Regarding Harry: One Reporter’s Hellish Life as a Young Wizard Lookalike

hpott Regarding Harry: One Reporter’s Hellish Life as a Young Wizard Lookalike

The author (R) and Harry Potter.

Everyone tells me I look like Harry Potter. From young children to middle-aged women, they shout, “Harry Potter!” at me on the street. When I do not respond they say, “Harry! Hey, Harry!” They’ve done it for 10 years. The woman who works the cash register at the Chipotle around the corner from The Observer offices says, “Has anyone ever told you you look like Harry Potter?” She says it every time. I’ve taken to saying, “No, you’re the first one.” When a stranger smiles at me, it is typically followed by, “Did you know you look like Harry Potter?”

Yes, stranger. I know. I know, and I despise you.

I’ve never read any Harry Potter books. I’ve never seen the movies. I have no interest. I look like Harry Potter. This is my curse.

The final installment of the film series came out last Friday, and the week has been long and filled with drudgery. I have deliberately not shaved in the hope that people will leave me alone. Yesterday I walked past a group of school children on a field trip. I nearly walked in front of a taxi in my attempt to escape.

The first time someone told me I looked like Harry Potter was shortly after the first book came out, in 1999. They were judging it by its cover. I was walking to class in an otherwise empty hallway. I was late. There was another person in the hallway. We passed each other, and he did a double take. We both continued in opposite directions. He circled back around and stood in front of me. He blocked my path and stared at me with squinted eyes. He said, “You look like Harry Potter.” This did not make me so mad at the time. I did not then know that it was the beginning of a decade-long ordeal. I said, “I haven’t read it,” and went on with my life.

But I didn’t go on with my life. People still say I look like Harry Potter. No one ever says anything different. I would entertain an original comment on the matter. For instance: “Hey, Harry, get back under the stairs!” But it is always the same: obvious and inarticulate.

Looking like Harry Potter means people discard every convention of social interaction to inform you that you look like Harry Potter. Overweight bald men are the worst. They seem to think they have an original idea when they say, “Hey, it’s Harry Potter.” They tell their overweight bald companions of their discovery and then they all yell, “Hey, Harry!” They do not stop until I acknowledge that I am not Harry Potter. I just look like him. One time, in a bar in Philadelphia, an overweight bald man announced to the room, “Everybody, look! It’s Harry Potter! He looks like Harry Potter!” I said to him, “You look like a fat asshole.” It came to blows. I removed my glasses first. (Presumably, I looked less like Harry Potter as a result.)

People seem to really like Harry Potter. If I looked like Lisbeth Salander, I don’t believe they would say anything.

A few years ago, I went to a Borders in Detroit on the eve of the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I wore a cape and drew a scar on my forehead and defeated a group of children in a Harry Potter lookalike contest. The prize was $20 or a copy of the book. I took the cash. I did it because I knew I would win.

I have never been able to wear scarves or striped ties.

Daniel Radcliffe will be 22 soon. I am not much older than he is, and he seems like a nice guy. Once, for no reason, I defended his acting skills. I was empathizing with Mr. Radcliffe’s inability to escape the Potter scourge. Someone said to me, “He can’t be in Equus. No one wants to see Harry Potter’s wang.” This person really said wang. I said, “He’s not actually Harry Potter. He’s an actor, capable of playing any number of roles.” The person responded, “You probably just want to see his wang.” As far as I know, no one has ever desired to see my wang as a direct result of my looking like Harry Potter.

I am sure many people everyday shout “Harry Potter!” at Mr. Radcliffe. The difference between us is that he has made millions of dollars for looking like Harry Potter. I just get harassed.

My glasses have changed in the last 10 years. They have been round and wiry, and big and plastic and square. No matter. People are not that discerning. I still look like Harry Potter to them.

Now that there will be no more new books or films, I wonder if this will stop. I wonder if thin young men with brown hair and glasses will once again be safe from the chorus of strangers announcing their resemblance to Harry Potter.

