Robin Williams

Robin Williams turned down for Potter

· Harry Potter fan Robin Williams has said that he lobbied for a part in the movie, but was turned down because of his nationality. The star of Bicentennial Man and Patch Adams was rumoured to have coveted the role of Hagrid, played in the film by Scottish actor Robbie Coltrane. “There were a couple of parts I would have wanted to play, but there was a ban on American actors,” Williams told yesterday’s New York Post. That said, he is not ruling out a role in one of the sequels. “Maybe one day,” he shrugged. “Say if [Harry] goes to Yale and becomes president.”

· In the meantime bird experts are concerned that the release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone could trigger a boom in kids requesting a pet owl for Christmas. In the film, the young Harry is shadowed wherever he goes by his faithful owl Hedwig. But the possible implications have experts in a flap. “In a sense the timing of this film is unfortunate, coming just before Christmas,” says Ray Lowder of the Kielder Water Bird of Prey Centre in Northumberland. “An owl may top many a child’s Christmas list this season, and already we’re being left with unwanted ones.” The sublimely named Caroline Screech of Cornwall’s Screech Owl Sanctuary agreed: “Many children may quickly become bored with their new acquisition, especially when they realise how frequently they have to clean out the aviary, and that owls can’t be cuddled.”

· John Barry is to be made a Freeman of his hometown of York. The Yorkshire native went on to score many of cinema’s most memorable soundtracks, including Born Free, Dances with Wolves and various Bond films. Barry will be presented with the honour early next year.

· Russell Crowe is in talks to take a co-starring slot in a new film about Australian outlaw Ned Kelly. The Oscar-winner would play the role of the sheriff intent on tracking Kelly down, while the outlaw would be played by rising star Heath Ledger.

· Christmas has come early for baby Dylan, the chirpy son of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, whose parents have just bought him his very own website. The proud mum and dad recently registered the domain name “” with a Newcastle-based firm for a mere £30. Not much more than the price of a decent rattle in other words.

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