SFX Interview: Daniel Radcliffe
Source: SFX (UK), Feb 2004. Transcribed by Gareth for Veritaserum.com
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban will hit cinemas with a hefty wallop on June 4, marking the end of years of anticipation (not to mention drooling) by fans worldwide. Adults and children who know every word of the book back to front will be expecting to see the images in their heads transferred faithfully to the big screen, with their hero, Harry Potter, giving a magical performance.
So, no pressure on Daniel Radcliffe, then. Although, with two films under his belt and the third in the can, Radcliffe isn’t exactly a beginner when it comes to wizard acting. “I feel I have definitely grown up with him,” the young actor points out, happily. “I know him quite well now. I think the thing I love about Harry is that everybody can associate with him. He’d just turned 11 in the first book and he grows up from there to 13, so far, in the third book. He goes through all the changes that everybody- myself included- goes through in those years, and experiences all the same things, too.”
For those three people reading this interview who haven’t read Harry Potter and The Prisoner Of Azkaban, how would Radcliffe sum up the plot? “In the third film, Harry runs away from the Dursleys, and takes the Knight bus to the Leaky Cauldron, where he meets Ron Weasley and all the Weasley family. Then he’s told that Sirius Black has escaped from prison and is trying to kill him. And so Harry automatically gets slightly paranoid. Basically, he comes to doubt himself when he finds out new things about his parents. It’s a more emotionally intense journey, rather than huge physical battles like in the second film with the basilisk.
It’s definitely the darkest book in the Potter saga so far, does this mean that the character of Harry will be any different in this movie? “The Harry that you read about in the fifth book,” Radcliffe explains, “is actually, in a way, the Harry that we have portrayed in the third film. It wasn’t like it was a pre-planned thing. It just happened that we made Harry very angry in the film. There’s a lot of teenage angst in it!”
Seeing as the Harry in “The Order of the Phoenix” is a bit of a grumpy bugger, Azkaban should involve him doing a lot of stomping around. However, Radcliffe doesn’t let his knowledge of Harry’s future influence his interpretation. “I think the reason I don’t ever think of what Harry will be doing in the future is because, for him it hasn’t happened yet. When we’re filming the third film, he doesn’t know what’s going to happen in the fourth and the fifth. If I were to concentrate on the future while talking to a character like Ron Weasley, then it could change my performance, which would be wrong, because Harry doesn’t know any of that stuff yet.”
Speaking of things to come, has JK Rowling shared any secrets about the conclusion of the series with the young star? “Not at all!” Radcliffe exclaims with finality. “She’s not giving anything away. As far as I know, the only person on set who who knows something about their character’s future- or past, as the case may be- is Alan Rickman. I think she may have told him something. I don’t know what it is, but it’s very striking!”
There’s been a change of directors, with Alfonso Cuaron taking over clapperboard duties from Chris Columbus. Are there differences between the two? “Chris always had a fantastic energy about him, which suited the first two films perfectly,” Radcliffe muses. “Alfonso has a much more laid back intensity to him, which fits the third film. Of course, I can’t say about how it turns out for the third film, because I haven’t seen it yet!”
Turns out our Danny is a bit of a music buff, relying on some unlikely sounds to influence his acting. “I listen to all kinds of music,” he says. “There was one scene where I pass out when I see the dementors for the first time. I think that was where music helped me most in the film. The two bands I was listening to for that were Delgados and Mercury Rev. I listen to all kinds of guitar music normally, but those are very calming- it’s all hard to explain- and that gets you in the right frame of mind, for doing certain things.”
Speaking of Dementors, it sounds as though they’ll be hogging the limelight in the next movie. The evil guards of Azkaban prison seem to have it in for Harry as well as Sirius Black, and their appearance is one of the most anticipated things in the film. They also have a spectacular scene involving the favourite sport of wizards!
“There’s one Quidditch match in this,” Radcliffe says, tantalisingly, “From what I’ve seen- and I’ve only seen a very rough cut- it’s absolutely amazing. It takes place entirely in the rain and the Dementors come on the field. It really is going to be very scary, as well as completely amazing!”
There are some great sequences in Azkaban that we’re really looking forward to seeing. However, as Radcliffe has already filmed them, what’s coming up in Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire that’s tickling his fancy? “Filming with the cast in the underwater parts and the parts with the dragon,” he smiles. “All that seems really interesting. And the romance element with Cho Chang could be really funny, because it’s a kind of romantic comedy. I’m looking forward to that.”
Seeing as Mike Newell will be directing the next movie, romance could well play a huge part. “Yes! I talked to him about it,” nods Radcliffe. “He feels it’s an opportunity for a very funny storyline. “Of course, Newell has a huge task on his hands, because GOF is a huge book- surely, too much for one film? Rumours have abounded that the movie might be split into two parts, Kill Bill style.”
“My choice would probably be to condense each book as much as possible and do one film per book,” Radcliffe says. “If you have two films, two months apart but still connected, you do kind of lose the thread. If people have to go back to see a second part two months later, they won’t be as involved in the story.”
Speaking of the future, there are four more books left to film from the Rowling series. Will they all feature the rapidly growing Radcliffe? “I have absolutely no idea whether I’ll do all seven,” he admits. “I’m definitely doing the fourth. After that, at some point in the future, who knows? I would love to carry on with acting in the future, because I just love doing it! There might be some other things I really like to do as well. But right know I love playing Harry. It’s such an amazing part.”
By the end of the series, at this rate, Harry will be a 6’5″ 24 year old in a Hogwarts uniform. Although, admittedly, the rest of the cast are getting rather big now too! “Rupert is about 12’4″!” Radcliffe joshes. “No, how tall is Rupert now?” About 5’8″? Or 5’5″, 5’6″. I’m 5’4″ and he’s a lot bigger than me. Rupert and Emma are definitely going to be in the next film as well, and so it’ll be great because we’re all coming back. But Rupert has grown a lot. Emma is taller than me by about half a millimetre!”
Not that a small amount of jealousy over the height gets in the way of the actors being good mates. “We’re are all really close on set,” Radcliffe states. “The fact that we have all been going through this completely new experience together has helped greatly. Not only has it strengthened our off-screen friendship, but I think it’s helped form what you see on screen. We’re not acting like we’re being friends, we are genuinely friends in real life.”