What Is It Like to Be Harry Potter?
What is it like to be Harry Potter? The name brings to mind certain associations, the most prominent of which is a certain wizard. A better question might be this: What is it like to share your name with one of the most popular fictional characters in existence? Radio Times sought the answer.
There is Sir Harry Potter, for one. Sir Harry Potter, as it turns out, has also made a name for himself. He is a prominent lawyer and legal historian who has appeared on television and radio, and he seems to have found the humor in his notable name.
It gets a lot of amusement, especially in the crown court. Once I was representing a man called Martin Luther King, and in the next court, there was a Gandhi on trial. People were falling on the floor laughing as the tannoy was calling for the three of us.
Sir Harry Potter also had to wonder if Harry Potter (the character) was named after him. He once wrote to J.K. Rowling to ask about their shared name. (“Because I’m Scottish, I asked if she heard my name when she was living in Edinburgh,” Potter explained.) While it turns out that J.K. Rowling hadn’t picked up the lawyer’s name for her own use, she did clarify the origins of her famous character’s name: Harry was her favorite name, and her next-door neighbors were the Potters.
Sir Harry Potter isn’t the only Harry Potter around. There’s also Harry Potter, a student at the University of Sheffield. He was born five months before the publication of the first Harry Potter book, though he expressed that going through life as Harry Potter has had a few perks.
For instance, remember when book stores invited in streams of wizarding fans for the midnight launch of the latest Hogwarts novel? Well, on 21st July 2007, Potter opened up his Exeter branch of WHSmith to mark the release of [Harry Potter and t]he Deathly Hallows. ‘They even got me dressed up in a wizard’s outfit,’ remembers Potter. ‘But I got a book out of it, so I wasn’t complaining!’
Potter also had a chance encounter with Gary Oldman (Sirius Black) while at the airport for a school trip.
[Oldman] thought it was a joke, but played along. ‘[O]h really?’ he said, grinning. Then he pulled me forward from the crowd – I was hiding at the back because I knew this would happen. He read my passport, paused and went ‘oh s***!’ I was really chuffed.
Other individuals named Harry Potter include a customer service representative who was invited to the premiere of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as a child. While he was able to view the film alongside its stars, he has been met with some skepticism too. He recounted one instance where he was denied entry into a golf competition because someone believed he was joking.
A salesman named Harry Potter, meanwhile, calls his name “a great ice-breaker” when networking. Plus, he hasn’t had to worry about choosing a Halloween costume.
I’ve dressed as a wizard about five times now. I think people always think I’d never be up for it, but it’s part of Halloween!
Finally, the fitness and nutrition coach named Harry Potter has a social media presence. He also uses his middle name, Ashton, to keep from being mistaken for the fictional wizard.
Sometimes my friends will say ‘ask him what his surname is’ [when meeting new people]. Then I usually pretend to not have a clue what they’re on about, so they end up looking stupid.
Overall, Radio Times noted a few challenges that come with being named Harry Potter, including online. Harry Potter the student explained that Facebook banned him repeatedly.
I signed up to Facebook when I was 13, but every time a new Potter film came out, Facebook banned me thinking that my account wasn’t real. Each time, I had to send off a scan of my passport, and about two weeks later, I’d be able to go on Facebook again. It was unbelievably frustrating!
Here’s to all the individuals who know what it’s like to be Harry Potter. Do you share your name with someone famous?