Hogwarts and all
THE well-trodden path for child stars proving they’re all grown up is to play something shocking – a drug addict, a violent crim or a mental patient.
‘‘ I think I, at one point, considered playing a rent boy,’’ says Daniel Radcliffe ( pictured), who first captured the world’s attention as an 11-year-old playing a student wizard in Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone.
Goody-two-shoes Harry Potter turned rent boy? Seriously?
‘‘ It was a good script, that was why,’’ Radcliffe says.
‘‘ But then the reason I didn’t was that I kinda went, people would just say, ‘ Oh you’re just trying too hard. This is just you doing this for the sake of it’. So, no, I didn’t want to do that.’’
The rent boy role discarded, Radcliffe, who turns 22 this month, had to find a different path into life after Potter.
In the year and a bit since the final film The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 finished shooting, Radcliffe has not sat around counting his money, surveying his art collection or answering fan emails ( he doesn’t even have an email address).
Nor did he celebrate his graduation from Hogwarts in that time-honoured student tradition – backpacking.
‘‘ Oh no, no, no, no, no. I don’t have that in me,’’ he says.
‘‘ You know how some people have just gotta get up and travel as soon as they hit 19? I’ve never had that. I get homesick, I love England. Also, there’s possibly a slightly lazy attitude where it’s like, ‘ Oh I’ll go there on a job some day, it’ll be fine’.’’
No, rather than acting out the way many a young person does when given their first taste of freedom, Radcliffe and his team decided it was best that he keep, well, acting out. So they lined up a film, the ghostly drama The
Woman In Black, which will be released early next year.
And, after his mid-Potter breakout in the stage play Equus, they locked in another Broadway role, this time the lead in a revival of the musical comedy How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying.
Even before the musical started, Radcliffe was putting in hours each week of singing and dancing in preparation.
‘‘ If I had spent these months idle, I would have gone absolutely mad,’’ Radcliffe says.
‘‘ It was always our plan to have at least one film to go before the end of the year, because that would have been just crazy not to.
‘‘ So while that attention is on us, we have to prove to the people that are giving it to us that we’re serious about it and we want to keep working.
‘‘ Obviously Emma [ Watson] has been at university, so that’s different, but me, Rupert [ Grint], Tom [ Felton], Matt Lewis . . . all of us are very, very keen to get out there and start working again.’’
While both the play and the movie were carefully considered choices for Team Radcliffe, they were far from the ‘‘ shock’’ option. But once you’ve appeared nude on stage at age 17, as Radcliffe did in
Equus, you probably don’t need to push it much further.
‘‘ What was good about Equus – and this is going to sound so calculated now; it wasn’t. I’ve only thought all this post of it – was that it was a modern classic. It had that serious, legit theatre thing behind it, so I don’t think anyone was suddenly going to start saying, ‘ Oh, he’s only doing this for shock value’,’’ he says.
Radcliffe’s main state of being seems to be excitement. His performance in How To Succeed has been described as a ‘‘ coiled spring of energy’’. Talking about The Woman In
Black, everything and everyone is ‘‘ brilliant’’, ‘‘ genius’’, ‘‘ lovely’’ and ‘‘ very, very exciting’’.
He’s endlessly positive, even when asked if there are bigger things than the globe-conquering Potter in his future.
‘‘ Oh I think so, very different things,’’ he says. Then he pauses. ‘‘ What do you mean bigger things? I don’t know if there’s bigger than Harry Potter. I don’t think I could top it!
‘‘ The career path I love is Gary Oldman’s. His body of work is so diverse that it becomes, by nature of the amount of difference in it, really exciting and something to be proud of. So that’s exactly what I want to do.
‘‘ I certainly can’t see anything bigger than Potter happening but I can see lots of different things.’’
There’s not an ounce of cynicism in this young man – an amazing achievement for someone who has been in the public eye for half of his life.
‘‘ There is absolutely no one in this world that could do what Daniel has done,’’ says Tom Felton, 23, who grew up alongside Radcliffe, playing Harry Potter’s arch nemesis Draco Malfoy.
‘‘ That’s not only on an acting level, ‘ cos he’s gone from strength to strength every film, but the personal stuff he has to have dealt with over the past 10 years, the press, everyone constantly watching every move. That would be a task too much for me.
‘‘ The way he deals with the stuff behind the scenes is heroic, really. Certainly, if that level of fame was ever accomplished by myself or by anyone else, he’s a great role model of how to deal with it.’’
Radcliffe’s fame, while enormous, does seem different. Rather than, say, being regularly targeted by the paparazzi when out with his girlfriend, fame seems mostly to have brought him tremendous amounts of goodwill.
‘‘ Going through Customs in America is quite cool ‘ cos they go, ‘ My kids love you’. I say, ‘ Oh cheers mate, yeah yeah, yeah, nice to meet you man, cheers,’ and off I go,’’ Radcliffe laughs.
‘‘ It’s like being Irish. Everyone loves the Irish. And Australians, to be fair. Some nations are almost genetically engineered to be liked.’’
Despite his aversion to backpacking, Radcliffe and some mates headed to Russia last year to celebrate his 21st birthday – where he also felt the love.
‘‘ I’ve always, always, always wanted to go to Russia and on my next holiday I’ll probably go back, because I only spent two days in St Petersburg and that is not long enough,’’ he says.
Did he get some double-takes from Russian Potter fans?
‘‘ Yes I did! And in fact, it’s quite easy when there’s a language barrier, because all you can do is sign [ an autograph], so you don’t stop and chat. You just rush off and do your next thing.’’
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2
Opens with midnight screenings at Village Cinemas on Wednesday.
Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Deathly
Hallows with Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort; below, in Equus.