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On Monday afternoon, I had the opportunity to spend some time with the actor Daniel Radcliffe, who is best known for his performance as the title character in all eight films of the Harry Potter films.
Radcliffe and I chatted at New York’s fabled 21 Club prior to a luncheon that Warner Brothers held in celebration of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the final installment in the decade-spanning franchise that has collectively grossed over $7.7 billion at box offices around the world and single-handedly revived the faltering British film industry.
The studio is giving the film a full-on Oscar push, with the hope that Academy members might award it a best picture nomination on its own merits and/or as a tribute to all of the films, which have heretofore only registered with them in the technical categories.
As you can read and hear below, the 22-year-old — who is currently starring in the Broadway revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying — spoke candidly with me about how he first became involved with the Harry Potter franchise; how he feels about it coming to an end; and how he feels about the ways in which it has changed his life, personally and professionally…
The Hollywood Reporter (THR): What are your feelings now that it has all wound down?
Daniel Radcliffe (DR): Well, you know, I think my feelings are that the series is, kind of, its own commemoration — I mean, to me at least. I won’t be able to look at any of these films without remembering what they did for the British film industry at a time when it wasn’t doing great — it’s now flourishing, but in the early half of the decade, you know, there was nothing happening, and films were closing, and Potter was the only, kind of, sure-thing happening in England. And, you know, my memories of it are incredibly nostalgic, and romantic, and, I think, how everybody views their teenage years, you know: with complete idealism, having forgotten that there was ever any, you know, hormonal rage or any of that kind of stuff. You know, I had a moment the other day of actually really missing it for the first time since, of going, “God, I miss those people!” But, yeah, I mean, it’s been over a year now, and I’ve been having this amazing year here, so it’s been a great first year away — may they all be this good!
THR: For people who either don’t know or may have forgotten, can you share how you became involved with this franchise in the first place?
DR: Well, David Heyman‘s mum is a producer — Norma Heyman — who produced a film called Gangster No. 1 (2000), which was directed by Paul McGuigin, who was my dad’s client when my dad was an agent. So they were aware of me. Chris Columbus had seen David Copperfield and said, “I want to audition this boy.” They went to my parents, and, at the time, the deal was to sign on for — I think — six films, all to be done in L.A., and my mum and dad simply said, “That’s too much disruption to his life. That’s not gonna happen.” I didn’t know any of that had gone on. And then, maybe three, four months down the line, the deal had changed, and it was gonna be to shoot two films, and they’d both be done in England, and so they said, “Okay, we’ll let him audition.” And then it all went from there, really.
THR: You were — essentially overnight — an international celebrity…
THR: Is that something that was very jarring or that you were able to deal with well?
DR: You know what’s interesting is that there was, like, a year when there was nothing. That first year we were announced, and then we were filming for a year, so nobody recognized us — we weren’t on the streets enough to be recognized, so we had, kind of, a year. I think that the thing about celebrity is that it gives you– There are, obviously, upsides to it, but I’d say that the upsides, for me, are the upsides that come from my job rather than from the celebrity aspect. I mean, celebrity is horrible — that’s the truth, is that it’s a ghastly, vile thing. Everything that’s wrong about it is summed up in this story: I was with a few people the other day recceing possible locations for a film I might be doing, and we were at a university, and there was a conference going on upstairs. We were looking around this room, just for locations and stuff, and this guy rushed out to me and said, “Oh, hi! I’m” so-and-so “from” such-and-such — a fairly prestigious magazine — and said, “I’m here doing a conference and I was wondering if you had any comment on homophobia in” — I think — “Uganda?” And I went, “I don’t. No, because (a) that’s not why I’m here, and (b) you have a room full of people gathered together today specifically to talk about that. You shouldn’t care about my opinion; I am not informed. Just because I am ‘somebody’ doesn’t mean I am qualified or even interesting.” Like, people say about actors spouting their political views and things like that, it’s fine if actors want to talk about that stuff, but don’t expect people to take your opinion seriously, you know? I mean, I think celebrity is an unfortunate byproduct. You know, most actors hate being called celebrities, but we are — like, we have to accept that, you know — and we have a public image, and all that stuff. But, yeah, it’s something that, on the whole, we’d rather not have to worry about.
THR: In the grand scheme of things, knowing now what you’ve had to give up, in terms of privacy and all of that, has it been worth it?
DR: [long pause] Yes. Ultimately, yes, absolutely. Because I’ve had a pretty okay time. I mean, there have been things — like, you know, recently, my mum and dad were followed by News of the World, and, you know, all that stuff. But the British tabloids are always gonna be like that, and it doesn’t matter, actually, how famous you are or how not. Ultimately, I’ve had 10 years of amazing training — amazing life, you know? And I’m still going. So, you know, I think that if you just keep the focus on the work and don’t get suckered in by that stuff, it’s possible to maintain.
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