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Alan Cumming apparently spelled (get it?) things out quite clearly for the producers of Harry Potter when they offered him a role in the franchise.

It's long been known that the former The Good Wife star was, at one time, in contention to play ill-fated Hogwarts professor Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the second film in the fantasy series. In a new interview with The Telegraph, Cumming elaborated on what led him to decline the role — in no uncertain terms.

"I didn't turn it down," Cumming told the U.K. newspaper. "I told them to f--- off!"

2017 Housing Works Groundbreaker Awards Dinner
Alan Cumming in 2017.
| Credit: Mike Pont/WireImage

The actor explained that a salary dispute with the Potter producers was what prompted his curt response. "They wanted me and Rupert Everett to do a screen test, and they said they couldn't pay me more than a certain sum, they just didn't have any more money in the budget," he recalled. "And I had the same agent as Rupert, who of course, they were going to pay more. Blatantly lying, stupidly lying, as well. Like, if you're going to lie, be clever about it.

"I said, tell them to f--- right off," he continued. "And thought, well Rupert's going to get the part. They made him screen test, and I remember he brought his own wig. And then they f---ing gave it to Kenneth Branagh, came out of the shadows."

Indeed, Branagh ultimately played the role of Lockhart, which, in addition to Cumming and Everett, was also offered to Hugh Grant. (He reportedly declined due to scheduling conflicts.)

Harry Potter will mark the 20th anniversary of the series' first film entry, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, later this year. A limited Wizarding World quiz competition series and a retrospective special on the film will roll out HBO Max, TBS, and Cartoon Network to mark the occasion.

Cumming can currently be seen in the Apple TV+ musical comedy Schmigadoon, playing the mayor of the titular magical town. He also recently voiced a character in HBO Max's controversial animated royal family spoof, The Prince.

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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
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  • Movie
mpaa
runtime
  • 161 minutes
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