Interview with Daniel Radcliffe
Daniel was nice enough to meet with me in July ’06 to chat about Order of the Phoenix, Extras and December Boys. I was in fact the first person to interview him about December Boys!
To read the interview and see some pics click on the read more button below.
Order of the Phoenix
About OOTP Filming…
It’s very well. David, the director, is absolutely delightful. I think he is making the best film so far. By a wide margin I think it’s gonna outshine even the fourth one.
So, how do you like that character this time around?
He’s angrier and it’s great. David is absolutely a brilliant director. The way he’s gone in to Harry’s character with me has been fantastic. It’s been an absolute sort of pleasure working with him and it’s been great. I think Harry this time, he is angry and he has every right to be. And also, he…actually…I think he is actually quite frail. He is very vulnerable this year and that is great to play. I am really enjoying that kinda stuff. I find that part of it really, really fun. It’s more interesting to play.
You know, you’ve got all these archetypal super heroes sort of flying around these days, and I think…and they are great and they’re fun…but I think the best heroes are the ones with flaws. That’s what I think’s great about Batman. He is so weak in some ways as well. I think that works so well with the character, same with Spiderman. Superman is…um…when I was reading comics, Superman was never my favorite. He was too perfect.
How do you feel Harry copes with all of the tragedies he must endure in this installment?
Generally I think he copes very badly, but I think what I admire about the way he copes is he tries to cope with it on his own. He doesn’t make his problems other people’s problems. He just sits there and actually tries to work it out on his own. The only person he sort of really, really reaches out to is Sirius. He usually reaches out to Dumbledore, but Dumbledore is being aloof this year, which is another thing to add to his frustration.
I think he didn’t deal with it very well, but I think I still have a little admiration for the way he tries to deal with it on his own…and that’s a really fun and interesting part of the film…Harry trying to work his problems out, and actually having no one there to really reach out to and actually understand what he’s been through.
Have you gotten to your heated, temper scenes yet?
No..no there is one scene where I do…I get to break a lot of things. It’s very…with any luck it should be very, very powerful. I will actually film the scene in Dumbledore’s office where he talks about Sirius and how Dumbledore’s responsible for Sirius’ death indirectly. We do that next Monday. I am really looking forward to that. I think it is one of the strongest scenes in the book and so I’m looking forward to doing it. And also, it’s plot stuff which you need to explain what happened. It is more practical, not an emotionally-driven scene.
Most interesting scenes filmed so far…
I think anything with Umbridge. They are great because Imelda Staunton is just brilliant. She is absolutely perfect. Not only is she a brilliant actress, she is a nice and charming person to be around because she is so funny and kind and generous-spirited. She is really helpful with stuff when you’re acting with her. She is very good with advice and general encouragement. Her and Gary Oldman are my two favorite people I have ever worked with.
You have an upcoming movie this winter…
Yes and I am really excited about it (December Boys). It is obviously incredibly different from Harry. It’s just a whole new thing. I saw a rough cut of the film a while ago and it’s not finished and it needs work done to it, and hopefully that work is being done (laughs) and I am sure it will actually be very good… I hope so. I am very excited about seeing the finished product because I had such a great time doing it. I want it to be really good not just for me, but for the other… for all the crew who had a tough time because it was quite a tough shoot at that point. You know, I want it to be good for everyone that worked on it. It’s actually those three other boys that were in it who were just the sweetest. I was very fond of them all so hopefully it’ll turn out good for them as well. They were all really good little actors. I don’t mean to sound patronizing, but they are. I mean they’re all 12 and thirteen and the thirteen year-old boy looks about nine… and they’re incredibly good. I was really impressed.
You have a lot of scripts coming your way, what made you choose this one?
You know, you probably get… say you get 50 scripts, if you get one of them that’s good then that’s great. If you get one that’s brilliant, you’ve hit the jackpot… and that’s what we did. The script for December Boys was absolutely fantastic. I read the script and loved it. And then… meeting the director in London , a guy called Rod Hardy, who directs a lot of American TV. This has been his project of passion for about twelve years now. He’s been trying to get it made. After meeting with him, that just confirmed it for me because we had very similar visions of the film as a whole and of my character Maps. From that point on I really wanted to do it. We had always planned to do something between Harry Potter four and five and December Boys came along at exactly the right time. It was a beautiful piece of writing so… yea – that was the reason.
What is this adaptation about?
