The Harry Potter films began fifteen years ago, at the early turn of the millennium. Many of use grew up watching Harry Potter and his friends as they faced adversity, built relationships, and explored the magical wizarding world. For several years longer, we’ve loved J.K. Rowling’s series of books which birthed the films. Harry Potter meant a lot to kids and adults alike when the franchise began, and still holds a place in the hearts of wizards and witches worldwide. The books and films taught us that friendship can get us through any hardship, courage can be found the most unlikely of people, and that true love will triumph over evil– always.
Whether you’re a casual lover of the Harry Potter franchise or a hardcore fan, there may be a few facts about everybody’s favorite young wizard that you might not know about.
Check out these 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Harry James Potter!
15. He lost his Parseltongue ability
According to J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter was never an actual Horcrux– and when Voldemort destroyed the fragment of his soul that Harry contained, Harry lost his ability to speak Parseltongue. This certainly makes sense, seeing as how Horcruxes must be intentional, and the transfer to Harry was not.
Despite Dumbledor’s comment in The Chamber of Secrets about how Harry had a lot of qualities that Salazar Slytherin wanted in his valued students (specifically resourcefulness, determination, disregard for the rules, and Parseltongue abilities) and the Sorting Hat’s desire to put him in Slytherin, his Parseltongue ability came solely from the fragment of Voldemort inside him and not because he had a natural talent. According to an interview session in 2007, J.K. Rowling reiterates that Horcruxes are intentional, so Harry wasn’t quite one. When asked if Harry could speak Parseltongue after Voldemort’s demise, Rowling replied, “No, he loses the ability, and is very glad to do so.“
14. Harry and Voldemort are related
The relation is distant, but it is there nonetheless.
“Potter” is the surname of a wizarding family descended from Ignotus Peverell and Linfred Stinchcombe which, of course, resulted in the protagonist of the Harry Potter series of books. The connection in bloodlines between Harry and Voldemort comes the Peverell family.
As we know, Peverell passed down the Cloak of Invisibility down from generation to generation until it rightfully landed in Harry’s possession. The House of Gaunt was a pure-blood family that descended from Ignotus Peverell’s brother Cadmus and Salazar Slytherin. This ancient family is where the two bloodlines meet, and one of the Gaunts’ signature abilities was Parseltongue.
There was also a pretty ridiculous but also sort of probable fan theory which gained popularity a couple of years ago that claimed Harry and Hermione were actually secretly siblings. However, J.K. Rowling pretty much rebuked this and the relation between Harry and Voldemort is actually canon.
13. J.K. Rowling and Harry have the same birthday
J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series and Harry Potter’s creator, was born on July 31st, 1965 in Bristol, England. Harry Potter was born on July 31st, 1980 in Godric’s Hollow, West Country, England. They are both Leos. Harry Potter would be 36 today, and J.K. Rowling turned 51 this year.
Even though Rowling has claimed that she came up with the beginning of Harry Potter’s story and himself as a character on a different date while on a train, she decided to link herself to her main character through a birth date. Despite the connection between the two, and the whole story of the series revolving around the young wizard, J.K. Rowling has explicitly said that her favorite character from the books is not Harry. After being asked by a fan, Rowling simply said her favorite character is dead and gay– which would mean Albus Dumbledore is her favorite character.
12. Haley Joel Osment almost played Harry in the films
Get ready for one roller coaster of a bad idea that almost came to be. Not Haley Joel Osment’s casting specifically, but rather the idea of Steven Spielberg directing the Harry Potter movies.
J.K. Rowling sold the rights to Harry Potter to Warner Bros. in 1998, and the studio knew they were investing in something big. So they began flipping through their Rolodexes (it was the ’90s, my dudes) and hitting up all of the big-name talent from directors to actors that could make the film great.
One of the first considerations for a director was Steven Spielberg, who wanted to combine multiple Harry Potter books into one film, animate it, stuff it with a bunch of aggressive special effects (which sort of happened anyway), and have Haley Joel Osment voice Harry Potter. The studio wasn’t feeling it at all and Rowling was adamant about Harry Potter being a British story that needed a British cast.
11. The Harry/Hermione pairing almost happened
This makes that “Harry and Hermione are siblings!” fan theory all the more disturbing.
The pairing of Hermione and Ron with Harry and Ginny was quite a dividing element between Harry Potter fans. And now, it seems like J.K. Rowling regrets her choices in writing. In an interview with Wonderland a couple of years ago, Rowling says she should have paired Hermione with Harry instead of Ron.
