8 Daniel Radcliffe Facts All Harry Potter Fans Should Know

Jamie McCarthy, Getty Images
Jamie McCarthy, Getty Images

The great thing about the Harry Potter series is that it's such a rich world packed into seven easy-to-read books. Fans can jump into it quickly, and learn everything there is to know about the Wizarding World. And they have.

It's hard to find a Potterhead who doesn't already know every fact in existence about the Boy Who Lived. What is much harder to have is an encyclopedic knowledge about Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who played him. They know Radcliffe is a fantastic actor, but some people don't know that he enjoys poking fun at himself ... or that he's regularly mistaken for Elijah Wood. Here are a few things every Harry Potter fan should know about the award-winning actor, who was born on July 23, 1989.

1. Daniel Radcliffe isn't afraid to poke fun at himself.

No former child star is as self-aware as Daniel Radcliffe. In a 2007 appearance on the Ricky Gervais comedy series Extras, a then-17-year-old Radcliffe played himself as an arrogant, oversexed teen who's still terrified of his parents. Even the fake movie he's filming in the episode is an obvious Harry Potter parody.

2. Daniel Radcliffe was a noted prankster on the harry potter set.

At the age of 10, Radcliffe was a mischievous little kid, and being cast as Harry Potter didn't change that at all. If anything, it probably encouraged it. He once took Hagrid actor Robbie Coltrane's cell phone and changed the settings so that all his messages displayed in Turkish. (Radcliffe, proving that his pranks were always good-natured, later apologized for it.)

3. Daniel Radcliffe met the producer of Harry Potter at a play.

Producer David Heyman happened to be attending a play at the same time as Radcliffe and his father, Alan. Since Radcliffe's father is a literary agent, he and Heyman knew each other. Alan introduced his son to Heyman, who was just starting to think about casting, and couldn't take his eyes of Daniel, thinking he would make a perfect Harry Potter. Daniel auditioned a short time later and got the role. The rest, of course, is history.

4. Daniel Radcliffe didn't see the first movie he was ever in until years later.

In 2001, Radcliffe had a small role in the spy thriller, The Tailor of Panama. Because it was rated R, the then-11-year-old actor didn't get to see the film when it came out, and never really thought to go back and give it a watch. But in early 2019, Radcliffe was shown clips from his first feature film credit ... and was pretty impressed. "Oh my god! Put that kid in a franchise!," was Radcliffe's initial (and joking) reaction to the clip.

5. Daniel Radcliffe wasn't an immediate fan of harry Potter and the Philosopher's stone.

Radcliffe tried to read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone when he was eight years old, but it didn't instantly captivate him the way it did millions of other young readers. He put it down and didn't finish.

"I kind of got into it later," Radcliffe said. "And then when I got the part what was interesting … was that I was reading the fourth book when we started making the first movie and I remember being in my hotel room in Newcastle when we were about to go out and shoot the first scenes on the platform at 9 and 3/4 and everything. And I remember being in my room reading passages of the book and getting really excited and pretending to be Harry in character in the books, jumping around my room acting out bits of what I would then be acting out for real like six years later."

6. There's a reason Harry potter's eyes weren't green in the movies.

Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)
Warner Bros.

So that Radcliffe could look as much as the green-eyed Boy Wizard described in the books, the original plan was for Radcliffe to wear contact lenses. However, he had a terrible allergic reaction and the idea was scrapped. They were prepared to go through the expensive process of digitally altering his eyes in post-production, but J.K. Rowling said the color wasn't essential as long as he had "his mother's eyes."

7. Daniel Radcliffe has regularly been confused with another early 2000s fantasy star.

On more than one occasion, Radcliffe has been confused for Elijah Wood, who played Frodo Baggins in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. One time, someone handed him a photo of Wood to sign. He wrote, "I am not Elijah Wood, love, Daniel Radcliffe."

8. The director of the first two Harry Potter movies wanted Radcliffe to star from the very start.

Even before David Heyman happened to see Radcliffe's father at a play, Chris Columbus had Daniel Radcliffe in mind for the role of Harry Potter. When asked what kind of actor he wanted to play Harry, Columbus pointed to Radcliffe's performance in David Copperfield. At the time, they thought they wouldn't be able to cast him as his parents wanted him to focus on school.

Watch John Krasinski Interview Steve Carell About The Office's 15th Anniversary

John Krasinski and Steve Carell in The Office.
John Krasinski and Steve Carell in The Office.
NBC Universal, Inc.

The Office just passed a major milestone: It has been 15 years since the American adaptation of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's hit British sitcom made its way to NBC, where it ran for nine seasons. To celebrate the show's big anniversary, former co-stars John Krasinski and Steve Carell reunited in the best way possible: Carell appeared as a guest on Krasinski's new YouTube show, where the two decided to spread some positivity.

