In 2006, four “Harry Potter” movies had already turned into box-office blockbusters and only one book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, remained to be released. To say the least, the franchise was a huge deal.
British comedian John Oliver first got his start on “The Daily Show” in 2006, doing a segment about then–Prime Minister Tony Blair. And as journalist Chris Smith’s new book, The Daily Show: An Oral History, recently revealed, J.K. Rowling happened to be in the audience for his debut.
Smith’s book is based on interviews with Jon Stewart and his co-workers on the show. Oliver himself tells the story of meeting Rowling. Being a bigger fan of Rowling than the Queen of England ― in his own words ― Oliver remembers the interaction with the author vividly.
As Oliver claims in the book, Rowling was briefly reassuring about his performance ― giving him a hug ― and then told the comedian he looks just like her most famous character.
Here’s Oliver’s re-telling of the moment:
I went out, and did it, and it went by in a blur, and then I turned round to leave. And there was one audience member in the corner, whose eye I caught, and it was J.K. Rowling. So, I walked past her thinking, what the ― there’s no fucking way that’s J.K. Rowling. This is on my first day on the show. It turns out Jon was interviewing her at Radio City that night for the latest Harry Potter book, so she comes round afterward, saying, “Oh, well done,” and I said, “I haven’t been here before, this is my first day.” So she hugged me.
And that’s like being hugged by the queen, if you cared about the queen. I care about J.K. Rowling much more than I care about the queen. She hugged me, and I had round glasses, and she said, “You look like Harry,” and then glided off. For a tired, jet-lagged, overwhelmed man, that was... I absolutely felt stoned.