Daniel Rad­cliffe:

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - FRONT PAGE - By Louise Gan­non


Daniel Rad­cliffe is a mem­ber of an elite ac­tors’ club, which in­cludes two of his Harry Pot­ter co-stars, Alan Rick­man and Gary Old­man. Its most re­cent mem­ber is James McAvoy, whom Rad­cliffe met this year when film­ing Vic­tor Franken­stein, the most re­cent movie based on Mary Shel­ley’s iconic novel Franken­stein.

The mem­ber­ship cri­te­ria of the club are ex­tremely strict, and can­di­dates are heav­ily vet­ted. ‘To join you have to have been stark b****** naked on stage at some point of your ca­reer,’ he says. ‘I mean full frontal nu­dity in front of thou­sands of peo­ple.’

Rad­cliffe was 17 when he stripped bare for Equus. It was his first post-Pot­ter – and his de­but theatre – role af­ter mak­ing five of the eight Pot­ter movies. It was a de­ci­sion that sent shock­waves through the film-watch­ing world on a level akin to the once squeaky clean Mi­ley Cyrus twerk­ing in a nude bikini at the Grammy Awards. Never have so many cam­eras been raised in a Lon­don theatre. Never be­fore has one naked scene caused so many head­lines around the world.

‘James says that I def­i­nitely get top spot for what I did in Equus, which was ef­fec­tively stand there com­pletely naked for about ten min­utes. Ten min­utes is a hell of a long time – and I was out there at the cen­tre of the stage.

‘When you take your clothes off – who­ever you are – there is very lit­tle act­ing go­ing on. You are stand­ing on a stage think­ing, “Oh my God, I’m naked. They are all look­ing at my bits.” They are in the au­di­ence think­ing: “Oh my God he’s naked. Look at his bits.” There are mo­bile phones up in the air but you are try­ing not to no­tice. It’s the weird­est thing be­cause you are ab­so­lutely dread­ing it, yet you are do­ing it vol­un­tar­ily and then you have to do it again and again and again...’

Be­fore agree­ing to the role, Rad­cliffe turned to an el­der states­man of Bri­tish cin­ema, Old­man (who played his men­tor Sir­ius Black on­screen and who had be­come his men­tor off­screen) for ad­vice. He grins: ‘Gary’s al­ways some­one I can talk to and he thought it was a good thing to do. I also knew from a tech­ni­cal point that he’d taken his clothes off quite a lot and I thought he may have a trick or two. But he ba­si­cally said: “There’s no ad­vice. You just have to get ’em off and go for it. You’ve just got to do it.” Like jump­ing into cold wa­ter.’ Rad­cliffe pauses. ‘You be­come part of this lit­tle club and ac­tors will bring it up be­cause they know what you’ve done. It be­comes this bond. Alan Rick­man did the play The Grass Widow early in his ca­reer [1983] where he had to lie down naked for five min­utes, and Gary and James both had to be naked in Pri­vates On Pa­rade.’

While Rad­cliffe is fully clothed for our meet­ing, he has, how­ever, con­tin­ued to strip off in film af­ter film, in­clud­ing his most re­cent re­lease, What If. He nods: ‘Yup, I did three films last year and I got naked in all of them. I think get­ting naked on a stage gets rid of all your in­hi­bi­tions.

‘I also de­cided to start go­ing to the gym, so the whole thing about hat­ing how you look doesn’t be­come an is­sue. There’s noth­ing like do­ing a nude scene to put your­self un­der pres­sure. But hon­estly, it might look like I do but I don’t go round in­sist­ing that nu­dity clauses have to be put in my con­tract – I just hap­pen to be get­ting it out a lot at the mo­ment.’

For Rad­cliffe, nu­dity was a way of free­ing him­self from Harry Pot­ter, a role that de­fined him from the age of 11 when he was cast as the Hog­warts hero in what was to be­come the big­gest movie fran­chise of all time. He admits that strip­ping off made peo­ple look at him in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent way.

Along­side Emma Watson ( Hermione) and Ru­pert Grint (Ron Weasley), Rad­cliffe be­came the most fa­mous child star in the world, frozen in time, like an Andy Warhol paint­ing, as the boy­ishly be­spec­ta­cled Harry. The films earned him mil­lions (ac­cord­ing to one rich list he is worth € 75 mil­lion) and made him fa­mous and loved the world over. But iron­i­cally, even though it made him the lead­ing star of the most suc­cess­ful chil­dren’s film se­ries ever, it did not – at least in his own mind – make him an ac­tor. And be­ing an ac­tor was the only thing Rad­cliffe wanted to be.

