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Not My Job: Daniel Radcliffe Gets Quizzed On Chia Pets

BILL KURTIS, BYLINE: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT ...DON'T TELL ME, the NPR News quiz. I'm American ninja warrior Bill Kurtis.


KURTIS: And here is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in Chicago, Peters Sagal.


Thank you, Bill.


SAGAL: Thank you so much. Thank you, everybody. Now, we here at NPR have a dirty little secret. And that is, our audience is old.


KURTIS: I would say - I would say delightfully mature.


SAGAL: At any rate, it is a problem because our listeners, well, eventually they disappear.

KURTIS: They go to live on grandma's farm out in the country.


SAGAL: So the problem is we have to recruit the young. That's what we're going to do today. All of our interviews today are intended to appeal to young people.

KURTIS: We start with Daniel Radcliffe. The young actor joined us in 2014.


DANIEL RADCLIFFE: Thank you very much.


SAGAL: Not to beat around the bush any further. Dan, you of course starred as Harry Potter in all the movies and...


SAGAL: ...We watched so many of them with my children, it felt like you were also a member of the family.


SAGAL: Albeit a more obedient and cheerful one.

LUKE BURBANK: And magical.

SAGAL: And magical, so - but I sat down this week and I watched your new movie "Horns." And I didn't have a timer, but it seemed in the first 5 minutes, you smoked, drank, swore like a sailor. I believe you urinated on a religious shrine and generally…


SAGAL: …Behaved very badly. And I want to ask you, how good did that feel?


RADCLIFFE: It was pretty great. I mean, not necessarily urinating on a religious shrine.

SAGAL: No, of course, not.

RADCLIFFE: That's not something that I've, like, longed to do for ages. But it's nice to play a part that is so different. And I get like - he's kind of a badass in himself.

SAGAL: You do in fact grow horns...


SAGAL: ...Which is a look.


SAGAL: I'm sure a lot of the people out there who always thought Harry Potter was satanic are going, a-ha, I told you.

RADCLIFFE: Yeah, I know. But I sort of enjoy annoying those people. I mean, we...


SAGAL: I - there are so many things to ask you about as the star of the most profitable and probably most widely seen film series of all time. But let's just start with the action figures and toys. If I were to go to your house, would I see any "Harry Potter" memorabilia, any little Daniel Radcliffes and your friends?

RADCLIFFE: No. You'd see - what have I got? You know, what you're more likely to find is, like, sort of homemade "Harry Potter" dolls that I get sort of given - not by me. I hated dolls.


SAGAL: That would be hilarious if you sat around all day...

RADCLIFFE: Yeah, that's what I've been spending my time with…


RADCLIFFE: …Between filming, I just make dolls. There's a few of those, but not too many action figures.

SAGAL: I did want to ask you - I mean, again, a lot of questions. But as I explained earlier, my daughters grew up with you, as so many people did. And it must be odd - I mean, it's one thing to be well known as an actor, which obviously you are. It's another thing to be a part of so many people's childhood. Does that ever get, like, oppressive or strange?

RADCLIFFE: No, not really. I mean, it's actually rather lovely. I'm very lucky to be associated with something that, for the most part, is really well loved. I mean, some people are famous for being part of stuff that people hate. I remember I was standing behind, like, a British reality TV star a few years ago at a concert, and, like, the gyp he was getting from the crowd around him was incredible. I always just remember thinking Jesus, I'm lucky everyone really likes the thing I got famous for. You know, and it's still incredibly lovely to have people come up to you and say, you know, you're a huge part of my childhood because I had a great time, too. That's the thing, like, if I'd had a horrible time, I'm sure I wouldn't want to be reminded of it.

SAGAL: Right.

RADCLIFFE: But because I had a really good time, it's always really nice.

SAGAL: It did seem like a lot of fun. And I've heard stories over the years about you being on the set of the "Harry Potter" films. I remember hearing a story once that the original Dumbledore, Richard Harris, couldn't quite remember his lines. And that you said that you actually went in there and asked him to help you run his - run yours, rather - so that…


SAGAL: …He could practice his without you asking him.

