Inhabiting the wizard boy, Harry Potter, for nearly a decade gained Daniel Radcliffe immense wealth and fame. But since he completed the last instalment of the multi-billion dollar franchise three years ago, Radcliffe has been trying to distance himself from the wizard character, taking on assorted roles in independent movies, such as Kill Your Darlings and What If, that are profoundly different from Potter so that people cease to perceive him as the famous character but as an actor.
When I sit down with him at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, he reveals that things are better now, but there are people who still call him “Harry” which he finds frustrating and annoying. “Most of the time now, I get ‘are you Daniel Radcliffe’ and they know my name now, which is lovely. But then I do understand it as well, when a kid sees you and goes ‘Harry Potter,’ that’s what they know you from. A six-year-old isn’t going to say ‘Kill Your Darlings,” that wouldn’t be right,” he laughs.
Notwithstanding, the 25-year-old actor doesn’t dismiss the idea of reprising the role of Harry Potter in the future, provided the screenplay is sufficiently compelling. “I really don’t know. My instinct is that I have worked very hard and will continue to play a variety of roles and I am really enjoying that. So, there would have to be something about this script that I thought would make me enjoy it more than just playing different parts as I am now. So I don’t know what that will be, but the reason you say I am still open to it is because I never say never,” he explains.
He also insists that the idea hasn’t even been discussed, in spite of the recent rumours that spiraled following J.K. Rowling’s publication of a short story, featuring Potter as a 34-year-old man. “I think it’s a lot of wishful thinking on the part of some people,” he waves his hand dismissively. “I haven’t heard anything about it. There’s no discussion amongst us, but if there’s real discussion happening about it, I am not sure.”
These days, Radcliffe is busy promoting “What If,” a romantic movie about Wallace (Radcliffe), a medical school dropout who falls in love with an attached girl, Zoe, after breaking up with his girlfriend, whom he caught cheating on him with one of their professors.
Awkward, solitary and geeky, Wallace, according to Radcliffe, is much closer to him than Harry Potter. “I hope that when people see this film they will see a different side to me. I think it’s the most natural I have been in a film and the most like myself I have been able to play, so that was a great joy in that.”
It’s doubtful, however, that the multitude of Harry Potter fans will flock out to see What If or Radcliffe’s other art films. Hence, the British actor is aware that the chances of dislodging the perception of himself as Harry Potter from their minds are quite slim and the road to achieving that is long and arduous, but he is relentless, and confident that his role-diversification efforts are bearing fruits. “It definitely feels a lot easier now than it was just even two or three years ago for me in terms of how people see me. And it’s lovely; I am really happy that it’s having that effect.”
“I’ll keep trying to build up as extensive of a body of work as I can, so that eventually, you won’t be able to avoid having seen me in something else. And I hope that this film is part of that, and it potentially could find a wide audience, but you can’t bet on anything and I just have to keep doing work that excites me and makes me passionate and I hope that people accept me as an actor.”
Work for Radcliffe offers more than just excitement and joy, for with the challenges of finding peace in public places, he feels most comfortable and happiest on film sets. “It’s the only place where no one cares who I am, cause everyone is used to actors all the time on film sets and people are just grateful you are not a horrible actor,” he laughs.
And when he is not acting, he cloisters himself in his apartment, where he spends his time writing and dreaming about directing within the next ten years. “I would love to direct music videos and then maybe move on to bigger stuff.”