Somehow I doubt it. A man in an expensive suit was walking down the street the other day, with his friend who was also wearing an expensive suit. They were talking to one another intensely until one of them said, “Hey, Harry!” Their conversation ceased. They rounded on me. The friend joined in.

They said: “Harry! Hey, Harry!”

mmiller@observer.com

Comments

  1. Lady Old Soul says:

    Damn, and I thought growing up with Presley as a surname was bad…people are SO STUPID!!!

  2. Spacejohn77 says:

    Maybe you could think about wearing contacts?

  3. gringots says:

    just start telling people you are the chosen one and that you have a 13-inch wand.

  4. Justsayin says:

    a different pair of glasses or some contacts would go a long way, dude.

  5. kneenar says:

    If I saw you on the street, I’d try my best to get in your pants.

  6. Johnqpublic says:

    wearing contacts would probably keep you from being harassed if it’s that much of an issue

  7. Lauren says:

    I worked as a cashier at a big box home improvement store for many years.  There was a regular customer, a middle aged man, whose actual name was Harry Potter.  It was printed on his credit card.  I think he always liked coming through my line because I purposely didn’t say “Hey!  Look!  It’s Harry Potter!  How cool!  Do you read the books?”  I checked his ID the first time to verify who he was (as was company policy when using a credit card) then never asked for it again when he would come through.  Unfortunately, people seem to think they’ve discovered something no one else has ever seen when they come across things like that and feel they must point it out to everyone.  Leave it alone, people!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Wear contacts, get a different haircut. It’s not that hard.

    1. that guy says:

      To quote Office Space, “Why should I change?  He’s the one that sucks”.

      1. TylerHendrix says:

        Change isn’t necessary, it’s just that you can’t complain if you are willing to have the same hair and similar glasses. Choose one or the other.

      2. flutiefan says:

        he said he’s tried different looks, and he still
        gets the comments. nice try.

      3. paris says:

        Look, if you try hard enough, you’ll look different. Dye your hair. NOBODY would think he looks like HP if he died his hair blonde. Wear contacts, cut your hair short, and dye it. I guarantee no one is going to call him HP off the facial resemblance, because other than the chin he pretty much looks like nothing like Daniel Radcliffe. If you have the attitude “I shouldn’t have to change.” Well, sorry, buddy. You’re up against a billion dollar industry, and next to it you look painfully insignificant. You’re not the first person to have their life turned around by some movie or phenomenon (I actually have empathy for the girl who got attacked because she looked like Casey Anthony, not to some guy who wants to look like a hipster and can’t anymore), and sometimes you’ve got to swallow your pride, realize that it’s bigger than you, and IT isn’t going to change so you have to. 

      4. paris says:

        *dyed

      5. Ms Cellophane says:

        That’s not a look change, though, that’s a disguise, and a high-maintenance one at that… obviously there are possibilities if all he wants is to not look like Harry.  He could grow out his beard, change his glasses, and be John Lennon!  Or bleach and flat iron his hair to be Andy Warhol!  Nobody would call him Harry then… so if he doesn’t do this, either, does he not have the right to complain?

      6. Suzq says:

        Personally, I don’t think he looks that much like Harry Potter.  I certainly wouldn’t have found it a striking enough resemblance to comment on it.  Either way, I envy Mr. Miller if this is all he has to whine about. 

      7. Officer Obvious says:

        Fail comment,  read before you post please

      8. Perfect response, A+++.

      9. Perfect response, A+++.

    2. Something_Clever says:

      My first thought was, “Shave your head.”  I’m sure this is difficult, all the drawbacks of celebrity, without the benefits, but there are ways around it.