RADCLIFFE: Yeah. I was an incredibly politic little child, it turns out.


RADCLIFFE: Yeah. I remember - I do remember that. I also - one of my other, like, amazing memories of Richard - in the second film, that faux phoenix is there. And it was animatronically operated from guys who were outside the set. And they had a camera, like, in the head of the phoenix so they could, like, see what people were doing right in front of it so they could interact with it. And Richard 100 percent thought it was real. And…


SAGAL: So wait a minute - so this is the magical golden phoenix that Dumbledore has as a pet. And he actually thought that they had found a phoenix of some kind?


RADCLIFFE: He was, like, going up to it - and because as soon as he started, like, interacting with it and the guys outside, like, realized this was happening, they started, like, pandering to it and playing with him more and more. And it was – it was just – it was lovely. It was really, like - it was really - it's just one of those great moments. But no, he was a lovely, lovely man.

SAGAL: One thing I've always wondered - again, I've seen all of those films many, many times with my family - they made the first film, I guess, going back - they cast it back in, like, 2000, I guess it was or maybe even earlier. And they cast you and the other, then, children in the lead roles and many of the supporting roles. And pretty much all of you made it to the final film.


SAGAL: And you all did a wonderful job. But none of you went nuts, flamed out, started behaving badly in public places. As far as I know, none of you were seen getting out of a limousine without underwear during the entire filming. How was - I mean, just probability would indicate that that's extremely unlikely.

RADCLIFFE: Well, I mean, you think that, but there are also loads of kind of successful cases of people who start young becoming - you know, like Elijah Wood and Tobey Maguire and Jodie Foster and, you know, I mean, I can't think of more. But there are...

SAGAL: That's it. That's it. It's you guys - those four. Everybody else is, like...

RADCLIFFE: But I think for all of us, I mean - I can only speak for myself, but, like, there was never a moment when I didn't want to be there. And I'm just lucky that I really, really liked my job.

SAGAL: Apparently. We have to ask about this because you blew up the Internet with your rendition of "Alphabet Aerobics," the rap thing by Blackalicious.



SAGAL: You did it on "The Tonight Show" this week.


SAGAL: And people were amazed. Is this like - I mean, are you going to do, like, the Bruce Willis thing and go from acting into music now?

RADCLIFFE: Did Bruce Willis do that?

SAGAL: Oh, you are young.


SAGAL: He did. He tried - I think it was called like "The Return Of Bruno," I think his album was called.

RADCLIFFE: Wow, that's a great album name.

SAGAL: Yes, isn't it though?

RADCLIFFE: I'm going to get that immediately.

SAGAL: Oh, I think you should.


BURBANK: I think the website's available.

RADCLIFFE: But no, I can officially, like, shut down any idea that I'm - this is not me sort of auditioning for my changing career.


RADCLIFFE: This was just a weird thing that I can do.

SAGAL: I'm telling you. This could work out for you if this acting thing in the end… Well, Daniel Radcliffe, what a pleasure to talk to you in person. But we have invited you here today to play a game we're calling...

KURTIS: Sure, You're Harry Potter, But What Do You Know About Hairy Pottery?

RADCLIFFE: Oh, dear.

SAGAL: Hairy pottery - in other words, Chia Pets.


SAGAL: Those strange little planters that grow Chia leaves, looking amazingly like hair. We're going to ask you three questions about Chia Pets. And if you get two right, you'll win a prize for one of our listeners - Carl Kasell's voice on their voicemail. Bill, who is Daniel Radcliffe playing for?

KURTIS: Abhijeet Lakhia of Panjim, India.

SAGAL: That's interesting. It'll be far enough away so that if you screw this up, you probably won't run into her.


RADCLIFFE: Well, that's good, yeah.

