JUF's Jewish Celebrities

Daniel Radcliffe

Daniel Radcliffe

OK, we’re going to tell you something, and then we’re going to wait until you text everyone you know and tell them. Ready? Here we go: HARRY POTTER IS JEWISH!

Well, at least Daniel Radcliffe— the guy who plays him in the movies— is. He told an Australian interview show that his mom is Jewish, and while he doesn’t consider himself religious, he is interested in learning more about it. 

Harry wasn’t Daniel’s first role, though. That was on a TV movie, a version of Charles Dickens’s book David Copperfield. Daniel played David as a boy. And yes, that book is where the Jewish magician David Copperfield took his name (his real name is David Kotkin). So there’s another connection between Daniel and magic!

Daniel was first in The Tailor of Panama, about a tailor who may be a spy; Jamie Lee Curtis played Daniel’s mom in that, and she even said he reminded her of Harry Potter!

Later that year, 2001, Daniel went to a play with his dad, who introduced him to his friend, a movie producer. Well, guess which movie he was producing then? Just like Jamie did, this guy looked at Daniel and saw Harry. He still made sure he could act first! So far, Daniel has been in five of the Harry Potter movies. And there were seven books, but he has three more movies to go! Why? Well, Half-Blood Prince comes out in 2009... but the last one, Deathly Hallows, in is two parts, the first one in 2010.

Something often happens to actors who play one role over many years. It’s called “typecasting,” and it makes it hard for them to act in other kinds of roles or movies. Try to imagine Allyson Hannigan as a solider or Jack Black as a librarian and you’ll see what we mean!

Typecasting seems to be something Daniel is avoiding, though. Some of Daniel’s fave actors are Scarlett Johansson and Ben Stiller, who also have played a wide range of roles. Even before finishing the Harry Potter series, he’s doing other movies. One is called December Boys. It’s about four orphan boys who are friends… until they all try to be adopted by the same family. That’s a long broom-ride from Hogwarts!

The other, My Boy Jack, is a TV movie about Jack Kipling, a soldier who is lost during World War One. His father is Rudyard Kipling, the guy who wrote The Jungle Book and other famous novels, who goes looking for his boy, Jack. After the Potter movies are done, Daniel will star in The Journey is the Destination, about a crusading photojournalist (a reporter to tells the story with pictures instead of words).

OK, you are dying to know… Daniel’s favorite Harry Potter book is the third one, Prisoner of Azkaban. If he could have magic powers in real life? “When I get into trouble at school, I’d like to take an invisibility cloak, drape it over me and sneak out the door. Or I’d like to have a three-headed-dog because then no one would argue with me.”

What’s the toughest part about playing a wizard? “It's hard to concentrate when the bats fly about… they pee while they fly.” And does Daniel believe in magic? “Absolutely. 100%.”

He has spread a little but of magic himself. Instead of giving him holiday presents, Daniel asks his friends to donate to a children’s hospice, which treats kids with life-threatening illnesses.

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