Jason Isaacs Originally Auditioned For A Different Role In Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets

No fantastical coming-of-age story would be complete without formidable villains to terrify its young heroes, and Harry Potter is no exception. In fact, the franchise is famous for a Big Bad so threatening that characters often hesitate to speak his name. But before Voldermort invaded this magical tale of childhood, his followers were there to fill the sinister void. Easily one of Harry's most memorable enemies, Lucius Malfoy stands above the rest of the henchmen and Voldemort followers, and actor Jason Isaacs is an incredible addition to the saga.

It's hard to imagine a version of the Wizarding World without the elder Malfoy as we know him: looking down on the golden trio and hurling insults at beloved characters. But it turns out that Lucius Malfoy's cruelty truly knows no bounds and was almost too much for Isaacs to embrace. In the 20th anniversary special "Harry Potter: Return to Hogwarts," the actor revealed that he initially came to the series in hopes of taking on a completely different role.

Jason Isaacs' Villain Origin Story

Jason Isaacs' Harry Potter origin story is not unlike the rest of the world's: at a certain point, it became impossible to ignore. Isaacs admitted that he first became aware of the series because "everybody was reading the books on the tube. Everywhere I went." And once the Potterverse had him in its grasp, it never let go. So when the time came to audition for a role in "Chamber of Secrets," he jumped at the chance to play — believe it or not — smarmy Wizarding heartthrob (and known fraud), Gilderoy Lockhart. The role would eventually go to Kenneth Branaugh, who brought the bufoonish narcissist to life in all his bumbling glory, but it's weirdly easy to imagine Isaacs showcasing his goofier side in the role.

But never mind the fact that he could definitely pull off a magnetic Gilderoy — Isaacs was destined to be Lucius Malfoy! Thankfully, this is something Chris Columbus realized on the spot, and once Isaacs was done reading for the Hogwarts professor, Columbus said: "That was great, would you mind reading a different part?" This is where the magic happened. At the time, Isaacs wasn't thrilled about the prospect of being a Malfoy:

"I'm convinced I ended up playing Lucius because I didn't want to... I was about to play Captain Hook in Peter Pan and I thought, 'well, I don't want to play two children's villains.' And I read through gritted teeth and deeply bitter, and of course, that's exactly what was necessary and they asked me to play Lucius, and thank god they did."

Ultimately, everything worked out as it should. Jason Isaacs is the Lucius we needed all along and once the role was officially his, he relished in Malfoy's cruelty. One of the best known examples is his choice to ad-lib the killing curse (Avada Kedavra) after Harry frees his enslaved House Elf, Dobby. In "Harry Potter: Return to Hogwarts," Isaacs also tells another memorable story. He ended one of his scenes by swinging his leg and cane out, which prompted Chris Columbus to call cut in confusion. The director asked the crew to "clean the floor where Jasons slipped," and Isaacs clarifies, "No I didn't slip... I kicked Dobby down the stairs." Does it hurt my soul to see Dobby get kicked down the stairs? Of course! But that's exactly the kind of unbearable cruelty we need from our onscreen baddie, Lucius Malfoy.

The Villainous Side of Jason Isaacs

In retrospect, the idea that Jason Isaacs hesitated to take on a villainous role is ironic given ... his entire filmography. Maybe that was the explanation behind his hesitation in the first place but Jason, buddy, sometimes you gotta embrace the thing you're good at! Being deliciously evil just happens to be his special talent.

"Chamber of Secrets" was my first encounter with evil Isaacs, but certainly not my last. A few years later, I'd watch him in "The Patriot" as Colonel William Tavington, a brutal psychopath who proved just as haughty as Malfoy and just as willing to harm characters I loved. Continuing his trend of haunting my childhood, Isaacs later appeared in "Avatar: The Last Airbender" as the voice of Admiral Zhao, a fire nation villain desperately in need of some swimming lessons. The list only goes on from there, including iconic roles like the previously mentioned Captain Hook and uh, other characters that I have since scrubbed from my brain (I'm talking to you, "A Cure For Wellness"). And then there are his many voiceover roles, which include a line-up of very famous supervillains like Ra's Al Ghul, Lex Luthor, and Sinestro. The moral of the story? If you're looking for a villain, call Lucius Malfoy.

"Harry Potter: Return to Hogwarts" is now streaming on HBO Max.