Little-known actor chosen to play Harry Potter in Hollywood film

Warner Brothers finally announced yesterday that their search for one of the most talked about roles in recent cinema history, that of Harry Potter, was over.

Warner Brothers finally announced yesterday that their search for one of the most talked about roles in recent cinema history, that of Harry Potter, was over.

The young wizard, whose adventures at Hogwarts school for wizards have made their author, JK Rowling, one of the richest women in Britain, will be played by an 11-year-old called Daniel Radcliffe.

Daniel is best known for last year's BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens's David Copperfield, in which he played the young David. He was described by critics as a "newcomer".

Studio executives considered thousands of young hopefuls for the role and, although the author had insisted on a British actor, there were persistent rumours that it would go to a Hollywood child actor.

Chris Columbus, the director of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, said: "We saw so many enormously talented kids in the search for Harry.

"The process was intense and there were times when we felt we would never find an individual who embodied the complex spirit and depth of Harry Potter. Then Dan walked into the room and we all knew we had found Harry."

Harry Potter's best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, will be played by newcomers Rupert Grint, 11, and Emma Watson, 10.

JK Rowling said yesterday she was delighted by the casting decisions. "Having seen Dan Radcliffe's screentest, I don't think Chris Columbus could have found a better Harry... I wish Dan, Emma and Rupert the very best of luck and hope they have as much fun acting the first year of Hogwarts as I had writing it."

Kate Harwood, the producer of David Copperfield, said yesterday: "I am so thrilled for Daniel and feel sure he will rise to the challenging role as he did with David Copperfield. I wish him all the best."

While the starring roles have gone to relative unknowns, the supporting cast will include some of Britain's best loved actors. Dame Maggie Smith will play Professor McGonagall, second in command of Hogwards School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and Robbie Coltrane will be the giant Hagrid, the groundkeeper. Richard Harris and Alan Rickman are also said to be in talks for the parts of head teacher Professor Dumbledore and Harry's enemy, Professor Snape.

Lorenzo di Bonaventura, the president of worldwide theatrical production at Warner Brothers, said: "These are magical roles, the kind that come around once in a lifetime, and they required talented children who can bring magic to the screen."

The film's producer, David Heyman, said: "These are tremendously talented British kids who will bring so much to the film. We have always been and continue to be devoted to remaining true and faithful to the book."

The next role that cinema-goers will be able to see Daniel in John Boorman's The Tailor of Panama. The film is already in pre-production and is expected to reach cinemas in the autumn of 2001.

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