It was on this date, July 23, 1989, that the English actor known for a 10-year run as the title character in the Harry Potter films, Daniel Radcliffe was born Daniel Jacob Radcliffe in Fulham, London. Radcliffe made his acting debut at age 10 in the title role of BBC One’s television movie David Copperfield (1999), followed by his film debut in the John le Carré spy film The Tailor of Panama (2001). In addition to the seven or eight Harry Potter films, depending on whether you count the two-part Deathly Hallows finale as one or two films (2001-2011), Radcliffe appeared in the 2007 London and New York revivals of the Peter Shaffer play Equus (only some of its popularity sparked by Radcliffe appearing nude!) and as the lead in the 2011 Broadway revival of the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Other films include a horror picture, The Woman in Black (2012), as the 1950s beat poet Alan Ginsberg in the thriller, Kill Your Darlings (2013) and as the son of Rudyard Kipling in the TV movie My Boy Jack (2007).
Radcliffe has spoken out against homophobia and promoted awareness of gay teen suicide prevention, saying in a 2010 interview, “I have always hated anybody who is not tolerant of gay men or lesbians or bisexuals. Now I am in the very fortunate position where I can actually help or do something about it.” He has donated to charities commemorating Holocaust survivors and to fighting HIV/AIDS.
Of his upbringing, Radcliffe said in a 2012 interview, “There was never [religious] faith in the house. I think of myself as being Jewish and Irish, despite the fact that I’m English.” He has also said, “I’m an atheist, and a militant atheist when religion starts impacting on legislation,” and that he is “very proud of being Jewish.” Christian conservatives, already suspicious of the pagan orientation of the Harry Potter books and films, were even more dismayed when, in an interview promoting the 2009 release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Radcliffe said, “I’m an atheist, but I’m very relaxed about it. I don’t preach my atheism, but I have a huge amount of respect for people like Richard Dawkins who do.”