“I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment. That’s how it was conceived, really,” Rowling says in the interview. “For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron. I know, I’m sorry, I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I’m absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility. Am I breaking people’s hearts by saying this? I hope not.”
10. He’s named after one of Rowling’s old neighbors
Back in 2000, Rowling talked about the origins of Harry’s name in an interview for Scholastic. “‘Harry’ has always been my favorite boy’s name,” said Rowling, “so if my daughter had been a son, he would have been Harry Rowling. Then I would have had to choose a different name for ‘Harry’ in the books, because it would have been too cruel to name him after my own son. ‘Potter’ was the surname of a family who used to live near me when I was seven years old and I always liked the name, so I borrowed it.”
There are other characters in the series that are named after real-life people. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, we hear the name “Natalie McDonald” before she is sorted into Gryffindor. Natalie McDonald was a real Harry Potter fan who suffered from terminal leukemia. While sad, her story’s pretty uplifting.
9. He almost had his own musical written by Michael Jackson
It’s true! J.K. Rowling said herself that Michael Jackson tried to convince her to turn her Harry Potter novels series into a full stage musical. Rowling ended up turning Jackson down because she believed the musical would not have worked that well for her series.
While Rowling has taken merchandising deals and agreed to a Hogwarts theme park, she was mum about her reasoning for turning down MJ’s musical idea in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. “Michael Jackson wanted to do a musical,” said Rowling, “I said no to a lot of things. For me, I love the films, I love the books, and there’s elements that I love around it… like the theme park. But I only wanted to do it because I knew it would be incredible.”
The musical did have the potential to be incredible with Michael Jackson’s brand of musical style, but ultimately it never happened.
8. He didn’t graduate from Hogwarts
There’s probably no need for a GED when you save the wizarding world from evil. In an interview with Pottercast in 2007, J.K. Rowling explained that Harry (as well as Ron) did not graduate from Hogwarts. After the Battle of Hogwarts, Hermione returned to school and passed her NEWTS with flying colors before joining Harry and Ron at the Ministry of Magic.
Harry and Ron, however, chose to be done with school. It makes sense why Ron would have no interest in returning, but it’s a bit strange that Harry decided to opt out of finishing his seventh year, especially when you consider how Hogwarts was the only place he ever felt home. However, his choice was probably for the best. Hogwarts post-battle probably held a lot of traumatic memories for the Boy Who Lived and Harry was definitely needed in the now-depleted Auror department. Who else wonders what a Hogwarts graduation is like?
7. Draco grew up idealizing Harry
This new fact came to light via one of J.K. Rowling’s awesome Pottermore talks, and it clarifies a pretty interesting conundrum– why on earth would someone like Draco Malfoy want to be friends with Harry Potter in the first place?
Draco was one of the series’ most complex characters and he was incredibly easy to hate. Once you take into consideration his upbringing, potential abuse, and misguided beliefs, it makes sense why Draco would be a bully. But his particular distaste for Harry definitely came from his upbringing. Draco’s father, like many other parents in the wizarding world, told Draco the tale of the Boy Who Lived. Death Eaters in particular were convinced that Harry survived Voldemort’s attack because he was a naturally powerful Dark wizard.
So imagine what went through Draco’s head upon meeting Harry for the first time– he expected a great Dark wizard who would want to be his friend, and got neither. Few 11-year-olds can handle that kind of multilevel disappointment, and the grudge remained for years.
6. Hedwig’s death marked the end of Harry’s childhood
When Hedwig was killed by accident in The Deathly Hallows, by a killing curse meant for Harry, it hit us right in the feels. We, like Harry, grew up with Hedwig and felt her presence was such an iconic Harry Potter symbol. Harry’s bond with the snowy owl was the first real friendship he ever had after living so long under the Dursley’s stairs and many fans thought her death was unnecessarily cruel.
In an interview with Melissa Anelli about the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling clarified that there was indeed some intention behind Hedwig’s sudden and tragic death.When asked why she felt that Hedwig’s death was necessary, Rowling replied: “The loss of Hedwig represented a loss of innocence and security. She has been almost like a cuddly toy to Harry at times. Voldemort killing her marked the end of childhood. I’m sorry… I know that death upset a LOT of people!”
