Something Wicked This Way Comes! Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Harry Potter

From Daniel Radcliffe almost passing on the infamous title role to the reason why the Durley’s house was so horribly furnished, there are a few tidbits fans of Harry Potter might not know.

So, grab those robes, wands, and broomsticks because it’s time to travel back to Hogwarts to learn some magical behind-the-scenes secrets about the beloved Harry Potter films.

Two Americans Were Turned Down For The Films

While casting for Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling made it well known she wanted the cast to be strictly British. That didn’t stop a few Americans from trying to get a hand in what would become a global phenomenon.

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Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

Both Robin Williams and Rosie O’Donnell said they’d work without pay! Williams wanted to portray Hagrid, while O’Donnell was interested in Molly Weasley.

A Few Legends Were Asked To Play Dumbledore

Before Richard Harris brought Albus Dumbledore to life in The Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets, a few film legends were asked to play the role: Sean Connery, Christopher Lee, and Patrick McGoohan. They all declined the offer.

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Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

Connery did not like the script’s subject matter, while Lee had a scheduling conflict. Sadly, McGoohan was in bad health at the time and did not want to risk the commitment.

Daniel Radcliffe Liked To Pull Pranks On Set

On the set of the first Harry Potter film, Daniel Radcliffe was no more than 11 years old. As such a young kid, he enjoyed playing pranks on his co-stars.

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Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

On prank was on behalf of Robbie Coltrane, who played Hagrid in the films. Radcliffe turned the language of Coltrane’s phone to Turkish! The older actor had to ask hair designer Eithne Fennel’s father for help changing it back to English, as he was Turkish.

The Dursley’s House Was Ugly For A Reason

It is no secret that the Dursley family is very unpleasant, especially when it comes to Harry Potter. To illustrate how horrible they are, set decorator Stephenie McMillan decided to showcase on the outside how ugly they are on the inside.

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Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

So, she picked ugly, mismatched furniture and decor and striped wallpaper to decorate the house.

Ron Isn’t The Only One Afraid Of Spiders

In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, fans watch Ron Weasley squeal, squirm, and get very uncomfortable in the Forbidden Forest when he and Harry “follow the spiders.”

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Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

As it turns out, that wasn’t necessarily acting. Actor Rupert Grint has a severe case of arachnophobia, a fear of spiders. According to Grint, he still can’t watch the entire forest scene!

Richard Harris Was Convinced Into A Role By His Granddaughter

Actor Richard Harris was not 100 percent certain he wanted to take on the role of Albus Dumbledore. Eventually, he gave in, accepting the role for one specific reason.

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Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

While on the fence, Harris’s 11-year-old granddaughter said she would never speak to him again if he did not take the offer. He took the offer.

Alan Rickman Was Handpicked To Play Severus Snape

It might be hard for Harry Potter fans to see anyone but the iconic Alan Rickman playing the role of Severus Snape. As it turns out, author J.K. Rowling is one of those people.

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Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

Rowling actually handpicked Rickman for the role, letting him in on a few secrets about the character that had not yet been revealed in the books.

Daniel Radcliffe Had A Habit Of Breaking Props

Throughout filming, Daniel Radcliffe had an unfortunate habit of breaking props, namely his signature glasses and wands. Rumor has it he broke well over 100 pairs of glasses and around 60 wands!

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Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

During an interview, Radcliffe said, “The wands I broke a lot because I would just like drum on my legs with it all the time…I would say I was very sorry to the prop master, and he would give me a look like, ‘Please stop drumming.'”

The Messenger Owls Were Trained

In the first film, one of the opening scenes is of Harry Potter getting a boatload of acceptance letters from Hogwarts via messenger owls. While the production crew could have used CGI for the owls, they opted to train them instead.

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Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

It took them months to train all of the owls, and they even went ahead and handwrote all of the letters, too.

Steven Spielberg Was Initially Brought In To Direct

When production on the first Harry Potter film got underway, director Steven Spielberg was brought in to lead the project. After a few months of production, he dropped out, saying he wasn’t ready to make a film based solely on kids.

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Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

It was then that Christopher Columbus was brought in. He would go on to direct Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets.

Gary Oldman Took The Job Because He Needed Money

Before being cast as Sirius Black in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, actor Gary Oldman hadn’t taken on a big blockbuster project in years. He wanted to spend more time with his family.

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Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

One of the reasons he took the role was because he needed the money. According to Oldman, he was “surprised by how difficult it [the role] was to pull off.”

Daniel Radcliffe’s Parents Didn’t Want Him Auditioning

After seeing Daniel Radcliffe’s performance in David Copperfield, director Christopher Columbus knew he’d found his title character for Harry Potter. Sadly, there were a few speed bumps.

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Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

Initially, Radcliffe’s parents did not want their son auditioning for the role of Harry Potter. They were very protective and did not want him in the media’s eye. Eventually, they gave in, and the rest is history.

The House Names Were Thought Up On A Plane

The four Hogwarts house names weren’t something J.K. Rowling thought up right away. In fact, she was actually traveling on an airplane when all four of the names popped into her head.

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Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

To ensure she didn’t forget the names, Rowling jotted them down on a sick bag because she had no paper!

Dobby’s Ears Were Designed After A Certain Dog

When designing Dobby the House Elf, the design team decided to base his ears on a certain member of the crew.

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Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

Dobby’s pointed and yet floppy ears were based on Max, the art department dog that sat under one of the designer’s desks during the duration of the second Harry Potter film.

Tom Felton’s Robes Were Sewn Shut

While filming Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Tom Felton, the actor who plays Draco Malfoy, had a bad habit of sneaking food on set, namely in the pockets of his Hogwarts robes.

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Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

To prevent the young actor from sneaking in food, the costume department was told to sew the pockets of his robes shut!

Jason Issacs Made A Few Changes To His Character

The original concept for Lucius Malfoy did not bode well with actor Jason Issacs. At first, designers had him wearing a pinstriped suit and having short black-and-white hair, a “muggle appearance,” according to Issacs.

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Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

It was Issacs’s idea to give his character long blonde hair and the walking stick to pull his wand from, an idea director Chris Columbus loved.

Ralph Fiennes Did Not Wear “Nose Make-Up”

One of the Dark Lord’s defining features (or not defining) is the fact that he has no nose, making him appear as a serpent. While the make-up department could have used prosthetics or some kind of practical effect to remove actor Ralph Fiennes’s nose, they didn’t.

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Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

Instead, his nose was digitally removed in post-production.

Harry Melling Had To Wear A Fat Suit

Between filming the Chamber of Secrets and The Prisoner of Azkaban, actor Harry Melling (Dudley Dursley) lost a lot of weight. His appearance looked so different from the previous two films; he was almost recast!

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Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

Eventually, it was decided they would stick with Melling and have him wear a fat suit.

Tom Felton Didn’t Originally Audition For Draco Malfoy

When Tom Felton first went to audition for Harry Potter, he actually went for the role of the title character as well as his best friend, Ron Weasley. Of course, those roles would go to Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint.

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Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

Eventually, Felton was offered the iconic role of Draco Malfoy.

Rupert Grint And Matthew Lewis Were Banned From Touching A Certain Car

Rupert Grint and Matthew Lewis, the actors who played Ron Weasley and Neville Longbottom, accidentally spilled a milkshake in Alan Rickman’s car while filming Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

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Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

This led Rickman to ban the two from coming near his new BMW for fear of them making a mess.