It’s about four boys in a Catholic orphanage in the Australian outback. It is set in the 1960s, but to many people it will look like it is possibly the 1950s because these boys have been so detached from the mainstream world being in the outback and the orphanage. The clothes they wear are of the 50s and they are all hand-me-downs. So, it’s about these four boys in this orphanage and this donor has given the orphanage some money. At the present all these boys have been allowed to go to the seaside because they all share the same… when you are in an orphanage, if they don’t know when you are born they assign you a birth month and so all these boys were all born in December, hence the “December Boys”. For their birthday they are all sent to the seaside. They’d never seen the sea before, having spent their whole life in the outback, so it’s quite an amazing moment for them when they first experience what sea water feels like and tastes like… that sort of sensation. So many things we would often take for granted, for them are just incredible. While they’re at the beach they all have their own individual stories which leaves them altered at the end of the film. They each learn something about each other, and learn something about their situation and learn something about the world… learn a lot of things about the world. That is what makes the film very special (for me). It’s a real coming-of-age story. Comparisons could be drawn to “Stand By Me”. Whether “December Boys” will be a classic film (like “Stand By Me”) remains to be seen. I think “Stand By Me” is a similar vein of story about four boys who are on the threshold of sort of adulthood.
Specifically, what does your character go through, what is his individual story?
Basically when you are in this orphanage and you are sixteen/seventeen you have this knowledge that at the age of eighteen they kick you out of the orphanage and you are left to fend for yourself. So, my character, who’s older than the other three boys, is really aware of the fact that soon enough he’s going to be kicked out of the orphanage and left to fend for himself. That is constantly on his mind. There is also the fact that these three boys suddenly develop this adulation for this other man Fearless. He is this cool guy that lives where they’re staying. He’s got a motor bike and he’s pretty cool. And Maps, who’s always looked after them, suddenly feels quite abandoned. Then he (Maps) becomes infatuated with this girl he meets, and he gets into a relationship with her. He is quite naïve really, Maps, in a way. In some ways he is quite tough, but in other ways he is actually quite naïve and innocent. He is pretty useless with girls. He gets into a relationship he is not really ready for. In the end, he pays quite a hefty price. It’s quite sad I think. Maps’ story, I think, is a very powerful one. The other thing happening is that the boys discover the couple, Fearless and Teresa, are looking possibly to adopt one of the three kids (younger) kids. It almost becomes a competition between the other three boys to try and get themselves adopted by this family. Maps obviously knows he is not going to be adopted because he is one of the older ones, they never adopt the older ones, and that is the dilemma he’s in I suppose.
What was it like – first romantic sequence?
It was very strange… luckily Teresa Palmer, who’s playing opposite me in that, she has actually done kissing scenes before and stuff, and she was sort of quite cool with that and would say “oh, no, no, it’s nothing to worry about”. I was quite nervous. It is very strange, but you don’t really think about it. It actually becomes like any other scene really. You sort of just… go in and you kiss… but it’s a weird kind of kiss. It just feels different from when you actually kiss someone because it’s just… because everyone’s watching and it’s quite clinical. You’ll stand with your faces like a centimeter apart and then the camera crew will tell you, “Can you move your head a little to the left”. They position you, so it is quite clinically done. It’s not in the least bit exciting or romantic like it is in real life at all as you might expect it to be. So you just sort of get in there and do it… and it was fun in the end. Me and Teresa ended up getting quite hysterical. We just sort of started laughing.
Most difficult part of the role?
The difference between Maps and Harry is marked. They are very different characters. Whereas Harry often wears his heart on his sleeve and is quite open, and not very good at always hiding his emotions, Maps is a very, very restrained character. He doesn’t like particularly talking about how he is feeling, he is very much a solo character. He wants to look after these other three boys. In the end it’s those three boys he cares about and he is focused on them, and looking after them and he looks out for them at the orphanage and stops them from getting bullied. Then this girl comes into this life and he starts to care about her. It’s hard doing that transition from being very restrained to suddenly finding someone that he actually wants to open up to. He wants to sort of talk to and care about her. It’s a very hard thing to go from restraint to openness.
About working with other actors in the film…
There is an Australian actor in it (December Boys) called Jack Thompson who is absolute Australian royalty. If you said his name to anyone in Australia they’d know who you were talking about. He was in iconic Australian movies and he lived through the 60s and he was friends with Bob Dylan and other amazing people. I got to work with him in the film and he was absolutely fantastic, fantastic man. I am desperate for there to be a part in Harry Potter somewhere so he can come over and I can work with him again. It’s a real privilege to work with him because he is such a brilliant actor. He’s a great guy. He’s got some amazing stories about his youth. I think he was about the first male nude centerfold in any magazine. So there is some really iconic stuff he has done during his life. He’s an amazing man.
End of Filming…
We finished at about 4am on Christmas Eve. That was a long, long day, but it was great. That day we worked well over 12/13 hours because there was one storyline that we hadn’t finished and we had to get it all done on that last day. It was pretty hectic. That was the day on which I did the kissing scene and the entire storyline with the girl character, Lucy, played by Teresa Palmer. We had to do this while storyline mostly that day so it was pretty hectic, but we got it done. We finished then and I had about two weeks off after that. Then I came back and went into rehearsals for Harry Potter. It was pretty busy.
