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Confessions of a Sundance groupie: My Day with Dan Rad

February 3rd, 2013 Posted in Opinion

By Katie Swain

PARK CITY—As a fiercely obsessed Harry Potter fanatic for the better part of my life, the fact that my opportunity to report on this year’s Sundance Film Festival coincided with the premiere of Daniel Radcliffe’s new film “Kill Your Darlings” was nothing short of charmed.

My day began with news that I would be attending the premiere and the Q&A session immediately following, while my journalist partner and calmer half, Dani Hayes, would go to the press conference right before the premiere.

How ‘weird’ is Daniel Radcliffe? Katie Swain wants to know. BEN HANSEN photo

How ‘weird’ is Daniel Radcliffe? Katie Swain wants to know. BEN HANSEN photo

While standing in line for the movie, my manic excitement was only amplified by the fire extinguisher that exploded in our tent, resulting in something of a false bomb alarm and a frantic mass exodus to vacate the smoke-filled enclosure. (Hey, I wasn’t the first person to yell, “Bomb!” but I might have been the third. Or second.) With the energy of a panicked crowd keeping blood pressure at an electrifying near-boiling point, I hurried into the theater with my neck already straining for a glimpse of Radcliffe.

I anxiously took my seat. With one eye still trained on the “celebrity entrance,” I began interviewing my neighbors about the “bomb disaster” we’d all just overreacted about—my journalistic instincts still somehow functioning (though at a slightly louder and more energetic level…reporter on steroids).

Radcliffe made his entrance as quickly and quietly as possible, only minutes before the movie was to start.  I immediately jumped out of my seat and started making a desperate attempt to get over to his seat and introduce myself. My task became difficult as the group of lucky wait-listers and last-minute bathroom goers filed into the theater to claim seats. Scrambling over legs and bags, I finally got to the aisle, where I was intercepted by an overly helpful theater volunteer asking if I needed help to find a seat, apparently mistaking my mania for confusion. (I guess wide eyes and clear agitation could be symptoms of either.)

“Oh no, I’ve already got a seat,” I responded. “I’m just trying to go say ‘hi’ to Dan Rad.”

“Oh really?” she replied with a disapproving glance. “Come on, we really don’t need to bother the talent any more than is necessary. The lights are about to go off. Why don’t you get back to your seat?”

The lights did start dimming then, so I yelled out a strangled “Hello” in Dan’s direction while I climbed back to my seat.

The movie itself was a big hit, so as soon as the lights came up, I yelled out into the silence, “Great job, Dan!!!” loud enough get me plenty of attention, including a slight turn of Daniel’s head in my direction. The other attention was slightly more negative. (Apparently it isn’t super Kosher to treat movie theater premieres like your little sister’s soccer games?)


Dan!! DAN!!! DANNNN!!!! Katie Swain will never wash her hand.

The question and answer session started off with a standing ovation (of one) and thunderous applause (by everyone else). The first few questions went out to a couple of front-row cinema buffs, but they seemed to be taking up a lot of time, and I was pretty sure more drastic measures would have to be taken if I were to get in my time. So when they called out for the last question, I literally jumped out of my chair, hand in the air, yelling, “Dan! Dan! Hey Dan!!”

The director gestured to me. “Well this lady certainly called it.”

“Hi Dan, Katie Swain here,” I started in (and then left a bit of a pause in an effort to make people wonder whether they should know that name). “I’m wondering why you chose this role. Did you have an interest in the beat poets, or were you interested because it’s kind of a weird role and you’re into weird stuff?”

• Katie Swain and Dani Hayes asked Radcliffe the “weird” question that went global.

“That is actually the second time I’ve been asked that today!” Radcliffe answered, a bit surprised.

It dawned on me that Dani must have been the first one to ask him, because we’d written our questions for Dan together earlier.

Attempting to keep my question more conversational than one-sided, I laughed, “Well yeah, you’re kind of a weird guy!” (and yes, at this point I had the entire theater either staring right at me, or making a point not to).

Daniel kept talking—something about how, yes, he is a little weird—I wasn’t quite as focused on his actual words as I was his accent. I even tried talking to him again, but he blocked that with a concluding, “thank you” to all of us, effectively ending the Q&A session, but only momentarily ending our conversation.