    3. I paid
      $32.67 for a XBOX 360 and my mom got a 17 inch Toshiba laptop for $94.83 being
      delivered to our house tomorrow by FedEX. I will never again pay expensive
      retail prices at stores. I even sold a 46 inch HDTV to my boss for $650 and it
      only cost me $52.78 to get. Here is the website we using to get all this stuff,
      MetaCent .com

  9. TylerHendrix says:

    Perhaps get a haircut, purposely gain weight, wear contacts, dye your hair… It’s not really that hard of a problem to solve.

  10. Lmes says:

    White people problems!

    1. Anonymous says:

      Being told you look like someone famous is a white people problem?

      The meme. You’re using it wrong.

  11. “Thin” isn’t a requirement, even though you tossed it in there.. bragging or something? Dunno. But I’m far from thin and people have been calling me Harry Potter since seventh grade.

  12. Brittany Marie says:

    How have girls not hit on you, even if harry potter never existed I would still think you’re hot.   

  13. Huckfin says:

    Get contacts, get a haircut, grow some facial hair and stop being a pussy. Oh wait, you like the attention!

  14. Becca says:

    Michael Bolton from Office Space, anyone? “Why should I change my name? He’s the one who SUCKS!”

  15. Becca says:

    Michael Bolton from Office Space, anyone? “Why should I change my name? He’s the one who SUCKS!”

  16. Nora says:

    For all the people telling him to change his appearance: he shouldn’t have to. He should be able to express himself through his personal appearance however he wants, not based on the jibes and sneers of other people.

    1. Adelais says:

      Maybe so but if that’s the case then he just needs to come to grips with the fact that he has styled himself to look like Harry Potter.  He can’t possibly say that he had no idea what Harry Potter looked like when he chose his look.  Especially when people have been saying he looks like the character for 12 years!  He likes the attention, don’t buy into his whining.

  17. Smlivingstone says:

    People tell me all the time that I look like a much older version of my much younger self. Somehow I cope.

  18. Smlivingstone says:

    People tell me all the time that I look like a much older version of my much younger self. Somehow I cope.

  19. Hattymcd says:

    If I was you, I would use this as a way to make money off of the character… Despise them all the way to the bank.

  20. Mike Wood says:

    Here’s
    a thought – lose the glasses and stop complaining about your “curse.”
    We all know you are using the likeness to help your career

  21. Carissa says:

    And now you get more repetitive comments that seem to already be so prevalent in your life (and as the comment I will repeat is true, I will say it): Just start wearing contacts. That is a simple solution (one of which I’m sure everyone tells you and a thought that has to have crossed your mind). So, now the question stands, why haven’t you done it?

  22. Mike says:

    WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

  23. Katie says:

    maybe you could not encourage the similarity by wearing similar glasses & styling your hair like him. the similarity isn’t really that striking, it’s your styling. :P

  24. Guest says:

    Don’t you wine, people tell me I look like Neville

  25. Ramón Ramos says:

    Hey it’s Harry Potter!

  26. Katie says:

    deleting comments? wtf. lame.

  27. girl says:

    dye your hair…makes a big difference.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Funny…based on that picture you look like Michael Miller to me.

  29. guest says:

    This article reads like it was written by an 8th grader.

  30. Tipsy Reader says:

    Dude, my name is Senator, yes SENATOR and has been for all 24 years of my life. I get the jokes and double takes. Man up and embrace it. Just sayin. 

  31. jessica says:

    What evs. You can tell he likes it. Im w/ Lmes… white people probs

  32. Guest says:

    Stop bitching, bitch.

  33. srsly? says:

    … i dont see it.

  34. Algor says:

    If you can’t beat it, embrace it.

  35. kim i says:

    methinks thou dost protest too much.  or … wear contacts.

  36. SmileMoreOften says:

    Hellish life? Shut the fuck up. What a bitter human. You’re a self-absorbed piece of shit. There are people with problems infinitely worse than what you ‘go through’. Stop being so angry you fuck.

  37. Slartibartfatsdomino says:

    You don’t really look that much like Harry Potter (or Daniel Radcliffe, really). 

