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Hollywood Now: Daniel Radcliffe, Married's Nat Faxon, Human Resources' Tom Szaky

August 7, 2014

Radcliffe: A Romantic

Danielle Radcliffe
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan. Credit: CBS Films

He may be best known as boy wizard Harry Potter, but Daniel Radcliffe is 25 now and has left that movie franchise behind. In what for him is a change of pace, the actor who is Jewish on his mother’s side is starring in a new contemporary romantic comedy called What If, opening August 8, in which he falls for a young woman (Zoe Kazan) who already has a boyfriend. “We’re not reinventing the wheel, but I’m hoping we’ve made a really smart romantic comedy that packs an emotional punch at the end,” he said at a post-screening Q&A.

Radcliffe is having a rather busy month. On August 17, he stars in the cable TV premiere of My Boy Jack, about Rudyard Kipling’s search for his missing son during World War I. And on August 19, he and Jon Hamm return for the second season of A Young Doctor’s Notebook and Other Stories. Both will air on Ovation.

Nat Faxon’s Interfaith Upbringing

The FX summer comedy series Married (airing Thursdays) is a hilariously real depiction of married life, or as star Nat Faxon puts it, “the non-glossy version of marriage. It’s messy.” He can certainly relate: He’s married with three kids. “I’m living this life, without a doubt.”

Nat Faxon
Judy Greer (Married co-star) and Nat Faxon. Credit: Prashant Gupta/FX

While the fictional family’s religion hasn’t been stated, at least not yet, Faxon is the product of an interfaith marriage, and considers himself Jewish. “I am Jewish—my mother is Jewish, my father is not. I’m proud of my heritage on both sides,” he says, adding that he was raised with “a combination of both religions. I enjoyed it because of the ability to learn about a lot of different things. We celebrated holidays but I didn’t go to temple and I wasn’t Bar Mitzvahed. We did celebrate Hanukkah and Passover, and we did Easter and Christmas as well. It was the best of both worlds. My parents never pushed me in one direction or the other. They were very open to have me just experience it, and if I felt passionate about something and wanted to learn about it, I was encouraged.”

His wife, Meaghan Gadd, is not Jewish, but religion was “never an issue” between them. “We have three small children, 6, 4 and 1. I try to teach them about the Jewish traditions, like getting a menorah and talking about that. We have good friends who are Jewish and have a big Passover dinner, and we’ll go over there and tell the story and learn the lessons that come with that,” he says.

Faxon, who won an Oscar for writing The Descendants (with Jim Rash) and co-wrote, directed and starred in The Way, Way Back, enjoys wearing multiple show business hats. “Acting is more the instant rush and gratification, performing and having people respond right away. Writing is more methodical and more cerebral,” he says. “I like doing both. My first love has always been acting. That’s what I came out here [L.A.] to do and what I had goals and dreams of as a kid. That’s something I’d never want to stop doing, regardless of other successes in my life and other things I’m doing.”

Turning Trash to Treasure

Tom Szansky
Tom Szaky. Credit: Pivot
TerraCycle is a company that collects non-recyclable garbage and finds ways to turn it into viable products, and the unconventional operation and its quirky employees are the subject of the new series Human Resources, premiering August 8 on Pivot. Running TerraCycle from its Trenton, New Jersey, HQ, CEO Tom Szaky travels the world between its 26 offices, which is how he met his Israeli fiancé, jewelry designer Avigail Adam.

“We met in Tel Aviv two-and-a-half years ago,” says Szaky. “I was opening our office there. She read an article on me and TerraCycle and got in touch. A few weeks later when I was back in Tel Aviv we met for dinner and drinks, and that was that.”

Szaky was not raised with any faith in particular. “I was born in communist Hungary and frankly was a fan of the anti-religious point of view that political ideology had. I do have some Jewish blood in my family,” he notes. “While she is Jewish, she is also non-religious herself, enjoying and appreciating the tradition and custom versus the dogma and ideology. Personally, I love Sabbath dinners with the entire family, the other holidays and so on. And her family has welcomed me with open arms.”

While interfaith marriage poses no problems for the couple, or their immediate families but they’ve chosen not to tell a few of Adam’s relatives about their engagement. “Many are very religious and conservative. It’s much easier leaving the topic be than dealing with people who care too much about religion,” he explains.

For his part, “I love that she's Jewish,” says Szaky. “I love the tradition and heritage and keeping that alive and thriving. The holidays are also brilliant, Friday night dinners are amazing and I will continue them with her when we have our own family. I won't change my personal point of view (which is also how Avi looks at the world), which is non-religious but spiritual in that Buddhist or "naturism" type of way, and that's why we love each other.”

When kids enter the picture, “We plan to raise them Jewish from a traditional point of view, so we will celebrate Hanukkah versus Christmas, although Avi loves Christmas trees. But we would not send them to religious school. Personally, I prefer non-religious education, no matter the religion. When they are old enough to think about such questions, we will educate them on all religions and points of view, ask them to learn about them all, and then choose to believe in what they want. We will not suggest or impose anything onto them. So if they want to be an atheist then great, if Jewish great, if Islam great...just as long as they choose their beliefs and understand the others.”

But for now, since the couple just got engaged in July, they have yet to set a wedding date or iron out details. “It will probably be a Jewish wedding, but very low key on faith,” Szaky says. But the trash-to-treasure mogul is sure about one aspect of the nuptials: There will be plenty of recycled elements!

Hanukkah (known by many spellings) is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd Century BCE. It is marked by the lighting of a menorah and the eating of fried foods. The spring holiday commemorating the Exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. The Hebrew name is "Pesach." Hebrew for "candelabrum" or "lamp," it usually refers to the nine-branched candelabrum that is lit for the holiday of Hanukkah. (A seven-branched candelabrum, a symbol of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, is a symbol of Judaism and is included in Israel's coat of arms.) Reform synagogues are often called "temple." "The Temple" refers to either the First Temple, built by King Solomon in 957 BCE in Jerusalem, or the Second Temple, which replaced the First Temple and stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem from 516 BCE to 70 CE.
Gerri Miller

Gerri Miller writes and reports from Los Angeles about celebrities, entertainment and lifestyle for MNN.com, The Jewish Journal, Brain World, Lupus Now, Scholastic.com and others. A New York native, she spent a summer working at Kibbutz Giv'at Brenner in Israel and attends High Holy Day services at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood every year.

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