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Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone Director Shares How Difficult It Was Casting Daniel Radcliffe

20 years ago, the Harry Potter film series launched with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, just four years after the original book by J.K. Rowling. Daniel Radcliffe was selected to play the Boy Who Lived on the big screen, and The Sorcerer’s Stone quickly catapulted him to worldwide fame. As it turns out though, director Chris Columbus initially had a difficult time securing Radcliffe to play Harry Potter.

In an extensive interview covering his time on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Chris Columbus recalled how he first saw saw Daniel Radcliffe in the BBC’s David Copperfield miniseries, where he played a younger version of the eponymous protagonist. Despite Radcliffe only being in “two or three scenes,” Columbus immediately knew the boy was the right fit for Harry Potter, finding his onscreen presence “complex and interesting.” As such, Columbus requested a meeting with Radcliffe, only for The Sorcerer Stone’s casting director to tell him this:

You’re never going to get him. His parents are in the industry. They have no desire for him to do this. Just forget about him.

That could have been the end of it, especially since Chris Columbus mentioned that Warner Bros was also looking at Tom Felton to play Harry Potter at the time. But Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone producer David Heyman wasn’t deterred by the casting director’s insistence that they not bother with Daniel Radcliffe. Instead, he went to see Radcliffe’s parents during an intermission at a West End performance, and the meeting went splendidly. As Columbus put it to THR:

In David’s usual charming way, he was able to convince them to come in for a meeting. That was sort of the end of it.

As a bonus, Chris Columbus picking Daniel Radcliffe for the role was met with praise by J.K. Rowling, who described the actor as “the perfect Harry Potter.” All this was enough to convince Warner Bros to approve the casting, and a couple days later, it was announced in London that the cinematic Harry Potter had been selected, while previous contender Tom Felton was brought aboard as Draco Malfoy. The rest, as they say, is history, with Radcliffe going on to reprise Harry Potter in seven more movies.

Following Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Chris Columbus (whose other notable credits include Gremlins, Home Alone and Mrs. Doubtfire) returned to helm Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but then he departed the franchise because he’d become “emotionally and physically exhausted” from working on the two movies. However, Columbus recently said he’d be game to direct a film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the two-part play that takes place 19 years after The Deathly Hallows. While such a project isn’t in development, Daniel Radcliffe and his co-stars will soon be the right age to revisit their characters at that stage of their lives, although Radcliffe admitted back in 2018 that he probably wouldn’t see the play.

Nowadays, Daniel Radcliffe can be seen acting opposite Steve Buscemi in the TBS series Miracle Workers, and he’ll appear with Channing Tatum and Sandra Bullock next year in The Lost City. Those of you looking for some Wizarding World magic on the silver screen can find it in the Fantastic Beasts spinoff series, with the next installment, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, coming out on April 15, 2022.

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