  38. Nnero0 says:

    Mheh, either get a haircut or stop complaining, you’re bringing it upon yourself, you know?

  39. Mim Brady says:

    But he doesn’t look Daniel Radcliffe. 

  40. Fred says:

    He looks just like him!
    Except for the eyes. He has his mother’s eyes.

  41. Anon says:

    Dude, I don’t know if anyone’s ever told you, but you look like Harry Potter…

  42. emmiline says:

    oh, wah. there are worse things in the world. 

  43. Manny says:

    Boy, do I sympathize with you. Daniel and I are the same age and for a good amount of time we were IDENTICAL. At first it’s cute and novel, but around the third movie or so I got really tired of having people scream out “hey harry!” or having French people curse at me b/c I wasn’t him (true story). I especially agree with the part about appreciating the occasional inventive jeer; one time some guy screamed out “Hey Harry, let’s see your wand!” I couldn’t help but laugh. I don’t get it as much anymore, but now when I do just sort of metaphorically shrug and let it slide. 

  44. justaguest says:

    Boo hoo. I don’t see what the big deal is. Sure you look like a character that a lot of people love. Stop being so cynical and depressed about it and maybe do something positive with it. 

  45. Launchpad McQuack says:

    You could just read the books and see the movies like every one else on earth who enjoys things that are good. Then, once you are awash in potterlore, you might see this as the compliment and gift which it is. If only we could all have such a near connection to the wizarding world. 

  46. Dyss says:

    Well, the Harry Potter thing is kinda going too far. I wear a pair of round glasses, and people have started calling me Harry, even though I’m clearly female. :P

  47. Guest says:

    Go to a Harry Potter meetup and get laid.

  48. Jared Lazaro says:

    For this guy, it’s like the movie ‘Groundhog Day’… Only everyone is an unoriginal a-hole. And cos-play is the only way you can get laid.
    I doesn’t matter if this is a ‘first-world problem’… Have it happen to YOU everyday for 10 years… some of you would climb a clock tower by year 3, TOPS. It gets better, buddy. (…at least until the 10-year anniversary box-set comes out.)Cheers and Aloha. (…from a guy who regularly gets mistaken for Aladdin, Mowgli, and ‘The Karate Kid’)

  49. mashf says:

    Get over it. Boo Hoo. Cut your hair and get different frames if its SOOO terrible to look like a famous character. jesus you big baby. 

  50. anon says:

    Truthfully I don’t see the resemblance especially now that Harry has grown older.

  51. Sporksoma says:

    Perhaps if you are concerned about looking like Harry Potter, with your haircut and glasses the way they are, you should have a different haircut and glasses.  Cut your hair shorter, wear it longer.  Wear a beard.  Try contacts, or a different shape or color of glasses (brown, for example – square, brown glasses). 

    Be happy that they’re not yelling out, “Hey, Voldemort!  You know you look like Voldemort?”  Everyone loves Harry Potter.

  52. Jamie Peck says:

    I’m shocked Michael has not yet run into any of the many, many Harry Potter fetishists there are out there. Bet he’s gonna get a lot of interesting emails now, though.

  53. Robot says:

    wah wah, I look like harry–and intentionally wear similar glasses. If you wanted to differentiate yourself you’d get a haircut and contact lenses. Who writes a poor, pitiful, me about how they look like someone famous. Btw, you don’t. 

  54. Fmalia says:

    Oh boo-freaking-hoo!

  55. sneak says:

    how is it so difficult getting contacts? 

  56. Admiral Awesome says:

    Dude you don’t look like Harry Potter at all…Harry Potter looks like you

  57. Bob Maple says:

    Huh. I think I care even less about Michael Miller’s plight than I do about Harry Potter.  Thank you for opening my eyes.

  58. LB says:

    Whether you look like Harry Potter, you’re a good-looking young man. That was my first impression of you. You’re also intelligent and funny, and hopefully people will come to see that, too.

