Monday, 30th October 2017

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Nice guy Harry… errr Daniel

'I feel like I have to establish that I’m not perfect but I’m not terrible'

  • Published 25.03.20, 1:21 PM
  • Updated 25.03.20, 1:21 PM
  • 3 mins read
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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Still from the film

Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry Potter in eight films based on J.K. Rowling’s novels, appeared recently on Desert Island Discs, a long running BBC Radio 4 programme in which he chose eight favourite pieces of music while speaking candidly about the pressures of being a child star.

Like all guests, he also got to pick a book and a luxury — in Radcliffe’s case it was The Norton Anthology of Poetry containing 1,871 poems, and “pencil and paper”, respectively.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Still from the film

Radcliffe is now 30, and has appeared in a number of grown-up movies and also made a name for himself on the stage. He says he would like to settle down but for the time being flits between London and New York to see his American actress girlfriend, Erin Darke, who is five years older.

As for his future ambitions, he said: “I want to write and direct.”

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Still from the film

Has there been a price for fame?

He revealed, for example, that while playing Harry Potter, he became ever more reliant on alcohol.

“If I went out and if I got drunk I’d suddenly be aware of there being an interest in that,” he recalled. “Because it’s not just like a drunk guy, it’s ‘Oh, Harry Potter’s getting drunk in the bar’.”

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Still from the film

He is happy that he has been teetotal for the past 10 years.

When greeting people he remembers a piece of advice given to him by his father and is the first to put his hand out.

“I know it sounds simple but the thing that I hate is people assume that because you started young and you got famous young that you’re going to be a horrible human being,” he explained. “I feel like I have to establish that I’m not perfect but I’m not terrible.”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Still from the film

The programme’s presenter, Lauren Laverne, assured him that he was indeed the one to put out his hand first when they met, and that “you are officially a nice guy”.

She summed up his life for listeners: “At 12 he was catapulted into the limelight by his big-screen portrayal of Harry Potter. Ten years playing the role earned him worldwide fame, fortune, a place in cinema history….and made him a beloved part of family life all round the world. At 30 he is keener than ever to explore the creative possibilities of life, appearing on stage in New York and in London and taking on a dizzyingly numerous variety of roles.”

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Still from the film

He was born in London on July 23, 1989, to Alan Radcliffe, an actor-turned-literary agent, and Marcia Jeannine Gresham, a casting agent. He did not much care for school.

“I didn’t go to drama school,” he added. “I never trained formally.”

But he picked up a great deal of general knowledge from watching The Simpsons on television.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Still from the film

At age 11, after a long search, he was cast as the lead character in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Playing the role in another seven films made him a millionaire many times over.

He believes luck plays a great part in an actor’s career: “I have been insanely lucky. And I think I probably have a vague sense of guilt about having something so amazing happen so young.”

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Still from the film

That is why he is anxious to earn his keep when he is now cast in a film or a play. “You can be the most hard-working and the most talented and you still need a huge amount of luck.”

He retains huge affection for Harry Potter and is grateful that on set the crew treated him more as a child than an actor. He is also touched that Harry Potter means so much to children around the world.

“It’s amazing,” he enthused. “I sound very corny and earnest when I talk about it but it does inspire genuine feelings in me….to think that I occupy that place for other people is genuinely really lovely.”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Still from the film

He knows many child stars fall by the wayside.

“A huge problem for people is that they start doing something when they’re 10, they are committed for several years, then they stop enjoying it, but by that point they’re the breadwinner for their family so multiple people are reliant on them continuing to do this job and they feel pressured into doing it,” he surmised. “That’s why I think you can see people…. going into drink and drugs… and there’s nobody around you talking about the consequences.”

The final scene of the film franchise in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
The final scene of the film franchise in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Still from the film

While Harry Potter will forever remain young, Radcliffe appears to have matured into a fine young man.

“A huge amount of it comes down to my parents and people who gave me a perspective on my life and helped me at key moments. The main thing is that I loved being on set.”