Dan’s Aussie Spell
Source: Sunday Mail Queensland, 13th November 2005
WITH Harry Potter fever about to take its annual grip on the international box office, the British teenager now synonymous with author J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard is on his way to Australia to make only his second movie outside the multi-billion dollar franchise.
Daniel Radcliffe, 16, will play a character called Maps, one of four orphans competing for the same family’s affections, in Australian director Rod Hardy’s 1960s-era December Boys.
“It should be fantastic. The script is great,” Radcliffe said in London before leaving for Australia with his father Alan. His mother, Marcia, will join them during the six-week shoot.
“I start filming the day after I arrive. It will be interesting with the jet lag but I’m really excited – obviously it’s something outside Harry Potter.”
Radcliffe, who appeared in John Boorman’s The Tailor of Panama (2000) with Pierce Brosnan, Geoffrey Rush and Jamie Lee Curtis, his only other movie before being cast as Harry Potter, has been working on perfecting an Australian accent with National Theatre dialect coach Kate Godfrey.
“I’m certainly not going to do the Australian accent for you – I’ll leave that for the film – but it’s going really well,” he said. “I’ve got an OK ear for accents. I’ve got my mum’s ear rather than my dad’s ear, which can only be a good thing really.
“I want to do the best job I can. It’s all very well impressing people who aren’t in Australia every day, but you’ve got to do the accent so that even people who live in the country in question believe it.”
Soon after his return to England, Radcliffe and his co-stars Rupert Grint (who plays Ron Weasley) and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) are committed to start work on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth of Rowling’s projected seven Harry Potter novels, but he is uncertain whether it will be his swansong in the role.
His ambitions as an actor and his rapid physical maturing will be the stumbling blocks.
“It’s one of those things where you take it one year at a time,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going to be happening after the fifth film.
“I confess when I was reading the sixth book (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) I tried to read it very impartially, but I was going, ‘Actually there’s some stuff here that would be really cool to be able to do’.
“Ultimately it comes down to, if I do the film will I be enjoying it? I absolutely am so far and I’m sure that will continue on the fifth film.”
In the meantime the fourth movie, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, directed by Mike Newell, marks the next stage in Radcliffe’s – and Harry’s – growth.
While Radcliffe remains “hugely connected” to the Harry Potter character, now he is even more committed to a long career as an actor.
“I certainly have gotten a lot more confident during the process of making these films,” he said. “On the first film I was sort of a young kid on a film set and just loving the experience. I was taking it seriously, but not as much as I am now because I know now that I want to be an actor.
“While I’m still having fun on the films I’ve now learnt that the most important thing you should have when you’re actually on the set is a huge amount of focus.”
Having studied British politics (1815-1980) and the reunification of Italy at school this year, Radcliffe also is reading voraciously. Emile Zola’s Germinal is one book that impressed him.
For Harry, Goblet of Fire involves not only the Quidditch World Cup, but evading the Hungarian Horntail dragon, rescuing a loved one from the recesses of the Black Lake in the life-threatening Triwizard Tournament and confronting the evil Lord Voldemort (an unrecognisable Ralph Fiennes).
He also has a brush with fame via muckraking journalist Rita Skeeter (Miranda Richardson), has to deal with suspicion and jealousy among his friends, and then there’s the most terrifying challenge of all – finding a date for the Hogwarts Yule Ball.
“Generally every boy Harry’s age is really a bit pathetic with girls,” Radcliffe said, laughing. “I know when I was 14 I certainly was. I’ve got a bit better now talking with girls and asking them out but, I mean, it’s not something that gets that much easier.”