Jewish actor Daniel Radcliffe, 33, is not much younger than me — but for some reason, the very joyous news about the “Harry Potter” star expecting his first child with longtime girlfriend Erin Darke, which was recently confirmed by one of Radcliffe’s representatives, really makes me feel so old.
Maybe it’s because I grew up with the actor, who was raised by a Jewish mom and considers himself a “proud Jew.” I saw him age through the eight movie franchise about the young wizard, which gave many of us so much reprieve and joy as kids. Seeing that he’s not the little boy in the closet under the stairs anymore (“you’re going to be a father, Harry!”) definitely makes it very palpable that I am not a kid anymore, either.
That, and the fact that the Harry Potter franchise is more fraught for me than it once was, due to its antisemitic goblins and J. K. Rowling’s anti-trans views.
In responding to these controversies, and in many other ways, Radcliffe has turned out to be quite a mensch: “Transgender women are women,” the actor wrote in an article for the Trevor project. “Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I,” he added, referring to the author by her nickname.
And while Radcliffe has been open about how he’s struggled with fame and spoken about the fact that he stopped drinking alcohol as the franchise was winding down, he’s also turned out to be my favorite brand of child actor — the kind that takes the freedom afforded to him by that and acts in a lot of fun, quirky indie projects. He played a corpse in “Swiss Army Man,” a dog walker in Amy Schumer’s “Trainwreck” and, most recently, starred as the celebrated parody singer Weird Al in “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” (which, we’re sad to tell you, isn’t a Jewish role — despite singing about rabbis, Yankovic is not Jewish).
Darke herself is quite the accomplished actress: She’s played Mary in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Leeta in “Dietland,” Cindy Reston in “Good Girls Revolt” and more. You’ve also seen her in the Beach Boys biopic “Love & Mercy” as Brian Wilson’s first wife, Marilyn.
Darke, 38, and Radcliffe met on set of “Kill Your Darlings,” where he played poet Allen Ginsberg. The two had quite a raunchy scene together in the movie about which Radcliffe said, “It’ll be a hell of a story to tell our kids one day because of what our characters do with each other.” (It’s time to start preparing!) He also added that despite the embarrassment, “there’s a sweet record of us meeting for the first time and flirting.”
Darke and Radcliffe have acted in other projects together since, including in the movie “Don’t Think Twice” and the TBS series “Miracle Workers,” based on a book by Jewish author Simon Rich (“An American Pickle).
Radcliffe has said that while he doesn’t really want his kids to deal with the negative aspects of fame, he would love to bring them with him to set. “I want my kids, if and when they exist… I would love them to be around film sets,” he told Newsweek last year, adding that they’re wonderful places but that he hopes they’d want to be part of behind the scenes work.
“We’re still acting, so clearly, we enjoyed it,” he said of himself and “Weird…” co-star, fellow child star and Jewish mom Evan Rachel Wood. “But still, I wouldn’t want fame for my kid.”
Aside from a love for movie sets, Radcliffe also has a fascinating Jewish heritage to pass down to his future little one. The actor, whose mother was raised Jewish in South Africa, has played quite a few Jewish roles — aside from Ginsberg, he’s played Israeli adventurer Yossi Ghinsberg in the film “Jungle” — and his pseudonym (!) as a poet (!!), Jacob Gershon, was a nod to his Jewish mom, taking from both his maternal grandfather’s last name (Jacobson) and his maternal grandmother’s last name, Gershon.
In the 16th season of “Who Do You Think You Are?” Radcliffe wept when he discovered that his great-grandfather, Samuel Gershon, tragically died by suicide after antisemitic police officers accused him of robbing his own store, writing in their report that “Jews are so frequently responsible for the bringing down of their own business premises.”
“It’s very jarring to see being a Jew to be taken as a piece of evidence in itself,” he said.
Radcliffe also played an FBI agent going undercover among neo-Nazis in “Emporium,” and said that he didn’t want his Jewish grandmother, who was an evacuee during WWII, to watch it because “it may be a little too close to the bone.”
According to a source close to Radcliffe and Darke, “Daniel and Erin could not be happier to be expecting. They are absolutely thrilled and can’t wait to become a family of three… They told their families and friends recently. It’s an incredibly exciting time.”
We’re very excited for them, too. Radcliffe once said that his favorite thing about being Jewish is being able to tell Jewish jokes, so we think he’s definitely ready for fatherhood — and hey, if he needs any Jewish jokes expand his repertoire before the arrival of his little one, we’ve got him covered.