BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 05: Alan Cumming attends AARP's 17th Annual Movies For Grownups Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on February 5, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California.

Alan Cumming Was Almost Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

The Scottish actor told the Harry Potter producers to "f--- off".

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The Harry Potter franchise can claim many of the U.K.’s greatest actors among its cast. From Maggie Smith to Kenneth Branagh to Emma Thompson to Alan Rickman to Ralph Fiennes, some of the biggest stars from across the pond have appeared in the eight-film series. But of course, many fan-favorite actors never made it to Hogwarts, like Scottish icon Alan Cumming. Cumming is obviously a slam-dunk choice for the franchise: a veteran actor of the stage and screen, he has delivered unforgettable performances in films like X2, Josie and the Pussycats, GoldenEye and Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. Cumming has also been a standout in the beloved kids films in the Spy Kids franchise.

The Schmigadoon! star recently discussed his own experience with the Harry Potter films in a new interview with The Telegraph. Cumming was apparently up for the role of Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which ultimately went to Kenneth Branagh.

“I didn’t turn it down,” he says. “I told them to f— off! They wanted me and Rupert Everett to do a screen test, and they said they couldn’t pay me more than a certain sum, they just didn’t have any more money in the budget. 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— right off. And thought, well Rupert’s going to get the part. They made him screen test, and I remember he brought his own wig. And then they f—ing gave it to Kenneth Branagh, came out of the shadows.”

And Harry Potter isn’t the only iconic franchise Cumming has flirted with. He has long been a fan-favorite to play Doctor Who in the eponymous series. Cumming previously played King James in the episode “The Witchfinders” opposite Jodie Whittaker, who just announced her retirement from the role. “I would be tempted,” he said, “I did talk to them about being Doctor Who when it first rebooted [in 2005]. I had a long lunch with Russell T Davies. It never actually came off, obviously, but if you’re someone of my generation it’s sort of a boyhood fantasy.”

Speaking of fantasy, many fans of Marvel’s Loki are rooting for Cumming to play a variant in season 2, citing his role as the God of Mischief in 2005’s critically reviled Son of the Mask. I mean, stranger things have happened right?

(via The Telegraph, image: Rich Fury/Getty Images)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.