No Growing Pains For Daniel Radcliffe
Source: Hartford Courant, 8th November 2005
“They all know exactly what they’re worth,” “Goblet” director Mike Newell says of Radcliffe and co-stars Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, “but they have not become impossible.”
Radcliffe became a global icon as a 10-year-old when he won a worldwide casting call to breathe life into the hero from J.K. Rowling’s best-selling fantasy books. Despite endless adoration, he seems to be avoiding that notorious fraternity of thespian lads who turn rotten.
In a one-one-one conversation at a London hotel, the 5-foot-7 Radcliffe, sans those H.P. spectacles, emerges as very much a boy, but with a showman’s polish that no abracadabra could evoke when he first wielded a magic wand.
He makes small talk before the first question is popped and, later, in a press conference, works the room like a Catskills comic.
He has never been stung by a bad review or an unflattering portrait. That’s because he’s never read any of his press. His parents, Alan Radcliffe and Marcia Gresham, have provided a magic carpet ride into puberty by protecting him from both the adulation and the evisceration.
Radcliffe remains blissfully ignorant of his riches as well – reported to be next in line behind fellow young Brits Charlotte Church and Prince Harry.
“To be honest, I don’t actually know how much at this point,” Radcliffe says. “I don’t, really. In a way, I think that’s right. It’s not something that affects the way I think about things.”
Radcliffe’s Groucho-eyebrow-draped blue eyes lock in without trepidation. Although he gives relatively few interviews, he does not flinch at potentially awkward questions, either. He is the kind of millionaire action-figure boy-next-door with whom you’d like to take your teen daughter out for a soda.
Radcliffe wears a striped-green dress shirt, and his only accessory is his publicist and longtime family friend Vanessa Davies.
Except for premieres, Radcliffe’s family employs no bodyguards, according to the actor. At school, the hubbub over his presence dies down after a few weeks. And fan interest “never got too aggressive,” he says. “I know there are people who are slightly obsessed, but it doesn’t really worry me too much. As long as it stays at the pitch it is now. Occasionally you meet someone slightly worrying, but I never really feel in danger.”
The security issue that absorbs him at the moment is longevity as an actor. For the first time since he began the “Harry Potter” installments, Radcliffe is set to work on another feature, “December Boys,” a coming-of-age tale in which he plays an orphan. It begins shooting in Australia in December.
Taking a cue from one of his idols, Gary Oldman, who plays Harry’s godfather Sirius Black in the Potter movies, Radcliffe wants to forge various onscreen personas.
“If I was to complete the series without having done anything else during that time, it would be harder to be seen as anything else,” he says. “It’s just showing people I can do other things.”
At the moment, Radcliffe is preparing for the fifth Potter edition, “The Order of the Phoenix.” It requires him to take tutoring at the Leavesden Studios in Hertfordshire. Although he has aged out of many of the restrictions of England’s child-labor laws, he is determined to stick to his old schedule. Each film typically takes 11 months to finish.
“It would be too intense if I did that much school and that much filming at the same time,” he says. “Both my performance and schoolwork would suffer.”
Radcliffe is prepared to work the same routine if called upon to do No. 6, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” (Rowling is at work on a seventh.)
“Ultimately it comes down to whether I feel like doing it,” he says. “If it’s a great script, a great director and it will challenge me, there’s no reason for me not to do it. I’ve read the sixth book. It’s such an amazing part for me if I was to do it. That would definitely be something that would challenge me. But it’s a long way away.”
No. 5 puts Radcliffe through his paces in a hormonally charged setting. Newell says he crafted it first as a thriller, pitting the budding sorcery prodigy against Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), who has not appeared since he killed Harry’s parents 13 years earlier.
Although he is a poor swimmer, Radcliffe immersed himself in an extended underwater scene. “He won’t turn into a stuntman, but he’s a responsible boy,” producer David Heyman says.
Radcliffe seems to enjoy the spotlight more than his co-stars, piping in with glib comments as Grint, 17, stumbled through the afternoon news conference.
All the while, Radcliffe’s parents sat in the back row, watching with thin smiles and arms folded.
“I might be arrogant and big-headed, but they kept me really grounded, and I can’t thank them enough for that,” Radcliffe says. He is still just a teenager, more an onscreen dragon slayer than lady killer. Radcliffe spoke frankly about his less-than-magical ways with girls, saying their expectations of him as Harry dissolve into a “grimmer reality.”
But he knows the Potter experience will long outlive his awkwardness. After all, millions of moviegoers have fallen under his spell.
“This has given me a feeling of confidence,” says Radcliffe, “which I might not have had otherwise.”