Working Without Magic
By Mina Hochberg for AM New York, 10th September 2007
Daniel Radcliffe has played not one, not two, but three orphans in his nine-year career: Harry Potter, David Copperfield and, come this Friday, a boy named Maps in the indie film “December Boys.” The poignant story centers on four young orphans whose holiday turns into a desperate competition for the affection of potential parents. We spoke to Radcliffe, who turned 18 this summer, about his first non-magical movie role since becoming Harry Potter. [If you still have not read “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” beware a spoiler.]
Usually orphan movies feel a bit stereotyped, but I thought this one stood out.
“Often with films concerning orphans, orphans are portrayed almost the same way every time. The other day I [was saying] that Harry and Maps are very different characters and somebody said to me, ‘Oh, but they’re both orphans.’ And I said but surely you’re not implying that all orphans are the same? It was also a very different film from “Harry” because Harry has never been in an orphanage.”
Contrary to popular opinion, Cho Chung was not your first on-screen kiss. It was in this film.
“I know, it’s hilarious! I was just sitting there quietly amused during all the press conferences for Harry Potter 5. They would say, ‘So what was it like, your first on-screen kiss? How do you feel about that?’ We do a lot more than kissing in this movie, which people don’t seem to have really been shocked by. Which is good, because I don’t think it’s particularly a very shocking scene. I don’t think it’s even sexy. It’s sort of clumsy and quite sweet and fumbling.”
How do you feel doing an indie movie like this, which doesn’t have the Harry Potter brand attached?
“Normally for “Potter,” you do the publicity because you raise the profile of the movie. But ultimately it’s “Harry Potter” and you know people are gonna see it. Whereas for this film, all this publicity is incredibly important. It’s like a political campaign because you have to get the word out and make people want to go see it. So it’s lovely to publicize a film that’s not “Harry Potter.” It’s certainly lovely to be in a film that’s not “Harry Potter,” for once. It’s a refreshing experience.”
Were there any scenes in “Deathly Hallows” that you’re especially excited about doing in the movie?
“I was very excited to do that scene where Harry is walking to face Voldemort. Hopefully I’ll be able to do that justice. Also the King’s Cross chapter — and obviously, I’m saying all this without any knowledge of what’s gonna be cut — the scene in the King’s Cross chapter with Dumbledore after Harry has been killed, essentially. If anyone can design that set it’s [“Potter” production designer] Stuart Craig.”
Were there any scenes that you kind of hope get cut, maybe because they’d be tedious?
“I suppose anything on a broomstick I always go, ‘Oh, god.’ It’s weird because J.K. Rowling essentially doesn’t like writing Quidditch. I and the crew and all the cast members don’t like filming Quidditch. But it’s so pleasing to the fans, and there is more Quidditch in the sixth film.”
You performed nude on stage for “Equus” in London. Would you do nudity on film?
“Oddly enough it is more daunting to do it on film, and I don’t know why that is. But if the part required it I would absolutely do it.”
Even in HD?
“Even in HD, yes.”
Could you see yourself ever moving to New York?
“I love England. I’m not patriotic in that jingoistic ‘I hate other countries’ way, but I’m proud of England and bits of its history. So I don’t think I could live in the U.S. But ask me in 10 years.”