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Muhammad Ali and Harry Potter on Autographs

There’s a documentary out called The Trials of Muhammad Ali. It wasn’t all that interesting, but as a movie critic, I have to see all the movies. If you’re a fan of Ali, I’d suggest the documentary When We Were Kings.

There was an autograph story that was told in The Trials of Muhammad Ali that I thought I’d share because it was so funny.

When Ali was still Cassius Clay, and was rising through the ranks of the heavyweight division, he showed up at a school to speak. He told the class, “I will be the next heavyweight champion of the world! So, you better get your autographs now!”

He spoke to the students, and walked around signing autographs. He handed one to a 10-year-old girl who ripped it up and handed it back to him. She said, “That isn’t your name, it’s the name the white man wants you to have.”

Ali stood there with his mouth open, and a ripped up autograph in his hand.

That girl would later become Ali’s second wife.

In the New York Times Magazine, there was a great interview with Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe. Since the reporter followed him around to various locations, there were a few autograph stories.

At one point while he was on a boat in Venice, he was taking in all the views – and could see fans waving at him from all around. He ended up in Lido, a small resort island that was hosting the Venice Film Festival. Radcliffe went to a department store that had huge banners, supporting his indie film Kill Your Darlings. A young crowd of mostly girls were lined up outside since the night before for the autograph-signing.

Radcliffe is playing the gay poet Allen Ginsberg in that movie, and he hoped that perhaps the Harry Potter fans might decide to give that movie a chance.

The reporter noticed how focused Radcliffe seemed on meeting the fans. He said, “I’m more nervous about the anticipation of them feeling bad. When you’ve got thousands of people who’ve gotten up at 4 in the morning and think they’re going to get something and they won’t…”

That was said since he was only going to sign autographs for an hour. There were close to 2,000 fans packing the streets. It makes you realize why it is he always travels with a bodyguard.

Radcliffe tells a story about the filming of Kill Your Darlings, and how when he had to use a bathroom and went around the corner…girls were yelling, blowing kisses, and pounding so hard on the walls that the building was vibrating. It ended up in a stampede, perhaps like those clips you see of The Beatles rushing to their cars.

When talking about meeting fans, the reporter noticed he seemed to obsess about it. Radcliffe gave an explanation that was rather intelligent for such a young actor to have. He said, “I meet hundreds of people, and I’m not going to remember them. But every single one of them will remember their interaction with me.”

They needed 12 security guards to help with the line once he started signing autographs. One woman asked if she could get a hug. He replied, “No, but it’s lovely meeting you.”

When one woman was shaking with emotion, he asked if she was okay. He later told the reporter, “It only makes it worse if you’re nice.”

Another thing I found fascinating is that he signed one autograph on a piece of paper and quickly threw it away, saying “That one’s no good.”

Radcliffe signed 500 autographs in an hour and apologized to the line of people that wouldn’t get to meet him.

When he got into a black car waiting for him, he was barely settled into the seat when the driver turned around and said, “I’m so sorry, sir. Can I ask you to sign for my sons?”

Radcliffe didn’t hesitate as he said, “Oh yes, of course!”

The driver handed him a napkin and pen.

Views: 294

Tags: Allen Ginsberg, Cassius Clay, Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Potter, Kill Your Darlings, Muhammad Ali, The Beatles

Comment by Chad B on October 21, 2013 at 8:40am

Great stories. Radcliffe seems like a caring chap and Ali was a great signer for years.

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