As movie no. 6, 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,' makes its way to a sure-to-be blockbuster opening, a grown-up Radcliffe, now 19, speaks candidly to Moviefone about transitioning from child star to sex symbol, dropping trou on stage in 'Equus' -- and why he really thinks Dumbledore was outed. Daniel Radcliffe became world famous overnight when he was cast in the lead of the movie versions of J.K. Rowling's monstrously popular 'Harry Potter' novels -- he was just 11. Yet somehow, in a movie industry where super-sized egos and a grand sense of entitlement are often excused, Radcliffe remains grounded, genuine and self-deprecating.
As movie no. 6, 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,' makes its way to a sure-to-be blockbuster opening, a grown-up Radcliffe, now 19, speaks candidly to Moviefone about transitioning from child star to sex symbol, dropping trou on stage in 'Equus' -- and why he really thinks Dumbledore was outed. – By Kevin Polowy
You became rich and famous so quickly and at such a young age. How in the world did you avoid turning into a raging a-hole?
[Laughs] Thank you very much. Nicely phrased. I think I have just always had an awareness that when you go to a premiere and people start cheering and shouting your name and stuff, they are shouting at a perception of you that they have. They are shouting at an idea of you as a famous person. They don't know me. They might still like me if they got to know me, but it would be a different person than the one that they're cheering for. If you think they're cheering for you and all your flaws, and the slobbishness, and everything else that goes with you, that's when I think you start to become thick-headed and believe your own hype. Also I just think I've been lucky enough to have great parents, and I've had good people around me who have always been honest with me, who would give me a purely metaphorical slap if I ever got too big for my boots. I really think that's what it comes down to. I think England is a place that is not tolerant of arrogance, and also the reaction to arrogance in England is different than it is in the States, because sometimes in the States, people can be a bit freaked out by that thinking and back off, whereas in England, they become more aggressive at you and take the piss out of you. In England, anybody's arrogance is just lampooned, constantly. When you grow up in that culture, you know that's not what you want to be.
Where do you think 'Half-Blood Prince' makes the biggest departure from earlier Harry Potter movies?
I think it's in the comedy. We really go all out on the comedy this time. It's a very funny film, there are some really funny moments in it. And there are more drug references in this film than there have been [laughs]. It's very strange trying to explain them to people sometimes. Also, I think in terms of Harry's character, individually, before he's always been Dumbledore's student, whereas here he becomes Dumbledore's lieutenant. In this one he's a fighter. He's starting on the path to becoming the warrior that he is in part 7.
How has the dynamic changed for you, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson on set, going from child actors to adult stars?
It's been great, actually. But what's great is that the people we work with, in terms of the crew, have seen us when we were kids as well, and so I think it's been interesting for them to see the journey of starting to take it seriously and going from being kids who were having a great time on a film set to suddenly really wanting to do this for a living, which me and Rupert certainly do. I think Emma does as well, though she's going to study for a few years as well. I think that's the main difference, is that I take it much more seriously. The more seriously you take it, the more fun it becomes. It's a very, very rewarding profession when you feel that you're getting better at it. I feel like I've made a big jump since the sixth film, I got better since finishing the sixth film, doing 'Equus' on Broadway, and now doing 'Harry Potter 7.'
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How do you feel about Dumbledore becoming somewhat of an icon for the gay rights movement?
It's wonderful. I grew up around gay people my entire life, basically, that's possibly why I'm quite camp, and some people think I'm gay when I meet them, which I think is awesome. It's always good to keep them guessing [laughs]. I don't go on any blogs or chats or anything, but my friends are demons for them, and apparently someone said "Daniel Radcliffe is gay. He's got a gay face!" [Laughs] I really don't know what a gay face is. But I think it's wonderful that Dumbledore was outed as gay ... Half of me thinks Jo Rowling just did that to see if she could piss off the right wing, but I'm not sure how true that is. I think she had it planned, I think she always knew he was gay.
What do you make of the 'Harry Potter'-'Twilight' rivalry that's been brewing?
It's very funny. It's very much like the 'Lord of the Rings' rivalry, in that it was a rivalry mainly built up by the media, for the media. I met Elijah Wood once, I met Peter Jackson, I met Orlando Bloom, and they're all really cool. Did we talk about the rivalry? Did we [ever]. Having Rob Pattinson be in both films is quite funny. I've never even seen 'Twilight,' to be perfectly honest with you, and it's actually really interesting to me. Being such a central part of the 'Potter' thing, being so in the middle of it all, I have no idea how the rest of the world sees the 'Potter' franchise, which is why it's quite interesting for me to watch the 'Twilight' franchise explode globally and have some sense of how people must view us.
