For several weeks rumor had it that, contrary to author J.K. Rowling's stated wishes, an American child was to be cast in the role of the 11-year-old boy who discovers that he has magical powers and enrolls in the Hogwarts School of Wizardry. Then half-British actor Liam Aiken and Brit Gabriel Thompson were respectively said to have been cast in the role. However, the final choice for the part is 11-year-old Brit Daniel Radcliffe. Rupert Grint, 11, will play Harry's best friend, Ron Weasley, and Emma Watson, 10, will play their bookish friend, Hermione Granger. Both will be making their screen debuts. Warner Bros. also released a photograph of the three performers on its site.
Rowling said that she was pleased with the choice of Radcliffe, who recently played David Copperfield in a BBC adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic. "Having seen Dan Radcliffe's screen test," she said, "I don't think [director] Chris Columbus could have found a better Harry." While few fans have had the chance to weigh in on the relatively unknown Radcliffe (who will appear later this year in "The Tailor of Panama"), some have expressed concern that Columbus may not be the best choice to head the project.
Other early rumors about the casting of the adult characters in the film have also proved wrong. Tim Roth was originally thought to be up for the part of the sinister Professor Snape, but now Alan Rickman is considered to be the leading candidate for the role. Richard Harris is expected to star as Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore and Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall. Gloucester Cathedral has been chosen as the set for Hogwarts. The film is set for release Nov. 16, 2001.