CastFurther information: List of Harry Potter films cast members
Rowling personally insisted that the cast be kept British. Susie Figgis was appointed as casting director, working with both Columbus and Rowling in auditioning the lead roles of Harry, Ron and Hermione. Open casting calls were held for the main three roles, with only British children being considered. The principal auditions took place in three parts, with those auditioning having to read a page from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, then if called back, they had to improvise a scene of the students' arrival at Hogwarts, they were then given several pages from the script to read in front of Columbus. Scenes from Columbus's script for the 1985 film Young Sherlock Holmes were also used in auditions. On 11 July 2000 Figgis left the production, complaining that Columbus did not consider any of the thousands of children they had auditioned "worthy". On 8 August 2000 the virtually unknown Daniel Radcliffe and newcomers Emma Watson and Rupert Grint were selected to play the roles of Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, respectively.
- Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter. Columbus had wanted Radcliffe for the role since he saw him in the BBC's production of David Copperfield, before the open casting sessions had taken place, but had been told by Figgis that Radcliffe's protective parents would not allow their son to take the part. Columbus explained that his persistence in giving Radcliffe the role was responsible for Figgis' resignation. Radcliffe was asked to audition in 2000, when Heyman and Kloves met him and his parents at a production of Stones in His Pockets in London. Heyman and Columbus successfully managed to convince Radcliffe's parents that their son would be protected from media intrusion, and they agreed to let him play Harry. Rowling approved of Radcliffe's casting, stating that "having seen screen test I don't think Chris Columbus could have found a better Harry." Radcliffe was reportedly paid £1 million for the film, although he felt the fee was not "that important". William Moseley, who was later cast as Peter Pevensie in The Chronicles of Narnia series, also auditioned for the role.
- Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley, Harry's best friend at Hogwarts. He decided he would be perfect for the part "because ginger hair," and was a fan of the series. Having seen a Newsround report about the open casting he sent in a video of himself rapping about how he wished to receive the part. His attempt was successful as the casting team asked for a meeting with him.
- Emma Watson as Hermione Granger, Harry's other best friend and the brains of the trio. Watson's Oxford theatre teacher passed her name on to the casting agents and she had to do over five interviews before she got the part. Watson took her audition seriously, but "never really thought had any chance of getting the role." The producers were impressed by Watson's self-confidence and she outperformed the thousands of other girls who had applied.
- John Cleese as Nearly Headless Nick, the ghost of Gryffindor House at Hogwarts.
- Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid, a half-giant and the Groundskeeper at Hogwarts. Coltrane was Rowling's first choice for the part. Coltrane, who was already a fan of the books, prepared for the role by talking with Rowling about Hagrid's past and future.
- Warwick Davis as Filius Flitwick, The Charms Master and head of Ravenclaw House at Hogwarts.
- Richard Griffiths as Vernon Dursley, Harry's Muggle (non-magical) uncle.
- Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore, the Headmaster of Hogwarts and one of the most famous and powerful wizards of all time. Harris initially rejected the role of Dumbledore, only to reverse his decision after his granddaughter stated she would never speak to him again if he did not take it.
- Ian Hart as Professor Quirrell, the slightly nervous Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts, and also the voice of Lord Voldemort. David Thewlis auditioned for the part; he would later be cast as Remus Lupin in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
- John Hurt as Mr. Ollivander, the owner of Ollivanders, the finest wand producers in the wizarding world since 382 B.C.
- Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, the Potions Master and head of Slytherin House at Hogwarts. Tim Roth was the original choice for the role, but he turned it down for Planet of the Apes.
- Fiona Shaw as Petunia Dursley, Harry's Muggle aunt.
- Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall, the Deputy Headmistress, head of Gryffindor and transfiguration teacher at Hogwarts. Smith was Rowling's personal choice for the part.
- Julie Walters as Molly Weasley, Ron's caring mother. She shows Harry how to get to Platform 9 3⁄4. Before Walters was cast, American actress Rosie O'Donnell held talks with Columbus about playing Mrs. Weasley.
Rik Mayall was cast in the role of Peeves, a poltergeist who likes to prank students in the novel. Mayall had to shout his lines off camera during takes, but the scene ended up being cut from the film.
Read more about this topic: Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone (film)
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