Harry’s At Ease As It Bares All
By Helen Barlow for The West Australian, 3rd July 2007
The most curious thing about coming face to face with Daniel Radcliffe in his recent interviews for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was how the actor would talk about his portrayal of a nervous boy receiving his first kiss — given his recent full frontal nudity on the London stage in Equus.
Any fears were allayed however when, sitting at the raised wooden lectern in a Hogwarts-style debating chamber at London’s County Hall, he spoke with ease to the assembled press.
“Once you’ve been onstage naked in front of 1000 people, you really feel you can do almost anything without inhibition. Kissing Katie (Cho Chang) was a very comfortable experience, especially when compared to being naked on stage.”
Sitting leisurely in our later interview, Radcliffe admits the opening night had been “pure terror”.
“I don’t mean to drop a name but I did speak to Gary Oldman about it because I knew he’d been naked on stage and I asked him what it was like. He said, ‘You’ll be terrified on the first night, you’ll be terrified on the second night and after that you won’t care what happens’.”
As Harry comes of age and asserts himself in fighting off the demons in the screen adaptation of J. K. Rowling’s fifth novel, 17-year-old Radcliffe makes it clear he is personally embarking on an adventure as well. He wants to have a career like Oldman, his godfather Sirius Black in the film and a mentor in real life.
“Gary’s spectrum of roles is so huge, his body of work is so unbelievably impressive, that I would love to emulate that. I don’t know if I can but I’ll certainly give it a good go.”
Sadly, after some rather dramatic, shared scenes fighting the dastardly Voldermort in The Order of the Phoenix, Oldman will not return for the final instalments.
“I know. It’ll be very, very sad. We both got very emotional when we said goodbye. But we’ll keep in touch, so it’s fine.”
As one might imagine, Radcliffe has had an increasing amount of input on the films and perhaps found his latest collaboration the most rewarding. Though he says every director has been different.
“Chris Columbus brought so much charm to the films and I don’t think anybody would have started the franchise the way he did. Alfonso (Cuaron) then brought this fantastic visual flair to the set, which possibly hadn’t been seen in the first two.
“Then Mike Newell brought this sense of Britishness and bombastic madness, which again we hadn’t seen up until that point. And the thing that David (Yates) has managed to do brilliantly here is take all of that and to combine it with a real edge. He’s injected a grit into this film, which I think again we probably haven’t seen before.”
While Yates will return for the next film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which starts shooting in two months, he may also be up for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, based on Rowling’s final book, which comes out on July 21.
“I’m going to drag out reading the book for as long as I can and treasure every moment until I find out what happens to me,” Radcliffe says, slowly and deliberately. “It’s been a part of my life for so long, it will have been all my teen years by the end probably.”
It’s not that Radcliffe has missed out on teen experiences. His first kiss at the age of 14, he says “certainly stayed very fresh in my mind”. He gives the impression that he’s as girl-mad as any teenager (“There’s always time for romance”) and in London’s Daily Mail newspaper he noted: “People are shocked that I’ve had serious girlfriends” (he doesn’t name names, of course).
As for all his millions, to which he gained access at 17, he has not lashed out on anything extravagant so far. “I’m quite interested in artwork. I’ll possibly be interested in buying some art,” he says, noting he has not bought an expensive Fiat car, as has been reported. However he fully commends his co-star Rupert Grint’s acquisition of an ice-cream van. “I told him you’ve got to get it all stocked up by the time we’re all on Harry Potter 6, so he can drive us in and give us ice-creams every morning.”
He prefers to see artier films and his first non-Harry Potter movie is along those lines. December Boys, about four boys who flee from an orphanage to visit the seaside, was shot in Australia when he had just turned 16. The film’s release later this year could prove a nervous time for the actor.
“Everyone can say whatever they like about the film but I personally think it’s a very, very honest, genuine, heartfelt film and really sweet and warm and gentle and great. It’s not soppy in any way. It’s a very different character and a very different performance to Harry Potter.”
In December Boys he makes out with Australian actress Teresa Palmer .
“This is definitely Daniel’s first screen romance and he handled it very well,” Palmer says. “He’s younger than me but so mature and he’s so experienced as an actor and I could get tips off him. He’s so calm about it all.”
This month Radcliffe will have a star on Hollywood’s walk of fame. How does he feel about that?
“It’s strange, isn’t it? It’s a great honour and I’m very, very proud. But it’s one of those things I suppose I get terribly English about. Do I deserve that? It’s just very hard to know. Just some of the names I join when I get on that, it’s remarkable.
“But I’ll be there. Somebody says I must wear shoes I don’t mind giving away because I have to walk in cement or something. I don’t quite understand it but I have to wear bad shoes. I don’t mind though; all my shoes are bad.”
Maybe new shoes are what Harry Potter can buy with his millions.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix opens on Thursday.