Daniel Radcliffe on 'The Woman in Black' and Harry Potter: 'If I Have Passed My Most Famous Point, I Won't Be Unhappy'
Daniel Radcliffe seems content with, as he puts it, the fading "hoopla" that surrounded playing Harry Potter for ten years. "If that steadily decreases for the rest of my life, I'll be kind of cool with that," Radcliffe admitted on the eve of the release "The Woman in Black," his first post-Potter film project. Considering his fame -- primarily fueled from playing Potter in eight separate films -- the 22-year-old actor is surprisingly self-aware.
Radcliffe realizes his current place in movie stardom. He knows that his "cachet" (again, as he puts it) will not last forever, nor do I get the impression that he wants it to last forever. Actually, from the time we spent together, I did get a vibe from Radcliffe that almost cried, "the sooner, the better." Put it this way: when searching for an apt metaphor to describe fame and fortune, Radcliffe compared it to regurgitated steak.
In "The Woman in Black" Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipp, a lawyer who discovers deep, dark secrets in a town inhabited by a seemingly child-killing ghost. An open and honest Radcliffe discussed the importance of his first post-Potter role, why he would not play another character named "Harry," and what he won't miss about the fame that came along with being Harry Potter.
They didn't screen the film for me before this interview.
I've seen the trailer. In the time we have, you could act out every scene that I've seen five times.
That's absolutely true! Yes! And it would be a lot of the same face that's in the trailer.
So you're 22 now, right?
You do look a little older in "The Woman in Black" than what we're used to seeing.
Is that important to you?
In the original script he's about 27. I think I could conceivably play 24 or 25 with a little bit of stubble. Also, in all of those clothes, that makes you look slightly older because you hold yourself differently. So, yeah, we were picturing him at about 24 or 25, with a 4-year old son.
Did you read the book?
Yes. I've read the book, but I've never seen the play. Weirdly, because I never really was at school -- because the play seems to be like a "school trip" play for everybody I know -- I never went to see it because I was doing "Potter." But I hear it's terrifying -- as it should be.
It would be odd if you said, "I've heard that it's hilarious."
[Laughs] Yeah, well that's the thing: the movie is very different than the book and very different than the play. And the book is different than the play. So, you know, we've all taken liberties. The original book is told in the past -- it's flashback from my character as an old man -- and that's not what it is in the film. In the film it all takes place in the present time. It's basically the idea for "The Woman in Black," the village and the tone of the book, and changed details of the story.
What if the main character's first name in this story was Harry instead of Arthur? Maybe that's a stupid question...
No, it's not stupid at all.
Would you have asked to have it changed?
Yeah, I think I might.
I don't know. I think I might. It would be more of a problem if the character's name was Potter. That would be worse. But, I don't know. Maybe. On "My Boy Jack," they came to me with glasses and I was like, "Whoa, not those ones." But, yes, it's not a stupid question; it's quite an interesting one. Yeah, I think I might have asked for that to be changed. I'm not sure. I don't know how I would have felt about that. But, yeah, there's also another weird "Potter" connection with this: the guy who played my dad in "Potter" played my character in the original TV film of "The Woman in Black." So there's a few little weird "Potter" connections. But, then again, "Potter" is connected to everything. It's no longer even a coincidence. It's just inevitable.
This is your first big film role post-"Potter." How important is this movie to you?
It's important, but it's not the be-all and end-all, that's the thing. Like, people keep saying, "Oh, it's Daniel Radciffe's first film post-"Harry Potter," let's see how he does."
I don't even necessarily mean it like that. Do you feel you need to separate yourself from what you're currently known for?
Yes. But I think it's a longer... I think to put all of that pressure on one film would be ridiculous. I think, because not everyone is going to see this. A lot of people will, hopefully, but not everyone. And, also, I made peace a long time ago with the fans. There will be people who forever see me as Harry. That's fine as long as they're not controlling a casting racket in L.A., then we'll be fine. For this film, what's great about it and what's kind of perfect is that the part is different: it's older, it's playing a father. There are challenges there; stuff that will physically separate me from Harry in people's minds. But there's also the story is so compelling that after about 10 or 15 minutes of watching the film, you're going to stop thinking about me or what else I've done and just be into the film. Because it's a really brilliant story. So that's why it's kind of perfect as a first film outside of it. Because even though I'm the only "name above the title" kind of thing, once you're in there, it's not about me. It's about the story and the need to know what's going to happen. So, hopefully that will overtake.
Will you miss all the commotion that came with Harry Potter? If I were you, I can't decide if I'd miss it or not.
Not the people that you worked with...
No, no, no... the fame and the circus and the hoopla...
"Hoopla." That's the word I'm looking for.
No, I don't miss the hoopla. I don't think, particularly. I'm quite happy. If I have passed my most famous point, I won't be unhappy. Like, that's OK. If, say, around the time of "Potter 7" coming out, my face is all over the world, and all of that stuff is going on at that time and all of that madness -- if that steadily decreases for the rest of my life, I'll be kind of cool with that. I had a good dose of it for 10 years. You know, I'm now content to just make my way and do a lot of films that I find interesting. There is the fight, then, is that in order to keep being able to do interesting little things, you have to do that George Clooney thing of doing a big movie like an "Oceans 11" -- which are still very good movies -- so that you can go off and do "Syriana" or "Good Night and Good Luck," or whatever. So I suppose that's the challenge in the future. For now, I still have "Potter" behind me and people still associate me with this big thing. So, while my name has some cachet, I guess...
It does, for now. But, you know, it won't forever. And, so, while it still does, I've got a chance to make some really interesting films.
So when you look at the hoopla, what part are you most glad is over? Is it so you have time to make different movies?
That's the thing...
You had time for stage productions...
But not for films. I won't miss having to tell people, "No, I won't be available for another year and a half." I won't miss that. Look, there's always going to be premieres and all of that. That kind of stuff. I won't miss the mania that kind of surrounds it. But it's not like I disliked any of that at the same time. It's one of those things where you go, I don't know -- it's the equivalent of having a really, really good steak. Like, you have it, then it's gone. You don't miss it. You don't go, "Oh, I wish that steak were back here." You go, "Damn, I enjoyed that."
I've missed steak before.
OK, but you don't want to regurgitate it and eat it again!
But that's the kind of thing I'd say about "Potter." It was like a good steak for 10 years, I enjoyed it, but I wouldn't try and bring it back up.
At one point you were attached to play photographer Dan Eldon. What happened?
Yeah, yeah... I was attached to that for a while. We felt that the script changes were needed.
My ex-girlfriend went to high school with him, so it's a project that I've paid attention to.
Oh, really? Yeah, it was a great script. And then I read a little more about his life and the script was fantastic, but it wasn't entirely -- reading about Dan, as well as being an inspirational and amazing person, he was also abrasive. And he annoyed a lot of people. He had a knack for pissing people off.
I've heard that.
And that wasn't in the script. And I felt that it needed that. So, yeah, that was the reason for that.
Mike Ryan is the senior writer for Moviefone. He has written for Wired Magazine, VanityFair.com, GQ.com, New York Magazine and Movieline. He likes Star Wars a lot. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter