Born On This Day: Atheist Actors Daniel Radcliffe and Woody Harrelson…



From The Freethinker

On this date, July 23 in 1989, actor Daniel Jacob Radcliffe. above left, was born to a Protestant father and Jewish mother in London. Radcliffe was selected for the 1999 BBC television production of David Copperfield to play the young title character.

The film was well-received in Britain, and it helped land Radcliffe a small role in the 2001 Pierce Brosnan movie, The Tailor of Panama. During filming, there was a massive search in the UK to find someone to play Harry Potter in the film version of the J K Rowling creation. Jamie Lee Curtis, on the set of The Tailor of Panama, sized up Daniel Radcliffe and told his mother, “He could be Harry Potter.”

Indeed, Radcliffe became immortalized as the star of the eight-movie Potter series. Radcliffe also acted in December Boys (2007), My Boy Jack (2007), and had his first theatrical role in the critically acclaimed West End play, Equus (2007).

Answering a question about what God would say to him when he arrives at the “Pearly Gates”, he told James Lipton during a 2008 appearance on Inside The Actors Studio: “‘Bet you’re surprised to see me’ … because I’m not, as I said, religious.”

In an interview with Parade Magazine (January 8, 2012) he said: “I don’t [believe in God]. I have a problem with religion or anything else that says, ‘We have all the answers’, because there’s no such thing as ‘the answers’. We’re complex. We change our minds on issues all the time. Religion leaves no room for human complexity.”


Woodrick Tracy “Woody” Harrelson was born on this day in 1961 in Midland, Texas. Harrelson grew up in Lebanon, Ohio, and graduated from Hanover College with a degree in theater arts and English in 1983.

Harrelson’s television acting career began in 1985, when he was cast as bartender Woody Boyd on Cheers. After the series ended in 1991, Harrelson focused on his film career, notably appearing in Indecent Proposal (1993), Natural Born Killers (1994), and The People vs. Larry Flint (1996), for which Harrelson was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Actor.

More recently, Harrelson appeared in the award-winning No Country for Old Men (2007), for which he and the rest of the cast won a Screen Actor’s Guild Award for Best Cast. In 2009, Harrelson played an army captain in The Messenger.

Harrelson is a vegan, and is very active in the green movement, working for organic living, veganism, and social change. Harrelson is also not shy in expressing his opinions about cannabis legalization, for hemp and marijuana, or his lack of religion.

In an October 2009 interview with Playboy magazine, he said: “I like the mellow vibe of herb, its uninhibiting effect. For me, it’s a better drug than any of the others, and since we’re all drug addicts, I don’t think it’s a bad choice  … Whether your drug is sugar, coffee, sex, exercise or religion– everybody has something.”

In the same interview, Harrelson discussed his personal loss of faith. “I was getting into theology and studying the roots of the Bible, but then I started to discover the man-made nature of it. I started seeing things that made me ask, ‘Is God really speaking through this instrument? … My eyes opened to the reality of the Bible being just a document to control people. At the time I was a real mama’s boy and deeply mesmerized by the church.”