So let's fuel it – any trash you want to talk to Robert Pattinson?
[Laughs] No, I've nothing but good things to say at Rob. I've worked with him. I won't pretend to know him really well or anything. It's interesting because people assume that because I'm famous I know all famous people. And so people come up to me on the street and say "Do you know Rob Pattinson? What's he like?" And I say, "Well, he's very nice. I haven't seen him in four years, but he's doing very, very well for himself and good luck to him, I hope he's doing alright."
Now that 'Equus' is over and done with, are you glad you did it?
Oh, so glad. It was the best thing. Particularly, I'm glad I came over [to New York] and did it, because that was like the change in my acting. Having done that is huge, I certainly think it is, I hope it is. So I'm thrilled to have done it, I'm thrilled to have been given the opportunity by other people who I worked with to do it.
You were never worried about your junk being all over the Internet?
It was just going to happen, wasn't it? Somebody was going to get a picture up. It's not me looking my proudest, if I'm honest with you, it's not me in my best [laughs]. But, hell, the pictures were always going to get out, and I knew that. And frankly, there's not even one part of me that feels I shouldn't have done it. It was the best thing for me, to get back to what I love doing, which is acting.
Was 'Equus' a strategic move in terms of your career path and trying to break away from the 'Potter' pigeonhole?
I don't like to say "strategic," because it makes it sound very cynical, the way I'm planning my career, very Machavellian or Mr. Burns. But we knew we needed to do something different, and we knew that if we were going to do something on stage, it has to be something that would say, "I'm doing this seriously. I'm not just going to do a light, fluffy piece on stage, I'm going to do something serious that will make people go, 'OK, he wants to take this seriously, and he wants to work hard.'" That was certainly one of the reasons behind doing it, but also just to do 'Equus' was amazing. And when you think about it, there are very few decent-sized parts for 17-year-olds in stage, generally speaking.
Has it been odd to watch not only yourself, but also Rupert and Emma go from child star to sex symbol?
It's been funny with Emma. Yeah, it's been very strange to watch that suddenly happen, because there was that weird time when she was like 15 or 16, and guys kind of knew they fancied her, but no one could say anything. She's always been a very, very pretty girl, and now suddenly that she turned 18, everyone's like "OK, now she's fair game! Paparazzi!" It is kind of creepy, I did feel bad for her. Men will never know the kind of humiliation of having an upskirt done, which poor old Emma had. We talked a few days after her birthday, and she said, "It was awful, they were all over me. They were trying to shoot up my knickers!" It's incredibly invasive. That's why I do think it's much, much harder for girls being famous than it is for guys.
You've said recently that you would like to date older women. You know who's older, single now and likes British guys? Madonna.
Oh, Christ. I don't think that I'd do my chances of working with Guy Ritchie any good. I don't know which one I'd rather do ... I'm not sure I'd be her cup of tea.
Gary Oldman reportedly taught you bass guitar on the set of 'Potter.' Have you ever considered starting a band?
No, he gave me one bass guitar lesson. He taught me how a bassline comes together [imitates sound of bassline]. Sounds better on a bass. But I've never considered it. I'm not nearly good enough. I haven't played bass in years, I gave it up because I wasn't getting any better. You have the realization of going, "I don't know what I'm going to do with this." And also bass isn't an instrument particularly that gets you laid. On its own, cool, but not like guitar, you can't really be a flash bastard with bass. And I just didn't have the patience, I suppose, in the end. But I always wanted to be in a band when I was growing up. I think, the thing is, all actors want to be in a band, and all rock stars want to be actors, and the truth of the matter is, neither of them should do either, we should all stick to what we're doing, because when actors start a band, it's almost always crap.
If 20 years from now J.K. Rowling revisits the 'Potter' kids as adult wizards, would you imagine doing the movie?
I saw her the other day, and I said, "You're not writing any more ['Potter' books], are you?" And she said, "No," and I said, "OK, cool." And then I said, "You know, if you did, I would have to think long and hard." I think also I would only do it if Emma and Rupert would. Honestly, after the seventh film, I don't think she should do anymore. I think it would have to be something pretty good. But Jo Rowling's such an intelligent person, she knows. She knows if she was ever going to consider doing another, it would have to be bulletproof. It would have to be an almost perfect book not to get slaughtered. So hopefully she won't, but if she does, of course I would have to consider it, because I have a loyalty to her and to the fans. But it certainly would not be in an instant.