Every Harry Potter fan loves Jason Isaacs’ performance as Lucius Malfoy. Draco’s evil father was played with a brilliantly icy edge in the franchise and quickly became a favorite. As he was so perfect for the role, it’s surprising to hear then that the actor had actually set his sights on portraying a very different character from the Wizarding World at first.
Isaacs – who’s now playing Captain Gabriel Lorca in Star Trek: Discovery – revealed to Digital Spy that he initially auditioned for Gilderoy Lockhart. However, when Kenneth Branagh was locked in for that role, the Harry Potter producers asked Isaacs to try out for Lucius Malfoy instead. It’s fair to say that the actor was not pleased at losing out on his ideal role.
“I didn’t audition for Lucius, I auditioned for Gilderoy Lockhart. I was mightily pissed off when they asked me would I mind reading for a different part. I was about to go play Captain Hook [in 2003’s Peter Pan] and didn’t want to do two children’s villains. I went back in and read then went home.”
Isaacs was so sure that he didn’t want to play Lucius, in fact, that he specifically asked his agent to refuse the part on his behalf.
“I said to my agent, ‘When they call, tell them no, thank you very much, I am about to go play Captain Hook. Just think about it over the weekend’. I said, ‘No, I don’t want to think about it – it’s fun and lovely and flattering but I am not playing two children’s villains!'”
Thankfully, his friends and family all conspired to get him to take on the role. Not because they especially believed in his acting ability, but because they wanted an inside man on the Harry Potter set so they could get to visit.
“Over the weekend, everybody I knew called me – nieces, nephews, godchildren and then the parents. They all tried to persuade me to take the job – not because they cared about me but because they wanted to visit the set! So I took the job and thank god I did!”
It’s fair to say that things worked out for the best. Though he makes the odd further appearance in the books, Gilderoy Lockhart only appears in Chamber of Secrets in the movies. Lucius Malfoy, on the other hand, lasted throughout the rest of the Harry Potter series, granting the actor his most successful role to date.
The ever-versatile Jason Isaacs can next be seen in satirical comedy The Death of Stalin, out on October 20th.