I beelined to the back entrance where Dan’s car, as well as a number of fans lined up behind metal barriers, waited. Of course, Dan had to keep us waiting just long enough for three girls wearing Dobby ears to pee their pants, but eventually he did show up, uncapping a Sharpie as he strode toward us. I’m happy to say that my yell of “Dan!!! Dan!!!!!” was easily heard above the shrieks of “Harry Potter!! We love you so much! I’d die for you!” I’m not desperate, just loud and obsessed.

I was also the first person to ask him (loudly) for a photograph. To which he responded, “Sorry, darling. It’d cause a terrible chain reaction I’m afraid.”

Apparently, all I heard was the “darling” (selective hearing what?). So, undaunted, I broke free of the barrier and rushed over to Dan, my camera phone in hand, the battery slowly dwindling. Before we could exchange much more than casual salutations (well a, “Hi Dan! HugefanyouwereabsolutelyterrificinthereIloveditsomuchohmygoodnessisthatyourbodyguar—” from me, and a “Hello” from him), his bodyguard took me by the arm and dragged me back behind the barrier.

Sundance-2013-LogoSmallOur little scuffle was not in vain though. It attracted enough of Dan’s attention for him to follow me back to the barrier with an amused grin, offering an autograph. I of course opted to have him sign my hand (so much more personal, this way he had to hold my hand!) despite having three nearly blank notebooks in my bag.

“Now you’ve got to promise darling (again!!) that you won’t get this tattooed on your hand,” Dan said while signing. “I’ve had a girl actually do that.”

To which I assured him I absolutely couldn’t make any promises. (I didn’t end up getting the tattoo, though I did refrain from washing that hand for a full two weeks.)

I marveled at the signature for a few minutes, before looking up and shouting down the line where Dan was now, “Hey Dan, I was the girl who asked you why you’re so weird in Q&A! I’m Katie Swain!”

Dan looked up from where he was signing, walked back to me, this time offering to shake my hand, and said, “Oh yes, darling, (I’m pretty sure three times counts as an official nickname). I loved your question!”

Now I was pretty sure we were ready to have a real heart-to-heart conversation, right after I told him my name one more time (hey, they say repetition leads to retention), but of course that pesky bodyguard had to interfere again, nudging Dan down the line.

Just a second too late I realized I still didn’t have my picture, a real must when it comes to meeting childhood heroes. Never one to be deterred by barriers, (tangible metal ones or figurative social norm barriers that, socially speaking, probably should have kept me behind the bars) with an elated cry I kicked through the metal barricade once again.

Realizing I realistically only had a few seconds before I would be apprehended again, I ran over to Dan shouting, “Let me get a picture really quick while you sign!”

Dan looked up at me with a grin that I interpreted as approval (or maybe just astonishment) and nodded (knew I’d wear him down eventually!). Sliding up, I got cheek to cheek, held my camera out, (quickly dismissed the realization that if Dan was Harry Potter I was Colin Creevey, not Hermione Granger), and OH MY GOSH MY PHONE WAS DEAD!! (WHY NOW?! WHY ME!?!). Frantically trying to coax out just one little picture from the black screen, I saw Mr. Bodyguard advancing in my peripherals a look of something beyond annoyance on his face. Grabbing my arm, he hissed into my ear, “Ma’am, you’ve GOT to stay behind the barrier!” Dumbfounded by my incredible bad luck, I let him drag me back once more, receiving an apologetic glance from Dan and the sweet assurance that worse consequences would ensue if I didn’t back off.

Behind the barrier once again, I turned to the shrieking girl next to me with the Potter shirt and yelled, “Quick! Take a picture of me with your phone! Mine’s dead!!”

She certainly seemed to understand the desperation in my voice. So she quickly snapped a picture that, while not perfect, I still counted as a massive success (and at this point, I really couldn’t have gotten much closer anyway as Mr. Bodyguard seemed to be keeping one eye on me).

I briefly considered making one more mad dash for Dan Rad, but right then he turned away, waving goodbye as he walked back to the big black car awaiting him. I yelled out a satisfied “Goodbye,” and I swear he gave an extra wave and smile (darling!), just for me. (His bodyguard also shot one last glower, which was also probably just for me, too.)


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  1. 2 Responses to “Confessions of a Sundance groupie: My Day with Dan Rad”

  2. By Scott Swain on Feb 11, 2013


    You are an absolute scream! You must have had the most wild and crazy mother to be the way you are! I hope you get another chance for a picture with Dan Rad!



  3. By Monte on Feb 11, 2013

    I love this article. Girl, you know how to write! Stay doing exactly what you are doing. You have a voice, and passion, and (did I already say?) you can write! Can’t wait to see more of your work.

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