Krasinski just launched his very own news show titled Some Good News, and it's exactly what we've all been needing. During this segment, he interviewed Carell via video call, and the two shared their favorite memories of working on the beloved workplace comedy.

"It's such a happy surprise," Carell said of The Office's continued success. "After all these years people are still tuning in and finding it." The two also addressed the question that's been on every fan's mind: is there a chance that we'll see the Dunder Mifflin crew reunite in some way?

"Listen, I know everyone's talking about a reunion," Krasinski said. "Hopefully one day we'll just all get to reunite as people."

You can watch the full episode below. (Carell joins the video around the 5:50 minute mark.)

15 Facts About John Brown, the Real-Life Abolitionist at the Center of The Good Lord Bird

John Brown, circa 1846.
John Brown, circa 1846.
Augustus Washington/Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Abolitionist John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry on October 16, 1859, was meant to start an armed slave revolt, and ultimately end slavery. Though Brown succeeded in taking over the federal armory, the revolt never came to pass—and Brown paid for the escapade with his life.

In the more than 160 years since that raid, John Brown has been called a hero, a madman, a martyr, and a terrorist. Now Showtime is exploring his legacy with an adaption of James McBride’s The Good Lord Bird. Like the novel it’s based on, the miniseries—which stars Ethan Hawke—will cover the exploits of Brown and his allies. Here's what you should know about John Brown before you watch.

1. John Brown was born into an abolitionist family on May 9, 1800.

John Brown was born to Owen and Ruth Mills Brown in Torrington, Connecticut, on May 9, 1800. After his family relocated to Hudson, Ohio (where John was raised), their new home would become an Underground Railroad station. Owen would go on to co-found the Western Reserve Anti-Slavery Society and was a trustee at the Oberlin Collegiate Institute, one of the first American colleges to admit black (and female) students.

2. John Brown declared bankruptcy at age 42.

At 16, Brown went to school with the hope of becoming a minister, but eventually left the school and, like his father, became a tanner. He also dabbled in surveying, canal-building, and the wool trade. In 1835, he bought land in northeastern Ohio. Thanks partly the financial panic of 1837, Brown couldn’t satisfy his creditors and had to declare bankruptcy in 1842. He later tried peddling American wool abroad in Europe, where he was forced to sell it at severely reduced prices. This opened the door for multiple lawsuits when Brown returned to America.

3. John Brown's Pennsylvania home was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

The John Brown Tannery Site in Pennsylvania
The John Brown Tannery Site in Pennsylvania.
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Sometime around 1825, Brown moved himself and his family to Guys Mills, Pennsylvania, where he set up a tannery and built a house and a barn with a hidden room that was used by slaves on the run. Brown reportedly helped 2500 slaves during his time in Pennsylvania; the building was destroyed in 1907 [PDF], but the site, which is now a museum that is open to the public, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Brown moved his family back to Ohio in 1836.

4. After Elijah Lovejoy's murder, John Brown pledged to end slavery.

Elijah Lovejoy was a journalist and the editor of the St. Louis/Alton Observer, a staunchly anti-slavery newspaper. His editorials enraged those who defended slavery, and in 1837, Lovejoy was killed when a mob attacked the newspaper’s headquarters.

The incident lit a fire under Brown. When he was told about Lovejoy’s murder at an abolitionist prayer meeting in Hudson, Brown—a deeply religious man—stood up and raised his right hand, saying “Here, before God, in the presence of these witnesses, from this time, I consecrate my life to the destruction of slavery."

5. John Brown moved to the Kansas Territory after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

In 1854, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which decreed that it would be the people of Kansas and Nebraska who would decide if their territories would be free states or slave states. New England abolitionists hoping to convert the Kansas Territory into a Free State moved there in droves and founded the city of Lawrence. By the end of 1855, John Brown had also relocated to Kansas, along with six of his sons and his son-in-law. Opposing the newcomers were slavery supporters who had also arrived in large numbers.

6. John Brown’s supporters killed five pro-slavery men at the 1856 Pottawatomie Massacre.

A John Brown mural by John Steuart Curry
A John Brown mural by John Steuart Curry.
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

On May 21, 1856, Lawrence was sacked by pro-slavery forces. The next day, Charles Sumner, an anti-slavery Senator from Massachusetts, was beaten with a cane by Representative Preston Brooks on the Senate floor until he lost consciousness. (A few days earlier, Sumner had insulted Democratic senators Stephen Douglas and Andrew Butler in his "Crime Against Kansas" speech; Brooks was a representative from Butler’s state of South Carolina.)

In response to those events, Brown led a group of abolitionists into a pro-slavery settlement by the Pottawatomie Creek on the night of May 24. On Brown’s orders, five slavery sympathizers were forced out of their houses and killed with broadswords.

