Being Harry Potter

Source: The Sun, Apr 29th, 2004.
By GRANT ROLLINGS

“I can’t watch the first film… it sounds like I was on helium!”

HARRY Potter star Daniel Radcliffe has been at the centre of a global phenomenon for the past four years — and he is only just approaching his 15th birthday.

The youngster was mobbed by 3,000 screaming girls in Japan, which was more than the number who turned out to welcome Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio or Sir Paul McCartney.

Now, in his first full interview for two years, Dan talks about his private world, about coping with life as a film star — and the new Potter movie.

The third film of JK Rowling’s Potter novels, The Prisoner of Azkaban, opens in the UK on June 4.

As the picture above shows, Dan is keen to ditch his image as a cute child actor.

Instead of Potter’s bookish glasses and magic wand there is a V-shaped guitar, Darkness album and a takeaway pizza.

GROWING UP

HAVE you gone back and watched the first two films at all?

I haven’t seen the first one in a few years. I don’t want to watch it. I won’t go back while I’m doing the fourth one.

Actually, I was flicking through the channels one day and I saw a bit of the first film and I genuinely thought there was something wrong with the sound because our voices were so high.

It sounded like I was on helium, it was bizarre, and I genuinely thought there was something wrong with it.

I will probably watch them one day for fun — although I’m not sure how much fun it would be because I’m really self-critical.

I don’t like watching myself at all but luckily I can detach myself from it.

ON HARRY

CAN you just snap into Harry now without thinking?

Yeah, kind of. It’s become instantaneous. I don’t know how much I had in common with him at the beginning but I think over time I’ve become more closely connected with him.

MUSIC

WHAT’S the perfect soundtrack to a 15th birthday?

The Strokes would definitely be on it. I’d love to hear The Libertines do Happy Birthday.

That’d be awesome ’cos they’re quite a hard punk, rock and roll band. They’re really good. Jet definitely. Rollover DJ. The Pixies definitely. And Stellastarr who I’ve just discovered.

FILMS

SO are you a big film fan as well as a music fan then? I read that when you were 11 your favourite was Twelve Angry Men.

That’s probably my favourite. I saw Starsky and Hutch the other day and thought that was fun.

But there were no cars driving through cardboard boxes.

That was in the TV series right? I was disappointed by that.

I love What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, LA Confidential, The Usual Suspects, anything with Scarlett Johansson. Lost In Translation.

The thing I thought was really clever was that you don’t know what he says in her ear at the end.

SCHOOL

HOW much of a year do you spend filming and how much at school?

Well, we spent about 11 months filming. We ended in December, but then I have a break and I’ll go back to school for a term and start filming again in April or May.

TURNING 15

Do you have any plans for your birthday? (July 23)

I’ll most likely be filming but what normally happens is you get a cake from everyone on set and the great thing about filming when you have your birthday is that there are so many people there and you get loads of presents.

You just have a little party on set.

Luckily all the people on set are really cool so I’ll have a good time. There’s one guy Will, my dresser, who’s become like my best friend.

WORK

DOES it feel like work or is it just the norm now?

It’s never felt like work. It doesn’t feel like a proper job. It’s fun. I always associate work with doing something that you don’t really want to do. You do have to work hard on set but it’s great fun, too.

Even when I’m not filming there are other aspects of making the film that I’m interested in, like watch someone directing.

CO-STAR EMMA WATSON

IS Emma a lot more worried about what’s she’s wearing now, things like that?

Well Emma’s always been like that.

Not in a bad way at all but she’s very style-conscious.

I think what we wore in the early films contributed. You know, ‘I don’t look very cool in the films, so I have to try and look cool out of them’. Emma’s great. She’s a really nice girl.

POTTER FASHION

THERE’S been quite an overhaul in the look of the characters hasn’t there?

Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff in completely normal clothes now.

In all the books there is kind of a big finale in robes, whereas in this one it’s just normal clothes.

That’s great because the robes are beautiful to look at but you don’t feel you can run as fast and do as much as you would if you were wearing normal clothes.

LIFE AFTER HARRY

WHERE do you see yourself when Potter ends?

I’d like to see myself definitely doing other films. I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t happen but I just hope that it does.

Directing in the very, very long term would be amazing because it’s something I find really interesting.

At the moment there’s no better place I could be to learn about it.

NEW DIRECTOR ALFONSO CUARON

DID it make it very different having a new director?

We had to write an essay on our characters which was really funny because the way we did it was exactly how our characters would do it.

I did it like Harry, just a page of writing, Rupert (Grint) didn’t do it in the end and Emma wrote 16 pages. So we were all like, ‘Oh God we’ve all become scarily like our characters’.

ACTING

WHAT new things did you do for this film?

One of the things that really did help me was music.

I listen to music anyway but I listen to it even more if I’m preparing for a scene and I’ll always pick the right music for the scene.

There was one bit where I thought, ‘How in God’s name am I going to do this’ because it’s a scene where I faint as a result of hearing my mother’s scream as she was murdered in my head.

So I’m like, ‘OK, I have nothing to compare with that’ so I have to find something, and I found this music by a band called The Delgados who I’d listen to before I went on set.

ON THE NEW FILM

WHAT’S your favourite scene from what you’ve seen so far?

The Shrieking Shack, because I was on there and I was going, ‘Oh my God I’m acting with Gary Oldman, David Thewlis, Timothy Spall and Alan Rickman all at the same time’.

That was the highlight of the film for me, especially since Gary Oldman’s one of my favourite actors ever.

Quidditch in this one is amazing. I’ve seen it with really rough cut digital effects and it is still stunning.

We had the problem of how do you make the Dementors not seem like the Wringwraiths [sic] from Lord of the Rings? Alfonso’s done such a brilliant job on them.

One thing is the temperature drops and of course they come on to the pitch when Quidditch is being played and it’s raining, so all the rain turns to ice and all the rain starts cutting at me.

It’s touches like that which just make it really scary. It’s going to be brilliant.

You’ve got stuff on the hippogriff which is great. It’s really odd to film because it’s like being on a big but really slow mechanical bull, but much more complicated.

It was really good to film but another one of those really surreal moments you get on a Harry Potter film, like walking into the canteen and there are hundreds of wizards there.

What else is there? There’s Emma punching Malfoy, which I think everyone is looking forward to. That was Emma’s favourite scene.

WORKING WITH THE STARS

IS there anyone you’d particularly like to come and work on the films, since all these massive stars seem to be attracted to them?

Gary Oldman was the one I’ve been most excited about so far. And before this one I wasn’t familiar with anything David Thewlis had done and then I watched Naked and I was like, ‘This is amazing’. So those two.

ESCAPING POTTER

ARE there other things you’d like to do, because you’ve been doing this such a long time?

I don’t know what else I can do.

Are you settled on acting for life?

I think so. It’s something I love doing and why give up what you love doing? If I find that something else comes along that makes me go ‘wow’ then I might do that.

Side Quotes:

ON DEBUT AS HARRY: ‘I’ll see it again one day but I’m a big self-critic’

ON ACTRESS SCARLETT: ‘I like watching any movie that has her in it …’

ON GARY OLDMAN: ‘Great to work with. He’s my favourite actor’

ON EMMA WATSON: ‘Nice girl, she’s always been so style-conscious’

ON MUSIC: ‘I’d love to hear Libertines play Happy Birthday’

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