Edinburgh Fringe 2022: He was almost Harry Potter, podcaster and comedian Red Richardson reveals all

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Harry Potter may have made a household name of Daniel Radcliffe but it could have been very different. Edinburgh Fringe favourite Red Richardson was very nearly cast as the wizard, just failing to land the wand-wielding role.

Richardson, who returns to the Fringe next month with his second full stand up show, Shots Fired, at the Pleasance Courtyard, recalls how, as a child he narrowly missed out on being cast as the boy wizard in the movie franchise.

He remembers, “I got street cast by some casting people, I have dark brown hair and a scar on my forehead so maybe they thought, 'He can do it'. I had to do some lines where I screamed at Voldemort. I am glad there is not a tape as I remember it felt really bad when I did it. Acting is very hard, especially when you are nine years old and can’t yet look people in the eyes.”

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Richardson, who made his Fringe debut in 2018 with the critically acclaimed show, Seeing Red, and is currently the co-host of The Year Is podcast, continues, “I ended up in a one-on-one with the director, a man called Christopher Columbus - another Christopher Columbus who discovered the wrong thing.

Daniel Radcliffe as Harry PotterDaniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter

“I never found out why they didn’t give me the role, they don’t give feedback on these sorts of things - I just remember seeing Daniel Radcliffe in the news, the start of a life-long hatred.”

Richardson's new Fringe show, Shots Will be Fired, couldn't be more removed from his childhood dreams of being JK Rowling's hero. It was born out of a terrifying experience he found himself in when, as he walked down Oxford Street a stampede of people ran towards him, a lady screaming ‘ISIS’ as she passed. He quickly became one of the fleeing crowd and for the next hour he ran and hid in what he describes as a 'frantic and cowardly attempt to save his own fat neck'.

Whilst facing death, he confronted his own contribution to the world and in Shots Will Be Fired he talks about his many vices and coming to terms with the sad fact that he isn’t Bruce Willis from Die Hard.

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Red Richardson could have been Harry PotterRed Richardson could have been Harry Potter
Red Richardson could have been Harry Potter

Born in Camberwell, London, Richardson moved to the 'small drug-fuelled hippy town' of Totnes in Devon at the age of 10, where he lived until he was 18. And if you are wondering about his first name, Red, he was named after a drunk beaten up by Clint Eastwood in a western Red’s parents watched on the day he was born.

He turned his attention to stand-up in 2014, making the finals of So You Think You’re Funny? the following year. A regular joke writer for 8 out of Ten Cats, Live at The Comedy Store and Mock The Week, Richardson is also the co-creator and co-host of global smash hit podcast Laughable, which has charted and is known around the world. The funny man reflects, maybe it's just as well he wasn't cast as the boy wizard.

He laughs, “I've watched all the Harry Potter films and my Harry would’ve definitely have been better, I would have injected more violence into the character and made him more corrupt. I would have insisted on him having a face tattoo and show unseen story-lines about how Harry spent his summer with The Dursleys. There would be fights at football games and many trips to Wayne Lineker's Ocean Beach Club in Ibiza.

“A lot of people would hate the character's new direction, but I personally think it would have made the franchise more fun.”

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Harry Potter could have looked very different, the nine-year-old Red Richardson came close to being cast as the boy wizardHarry Potter could have looked very different, the nine-year-old Red Richardson came close to being cast as the boy wizard
Harry Potter could have looked very different, the nine-year-old Red Richardson came close to being cast as the boy wizard

After a moments thought, he adds, “Actually, I would’ve been fired after the first movie. I behave like an idiot if my Instagram posts get more than 50 likes so god knows what that level of fame and wealth would’ve done to me. I would now be broke and be appearing in one of those 'You Won’t Believe What They Look Like Now' articles. I’d do the occasional fan event, get paid to hold a wand and say ‘Wingardium Leviosa’ so I could get enough money to turn the heating back on and have some left for a six pack of Tennents.”

Catch Red Richardson: Shots Fired at the Pleasance Courtyard, Bunker One, at 9.55pm throughout August, tickets here.

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