5. Harry and Dudley still hang out… sort of
It really is hard to imagine Harry Potter and Dudley Dursley ever hanging out together in adulthood; going golfing, having barbecues, etc. even if they both changed quite a bit through the years. Apparently, according to J.K. Rowling herself, they indeed visited each other every once in a while.
In a 2007 interview, J.K. Rowling elaborated on Harry and Dudley’s interactions with each other as adults. “Harry and Dudley would still see each other enough to be on Christmas-card terms,” said Rowling on the subject of the two, “but they would visit more out of a sense of duty and sit in silence so that their children could see their cousins.”
It’s interesting to imagine Dudley and Harry sitting at a kitchen table in awkward silence while their young ones play pleasantly together. It’s indeed possible that Dudley post-Dementor attack raised his children to be better people than he himself was raised.
4. He ended up with the flying motorbike
Ah, the good ol’ sputtering, exhaust-heaving, flying motorbike. The enchanted vehicle made its first appearance under Hagrid’s ownership upon arriving at 4 Privet Drive in the first book of the series. The motorbike was actually owned first by Sirius Black (he and James Potter would use the bike as a getaway vehicle after committing mischief in their youth) but was lent to Hagrid after Voldemort attacked the Potter family, with Sirius lamenting that he wouldn’t need it any longer.
Harry had several interactions with the bike, from being picked up post-attack as an infant and left in the care of the Dursleys to the Battle of the Seven Potters. After the machine was damaged during the latter, Mr. Weasley kept the bike hidden away in his backyard to try and fix it without Mrs. Weasley finding it out. Later, after the second war had ended, Mr. Weasley returned the fixed bike to Harry.
3. He got his own Chocolate Frog card
There is no way someone with Harry’s level of fame would not get a Chocolate Frog card, also known as a Famous Witches and Wizards card, somewhere down the line. Not only did Harry receive one, but so did Ron and Hermione as well. In a relevant interview around 2007, J.K. was asked if Harry and his friends had their histories marked on Chocolate Frog cards. “Definitely,” said Rowling, “And Ron will describe this as his finest hour.”
This isn’t the first time we see or hear of Harry’s inevitable card. If you played the official 2001 video game based on the film (an addicting as hell game for its era, without a doubt) you may have noticed some Easter eggs scattered throughout the game in the form of Famous Witches and Wizards Cards– one in particular is Harry Potter’s own card, which you receive at the end of the game after defeating Voldemort.
2. There’s a reason he couldn’t see thestrals
Fans were a bit confused after reading The Order of the Phoenix when Harry was able to see Thestrals for the first time. Even though he’d recently witnessed Cedric’s horrific death, he had also seen quite a bit of death before then– most notably when his parents were brutally murdered in front of his little green eyes as a baby. So why couldn’t he see them earlier in the series?
J.K. Rowling addressed this seemingly glaring plothole in an interview. “These are lucky Black Winged Horses,” said Rowling, “However, if Harry had seen them and it had not been explained then it would cheat the reader. So, to explain that to myself, I decided you had to have seen the death and allowed it to sink in a bit… slowly…these creatures became solid in front of you. So that’s how I’m going to sneak past that one.”
Watching someone die in front of you as a teenager is a horrifically traumatizing experience. It makes sense that Harry would still be dealing with the full gravity of Cedric’s death for a while before being able to see the magical creatures.
Harry couldn’t see Thestrals because he was too young to comprehend his parents’ death/didn’t deal with Cedric’s death for weeks.
1. The actor who played him had a substance abuse problem
This one might be a shocker to Harry Potter and Daniel Radcliffe fans, especially because Radcliffe grew up to be such a well-rounded and successful actor. However, in an interview, Radcliffe himself admitted to succumbing to a serious drinking problem during the filming of the later Harry Potter movies. “I was living in constant fear of who I’d meet, what I might have said to them, what I might have done with them, so I’d stay in my apartment for days and drink alone,” said Radcliffe, “I was a recluse at 20. It was pathetic — it wasn’t me. I’m a fun, polite person and it turned me into a rude bore.”
As if a drinking problem wasn’t bad enough, Radcliffe also admitted to being notoriously unhealthy and antisocial in his later teen years. Luckily, he recovered from his alcohol dependence in 2010 and even said that Gary Oldman was a major help in convincing him to recover, as someone who had battled alcohol addiction as well. Good going, Sirius Black!
Do you have any trivia about Harry Potter to contribute? Leave it in the comments!