Robin Williams was rejected for a key role in the Harry Potter film because he wasn't British. The Good Will Hunting star was eager to play the half-giant gamekeeper, Hagrid in the film series, but apparently he was turned down by producers on account of his nationality.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, the film's casting director Janet Hirshenson has revealed that Williams fell victim to the British-only rule imposed by producers on the film franchise. “Robin had called because he really wanted to be in the movie,” she said, “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 actor himself once spoke about the incident of being turned down for the 2001 film. “There were a couple of parts I would have wanted to play, but there was a ban on using American actors,” Williams told the New York Post.
However, the role of Hagrid in the films ultimately went to Scottish actor Robbie Coltrane, reportedly the first choice of JK Rowling, who played the half-giant gamekeeper in all the eight films of the blockbuster franchise.
Other key roles for which the late actor was counted on 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. Williams died in August 2014.