‘Harry Potter’: Which Actor Nearly Got Cast as Harry Potter Without Ever Reading the Books?

When it comes to film franchises, the Harry Potter movies are easily amongst the most popular and successful. Millions of people around the globe were completely enamored with the boy who lived. Based on the international bestselling books, the Harry Potter movies became a phenomenon in their own right, making more than $1 billion dollars worldwide. Furthermore, they launched the careers of several actors who were fortunate enough to earn a place in the cast.

Harry Potter cast: Tom Felton, Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Matthew Lewis
Tom Felton, Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Matthew Lewis | Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

Of course, being cast in the Harry Potter movies was akin to winning the lottery. For the majority of the roles, open casting calls were held, meaning that anyone who was interested who fit the look of the role could audition, whether they had previous acting experience or not. The search for Harry Potter was particularly competitive. And while Daniel Radcliffe eventually proved that he was perfect for the role, another cast member was actually seriously considered for the part.

Tom Felton auditioned for ‘Harry Potter’ without reading the books

It’s hard to imagine Tom Felton playing anyone but Draco Malfoy. But before he was cast as Harry Potter’s arch-nemesis, he was seriously being considered for the lead role. Funnily enough, Felton had never read “Harry Potter” before he showed up for the audition.

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Prior to being cast in the Harry Potter franchise, Felton had starred it a couple of TV shows. Because he had a few acting credits, he also had representation and it was his agent who encouraged him to audition for Harry Potter. “I was purely up there because my agent had said you should go,” Felton revealed in the behind-the-scenes interview footage included with the films.

Felton lied so he’d have a better chance of being cast in the movies

Felton continued on to share that when he went to the audition he had no idea what Harry Potter was, but he knew everyone was talking about it. Felton recalled that one of the first things that he and a group of other hopefuls were asked was “What was your favorite scene in the book?” After hearing another boy say that his favorite scene was Gringotts, Felton mimicked his answer. Years later, Felton felt that Chris Columbus (who directed the first two films in the franchise) saw straight through his answer and hoped it gave the director a laugh.

Felton could’ve played Harry Potter

But even though Columbus knew that Felton hadn’t read the books, the director still wanted him in the cast. In fact, Columbus liked Felton so much that he actually screen-tested him for the star role of Harry Potter. Felton was given a black wig, a scar, and makeup and he read for the boy who lived. Ultimately though, Columbus liked him better in the role of Draco Malfoy.

Felton seemed to agree with Columbus that he was cast perfectly as Malfoy. After reading the books, he admitted that there’s no one else he’d rather play within the Harry Potter universe. “Out of the whole book, I’d rather be Malfoy than anyone else ’cause I get to be a baddie.” Felton declared. If that statement doesn’t scream Draco Malfoy, we don’t know what does.