To be­come a real ac­tor, Rad­cliffe had to lose Pot­ter. There were two ways he could go. The well-trod­den Britney Spears/ Lind­say Lo­han/Justin Bieber child star rebel route, which i nvolves an aura of du­bi­ous cred­i­bil­ity via s ex , d r ugs , rock ’n’ rol l and spells in r e h a b. A nd then there was the al­ter­na­tive route: just what he calls ‘ t h e a b s olut e un­ex­pected’.

To be fa ir, be­tween the ages of 18 and 20 Rad­cliffe did al­most go off the rails, drink­ing him­self into black­outs, hav­ing ca­sual sex and – on oc­ca­sions – turn­ing up for work on the set of his lat­est Pot­ter movie while still un­der the in­flu­ence. Whisky was his drink – and he has con­fessed that he was ‘a re­ally an­noy­ing, loud, in­ap­pro­pri­ate, messy, drunk’.

‘I don’t think I was con­sciously try­ing to rebel or sab­o­tage ev­ery­thing,’ he says. ‘It felt more like there isn’t any blue­print for how to do this, get through this. And the rea­son I spoke out about it was be­cause I felt some­one else would and I should take con­trol... which is ex­actly what I did.’

Rad­cliffe says Har ry Pot­ter haunted him in other ways. Although he ac­knowl­edges that win­ning the

role of the boy wiz­ard was the movie equiv­a­lent of win­ning a Willy Wonka golden ticket to fame and for­tune, there were many times Rad­cliffe could barely watch him­self on screen.

‘Do­ing Pot­ter was an in­cred­i­ble bless­ing be­cause it gave me this op­por­tu­nity to start a fan­tas­tic ca­reer. But then the moments I’m not as proud of, mis­takes other ac­tors get to make in re­hearsal rooms or at drama school, are all on film for every­one to see.’

He pauses again. ‘I never liked watch­ing my­self on film but I do make my­self sit through it. I think it comes from not ac­tu­ally re­al­is­ing I didn’t have to go to my own pre­mieres and watch the film – that’s some­thing I’ve only just re­alised you don’t have to do. I al­ways went along and sat with every­one else watch­ing the movie.

‘And that’s why it’s hard to watch a film like Harry Pot­ter And The Half- Blood Prince, be­cause I’m just not very good in it. I hate it. My act­ing is very one- note and I can see I got com­pla­cent and what I was try­ing to do just didn’t come across. My best film is the fifth one (Order Of The Phoenix) be­cause I can see a pro­gres­sion.’

JK Rowling re­mains a huge sup­porter: ‘To my knowl­edge she was al­ways very happy with the way I played him, but it’s my job to be crit­i­cal.’ Was he crit­i­cal of her de­ci­sion to rob him of the chance to end up with Hermione? He laughs: ‘No. I’m glad it ended like that. If Harry and Hermione had ended up to­gether it would have been too con­ven­tional and it’s far bet­ter to be un­ortho­dox.’ He laughs: ‘And I did get to kiss Emma, so all is good.’ Rad­cliffe is now 25, clearly not cut out to be a rebel and it doesn’t take long to re­alise this when you meet him. The mid­dle- class son of a lit­er­ary agent (Alan) and cast­ing agent ( Marcia) cares too much about be­ing liked, be­ing good at his job and be­ing a nice guy. He rolls his own cig­a­rettes, loves rap star Eminem, the TV quiz show Point­less, Amer­i­can foot­ball, and a ‘ filthy’ Star­bucks (caramel Frap­puc­cino with ex­tra caramel).

Rad­cliffe has some­how man­aged, amid the mael­strom of Pot­ter, to live a rel­a­tively nor­mal life. He went to Read­ing mu­sic fes­ti­val three times with his mates as a teenager and still eats in burger chains be­cause, he says: ‘I made a de­ci­sion early on to keep things as nor­mal as pos­si­ble. There are times when you go in a pub and you re­alise some­one wants to fight you, but you just have to be aware when that’s go­ing to hap­pen and get out. And there are times you go out and you get ac­costed by loads of peo­ple with cam­era phones, but then that’s just the rent you pay for get­ting to do this job.’

He is po­lite, chatty, en­gaged. He’s also in­cred­i­bly tuned in to the whole act­ing process, highly self-crit­i­cal and in­tent on im­prove­ment.

‘It’s more im­por­tant for me to be very crit­i­cal be­cause I’ve grown up in an at­mos­phere where every­one is al­ways want­ing to be nice to me and say what I’m do­ing is great. And so you don’t trust that. Ul­ti­mately you have to look to your­self or a hand­ful of peo­ple to get a proper opinion. I’m se­ri­ously crit­i­cal of my­self – if I wasn’t I would be wor­ried. You don’t want to be the one peo­ple say: “Great, great, great” to and then turn round and think: “S***, s***, s***.”’

