For anyone reading this not familiar with the seven Harry Potter fantasy novels written by British author J.K Rowling, since 1997 the book series has sold about 450 million copies and has been translated into 67 languages. The last four books set records as the fastest selling books in history. Moreover, the books have been made into an eight-part film series by Warner Brothers Pictures, with the seventh book split into two parts. Harry Potter is the highest grossing film series of all time. Having never read (well read the first book about half-way while I was waiting on something once) or watched any of the highly successful Harry Potter books or movies, I finally broke down this month and watched all eight of the movies in just two weeks!
The film series also originated much tie-in merchandise, making the Harry Potter brand worth in excess of $15 billion. The star of the these movies is a British actor named Daniel Radcliffe. Needless to say, this actor has touched the lives of millions of people. By coincidence, the same month I undertook this movie marathon, I had a business trip to New York City. Radcliffe, who currently can be seen in movie theaters as Harry Potter in the series final film “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2,” was in New York City also – starring in a stage production. My first night in town, as my friend and I walked back from Times Square, we passed West. 45th St. and noticed a crowd gathered in the street. There were hundreds of fans waiting for Daniel Radcliffe to exit the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. He is currently appearing six times a week there as J. Pierpont Finch in the production of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” We quickly joined the crowd, but never really saw the famed actor. We only heard screams as he came out of the theater to sign autographs. It was nearly impossible to get a glimpse of the young man who has achieved worldwide fame and nearly 28.5 million dollars playing the wizard known as Harry Potter.
Two days later, I went back to the theatre and purchased tickets to see “How To Succeed.” Now, with orchestra seats 14th row, I was hoping to get a close-up look at the actor. During his performance, Racliffe sang, dance, and acted with great skill. At only 22 years old, his future might be as successful as his past. When the play ended, since our seats were close to the end of the row, we exited to the right instead of out the front of the theatre. The minute I exited I realized we were standing exactly where all the hundreds of fans were just a few nights earlier. Only this time, we were in the front of it all. I soon noticed the crowd that gathered around was mostly made up of young girls and their mothers. I was feeling a bit out of place, almost wanting to leave, when the television actor from the series “Night Court” John Larroquette appeared suddenly. I wasn’t much interested in his autograph although I did take a photo of him (pictured left). Larroquette won a Tony Award earlier this year for Best Actor in a Musical for his role in “How to Succeed.”
Minutes later, bursting from the theatre’s side door entrance, Daniel Radcliffe walked immediately to where I was standing. He said hello to us in his English accent, engaged one of the girls in conversation and immediately began signing autographs. He even paused to take a photo with the young blond girl standing next to me. She had been waiting three years for that photo she later told me!
It was surreal as Radcliffe stood right in front of me (pictured right), gleaming with energy and charisma. He wore a baseball type cap, but otherwise looked like the young man in the eight films. Yes, I was standing in front of “Harry Potter” himself! Radcliffe was friendly and accommodating, not at all put off. He quickly worked his way around both sides of the exit signing autographs before jumping into a black sport utility vehicle. If I wasn’t a fan before, I surely am now. Radcliffe exceeded expectations in the Broadway play and is a gifted film actor. Who knows, maybe later in life I’ll see him again, but it’s good to know I was face to face with Radcliffe just a year or so after he went face to face with and defeated Lord Voldemort!