Wild About Harry
By Sarah Stewart for New York Post, 12th November 2005
ON-SCREEN, as wizard-in-training Harry Potter, he bravely faces fire-breathing dragons, Death Eaters and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named – but off-screen, Daniel Radcliffe is unnerved by something a little less menacing: the Pillsbury Doughboy.
“What is THAT?” he asks in mock horror as the animated white blob dances around on a TV screen in the corner. Apparently, poppin’ fresh dough is not quite as popular in Radcliffe’s hometown of London.
After three successful “Harry Potter” films plus a fourth opening Friday, Radcliffe may be the world’s most famous 16-year-old. But he was every bit a regular guy as he sat down with The Post to discuss on-set school (better than the regular kind), filming underwater (saying your lines is tough) and pet peeves (being told how the new Harry Potter book ends before he’s finished it!)
So, have you read “The Half-Blood Prince” yet?
I have. It’s great. They just keep getting better and better.
Were you surprised by the conclusion?
I’d love to say that I was. But somebody who had read it already told me the ending! That happens a lot, actually. I was in Australia at the time, and there was a bookstore where they were releasing the book, and there was this massive line of people – and somebody who’d read it drove by and shouted out the ending. It was a drive-by spoiler! Sick, sick people.
What was your very first audition like?
I had a meeting with [producer] David Heyman to see if we got on – and we totally did. We talked about two things: the WWF, and his journeys around America. I’ve moved on from the WWF, I’d like to point out. People are still sending me stuff related to that.
Do you ever go to a real school, or is it all tutoring on the set?
Well, I go to school sometimes, but to be honest, when I’m on the set I do much better work. It’s a great environment, and my grades go way up. Funny, when I’m in America I’ve started to exchange some of the words – like I’ve started saying “store” instead of “shop,” and “classes” instead of “lessons” – and just now, “grades” instead of “marks.”
Did this movie take way longer than you were all expecting it to?
On the first couple of films, everyone got really optimistic, like, “We’ll have it done in six months, no problem.” But now we know better.
Do you see parallels between yourself and Harry?
Yeah, growing up, discovering stuff about yourself – some of which you wish wasn’t there, some of which you’re glad to have. I think one parallel, with everyone’s life really, is that as you grow older you realize that adults aren’t perfect. With Harry, he realizes that about Dumbledore.
Harry’s pretty awkward around Cho Chang in the new movie. Do you have similar problems talking to girls?
When I was his age, I was maybe slightly better than he is, but not much. Now I’m much better, because I’ve learned that if you try to say funny things, it’s very, very likely that it’ll just look stupid. So I’ve gone away from that, and I just try to be as natural as possible.
Do you have a girlfriend?
I don’t, no.
You’re a huge music fan. Did you have any input into the Yule Ball scene where there’s a live band?
Not really. They asked who I’d recommend, and I said Franz Ferdinand. They didn’t take that recommendation, though. But the people they got were great. They were really nice. I got so nervous when I met Jarvis Cocker [from Pulp] I just started making really bad, stupid jokes. I probably didn’t come across as my usual witty, sophisticated self … I’m just joking, by the way.
Did you wish you’d been in that dancing scene?
I would have loved it – that’s the kind of dancing that’s fun, when you’re just jumping up and down like a mad person. That’s the kind of dancing I’m very good at.
What’s life like, being Harry Potter?
I’ve never really known anything different, so I don’t really have anything else to compare it to. But I’m having a fantastic time. I’ve never become jaded about it, because you never know what’s going to happen next.
Did you do any really dangerous stunts in “Goblet of Fire”?
I didn’t come close to death, but there were a couple of moments when I was absolutely terrified – like when I was falling down the roof in the dragon scene. I was so scared doing that. But luckily I do always feel safe, because I have the most amazing stunt team. I’ve been in their hands for five years and they haven’t let me down yet.
The underwater part looked pretty complicated, too.
I trained for six months to do that. Altogether, I was underwater for 41 hours. To act underwater was particularly hard – there was one moment where they said, “Now say your line.” I was like, how do I do that? But it was good fun.
Do you have any non-Harry Potter films in the works?
Right now, I’m working on my first film outside of Harry Potter. It’s an Australian film. Me and three other kids are Australian orphans. I don’t want to jinx it, but I think it’s fantastic.