Move Over Radcliffe, There Is A New Harry Potter On The Block

Harry Potter has a brand new star! Clay Caldwell, a 13-year-old boy from Windermere, UK, is now acting as the model used to draw Harry Potter in the new illustrated version of the J.K. Rowling mega-blockbuster books. And based on photographs of the young, bespectacled boy, there couldn’t be a better match.

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, illustrated edition [Photo from Amazon.ca]

How on earth does a young boy like Clay get to be so lucky as to represent the most famous boy-wizard on the planet? He got the job purely by luck, according to Metro. For the illustrated Harry Potter book project, J.K. Rowling hand selected talented artist Jim Kay. Then, Jim Kay found Clay Caldwell in London riding on the Tube one day. Don’t worry — Clay’s mom, Alison, was there and she authorized the whole thing. She spoke to the Mirror about the chance encounter that has changed the new Harry Potter’s life.

“It’s quite amazing. He only had two tube stops to introduce himself and I went away and did enough research to feel comfortable with him – he had [worked] in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. There was no mention of Harry Potter and he said he could not tell me what it was. We just thought it would be a nice experience and something a bit different. Having an opportunity like that means there’s always room for growth, but this took us both by surprise.”

Jim Kay (who describes himself as “odd”) has also worked for the Tate Gallery and Royal Botanic Gardens Kew in London. According to Kay’s website, although he has done illustrations for a variety of publishers, he says that working with Walker Books author Patrick Ness and his book A Monster Calls “changed my life.” For his work on that book, Jim won a Carnegie medal. He also states that for him, illustrating books is “extremely difficult, the hardest job I’ve ever done,” but it appears that the challenge is why he likes to do it.

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Jim Kay, illustrator for Harry Potter, discovered Clay Caldwell on the London Tube. [Photo from http://www.jimkay.co.uk/]

In an interview with the Guardian, Kay confirmed that he is most definitely a Harry Potter fan, though he also admits he came in a bit late on the craze. His first taste of Harry Potter came from listening to the audiobook of the Philosopher’s Stone narrated by Stephen Fry.

Since the chance discovery of the newest Harry Potter by Jim Kay, Clay Caldwell has been travelling back and forth to London from his Windermere, Cumbria, home for photo shoots for Kay to draw from.

Clay’s image has already debuted in the first edition of the series released with illustrations, Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, which is now in stores in the UK. Clay Caldwell will continue to work with Jim Kay over the next five years until all seven of the illustrated Harry Potter books are completed.

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J.K. Rowling selected Jim Kay to illustrate 'Harry Potter'. (Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)

As any Harry Potter fan can imagine, young Clay Caldwell was absolutely ecstatic about the chance to be the new Harry.

“I was really surprised when I found out it was Harry Potter. I was screaming I was so happy. I went down to London and he took some pictures of me there and I had to be on the floor posing for those. I’ve to see him about five or six times a year and I absolutely love it – I never thought I would be Harry Potter.”

As can also be imagined, apparently when he rushed to school to tell his pals about how he was the new Harry Potter in illustrated form, many of them were skeptical. However, a few believed him. And when his friends see the brand new book, assuredly they will all be swayed that indeed, young Clay Caldwell is the new, well-suited Harry Potter.

[Header image from Bloomsbury Press]