Paste caught up with Daniel Radcliffe, the
titular star of the Harry Potter franchise, last week in London. The 19-year-old (who turns 20 next
week) discusses his poetry, the need to take risks in acting, and just what he’s
done with the money he's earned from the highest-grossing movie franchise ever.
Paste: You’ve talked
quite a lot recently about being bullied when you were at school, Daniel.
Daniel Radcliffe: Yes, because it is an issue that I
feel very strongly about. But with me it wasn’t bullying so much in the ‘beaten
up’ sense, as being picked on and a bit of targeted aggression. I never went
home with cuts and bruises and scars as some unfortunate kids do. Just a
humiliated, I suppose. Jostled. And it was all to do with ‘being Harry
Potter’, and other contemporaries not being able to cope with that. I suppose
that a lot of young actors who get some sort of prominence go through the same
thing. I just endured it and got on with it. It helped that I got out of school
a lot (which the bullies clearly resented) and I was tutored on film sets for
much of the time. So I was given a great deal of freedom—as they saw it - and
anyone who didn’t conform to their narrow-mindedness got in their way. All very
Paste: You scored a
huge hit with the stage play Equus,
both in the West End and on Broadway.
Radcliffe: You know what? That play gave me the
taste for pushing the boundaries and for doing something that bit different. I
have discovered that, when you are acting, that the best quality that you can
have is fearlessness—that is what you should aim for. You should be willing to
try anything. You might fail, but at least you’ve made the attempt. That’s what
I aspire to. You learn as much in failure as you do in success—or rather, you
should do, if you’ve got any common sense. I remember that Alan [Rickman] came
to see Equus on Broadway, and he gave
me a lot of guidance which I much appreciated
he’s an actor who I admire, and
who is always trying something new and daring.
Paste: Any other
inspirational actors from your Harry Potter colleagues?
Radcliffe: Michael Gambon, who is the least
professional, and most respected, actor I have ever worked with—and I have told
him that to his face. Michael just creases me up. He laughs a lot, and he is
inspirational. And when you are laughing so much, he’ll suddenly throw a switch
and deliver a wonderful performance. His character, Professor Dumbledore, dies
in Half-Blood Prince, and I had to do a scene lamenting over his body. I really
pulled out all the stops to convey the emotion, and after the fourth take, I
looked down and Michael lay there—he’d dozed off, and I had to prod him to wake
him up. So much for impressing someone with your skills!
Paste: Harry Potter
has a lot of girls really quite agitated, all over the world
Radcliffe: I never ever cease to find that very odd. In Japan, they scream and
scream all the time when I make a personal appearance, and I honestly wonder
why. I’ve sort of got used to it now when I’m on the red carpet for a premiere
or whatever, but I still think inside, “Why me?” I can tell you that the Daniel
Radcliffe who does all the press conferences and all the premieres is a very
different guy from the one that you’ll find at home in my flat, wearing a
t-shirt and underpants, eating popcorn and watching cricket on the tele with
the curtains drawn. That is the real me. And it’s not a very appealing image,
Paste: One of your
acting colleagues, teenage Robin Knox, was killed in a violent knife attack
before the film was released.
Radcliffe: Yeah. I can’t pretend that Rob was a
great mate of mine, or that I really knew him that well, but I will say that he
was a great big ball of sunshine in every group that he was in. Everyone who
knew him, liked him. And then he was knifed in that cowardly attack, and he
died. Whenever I was in contact with him, I liked him a lot. His death cast a
long shadow. What a waste, a stupid, tragic waste.
Paste: Of the Harry
Potter’s that you’ve done so far, your favorite is
Radcliffe: The fifth one—for two reasons. The
first is that Gary Oldman was in it, and I love that man’s work, and the second
was that there was no bloody Quidditch in it. That is really torture, having to
do the Quidditch games. It’s more than several steps up from discomfort—it’s
pain! Gary, thank God, has become a good mate, and something of a mentor. He’s
a guy with a supremely sane head on his shoulders.
Paste: Who else do
Radcliffe: Kenneth Branagh, he’s a great bloke.
He first suggested doing Equus.
Paste: If you had to
be somewhere else today, you would be where?
Radcliffe: At a really good cricket match. Tom
Felton, who plays Malfoy, my sworn enemy in the movies, and I are really the best
of mates, and I’d love to be somewhere with him watching a first rate game.
Only trouble is that we are recognized everywhere
Tom has had his hair
bleach-blonde for the last few years for his character, and it really makes him
stand out. At least I can take off Harry’s glasses when I walk off the set!
Paste: How were, or
are, you academically?
Radcliffe: OK. I got some reasonable GCSE’s—seven
B’s, a couple of A’s and an A*, which is alright. But I’m not going to
university, that’s not the way I want to go. I want to chase the acting roles.
Paste: What’s next?
Radcliffe: There are a few projects on the
boil, but the one that I am really interested in is based on the real-life
story of a photo-journalist, Dan Eldon, who was only 22 when he was killed by
an angry mob in Somalia. A really heroic guy. We are waiting for the green
light for that one, and it all depends on the funding we want.
Paste: You are also
something of a poet.
Radcliffe: I write verse, yes. Not sure if it
is any good. It’s appeared in some magazines, one of which is called Rubbish: It’s What Everyone's Talking. I
don’t write under my own name, that would be a bit scary. I have had a private
book published, and I gave Michal [Gambon] a copy, and he was very kind about
it. It’s just another form of personal expression, isn’t it? An extra line of
creativity. I don’t think that I could ever, in a million years, write a novel
or a play, but a poem or a short story, they are (I hope) within my bounds.
It’s nice to write your own words, rather than saying someone else’s, right?
Paste: Where do you
Radcliffe: In a flat in Fulham [a district in
London], near my parent’s house. I keep it reasonably tidy, and I’ve been there
for, oh, nearly two years now. I still take the washing around to mum
Paste: Come on,
.what have you done with the earnings from the Potter films, since
you don’t own a car and can’t drive?
Radcliffe: Sensible investments (I hope), the
flat, and a very interesting painting by Jim Hodges, a very exciting New York
Artist, that I love. There’s a little bit of calligraphy in the middle of it
which spells out ‘Oh for crying out loud!’, which is something that my mum says
a lot. That’s its appeal. The connection.
Paste: If you weren’t
acting, you would be
Radcliffe: Reading. Anything. I love books.