  59. Guest says:

    for the record, i don’t think you look like harry potter…

  60. Bw Deadline says:

    Get a haircut. Grow a beard. Get over it.
     

  61. Sarah says:

    I get it; it’s frustrating.
    The bit you’re missing is that Harry Potter is a hero to so very many people, from 6 year old girls to those two expensively suited men. You should not only take it as a very wonky compliment, but understand that, just for a minute, those people are in awe of you. You were probably the highlight of the day.
    Be happy that they’re not reacting to you because you are horribly disfigured.
    Not much of a silver lining guy, are you?

  62. Taylor says:

    Wah wah wah. First world white boy problems.

  63. Taylor says:

    Wah wah wah. First world white boy problems.

  64. Krystal says:

    Sorry, I don’t see much resemblance (you’re much more handsome at any rate, Radcliffe always looks a bit…underfed to me). Maybe people who are used to seeing Radcliffe’s face imprint it on yours when they see you just because you look vaguely similar? That sounds like the sort of stupid thing the human brain would do after watching too much TV. Shouting idiotic things at you shouldn’t really be someone’s first response to that though; possibly also a side-effect of watching too much TV. Hey, let’s blame stupid people and TV!

  65. Juliacm1 says:

    Wow, you totally look like Harry Potter. Seriously? get over it dude. You are only making YOURSELF miserable, maybe if you gave the story a chance, you would not be offended to be called someone else. Otherwise, get some higher self-esteem and self-identity so you won’t have to feel like every “hey you look like harry potter” is some personal attack on you. GET OVER YOURSELF.

  66. Juliacm1 says:

    Wow, you totally look like Harry Potter. Seriously? get over it dude. You are only making YOURSELF miserable, maybe if you gave the story a chance, you would not be offended to be called someone else. Otherwise, get some higher self-esteem and self-identity so you won’t have to feel like every “hey you look like harry potter” is some personal attack on you. GET OVER YOURSELF.

  67. People have real problems. This is like a sob story for something so incredibly insignificant and lame, it’s laughable. -.-

  68. Anonymous says:

    Dude, GTF over yourself and get some real problems.

  69. Alexis says:

    Just respond with “Yea! Want to see my wand?” and then slowly start unzipping your pants. IMO, you look just like another hipster douche, not really like Daniel Radcliffe or the character HP.

  70. yourprescription says:

    Looool, oh my goodness. Poooor babbbby.

  71. milk it, you idiot! milk it for all it’s worth!!! go on craigslist. i’m sure there are a gaggle of men and women who would love to sleep with harry potter…for the right price. boom! CASH COW.

  72. Anonymous says:

    Let me be the first to tell you, then: you also look a little like Emile Hirsch.

  73. just look less like harry potter, it’s that easy.  when i don’t want people to say anything to me about my tattoos, i wear a sweater.   how you appear to other people is entirely up to you, my man.  if you hate it, change it.

  74. Ickorus says:

    Hey Harry, you look the spitting image of this reporter called Michael H. Miller!

    Sorry about that, you have my sympathy.

  75. Thesolarsea says:

    Boo hoo

  76. Thesolarsea says:

    Boo hoo

  77. Thesolarsea says:

    Boo hoo

  78. Thesolarsea says:

    Boo hoo

  79. Pippit says:

    I actually thought of the main guy from a show called Black Books when I saw the picture above (if that’s any better) the constant harassment has gotta be a pain.
    I doubt your safe yet but you’ll hopefully deal with less annoying people as the years will go by without new potter material. Best of luck to ya

  80. Pippit says:

    I actually thought of the main guy from a show called Black Books when I saw the picture above (if that’s any better) the constant harassment has gotta be a pain.
    I doubt your safe yet but you’ll hopefully deal with less annoying people as the years will go by without new potter material. Best of luck to ya

  81. Pippit says:

    I actually thought of the main guy from a show called Black Books when I saw the picture above (if that’s any better) the constant harassment has gotta be a pain.
    I doubt your safe yet but you’ll hopefully deal with less annoying people as the years will go by without new potter material. Best of luck to ya

  82. Eric Westby says:

    Cute piece.

