Daniel Radcliffe’s Growing Into New Roles
By Nancy Churnin for GuideLive.com, 20th September 2007
There’s no limit to the wizarding feats of Harry Potter. But can Daniel Radcliffe, who has signed contracts to play him in all seven films, pull off the magic trick of reinventing himself as a serious and versatile actor in his latest film, December Boys?
After all, in the end, is it not enough to be richly rewarded – and we’re talking many millions of dollars – as well as adored as Harry?
“Acting is something I love doing,” says Mr. Radcliffe, as we must now call the boy we watched grow up on-screen, aging in real life from 12 to 18. The London-based performer spoke on the phone from Los Angeles, where he is promoting this story of four orphans on a life-changing Christmas holiday by the sea.
“I love meeting the people on the set. And this script was far and away the best I’ve seen.”
Mr. Radcliffe’s desire to have a post-Hogwarts life has driven him to squeeze in roles between Harry Potter films. He filmed December Boys in a six-week shoot between Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
After Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, from late February through June 9 of this year, he won raves for the role of the disturbed boy who blinds horses and strips onstage in Equus in London, a part he may re-create on Broadway next year. And by the time you read this story, he will be in the midst of filming Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. That film is due out in November 2008.
In December Boys, Mr. Radcliffe plays a teenager, Maps, who looks after three younger orphans that the orphanage lumps together because they all have December birthdays. (For the trivia-inclined, Mr. Radcliffe’s real birthday is July 23, much closer to the July 31 birthday that Harry shares with his creator, J.K. Rowling.)
When a couple invites the December Boys to come for a holiday by the sea, their closeness is tested when one gets a whiff of childless neighbors who might be up for adopting one of them.
While the three younger boys start competing to get chosen, Maps experiences first love and relives the agony of earlier abandonment when he realizes he may lose the girl, one of the boys and a maternal figure he discovers is very ill.
Mr. Radcliffe drew on his own adolescent angst, so on display in the recent Harry Potter movies, for the character.
“When I shot December Boys, me and Maps were in similar places,” he says. “That was one of the easiest parts for me to play.”
He enjoyed bonding with the other young actors and says his favorite scene involved the boys and a motorcycle in which he did not even appear. He especially appreciated that while they were curious about Harry, they were not in awe of him.
“I got along very well with the kids. They were very relaxed. I give full credit to them,” he says. “They’d seen all the movies, so they were curious and they would ask me how we did this effect and that effect. I would tell them, and they would be bitterly disappointed. Deep down, I think no one wants to know it isn’t really magic.”
But one secret he kept to himself was what would happen to Harry in the final book. While Ms. Rowling never actually spelled it out, three or four months before Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released, he says he asked her, ” ‘Do I die?’ ” and she, in her cryptic way, said, ‘Well, you have a death scene.’ So I had an inkling of what would happen. But I didn’t dare tell anyone. It would not have been worth my life.”
He was “very happy,” he says, with the way the Harry Potter saga turned out. He feels good, too, about December Boys.
“It seems to me that this is a movie that asks the question of what a family is. If it has a message, it is that family doesn’t have to be blood.”
Although Mr. Radcliffe, an only child whose parents he credits with keeping him emotionally grounded, financially protected and firmly out of the limelight, has no personal complaints.
“I have a great family,” he says.
Now, if he can write a script for his own personal happy ending, it would involve lots of acting. That includes in between Potter movies and, ultimately, long after them.
“If I have to go for more than two weeks without working, I think I would lose my mind. I hope to be acting for a very, very long time.”