SAGAL: Here we go. Here's your first question. Now you know what these Chia Pets are. These are these little terracotta colored pottery that you get and you sort of smear...

RADCLIFFE: Sure, with the green things sprouting out.

SAGAL: Exactly. That's all you need to know.

BURBANK: It's like a Bruce Willis with more hair.

SAGAL: It is very much like that. All right, so that's all you need to know as we proceed to the first question. Chia Pets come in many shapes and models, including special holiday editions. You could, if you wanted, buy which of these - A, a Chia Zombie for Halloween; B, at Chia John Hancock for the Fourth of July; or C, a Chia Dead Firstborn Son for Passover?


RADCLIFFE: (Laughter) Oh, I mean, they'd all be good.

SAGAL: Wouldn't they?

RADCLIFFE: I mean, I'm going to have - I'm going to go with A 'cause that seems the most likely.


SAGAL: The Chia Zombie. The audience agrees, and you are right.


SAGAL: It is, in fact.


SAGAL: What it is, it's like a little zombie arm emerging from a Chia lawn. You can pick that up for your – for your shelf.

RADCLIFFE: That's pretty nice.

SAGAL: It is nice.

RADCLIFFE: I'm going to go and find some Chia Pets after this.

SAGAL: Probably. So we're making a shopping list – Chia Pets…

RADCLIFFE: I'm going to have an evening of Bruce Willis music and Chia Pets.

SAGAL: There you are.


SAGAL: And that's the life we always imagined you living, I have to say.


SAGAL: All right, you have two more chances, let's go. Sometimes Chia fans create their own Chia Pets to honor certain people they may admire, including which of these? A, Liberace; B, billionaire investor Warren Buffett or C, Saddam Hussein?

RADCLIFFE: I - this is tricky. But - I'm sorry, I don't know how that noise sounded by the way. I will go – I like the idea of a Warren Buffet Chia Pet. Please tell me that's true.

SAGAL: I can't do that, Daniel. As much as I admire you, it's Saddam Hussein. The Saddam Hussein Chia was allegedly marketed under the name Chia Thug. When the plants grew in, it looked like Saddam Hussein's hair and beard. Nobody has been able to find one outside of a photograph of the box, so it may not be real. But we can hope so.

All right. Daniel, this is exciting. You have one more chance to get this right and win our prize for our listener. Joseph Enterprises is the company that makes Chia Pets, always has. It's also responsible for other As Seen On TV products you can purchase for your home, including which of these? A, Mandles - which are candles for men. They come in scents like fresh fish, kegger, and auto shop…


SAGAL: …Or B, the Literal Insanity Workout DVDs - an exercise series led by the inmates at the Danvers State Hospital; or C, the Shamu-Wow, a super absorbent towel to clean your marine mammals?

RADCLIFFE: One of them is real?

SAGAL: Yes. Mandles...


RADCLIFFE: OK, I'm going to go with - I'm going to go with the candles one, the ridiculous candles one.

SAGAL: You're going to go with Mandles?


SAGAL: You're right, Daniel.


SAGAL: Very good. You can buy Mandles. Some other flavors or scents that Mandles come in - swimsuit model - what does that smell like? Space cake and stripper's mouth - that's minty fresh breath because…


SAGAL: …As I'm sure you know, strippers are minty fresh breath. Bill Kurtis, how did Daniel Radcliffe do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Enough to win, 2 out of 3.


SAGAL: That's great. Nobody expected anything less from you, Daniel.


SAGAL: Daniel Radcliffe is a star of stage and screen. Daniel Radcliffe, thank you so much for joining us…

RADCLIFFE: Thank you very much.

SAGAL: …On WAIT WAIT ...DON'T TELL ME. What a pleasure to talk to you.

RADCLIFFE: Thank you again very much, bye.


SAGAL: Coming up, two people who were the hottest teen stars just a few mere decades ago, Rob Lowe and Brooke Shields. We'll be back with more of WAIT WAIT …DON'T TELL ME from NPR.

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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