Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows is in cinemas this month
No wands. No glasses. No scars. Those were the rules we agreed with Daniel Radcliffe’s camp when we started planning our west London photo shoot with the 20-year-old star of Harry Potter. Today is all about Dan – as everyone calls him – not Harry.
In fact, how much longer will it continue to be about Harry? Another year maybe? By then, all of the Harry Potter books will have been adapted and released in cinemas. The first half of the final book – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 – is released this month, with the second half following next summer. Part 1 kicks off (spoiler alert!) with Harry (Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) fleeing Hogwarts after it has been taken over by Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). The three need to destroy all of the remaining horcruxes (items containing a portion of Voldemort’s soul), whilst fighting the enemies trying to stop them. Then it’s back to Hogwarts for Part 2 and a showdown with the Dark Lord. And finally, as if at the shake of a magic wand, Harry Potter will be no more. No more books, no more movies.
But not no more Radcliffe. Dan has two other films in the works, both set for release in 2011. The first is an adaptation of Susan Hill’s best-selling novel, Victorian thriller The Woman in Black, and the other is The Journey is the Destination, playing the late photographer Dan Eldon, whose work brought global attention to the Somalian Civil War. And then there’s Broadway… All hitting at just the right time to show there is more to Dan than Harry.
You’ve spent nearly half of your life with Harry Potter. Do you think you’ll miss him? Yes, I will miss the character obviously, but I will also miss the process of making these films and the friends I have made.
Do you think you’ll be called Harry Potter for the rest of your life? No, not particularly. People have cast me in other things so far, and I don’t see why that should stop just because Harry Potter does. There are some who will probably see me as Harry forever, and there are some who will be willing to keep an open mind.
You’re 20 now, but how old do you actually feel? You’ve been working your whole teenage life... My friend always says I’m a 60-year-old man in a young man’s husk. I flit really between being about nine, mentally, to about 80, and I use very old fashioned words at times. I can have a young sense of humour, which I love still, but some things I see in an old way because I’ve grown up quite quickly, and I can be very grumpy about them.
So how straightforward is your life? You’re the star of the biggest film franchise ever... Well yes, that’s the reality of it in terms of gross and stuff. I can lead a pretty normal life. It is actually really straightforward, particularly when I am filming – I wake up at 6am every morning, just because I’m terrified of oversleeping. I get to work by 9am and leave by 7pm. It’s that simple. I still work on Saturday – I either do an acting or voice coaching lesson, the gym or something like that, just to keep everything going. Sunday is very much a day of rest for me.
What’s the weirdest thing a fan ever did? So many to choose from! I’ve had very strange presents sent. I had a fake hand sent – well, I hope it was fake.
With a note or something? No! It was unexplained. That’s what made it brilliant. There was a letter, but I think it was near the time of Halloween that someone sent a Freddie Krueger mask that smelt really bad. I’ve had some very funny things. The best one, of course, was a Japanese present I was once sent which was a – I’ve probably told this story before – it was a big plastic ear. It was rubbery, and you’re meant to take it out at a dinner party or something, and say, ‘Oh no, there’s something wrong with my ear… it’s a big ear!’ and it unfolds just like that. It’s a big thing in Japan apparently.
I know you go to a lot of rock gigs. Do you have to go in disguise? Well, the great thing about concerts is that it’s not like, say, when you go to see a film. Your main purpose is always going to be the film, but because it’s not live, you’re going to be distracted and looking around. At a rock gig people are focused. I’ve only been recognised once at a gig and it was by some really, really posh kids at a Killers concert, who really obviously didn’t like me very much.
Equus was a big success for you – you finished in that last year. How did it feel to take it to Broadway? Very nervous, actually. We had to approach it with a new attitude, not thinking, ‘Well, we’ve done this once in London, we’ll be able to do it again.’ If we went in with that attitude, we frankly wouldn’t deserve to be there. You hear things about New Yorkers, ‘Some of them see 50 shows a year,’ and all those things. There was obviously massive uproar in America when I was doing it in England because I was a minor – 17 at the time – and I was getting my kit off, which I found very funny.
How do you approach playing Harry Potter each time? Is it difficult to bring something new? Well, for the past couple of years I’ve gone off and done other things in between the films. I go off and learn stuff, and then want to implement those things and come back to Potter, so that excites me. And it’s also the chance to go back and work with my best friends. Working with [director] David Yates, for example. There are a ton of reasons and things which get me excited about going back to Potter each time.
Do you think it was inevitable that the last book would always become two films? I think it was, kind of. I know there were a few agents – not agents, people – fighting against it. I never thought we could do it in one, because it would be a risk. You just couldn’t. In the fourth film you can cut out the house elves and still have the same story, but I don’t think there’s anything in the last book that is surplus to requirements. There are no subplots; it’s just one driven-through line, and of course that means you’ve got to put it all in. So it became two films. We’ve come so far and done so well, we don’t want to fall at the final hurdle. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is released in cinemas this month.
Stunts gone wrong
Filming of the Deathly Hallows hit the headlines for the wrong reasons when Daniel Radcliffe’s stunt double fell from a harness during a flying sequence and sustained a serious back injury. But onset mishaps can happen... • No-one remembers Twilight Zone: The Movie, but they do remember the horrific stunt-gone-wrong on set: when an explosion detonated too close to a low-flying helicopter, the rotary blades decapitated star Vic Morrow.
• Robert Downey Jr broke Halle Berry’s arm filming a scene for underwhelming 2003 horror/thriller Gothika. A real-life Iron Man, then.
• Funnily enough, Brad Pitt injured his Achilles tendon playing Achilles in Troy, pushing filming back several weeks.
• Sly Stallone literally broke his neck filming forthcoming muscle-fest The Expendables. Well okay, it was a fracture, but it put the Italian Stallion out of action for three weeks.