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What it's really like working with Daniel Radcliffe - Exclusive

Before Karan Soni was killing it in the religious comedy genre on the TBS anthology series Miracle Workers, he was hanging out in alternate reality space on the show Other Space. Unlike Miracle Workers, which has aired two full seasons and was recently renewed for a thirdPaul Feig's 2015 space comedy never really got off the ground (despite being in a spaceship the entire time). After the series' debut on Yahoo! Screen, the streaming service met its demise, and Other Space was but a blip on the UMP Cruiser radar. 

But while Miracle Workers fans are wondering what Simon Rich story the third season will center around, Soni fans can now watch the entire first season of Other Space on DUST — the online streaming platform that's giving the forgotten series a second shot. Soni is a self-proclaimed fanboy of both Miracle Workers, on which he played Sanjay Prince on season 1 and Lord Chris Vexler on season 2, and his co-star Daniel Radcliffe, who played Craig Bog on season 1 and Prince Chauncley the Pretty Cool on season 2. And he's not afraid to show it. Soni spent a great deal of season 1 of Miracle Workers chatting up Radcliffe about his time on Harry Potter.

Like most millennials, Soni grew up with the Harry Potter book and movie series — and it had a profound impact on his childhood. While many people say "never meet your heroes" and "certainly don't work with them," Radcliffe proved, once again, that he's an incredible person both on and off the screen. Karan Soni spoke with Looper in an exclusive interview to tease some of his behind-the-scenes Potter talk with Radcliffe, and to dish on what the actor is really like to work with.

Growing up with Harry Potter

When asked what it was like working with Daniel Radcliffe on Miracle Workers, Soni said, "The recurring theme of this whole thing is that I'm starstruck." 

Like many kids, Soni found it difficult to connect with most books and avoided reading outside of the required reading for classes. He noted, "I read more now, but at the time when I was a kid, the only books I read were Harry Potter." The series tends to serve as gateway books for children and young adults who have difficulty finding enjoyment in reading. After finding that one series that lights a spark in a child, it's easier for them to discover other books that tear them away from the TV.

Soni went on to admit that he had dreams of playing Harry Potter on the big screen.

"I was a huge Harry Potter fan. [...] Dan and I are born the same year. So when I was 10 years old I caught wind that they were casting, and I was in India, like a little 10-year-old boy, and I had round glasses the way the character does. I thought that was enough for them casting me, even though I'd never acted a day in my life, and I was brown," Soni laughed. 

The actor isn't alone, however. A vast number of fans have a head canon that Harry is Indian — and readers have produced a slew of fan art and fan fiction to match the vision. The beauty of books is that there's no casting director putting characters into boxes; they can be whoever fans envision them as.

Karan Soni on going from fan to co-worker

Soni continued, reflecting on the serendipity of being a Harry Potter fan who wanted to act who become an actor who now works with Harry Potter himself. 

"I watched every movie like a rabid fan. Cut to many years later, who knew I was going to be in Hollywood or acting or doing any of that?" he shared. "I'm in this world, and then I heard about [Miracle Workers], and I got an audition for it. And I just remember initially, just reading the script and it was a really, really good script. [...] For the final audition, they were like, 'You have to read with Daniel.' He flew in from London or New York to come to L.A. to read with us."

Soni then admitted that he felt like he was "going to pass out prior to that whole situation" because he was "really nervous" and wanted Radcliffe to like him and be impressed with his acting skills. It's little surprise that Soni succeeded in that endeavor.

"Then that happened, and then they told me I got the job. Once we started, we had a big table read to start the show. I remember I was like, 'I wonder what he's going to be like.' Because prior [to] when we had met, I was fighting to get a job, and now I was a coworker, so the dynamic had changed a little bit," said Soni. "I remember the first thing he did after the table read, he was like, 'We should have each other's numbers, right?' I was like, 'Yes, yes we should.'

Imagine asking Dan Radcliffe for his number. Just imagine it.

The "kindest, sweetest" wizard there is

Working with Radcliffe has been truly enjoyable, according to Soni, who told Looper that the former Harry Potter star spent time with the whole cast as they explored Atlanta while shooting the first season of Miracle Workers

"He had never been [to Atlanta], and I had worked there a lot before, so I sort of knew the places to go eat and do all that stuff," the actor said Right away, and then throughout the shoot, he hung out with all of us, all the time. We had the best time."

