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Boy Wizard Works His Magic Among Mere Mortals

by ClaireJul 10, 2008
By Penelope Debelle for The Age, 26th November 2005

How better to begin preparing for the life of a full-time muggle (Harry Potter-speak for “human”) than by starring in a small-budget film shot on location in South Australia? British actor and Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, 16, has crossed the world to make December Boys, based on a 1963 novel by a Queensland author, the late Michael Noonan, and featuring a cast of unknowns, the exception being Jack Thompson.

“I always wanted to do something between Harry Potter four and Harry Potter five,” said Radcliffe, who chose the Film Finance Corporation-backed script from hundreds of others. “It was a great story and a character that was very different from Harry.”

For The Philosopher’s Stone (2001), Radcliffe, then 11, was paid $400,000, which rose to more than $4 million for The Chamber of Secrets (2002) to $8 million for The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) and about $12 million for the The Goblet of Fire, which opens in Australia on December 1. He has just signed on for a fifth, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, for which he will earn about $20 million. His family manages his assets and he is completing school with a tutor on set.

Radcliffe’s arrival in Adelaide more than a week ago caused a stir, although, until a press conference yesterday, he had not surfaced publicly.

The local newspaper ran a Daniel Radcliffe hotline, inviting people to call if they saw him. Radcliffe said he almost rang in.

“It’s not something that I think, why are people doing this? It’s just bizarre and funny and it’s not really a big issue.”

The transition from Harry to Maps, the leader of a gang of orphanage boys who fight to be chosen for adoption, is more difficult than Radcliffe had imagined.

“It’s tough because I sort of assumed I would get on set and by reading the lines in the right way that would make it the different parts,” said Radcliffe. “But it doesn’t. There’s a whole physical thing that’s different from Harry as well. I’m quite an expressive person and Maps is a lot more restrained.”

Radcliffe’s association with Harry is far from over. He said the latest film is very dark, and had to be in order to do J. K. Rowling’s story justice, and that its M rating in Australia was not only justified but necessary.

“It’s the nature of the book — a 16-year-old kid dies in Harry Potter four. You can’t make that light and frothy,” Radcliffe said.

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