Newspapers across the country denounced the attack—and John Brown in particular. But that didn't dissuade him: Before his final departure from Kansas in 1859, Brown participated in many other battles across the region. He lost a son, Frederick Brown, in the fighting.

7. John Brown led a party of liberated slaves all the way from Missouri to Michigan.

In December 1858, John Brown crossed the Kansas border and entered the slave state of Missouri. Once there, he and his allies freed 11 slaves and led them all the way to Detroit, Michigan, covering a distance of more than 1000 miles. (One of the liberated women gave birth en route.) Brown’s men had killed a slaveholder during their Missouri raid, so President James Buchanan put a $250 bounty on the famed abolitionist. That didn’t stop Brown, who got to watch the people he’d helped free board a ferry and slip away into Canada.

8. John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry was meant to instigate a nationwide slave uprising.

On October 16, 1859, Brown and 18 men—including five African Americans—seized control of a U.S. armory in the Jefferson County, Virginia (today part of West Virginia) town of Harpers Ferry. The facility had around 100,000 weapons stockpiled there by the late 1850s. Brown hoped his actions would inspire a large-scale slave rebellion, with enslaved peoples rushing to collect free guns, but the insurrection never came.

9. Robert E. Lee played a part in John Brown’s arrest.

Artist Thomas Hovenden depicts John Brown after his capture.
Artist Thomas Hovenden depicts John Brown after his capture.
The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images

Shortly after Brown took Harpers Ferry, the area was surrounded by local militias. On the orders of President Buchanan, Brevet Colonel Robert E. Lee entered the fray with a detachment of U.S. Marines. The combined might of regional and federal forces proved too much for Brown, who was captured in the Harpers Ferry engine house on October 18, 1859. Ten of Brown's men died, including two more of his sons.

10. John Brown was put on trial a week after his capture.

After his capture, Brown—along with Aaron Stevens, Edwin Coppoc, Shields Green, and John Copeland—was put on trial. When asked if the defendants had counsel, Brown responded:

"Virginians, I did not ask for any quarter at the time I was taken. I did not ask to have my life spared. The Governor of the State of Virginia tendered me his assurance that I should have a fair trial: but, under no circumstances whatever will I be able to have a fair trial. If you seek my blood, you can have it at any moment, without this mockery of a trial. I have had no counsel: I have not been able to advise with anyone ... I am ready for my fate. I do not ask a trial. I beg for no mockery of a trial—no insult—nothing but that which conscience gives, or cowardice would drive you to practice. I ask again to be excused from the mockery of a trial."

Brown would go on to plead not guilty. Just days later, he was found “guilty of treason, and conspiring and advising with slaves and others to rebel, and murder in the first degree” and was sentenced to hang.

11. John Brown made a grim prophecy on the morning of his death.

On the morning of December 2, 1859, Brown passed his jailor a note that read, “I … am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away, but with blood.” He was hanged later that day.

12. Victor Hugo defended John Brown.

Victor Hugo—the author of Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, who was also an abolitionist—penned an open letter on John Brown’s behalf in 1859. Desperate to see him pardoned, Hugo wrote, “I fall on my knees, weeping before the great starry banner of the New World … I implore the illustrious American Republic, sister of the French Republic, to see to the safety of the universal moral law, to save John Brown.” Hugo’s appeals were of no use. The letter was dated December 2—the day Brown was hanged.

13. Abraham Lincoln commented on John Brown's death.

Abraham Lincoln, who was then in Kansas, said, “Old John Brown has been executed for treason against a State. We cannot object, even though he agreed with us in thinking slavery wrong. That cannot excuse violence, bloodshed and treason. It could avail him nothing that he might think himself right.”

14. John Brown was buried in North Elba, New York.

John Brown's gravesite in New York
John Brown's gravesite in New York.
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

In 1849, Brown had purchased 244 acres of property from Gerrit Smith, a wealthy abolitionist, in North Elba, New York. The property was near Timbuctoo, a 120,000-acre settlement that Smith had started in 1846 to give African American families the property they needed in order to vote (at that time, state law required black residents to own $250 worth of property to cast a vote). Brown had promised Smith that he would assist his new neighbors in cultivating the mountainous terrain.

When Brown was executed, his family interred the body at their North Elba farm—which is now a New York State Historic Site.

15. The tribute song "John Brown's Body" shares its melody with “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

It didn’t take long for Brown to become a martyr. Early in the 1860s, the basic melody of “Say Brothers Will You Meet Us,” a popular camp hymn, was fitted with new lyrics about the slain abolitionist. Titled “John Brown’s Body,” the song spread like wildfire in the north—despite having some lines that were deemed unsavory. Julia Ward Howe took the melody and gave it yet another set of lyrics. Thus was born “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” a Union marching anthem that's still widely known today.

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