As Soni shared with us, Radcliffe actually mentioned that his time on Miracle Workers was very similar to Harry Potter.

"It was the closest he had gotten to the Harry Potter experience since the movies because a lot of the cast was the same age," Soni noted. "It was a lot of people his age, and it felt like he was getting to live that experience again [but] in an adult way." 

If you think Soni held back on asking Radcliffe questions about Harry Potter while they were filming Miracle Workers, you're dead wrong. The enthusiastic inquiries only lasted for a season of shooting, and Radcliffe was, as Soni said, totally down to talk all things Potter.

"I asked him every question about Harry Potter, the movies because at the time, the movies had just come out on HBO Go," the actor admitted. "I would watch one on a Sunday, and then on Monday, I would show up to work and I would have all the questions about the movies I had just watched. He was so open to talking about how they filmed different stuff, and any behind-the-scenes stuff."

Soni gushed, "It was just very exciting. I got it out of my system, and then by season 2, I wasn't asking him about Harry Potter anymore, which I felt very cool about. But yes, the first season he really — bless his heart — he's the kindest, sweetest person, but he answered every annoying question of mine." 

Peeping on the Hogwarts text chain

Radcliffe didn't stop at just answering questions, though, Soni revealed: "He even gave me a glimpse at his group texts with Emma [Watson, who played Hermione in the films] and Rupert [Grint, who played Ron]. I was just freaking out the whole time, but I've since calmed down, and I'm very chill around him. I would just like the world to know. And he is a delight to work with. It's the best, yeah."

We shot our shot, asking Soni if he could tell us any stories. But, of course, wizard confidentiality prevented him from spilling too much.

"I can't say some of the coolest ones because I think they would get some people in trouble, but I just, in general, remember being like, 'Oh, if the world knew some of this, it would be really cool,'" said Soni. "A lot of the stories were very cool, and I feel very lucky that he was able to be so open about it."

Fans are the keeper of the keys and grounds at Hogwarts

As Soni told us, Radcliffe has a grip on how much his role has meant to a multitude of generations, and he gives every fan and co-worker (or both) the space to connect.

"It's the worst when you're a big fan of something and you feel scared [that] you can't really bring up the thing with the person, because then you're just lying. Because you're like, 'We're just pretending like this huge elephant doesn't exist," Soni noted. "His attitude about it — and I'm probably paraphrasing a little — is that he truly understands that this character means so much to an entire generation of people, and that his face represents that character."

While Radcliffe didn't create Harry Potter, to many people, he is Harry Potter — and he doesn't take that responsibility lightly. Soni revealed that Radcliffe never turns down a fan: "People associate him with this huge part of their childhood, or like a happy memory of their life, and so he takes a picture with every single person who wants it. He will listen and talk [...] because he truly realizes how important that character is to so many people."

He continued, "Something I learned from him, actually, which was interesting, was if you would notice in the first season when we went to the restaurant, a bunch of older women would come up to him and be very emotional when they would see him. And I didn't understand where that was coming from, because they were clearly too old at the time to be a kid [when they read] the books, but they'd had a huge impact [on them]."

One of the most incredible things about the Harry Potter series is its ability to draw in fans of all ages, and have each person take in something different. Harry Potter fans are the truly keepers of the series, which has taught multiple generations how to love themselves and others — even if they happen to be different.

Daniel Radcliffe honors his fans' pain

As Soni put it, "[Radcliffe] said there's this whole world of people that were in abusive relationships, and they saw Harry as this character who's locked up by his foster family under a staircase — and he's basically abused by them — and he escapes, and he becomes a hero. He escapes this horrible life that he's born into, [and that's] resonated with [fans] on a different level, which I thought was so cool." 

Soni had a much more lighthearted relationship with the series, which is also great. He said with a laugh, "As a kid, I read the books and I was like, 'I want to be a Gryffindor!' It was so base [level] and fun and silly." On the other hand, many fans have had a deep, life-altering relationship with Harry Potter, and Radcliffe acknowledges that and gives fans the space to react in whatever way helps them, according to Soni.

He summed it up best in saying, "The same material had such an impact on someone else, and so when they almost see him in public, it trigger[s] something in them because they've gotten out of a bad situation. And they just want to hug him, and he lets that moment happen. Sometimes, they don't even say anything. It's so interesting, but he's so kind and good about all that stuff. It's really great."

The first five episodes of Miracle Workers season 2 are available to stream on TBSOther Space is streaming on DUST now.