Today we celebrate the 24th birthday of The Boy Who Lived. Actually, not really. Harry Potter’s birthday is coming up on July 31st — although we’re sure your kids know that already — so today we’re focusing on a less, well, fictional birthday boy: Daniel Radcliffe. For many kids out there, Daniel Radcliffe and Harry Potter are essentially the same person. After all, Radcliffe has now played — and is done playing — the role of Harry Potter for ten years. That’s a lot of years to be someone you’re not. And while Radcliffe has graciously accepted the fact that, for many people, he’s inseparable from the magical world of Hogwarts, there’s a lot more to him than just the role of Voldemort’s vanquisher.
Born on July 23, 1989 in West London, England, Radcliffe made his acting debut when he was just ten years old: The young talent found his way onto BBC’s adaptation of the Charles Dickens’s novel, David Copperfield. The role was small enough, however, that Radcliffe’s fame didn’t get out of hand, and the young boy was able to stay in school.
Despite his parents’ original objections, Radcliffe took the role of Harry Potter just two years after his television debut. The first film in the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, was released in 2001, and, eventually, would be the second-highest grossing film in the series. Radcliffe’s fame quickly skyrocketed, and the young star chose to drop out of school due to harassment (Radcliffe said kids were just “[having] a crack at the kid who plays Harry Potter”). Although Radcliffe originally signed a contract for two films, he and his fellow cast — Rupert Grint and Emma Watson — ended up playing their roles for all eight movies, the last of which was released in July 2011.
Now the Harry Potter series — both the films and the movies — has come to an end. J.K. Rowling has written her last story about the magical trio, and Radcliffe, Grint, and Watson have starred in their last Harry Potter film. All three actors, it has been said, cried on their last day of filming, which makes sense, really. Radcliffe had to say goodbye to the role of Harry Potter while the rest of the world had to say goodbye to continuation of the story.
So, happy birthday to Daniel Radcliffe! And don’t forget to celebrate Harry Potter’s birthday in a week!