Entertainment Weekly turns 20 years old this year. We don’t look a day over 10, do we? (The answer is yes, you snarky little whippersnapper!) We’ve had the pleasure of taking you behind the scenes of the most important and most entertaining stories pop culture has given us over the past two decades. Twin Peaks, The X-Files, The Simpsons, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Star Wars, Titanic, The Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Spider-Man, Lost, Mad Men — all of these stories, and so many others, have given us iconic characters who feel as real and important to us as our own friends and family. So we decided to celebrate our milestone birthday with a double-sized issue devoted the 100 greatest characters of the past 20 years. You’ll find it on newsstands now.
We’re not giving away who took the top spot on our list (you’re welcome, spoiler-phobes), but we will tell you that No. 2 went to Harry Potter. Daniel Radcliffe, the talented young man who plays the movie version of Harry (yes, he is indeed a man now), talked to us about playing the big-screen wizard, as well as some of the other characters he loves. Among them: “Bart Simpson. The Simpsons in general is huge for me,” he says. “Oh, and Cartman from South Park, as well. I think of him as an anti-hero for the 21st Century. Everything he does is completely morally reprehensible, but for some reason you back him all the time!” Radcliffe is also a big fan of certain comic book super-hero: “I was always unbelievably jealous of Tobey Maguire playing Spider-Man. I do think Spidey is the coolest of the superheroes.”
As for Harry Potter, Radcliffe has nothing but deep respect for the character that launched his career. He loved JK Rowling’s novels even before getting the part and believes that the legacy of the Harry Potter phenomenon is “a new generation of incredibly literary nerds, of which I am one! I think it’s a really wonderful thing.” Radcliffe is currently finishing work on the final movie(s) in the franchise, the two-part adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, though he wonders if the enduring power of Harry Potter means someone will eventually bring the character back to the screen in a new incarnation. “The books will be around for decades to come which makes me wonder if in 30 years time, we will be seeing remakes of all these movies,” Radliffe says. ”I have a very dark suspicion that that will happen, although I don’t particularly want it to!”
For more on the 100 Greatest Characters of the Last 20 Years — including Robert Downey Jr. on Iron Man‘s Tony Stark, Joss Whedon discussing the elements that make up Buffy the Vampire Slayer, an interview with Homer Simpson, and lots, lots more — pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands now.