Daniel Radcliffe’s parents, Alan Radcliffe and Marcia Gresham, have always been his biggest supporters
Daniel Radcliffe might be most famous for portraying a young orphaned wizard, but in real life, his parents, Alan Radcliffe and Marcia Gresham, have always been his biggest fans.
The Harry Potter star grew up in London as an only child and quickly developed an interest in show business. “I was 5. I turned to my mom and said, ‘Mom, I want to be an actor,’ ” he told Parade in 2012.
Initially, he explained, his parents weren’t thrilled with the idea, but eventually, they allowed him to audition. He made his on-screen debut at the age of 10 in BBC One’s two-part movie, David Copperfield. The following year, he landed the role that would change his life. As Harry Potter, Daniel became a global celebrity, practically overnight. He had millions of fans around the world, but Alan and Marcia remained his No. 1 supporters.
“I want to thank my mum and dad, who really do not like this kind of attention so will probably be getting embarrassed right now,” he said. “I have to thank them because you are the best parents. It was a crazy thing that we embarked on as a family 16 years ago but we made it and I made it thanks to you.”
Here’s everything to know about Daniel Radcliffe’s parents, Alan Radcliffe and Marcia Gresham.
They were both child actors
The acting bug appears to run in the family as both Alan and Marcia acted as children.
“Both of my parents have been actors,” Daniel said on NPR’s Fresh Air in 2013, adding, “There were a lot of show tunes on in the car all the time. I grew up with that.”
However, they didn’t have the greatest experience in the industry and didn’t stick with it, Daniel explained to NPR.
Instead, his dad went on to become a literary agent while his mom worked as a casting director. As for Daniel’s interest, his parents initially tried to discourage him from following in their footsteps.
They didn’t want him to take the role of Harry Potter initially
It’s hard to picture anyone else in the role of Harry Potter, but that’s what almost happened. During HBO’s Harry Potter reunion special, director Chris Columbus explained that Daniel’s parents weren’t thrilled with the idea. Thinking it would be a “huge disruption to his life,” they even turned down the opportunity to let him audition at first until producer David Heyman convinced them.
Speaking to NPR in 2013, Daniel explained that his parents didn’t want him to audition because filming was initially set to take place in the U.S. and they felt it would be too disruptive for him. However, a few months later, the filming location was changed to the U.K.
“I think [with that], coupled with the fact that I was really not having a great time at school, they thought, ‘Maybe we should let him audition.’ And then everything went from there.”
They are incredibly supportive of his career
Even though they didn’t want him to take on such a massive role at first, Alan and Marcia have been supportive of Daniel and his career.
In an interview with GQ in 2022, the actor explained that his parents always made sure to check in with him about doing Harry Potter.
“My mom and dad were really good at asking me every year, ‘Are you still enjoying it?’ Do you still want to do this?’ ” he said.
Along with prioritizing his feelings, his parents actively helped him become successful. Alan, a former literary agent, ended up quitting his job in order to stay with his son on set, producer David Heyman told The Guardian in 2009.
“Initially he was looking after Dan on a daily basis, running through his lines, talking about the part. As Dan grew up, he was given space to be his own person,” Heyman explained to the outlet. “Dan's parents also implemented a strict regime from the outset: they ensure he has juice in the morning, all the vitamins he needs and enough sleep.”
Their dedication hasn’t gone unnoticed, either, and during an interview with Entertainment Tonight in 2022, Daniel praised them for being so encouraging.
“My parents were incredible. They were really supportive,” he said, noting that he feels “lucky” to have them. “They walked the balance of not being pushy but always supportive. In a way that's not often credited to the parents of child actors.”
They founded a company for him
Right from the start, Alan and Marcia worked to protect their son, and his assets. In 2000, they founded a theater company, Gilmore Jacobs Ltd, in order to help Daniel invest and manage the money he was earning from the franchise.
Speaking to The Telegraph in 2016, he praised his parents for helping him navigate his early career. “They are incredibly down-to-earth, grounded people,” he said.
Continuing, he explained how both of his parents worked to help him find success. “Dad is in charge of the development of scripts, finding scripts and reading stuff for me, and we do that together,” he shared. He went on to credit Marcia for the way she handled his finances.
“Mum is amazing at all that stuff,” he said. “Left to my own devices, I wouldn’t be doing anything sensible like investing it. I just wouldn’t have got that together.”
They’re very into fitness
In 2022, Daniel took on the starring role in Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. To portray the Grammy award-winning musician, the actor grew a mustache, learned to play the accordion and prepared for his many shirtless scenes.
Although many viewers initially assumed he got into shape specifically for the film, he set the record straight during an interview with GQ published in October 2022. “It wasn’t a decision so much as they found it funny that that’s how I looked,” he said, explaining that his muscular physique in the movie comes from a genuine interest in working out.
What’s more, his obsession with staying fit comes from his folks. “My parents do CrossFit. They're in their sixties and they're insanely fit people, so I’ve just got them to keep up with,” he told Entertainment Tonight a month prior. “They’re just setting a crazy bar,” he said, adding that he doesn’t do CrossFit with them. “[It’s] their thing. I’m not fit enough, probably, for CrossFit. They are phenoms.”
Their relationship is an inspiration for him
Daniel, who’s been in a long-term relationship with actress Erin Darke since 2012, considers himself a romantic thanks to his parents.
“I love coming home to somebody. I love being in a relationship,” he told The Telegraph that same year. “I've watched my parents, who've been together for almost 30 years and are still ridiculously happy and completely in love, and I look at that and think, that's what I want.”
In 2014, he elaborated even more about their relationship, telling Elle that his parents have “an incredibly equal marriage.”
Speaking to The Toronto Star the same year, he described them as “best friends” saying that’s why their marriage works so well.
“I think the best relationships are when you’re going out with your best friend,” he said. “My mom and dad are best friends and they were friends before they got married … and then they’ve been married for 30 years and they are best friends and that’s why it works.”
They’ve set the bar for him as a parent
“It's a crazy thing, but it's also really beautiful,” he said of being a father to E! News in July last year. He went on to say that he plans to become “more selective” about his roles going forward so that he doesn’t have to be away from home as much. “I really enjoy spending time with him and I'd like to continue doing that.”
As for what type of dad he’ll be, there’s a good chance he’ll take after his own parents. In the same way Alan and Marcia had concerns about their son entering into the world of showbusiness, Daniel has previously shared that he wouldn’t want his kids to become famous, and would rather they showed an interest in behind-the-scenes roles on a movie set.
Of course, Alan and Marcia eventually allowed him to pursue his acting dreams, but they also set high parenting standards for him.
“From my point of view, I feel like my parents set a ridiculously high bar for me when I become a parent,” he told Fox News in 2017. “I just look back and go, ‘Man, they really made things easy for me and comprehensible and not scary.’ I don’t think they were ever thinking, ‘We have to do this.’ I think my mom and dad were just parenting very instinctively.”
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