The Trouble With Harry
By Jon Stern for VH1, 15th November 2005
On November 23 London’s Daniel Radcliffe will become the most famous teenager in the world — again. The 16-year-old has been playing Harry Potter since 2001; during the franchise’s three films, he’s grown up before our eyes. The latest installment, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, finds him facing his biggest challenges yet – some say it’s the spookiest title of the Potter collection. Radcliffe told VH1 about Ralph Fiennes’ mad eyes, spending days underwater, and what he thinks is going to happen to Harry in the final chapter of J.K. Rowling’s magical saga.
The movies are getting darker.
Well, we sort of say that every year — that it’s getting darker, it’s getting better. But it really is. It’s not gory or bloody or anything, but it’s very intense towards the end of it. I think the fans would have been disappointed if we hadn’t gotten a PG-13 rating. A 16-year-old kid dies at the end, and there’s no way you can do that and make it light and fluffy.
Tell me about your face-off with the villain Voldemort, who finally makes an appearance in The Goblet of Fire.
Normally, when we do the climaxes of the films, they’re pretty scary, but I’m never scared because I’m doing them and they’ve got the crew around. But Ralph Fiennes has these mad scary eyes, which sort of draw you into them and make you forget that there is anyone else there. Like it’s just you and him, and he’s going to kill you! It was really exciting doing that scene, if slightly terrifying!
You’re growing up with Harry Potter through these films. How has he changed in this one?
I think he’s very alone in this film. The first films were sort of about the strength of everything: The strength of Harry’s perceptions of people, the strength of his friendships, the strength of his protector Dumbledore. The fourth film is all about that crumbling. He falls out with his friend Ron. Dumbledore is seen for the first time as a frail old man who is no longer at the heights of his power. I think he feels like his life is being shaken up even more than it normally is in this film.
Tell me about shooting your scenes underwater.
The underwater thing was tough. I probably wouldn’t have done scuba diving had it not been for the films. I was underwater for 41 hours and 23 minutes…about! It was quite intense. We filmed for three to four weeks in total. You spend one day filming underwater, and might only get eight seconds of footage, so it’s quite frustrating. You feel like, [shivers] Oh, I’ve had a really long and hard day, and I’ve got so far to go!
That’s one thing I was wondering about. I love J.K. Rowling’s world, but does seeing the magic behind it ruin that fantasy for you?
I think the world is divided into two types of people. There are the types of people that when you show them a magic trick, don’t want to know how it’s done, because it would ruin it for them. Then there’s the type where if you show them how a magic trick’s done, it actually becomes more impressive. That’s what I’m like when I watch the film. After doing really arduous stuff like Quidditch — which is a real nightmare to film – for about a month, it’s great to see it all complete. It doesn’t ruin it.
Do you hate Alan Rickman’s character Severus Snape as much as I do now after reading Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince?
Unless he’s like a double double double double spy! That’s the thing: Alan Rickman knows the truth about his character! He knows. He has got information from J.K. Rowling — I think probably the only person in the world, but he knows about Snape!
You just don’t know. If you’d read the first book, and somebody had told you what was going to happen in the fourth, you would never have believed them. But by the time you get to the fourth, there is an utterly logical and satisfactory explanation for everything that happens. If anyone’s gonna come up with Snake being a double double double double spy and make it believable, it will be J.K. Rowling.
You’ve speculated that Harry might not get out of the whole thing alive. I don’t know if that was before you read the sixth book. Now I don’t see how he can handle Voldemort on his own.
Really? I think there has got to have been something between Snape and Harry’s mum in it. I don’t know that for sure. But I mean, based on what you sort of seeing in the fifth book, I think there was something more to their relationship. I certainly think you’re right, and I’m not sure Harry could take him on alone, unless there’s a very big event that really hardens Harry and strengthens him halfway through the seventh. I don’t think he’s a powerful enough wizard. Maybe that will be Snape’s redeeming quality!