J.K. Rowling Books Goes To The Big Screen

When the World Met the 'Harry Potter' Cast

Celebrate Harry's birthday with a flashback to the year 2000.

July 31 is an auspicious date for "Harry Potter" fans. It's the birthday of author J.K. Rowling and the birthday of her fictional boy wizard, who turns 11 at the beginning of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," which sets in motion the series' grand adventure. To celebrate the occasion, let's take a look back to the year 2000, when the world met the three young actors who'd be playing Hermione, Harry, and Ron in the movie version of the first novel: 10-year-old Emma Watson, 11-year-old Daniel Radcliffe, and 11-year-old Rupert Grint. Above: A photo released by Warner Bros. announcing the cast.

MEET THE THREE Stefan Rousseau - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images MEET THE THREE Grint, Radcliffe, and Watson at a press conference in London on Aug. 23, 2000. Director Chris Columbus had conducted a massive search for the movie's leads, focusing exclusively on British kids (reportedly at the request of Rowling herself) aged 9-11. IGN reported that auditions consisted of first reading a paragraph from "Sorcerer's Stone" and then improvising a scene with other Hogwarts students. Only in later stages would they get pages from the script. GETTING A LIFT Stefan Rousseau - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images GETTING A LIFT Radcliffe with Columbus. In the official casting announcement, Rowling said, "Having seen Dan Radcliffe's screen test, 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 that they have as much fun acting the first year at Hogwarts as I had writing it."

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ON THE RUN Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images ON THE RUN Radcliffe dashes out of the photocall. Earlier in the year, Columbus spoke about how important it was to cast British actors. "It's essential to find a British boy to play Harry," Columbus said. "We really have to be incredibly faithful and true to the book. Rowling wrote Harry as a British boy, and it's important we honor the original vision." THE BOY WHO LIVED HUGO PHILPOTT/AFP/Getty Images THE BOY WHO LIVED Radcliffe with his director. CHAIR POSE Stefan Rousseau - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images CHAIR POSE At the time of his casting, Radcliffe had acted in small roles in an adaptation of "David Copperfield" and the movie "The Tailor of Panama." But Grint and Watson had only acted in school plays. Years later Columbus would say, “We never knew that they would age so well. In this 'Harry Potter' world, for some reason, we had this incredibly blessed cast of all these young kids who became great actors and who maintain some kind of movie star charisma." THE CHOSEN ONES Dave Hogan/Getty Images THE CHOSEN ONES Radcliffe's casting is now part of "Potter" lore: Producer David Heyman went to see a London stage production of "Stones In His Pocket" during casting and ran into literary agent Alan Radcliffe, casting agent Marcia Jeannine Gresham, and their young son Daniel. "He had these big blue eyes, a deep curiosity, a real stillness and composure — he was an old soul in a young body," Heyman told EW in 2010. "What was also evident was an inherent decency, which he still has today."

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