathedral as a filming location, but the Dean refused, saying it was unfitting for a Christian church to be used to promote pagan imagery. Gloucester Cathedral agreed to take its place as their Dean was a fan of the books. Nonetheless, there was a huge media outcry and protesters wrote hundreds of angry letters to the local newspapers, complaining that it was blasphemy and threatening to block the film-crew’s access. In the end, only one protester turned up.
In the film, the scar on Radcliffe’s forehead was slightly off center. This was done at Rowling’s request because that’s where she wanted it to be despite the artwork for the books depicting the scar in the center.
The word “muggle” actually existed in the early to mid-1900s as a “jazz-word” that was used for pot smokers.
They shot the final scene of the film on the very first day.
Radcliffe was supposed to wear green contact lenses so that his eye color would match that of the character in the book. However, he was severely allergic, so he didn’t have to wear them because producers decided Radcliffe should be allowed to keep his eyes.
Radcliffe was also allergic to his glasses, which gave him whiteheads all around his eyes. Given all his allergies, if Voldemort wanted to take down Potter, he should have tried chunky peanut butter.
Watson was supposed to wear buck teeth to match her character, but producers decided against it because she couldn’t talk properly while wearing them.
As a prank, Radclife and Grint stole Robbie Coltrane’s cellular phone and changed the language to Turkish. Coltrane had to call the hair designer’s Turkish father to find out how to say “change language” in Turkish.
The trio was caught on camera accidentally breaking a book prop and then pretending like it didn’t happen.
True to her character, Watson over-prepared for her role memorizing not only her own lines but also everyone else’s. If one watches carefully, they can see her mouthing Grint and Radcliffe’s lines.
Most of the books inside Dumbledore’s office were phone books that were rebound and then covered in a layer of dust, which begs the question: Where did they find so many phone books in 2001?
The letters that were delivered to Potter at the beginning of the film had to be redesigned because the first batch were too heavy for the owls.
The name of the book was changed to “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” for American audiences because the marketing people in the US assumed that American children would find sorcerers more exciting than philosophers. Please. What nine-year old wouldn’t be enthralled by Aristotles’ “Nicomachean Ethics”?
As a result, they had to film every scene mentioning the Stone twice to ensure that the American version of the movie has the actors saying “Sorcerer”.
Rowling regretted giving Scholastic permission to change the title of her book, but at the time, she felt she didn’t have the clout to stand up to the publishers. Of course, now that she’s the most powerful author in the world, she could probably get away with calling the next book “Harry Potter and the Endless Diarrhea”.
The Philosopher’s Stone was actually the name of a real-life legend. As in the book, it was an alchemical substance that could extend one’s life and useful for achieving immortality. On top of that, it was capable of turning base metals such as mercury into gold or silver and, word has it, made a mean brunch.
Nicholas Flamel, mentioned in both the book and the film as the creator of the Philosopher’s Stone, was a real person (maybe). He was (possibly) a real alchemist from the 14th century and has served as a plot device in novels featuring characters from Batman to Indiana Jones.
Nearly Headless Nick isn’t the same guy, but he’s pretty cool... so we included a pic of him anyway.
Richard Harris had no desire to play the role of Dumbledore, and he only agreed to take the part when his eleven-year-old granddaughter threatened to never to speak to him again.
My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.
Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.
Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.
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