"Like, if you're going to lie, be clever about it," Alan Cumming said, recounting the salary dispute between him and Rupert Everett over a role in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

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Alan Cumming got close to casting spells in one of the most popular film franchises of all time.

The five-time Emmy Award nominee, 56, recently revealed why he turned down the role of Professor Gilderoy Lockhart in 2002's Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the second installment in the beloved series. "I didn't turn it down," he clarified to The Telegraph. "I told them to f--- off!"

"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," Cumming recounted. "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."

Ultimately, the role of the ill-fated Hogwarts professor didn't go to either Cumming or Everett, but Kenneth Branagh. The part was also offered to Hugh Grant, but he turned it down to film the 2002 romantic comedy Two Weeks Notice with Sandra Bullock.

"I said, tell them to f--- right off," Cumming said. "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."

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At the time, he was already in the middle of a three-movie run as Fegan Floop in the Spy Kids franchise. Cumming is also known for his roles in Spice World, Josie and the Pussycats, Burlesque and The Good Wife. He can currently be seen in the Apple TV+ musical comedy series Schmigadoon!, in addition to providing his voice for HBO Max's The Prince.

Cumming defended the animated royal satire to The Telegraph. When asked if the Royal Family would find the show funny, he responded, "I don't know. If they appreciate satire, they might… It's quite tender, actually – my character with George, it's a really lovely relationship. It's not as mean as people think."

See Alan Cumming in the Schmigadoon! season 1 finale, which airs Friday, August 13 on Apple TV+. Season 1 of The Prince is also available to binge on HBO Max.