For a decade, the Harry Potter franchise was a safe haven for established British character actors. The overwhelming majority of the United Kingdom’s finest thespians either played a role in the franchise, were offered one or found themselves under consideration at one stage or another to throw on a cloak and take part in the Wizarding World.
One of the most memorable supporting players from the eight-film original series was Chamber of Secrets‘ Gilderoy Lockhart, brought to life by Kenneth Branagh. The self-centered and woefully ill-equipped Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher was initially set to be embodied by Hugh Grant, before scheduling conflicts got in the way, paving the way for Branagh.
However, in a recent interview X-Men star Alan Cumming revealed that he was asked to come in and audition when Warner Bros. were seeking a replacement. Not only did he discover that Rupert Everett was being offered the same opportunity with a bigger paycheck in mind, but he told the studio in no uncertain terms where to go.
“I didn’t turn it down. I told them to f*ck off! And I had the same agent as Rupert, who of course, they were going to pay more. Blatantly lying, stupidly lying, as well. Like, if you’re going to lie, be clever about it. I said, tell them to f*ck right off. And thought, well, Rupert’s going to get the part.”
The first Harry Potter film became one of the highest-grossing blockbusters in history and turned a literary phenomenon into a global one, and you can bet that countless talents would have jumped at the opportunity to board such a popular and beloved property.
Clearly, that wasn’t the case with Alan Cumming, who had no interest in auditioning for Gilderoy Lockhart when he knew the financial compensation on offer was less than that being offered to his peers. That’s a fairly understandable response when he was on the way to becoming a fairly hot commodity himself building up to his X-Men debut as Nightcrawler in Bryan Singer’s sequel, which hit theaters six months after Chamber of Secrets.