Robin Williams Would Have Been the Perfect Peeves
A recent story about the auction of a Gryffindor robe owned by Robin Williams led to the resurfacing of a 2001 interview with the New York Post in which Williams expressed interest in being in the Harry Potter films. Specifically, he had his eye on the role of Hagrid. Williams’ death in 2014 was a great loss for film and comedy, and his absence is acutely felt when a role arises that would have been perfect for him. The highly versatile actor would have been a welcome addition to the wizarding world, but one character stands out as the obvious choice for him – and it’s not Hagrid, wonderful as his take may have been.
Williams proved himself as both a comedic and serious actor with a particular penchant for father figure roles, such as his Oscar-winning performance as Dr. Maguire in Good Will Hunting and Oscar-nominated turn as Mr. Keating in Dead Poets Society. Still, Williams’ wacky affability paired with his renowned improvisation and impersonation skills would have allowed him to shine in a role that was never brought to life on screen: Peeves the Poltergeist.
As a magical jokester, Peeves is not entirely unlike the Genie in Aladdin, famously voiced by Williams. Casting Williams as Peeves could have been an amazing opportunity for both the actor and the character. Williams would have had the chance to be part of the franchise he so admired in a larger-than-life role to which he could have brought his signature style and flexed his comedic muscles, and Peeves would have received a truly memorable on-screen portrayal. It is now difficult to imagine anyone other than Robbie Coltrane as the Hogwarts gamekeeper and Care of Magical Creatures professor, but Peeves was never given the cinematic treatment, leaving his portrayal still open to our interpretations. Rik Mayall was cast as Peeves for the first film, but his scenes were cut. It’s quite easy to visualize Williams’ trademark puckishness being given free rein in the form of Hogwarts’ resident paranormal troublemaker.
Williams’ Peeves would surely have delighted fans of the books. Imagine his rendition of “Oh, Potter, you rotter…” or his gleeful finale about Voldy going moldy. Think of Williams saluting Fred and George Weasley after being told to give Umbridge hell. Hanging upside-down in midair, whizzing through the corridors, throwing ink pellets, cackling at Filch – Williams could have done it all with finesse and creativity while bringing his own spontaneity and flavor to the role. He would have breathed glorious life into Peeves’ troublesome antics. If anything, he might have been too good for the role and taken attention away from more major characters and plots. He could have provided hours of special features in the form of deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes footage. He would certainly have been a riot on the press circuit.
It’s a shame that we never got to see Peeves on the big screen, especially when such an excellent actor was so excited about the series. Williams would have brought all the talent he showcased in Mork & Mindy, Mrs. Doubtfire, Flubber, and Good Morning, Vietnam. Williams could have been a worthy exception to the no-Americans rule that would surely have been wholeheartedly accepted by Brits and Americans, fans and filmmakers alike.