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Ten years ago, Daniel Radcliffe was an eleven-year-old who’d just been cast in the movie version of the recent literary phenomenon, Harry Potter. Back then it would seem he was set for seven films, with a total of seven books planned. Now he’s on part seven, a grown man, with the final movie about to hit theaters.


“There’s nowhere I would rather be,” Radcliffe said, reflecting on his stint as the child wizard. “Over the last ten years, it’s been some of the most surreal, bizarre moments of my life, but in a lovely way.  There’s certainly nothing I would have swapped it for. I think in terms of all the media attention that you get and all that stuff, I think the one thing you have to be careful of is that fame does not become a part of your identity. You have to find out who you are aside from what the media say you are.  If you’ve become reliant on them for kind of a sense of self, then you’re really screwed. So I think we’ve all done quite well in terms of not believing the hype about ourselves and just sort of getting on with our jobs and appreciating that we’re very lucky to be there.”

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That may sound like the perspective of a twenty-one-year-old man (soon to be twenty-two) coming to terms with his place in life, but Radcliffe insists he’s known it all along. “I think when I was eleven, I realized that unless you have some kind of mad ego, you think it's all a bit weird and a bit crazy that people are shouting at you. I know me, and I know that I’m not somebody that particularly merits a lot of screaming and shouting.  There’s nothing special about me as opposed to hundreds of thousands of other people everywhere. So the fact that people are screaming and shouting at me, the logical conclusion of that is that it must be because it’s such a huge franchise.”


Other stars are experiencing the same thing. Radcliffe learned from Catherine Harwicke, director of Twilight, that the literary character is bigger than the actor. “I was asking how is Rob [Pattinson] doing and all that. She was saying that before Robert had even been cast, he went to a reading of the book with Stephanie Meyer, and when Stephenie Meyer said the name Edward Cullen, the audience went nuts and screaming.  People were in love with that character.  So whoever was going to step into that role was going to have a pretty crazy life for the next few years. I think it’s the same with Harry.  It doesn’t really matter, in a way, who it is.  If you are filling those shoes, then you are going to get a pretty wild reception.”


Harry Potter

Of course there are nuisances, but they provide funny anecdotes to share with journalists. “If you’re on a date and somebody comes up and says, ‘Oh, I loved you in Harry Potter,’ it’s a bit weird, because you suddenly start thinking, ‘Oh, God.  Is this weird for the other person I’m here with, or is this weird for my family?’ But generally speaking, I don’t really think because I was thrown into it so young and kind of always had that, it’s just something you get used to.”

Harry Potter

Radcliffe says the real mania only occurs during the time between movies. Most of the year, he’s just a working actor. “The thing is, you only have that sense for about three weeks a year, maybe, because that’s the time you’re not working.  The rest of the year we’re working, we’re on set.  And then for these three weeks of madness, you know, you’re in the middle of lots of people screaming.  I did see a sign last night saying, ‘Harry, I’m pregnant,’ which scared me slightly.”


(For the record, Radcliffe is not the father.)


Four Harry Potter books had been published when Radcliffe began filming, taking Harry from the discovery that he is a wizard, to the Tri-wizard Tournament and a confrontation with Lord Voldemort. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I films the first half of J.K. Rowling’s final book (although even she’s said she may write more). Of course, now filming is also complete on the second part of the final Harry Potter film. Even when it’s said and done, though, Radcliffe is keeping one piece of Harry with him. “One thing I did ask for, and I would have stolen it had they not given it to me, is the glasses. I’ve got two sets of them, one from the first movie, which are tiny now, and one from the last movie.  Those would be my souvenirs.”


Those little glasses represent a time when the Harry Potter world was all wonder and amazement. Now it’s become an intense battle for survival. Voldemort is closing in on Harry and his friends. Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 had the trio on the run last fall, and this summer the final battle goes down in Pt. 2.


“Part one was like the sedate younger brother to this last part. In the last part you will be flung headfirst two hundred miles an hour into a firestorm. The level of action is insanity.  It’s nonstop.  I’ve been categorizing these two films as first it’s a road movie that turns into a heist movie that turns into a war film.  The heist part being when we break into Gringotts and all of that stuff, but then right in the end, the battles in Hogwarts are just incredible, and it really is epic. I think people are going to be left slightly breathless by it.”


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Besides the glasses, the Harry Potter films have given Radcliffe an even greater gift: the realization that he is an actor, and wants to be an actor for the rest of his life. “It was on the third film, probably.  I think a combination of working with Gary Oldman and also the direction I was given from Alfonso Cuaron that just sort of gave me more confidence, or a greater insight into what it was to be an actor.  The confidence that Gary gave me, because he was really supportive and really great to work with, I thought, ‘I want to work with more people like you.  I don’t want to walk away from this.  I don’t want this suddenly to end and suddenly for me not to be in this industry.’ The other thing is that I love being on film sets.  There’s an incredible comfort level that I have on film sets because it’s where I’ve grown up. I know where I am on a film set.  I know what to do.  I know what everybody’s doing.  There is nothing that will happen on a film set that I won’t have experienced in some form before. So there are very few situations that arise that I do not know how to react to. That level of comfort is quite confidence inspiring, so that it makes you want to stay around longer, I suppose.”


Which, based upon his casting in the movie December Boys, and other theatrical productions, Radcliffe will be doing just that: staying around.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 2 opens July 15, 2011 / Issue 124 - September 2018
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