Casting director Janet Hirshenson has confirmed that Williams fell victim to the “Brits-only” rule imposed by producers on the series of films. “Robin had called because he really wanted to be in the movie,” she told the Huffington Post, “but it was a British-only edict, and once he said no to Robin, he wasn’t going to say yes to anybody else, that’s for sure. It couldn’t be.”
The part went to Robbie Coltrane, who was reportedly JK Rowling’s first choice for Hagrid.
Williams had spoken about his thwarted Potter ambitions, telling the New York Post in 2001: “There were a couple of parts I would have wanted to play, but there was a ban on [using] American actors.”
Other key roles for which Williams was considered included leads in The Shining, Philadelphia, Richard Attenborough’s biopic of Charlie Chaplin and Gus van Sant’s film about Harvey Milk. He was also in the running for the part of a depressed professor in Little Miss Sunshine, which eventually went to Steve Carell.
This article was written by Catherine Shoard, for theguardian.com on Monday 2nd January 2017 12.55 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010