‘ I only re­ally started to feel I was be­ing just Daniel Rad­cliffe in 2012, and it started when I made Kill Your Darlings [the crit­i­cally ac­claimed in­die movie in which he plays tor­tured young Beat poet Alan Gins­berg] fol­lowed by Horns and What If. That was a re­ally im­por­tant year for me – I sud­denly started to feel I’d re­laxed as a person and as an ac­tor and that I didn’t have to keep prov­ing my­self or jus­ti­fy­ing that I can do this job. I cer­tainly think that af­ter Kill Your Darlings and my role on Broad­way in The Crip­ple Of Inish­maan, the de­bate as to whether I can do things out­side of Pot­ter is near to end­ing.’

Rad­cliffe’s act­ing choices have been – as he in­tends – both brave and un­ortho­dox. From Equus he went on to another ac­claimed stage per­for­mance in Martin McDon­agh’s black com­edy, The Crip­ple Of Inish­maan, in which he plays a lonely Aran Is­land out­cast. On tele­vi­sion he’s starred op­po­site Mad Men’s John Hamm in A Young Doc­tor’s Note­book, taken the brick­bats on Have I Got News For You and ap­peared with Ricky Ger­vais in Ex­tras.

On screen, he se­cured plau­dits for Kill Your Darlings and the darkly bril­liant The Woman In Black. In the thriller Horns he plays a man ac­cused of rape and mur­der who wakes to find a pair of horns grow­ing from his head. ‘It’s dark, out­ra­geous and very dif­fer­ent again,’ he says.

His lat­est film, What If, is a very con­ven­tional mod­ern-day ro­man­tic com­edy about a per­fectly matched cou­ple – but while she wants to stay friends he wants some­thing more. ‘I

‘I’m a pretty good judge of char­ac­ter, and I only go for in­tel­li­gent girls. I’m

a se­rial monogamist’

think this is the part where I play some­one most like my­self,’ he says. ‘I’m def­i­nitely the geeky guy who wants to be in a re­la­tion­ship. And it was a big thing for me to do a mod­ern­day ro­mance. There was no point in this film where I had to get cov­ered in blood, or cry over the body of some­one, or pull some­one out of a muddy bog.’

His own love life is rel­a­tively nor­mal. He is cur­rently dat­ing his Kill Your Darlings co- star Erin Darke, af­ter split­ting from Rosie Coker, a set painter from the Pot­ter movies, in 2012. ‘I’ve never been para­noid about girls dat­ing me for the wrong rea­sons be­cause I’m a pretty good judge of char­ac­ter,’ he says. ‘And I only go for in­tel­li­gent girls. I’m a se­rial monogamist, though. I think the short­est re­la­tion­ship that I was in was six months and I think I’ve been pretty lucky be­cause I’ve never gone for the wrong type of girl. I’ve def­i­nitely had my heart bro­ken, but it was more when I was a kid and hung up on some­one. I’ve never ac­tu­ally been dumped. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing, it just hasn’t hap­pened to me.’

Two years ago he bought an apart­ment in New York. He di­vides his time be­tween there and Lon­don. ‘I think it is a bit eas­ier in New York – I get both­ered less. The pol­i­tics are bet­ter, too; we have Cameron, they have Obama. Plus they have Amer­i­can foot­ball, and I’m ob­sessed by it.’

While he is the first to seek ad­vice ( he cites Old­man and his par­ents as peo­ple he al­ways lis­tens to) he does not dole it out to the likes of Justin Bieber or Mi­ley Cyrus. ‘I have no idea what is go­ing on in their lives and I wouldn’t pre­sume to give ad­vice unasked.’

Rad­cliffe is de­ter­minedly low-key. He is wear­ing black jeans and a T-shirt – there is no sign of an ex­pen­sive watch or even a sin­gle piece of jew­ellery. A few weeks ago, dur­ing film­ing of Vic­tor Franken­stein in Edinburgh, Rad­cliffe made a de­ci­sion to hang on to the ex­treme hair ex­ten­sions he wears for the part of Igor.

‘ I could cover my face with them – I was to­tally un­recog­nis­able. It was pretty amaz­ing. I did lots of ran­dom things I never do, like go to Tesco and sit in a park. Every­one just walked past me – I didn’t get stopped once.’ And for this re­luc­tant su­per­star, noth­ing pleased him more.

What If is re­leased in cine­mas on Au­gust 20

Clock­wise from above: Rad­cliffe with Mad Men’s John Hamm in A Young Doc­tor’s Note­book; in fami­lar Harry Pot­ter pose; with girl­friend Erin Darke, his co-star in Kill Your Darlings; on stage in Equus in 2007; with Zoe Kazan in a scene from his new film What If; and in the su­per­nat­u­ral thriller Horns

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