Low budget films vs. block buster productions…
There is a lot less people on set. A lot smaller crew. It’s a lot more intense. In Harry Potter if you fall a day behind schedule that’s ok, but with December Boys that was not ok. You didn’t have anymore time – you had six weeks to do it. We got it done by the skin of our teeth. It was really, really close to actually not getting a couple of things done. It’s a lot more intense – you have to be prepared to do more than one thing. On Harry Potter you do one scene a day if you’re lucky, on December Boys you are doing four or five scenes a day and you have to get them all done. On Harry Potter a scene might take three days, so you learn the lines for one thing. On December Boys you’d have to learn the lines for five scenes, and they sometimes change the order in which you do them (the scenes), so you really have to be on your toes.
It was also a different experience as I got a peek at what I was probably like when I was eleven or twelve because a lot of the time when we were filming I was looking after these other boys. Lee is thirteen and he can sort of look after himself, but Chris and James… I mean James – I have a real soft spot for him… he is just the most accident prone little boy. I mean, he’s not a little boy. They are all incredibly intelligent kids, really bright. James is so accident prone it’s ridiculous. He fractured his toe during one scene. And I was like, “James you’re running on sand… there’s no rocks… how did you do that?” He was really sweet and I looked after him a bit. It’s going to be terrifying when I go back there the end of this year to publicise it because I know they’re all going to have grown, and will have outgrown me now. Lee probably won’t because he’s quite little, but the other two guys will be taller than me by the time I get back there. I just hope not. (laughs) I like the fast pace shooting. I find it more exciting and it keeps the adrenaline sort of pumping. That’s the only thing with Harry Potter… sometimes when you have lots of digital effects scenes they take longer to do. But this one (OOTP) is quite faster pace shooting which is really, really good.
Extras and Other Stuff
Of course, because I was there in July, we had to talk about the World Cup – and you KNOW he followed that closely! (Only, he thought Germany should have won – and really, I’d have to agree… *runs for cover*) He also talked about other general things: Daniel said he was going to get the Primal Scream album for his birthday, he talked about going to the Reading Festival, is really into the new Muse album, and the band dEUS. There were two movies he had seen that really moved him as well – United 93 and The Wind that Shakes the Barley. We talked a bit about The Wind that Shakes the Barley (an excellent film, I saw it while there…). “There are moments where you actually just turn away. In one particular scene, a torture scene, you sort of see how vile the English people were to the Irish,” said Daniel.
When talking about the upcoming Extras episode, Daniel revealed how it all started. “They saw me on the Jonathan Ross show and said, ‘Hey, he’d be great.’ And so they contacted my agent and it all sort of went from there. I agreed to do it because I was such a fan of Ricky Gervais and the series of Extras. I agreed before I had seen a script or anything. I knew the vague outline for it, but I hadn’t actually seen the dialogue and stuff. I remember I was in Australia and my dad and I had to talk to him about it because he wanted to just chat with me about it. I called him and we chatted for half an hour about the episode. It was a really great moment for me to talk to him. A couple of months later we were sent the script. It was great – and it was very, very funny. I filmed it a couple of weeks ago.”
Ok, so what is this episode about, and what is the deal with the scout’s uniform? “I play a very, very warped version of myself in a scouts uniform,” Daniel laughs, “because obviously they couldn’t do references to Harry Potter for legal reasons, so they had to put me in a scouts uniform. They couldn’t have me in a school outfit or anything. The scouts uniform looks absolutely ridiculous and very, very funny. I play this very obnoxious teenage boy who endlessly flirts with everybody he sees. It should be very, very funny, but there is this whole other story in the episode, which I think is also very funny.”
Dan really enjoyed portraying this character. The episode took a total of two days to film. “Oh it was great fun because it is something that is so removed from myself. It was such a departure, and a major departure from Harry. It was just really, really good fun. We wrapped at about 4 o’clock each day. We worked unbelievably fast and it was just really, really good fun. We had a good laugh and it was all really light-hearted. Joking around is what we basically did for two days. It was fantastic.” I don’t know about you guys, but I think he had a really, really great time filming this! *wink*
This show is not for everyone however. According to Daniel’s father, it is not suitable for anyone younger than sixteen. So – parents beware. What about those who do watch it? What will Harry Potter fans think? Well – I asked Daniel this question and he said, “If they like Ricky Gervais’ humor then they’ll like the episode, if they don’t then they won’t. Hopefully if they don’t like the episode then the next Harry Potter film will make up for it.” Nothing wrong with a little humor, I always say – It’s what keeps the mundane and tragic a little less in-your-face.
You can see a few pics of Dan and I from the interview here.