    And ironically enough, the lack of imagination — not to mention the bubbling rage — evident in 98% of the comments likewise makes me weep for humanity. What are these angry, unimaginative people doing reading The Observer, anyway?

  83. Tunaforbreakfast says:

    I’d want to see his wang. xD

  84. Vienna says:

    If it’s that bad, get a buzzcut and some contact lenses.  That should do it.

  85. Q the dancer says:

    I feel for you. I apparently look like Whoopie Goldberg.

  86. Dallan says:

    Well I can kind of relate to you Mr. Author. When my hair is somewhat long and I spike it up, I usually get that I look like Edward, or The Twighlight Guy. Now, I do not get harassed in any way; its just something people say to me (mostly female) while talking. But when I cut my hair short, it doesn’t happen as much. And judging from your picture you put in the article, your hair is very similar. Maybe use it to open up any sort of conversation with females next time? No need in complaining the whole time. You’re not going to dramatically change physical features all of a sudden. Just smile, say “Yeah I get that quite a bit”. Then move on to some other subject. No need to get hostile.

  87. Dallan says:

    Well I can kind of relate to you Mr. Author. When my hair is somewhat long and I spike it up, I usually get that I look like Edward, or The Twighlight Guy. Now, I do not get harassed in any way; its just something people say to me (mostly female) while talking. But when I cut my hair short, it doesn’t happen as much. And judging from your picture you put in the article, your hair is very similar. Maybe use it to open up any sort of conversation with females next time? No need in complaining the whole time. You’re not going to dramatically change physical features all of a sudden. Just smile, say “Yeah I get that quite a bit”. Then move on to some other subject. No need to get hostile.

  88. CrassTs says:

    So basically you aren’t smart enough to change your glasses and hair style in order not to be miserable.  Why would somebody pay such a dullard to write for them?  You should strive to look like Lisbeth Salander.  She is less of a pu##y.

  89. Rodrigoovidal says:

    ok i got 2 choices for it. either you get eye contacts nd cut your hair, or you keep it going nd use it to your advantage, in other words imporsonate the charector nd make money out of it

  90. festusthedragon.tumblr.com says:

    “I think this man is disregarding his undeniable ability to get laid.Seriously, man, stop being a debbie downer and embrace your inner Harry. The fangirls will flock.”

  91. boo says:

    quit complaining. at least you look like someone people love, not like a mass murderer or unpopular politician or something.

    some people have real problems.

  92. Val says:

    As far as I know, no one has ever desired to see my wang as a direct result of my looking like Harry Potter.

    *guffaws*

  93. Julia says:

    Just saying…its kinda pathetic that you are complaining about this …i mean really looking like harry potter would be awesome and instead of complaining about it you could actually be doing something about it, and having fun with it.  Like really thats so awesome so dont complain and if you really did have a problem try hair die or colored contacts 

  94. Namiko333 says:

    How about embracing it? Harry was written as a nice guy, humble, kind, and although he had a much worse curse than you have, he dealt with it with selfless acceptance and bravery. You are negative and cynical and wanting to defeat children in a contest just because you can is mean! I know… you are Harry Potter’s evil twin, Harry Rotter! Get some frameless glasses, wash your hair, maybe cut it once in a while, you slob!

    1. Tunaforbreakfast says:

      You realize Harry Potter isn’t real right?

      1. Namiko333 says:

        Just because a character is not real doesn’t mean that people cannot try to emulate some of the traits that make him a popular character. This guy is obviously trying to emulate physical traits of a fictional character and then seeking attention through complaining.

  95. Imaxineap says:

    he doesn’t look a thing like harry potter. the only similarity between him and the picture that is not shared by hundreds of others is the expression, and that was done on purpose.