Posted on Wednesday, November 17th, 2010 by Peter Sciretta
Last week I had the chance to participate in roundtable interviews with the cast and crew of the Harry Potter series. We will be posting the interviews throughout the week leading up to the latest and next to last installment of the series – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. The third interview is with star Daniel Radcliffe, who has played the lead role of Harry Potter throughout the whole series.
Daniel talks about growing up throughout the Potter experience, declaring that he is probably not the father of the pregnant Potter fan with the sign at the premiere, not letting playing a beloved role get to his head, his experience in New York City, fan encounters around the world, realizing that he wants to continue acting, going from huge budget Potter films to $100,000 budgeted indie movies, questions he’s never been asked, returning to the stage, props he took home from the Potter set, being a leader on set, filming in London vs. America, Part 2 of Deathly Hallows, reshooting the epilogue, and working with James Watkins on a Hammer horror movie.
You can read the interview transcript now embedded after the jump.
Question: You know, I heard this morning that you were described as the 40 year old philosopher. You went from being a child to the 40 year old philosopher…
Daniel: Who described me as that?
Daniel: Oh, Tom, OK. OK, cool! OK, I’ll take that from Tom. I know that’s meant in a nice way if Tom said it. That’s fine. [laughs]
Question: So how do you look at this incredible journey you’ve had with this character that so many people are fixated on for the past whatever it’s been, 10 years?
Daniel: You know, now I feel sort of obliged to come out with something sort of profound and philosophical.
Daniel: I think possibly, also, what Tom is alluding to is the fact that I’ve got…I think I’ve got a work ethic. Which also, to the effect, Tom has, and a lot of us have as well. We love our jobs and we don’t take anything for granted. There’s nowhere I would rather be. Over the last 10 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. And, you know, 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 you don’t have…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 yeah, I mean 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.
Question: Was it ever a possibility, though, of saying, “God, I am Harry Potter! I am fabulous! I am adored by millions of people!” I mean you’re a kid and it must be so exhilarating. I don’t know.
Daniel: But the thing is, you only have that sense for that 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.
Question: Are you coming out and saying you are not the father?
Daniel: I’m…Well, I’m confident. But, you know, I only saw the sign. I didn’t see who it was. [laughs] But no, I mean yeah, I don’t think…I think we all kind of realize that people…whoever had been cast as Harry would have been receiving that attention. Anybody who would have been cast in this iconic role would have been getting that sort of attention. So you have to realize that it’s not because it’s you, it’s because it’s an iconic role. It’s interesting. I was talking to the director of Twilight not long ago, of the first movie, because she was out on the Potter set. And we had a really interesting conversation. So I was asking how is Rob doing and all that. She was saying that before Robert had even been cast, he went to a reading of the book with Stephanie Myer, and when Stephanie Myer said the name Edward Cullen, the audience went nuts and screaming. And, you know, 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.
Question: I mean you were 11 when you started this. When did you have this understanding that, “It’s not really me, it’s Harry Potter. I mean I’m lucky to have this, but…”
Daniel: I think when I was 11, pretty much. I think I’ve always had that sort of realized that. Unless you are incredibly, you know…unless you have some mad ego, you kind of realize very early on that this is all a bit weird and a bit crazy that people are shouting at me. I know me, and I know that I’m not somebody that particularly merits a lot of screaming and shouting. And 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 must be…you know, the logical conclusion of that is that it must be because it’s such a huge franchise.
Question: When you were doing Equus in New York, didn’t you say you could walk around the streets and nobody would bother you?
Daniel: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean absolutely, to a point. But the other thing I love about New York is that people in New York are kind of much cooler. I remember I got lost at one point in Central Park. I went in one entrance and then came out like three miles somewhere else and just no idea where I was. And I was looking around for someone to ask directions to, and I saw a guy in an ambulance. Not somebody being stretchered on; they were parked up. And I knocked on the window, because I figured if anyone is going to know the city…And I said, “Excuse me, do you know how to get back to West 69th or something?” And this guy just said, “Oh, you’re doing Equus here, aren’t you?” And I said, “Yeah! That’s really cool that you know that.” Like, you know, I don’t know. Everyone’s so aware of the actors and stuff in New York that everyone’s just really, really kind of cool about it and laid back. So I think everywhere else in the world you get reactions. But New York people are pretty kind of chilled about the whole thing.
Question: Kate Winslet talked about going tracking in the middle of nowhere and just bursting into tears when someone went Titanic at the top of some beautiful mountain. Have you ever had those moments when you kind of wanted to shy away from it a bit?
Daniel: I mean, you know, 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. And most of the time…It was interesting. Me and Rupert were at Redding one year, and we were getting lots of people coming up to us and being really, really nice. And then I saw like 10 rows in front of us, there was a person from a reality TV show, who was not particularly well liked by the British public, who was getting a lot of grief from people around them. And that’s the difference from being in a really kind of universally…I won’t say universally…but pretty globally beloved franchise. It means you’ve got quite a nice place in the minds of most people, and so most people are very polite, and nice and kind when they come up to you. But yeah, I’m certainly lucky to have got famous through something that was so well liked, generally speaking.
Question: You started as an actor so young. And obviously, we all go through our teenage years; we sort of realize what we actually want to do. And it seems like you really want to still be an actor. Do you remember having a moment when you were on one of the sets or taking a break and you were like, “Actually, I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life.”
Daniel: Yeah, 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. Those moments were…it was definitely around that time, working with Gary. And also, 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 absolutely love… And this is not something I had then so much, but now particularly, 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. There’s very few…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. And that level of comfort is quite confidence inspiring, so that it makes you want to stay around longer, I suppose.
Question: Does it scare you to possibly go make a $100,000 indie movie in the middle of the desert somewhere where you won’t have those feature comforts?
Daniel: Not at all. It’s interesting. I think that people assume that the Potter set was all very glamorous and we were all kind of in the lap of luxury all the time. But, you know, on the film I’m on at the moment, The Woman in Black, which is not, I mean, a fraction of the budget that Potter has. My toilet is bigger! So it really doesn’t scare me at all to go on stuff like that. In fact, I can’t wait to do stuff like that. You know, the film I’m on at the moment, as I said, the budget is not massive. I mean it’s decent for a British indie movie. But it’s not…you know, there are sequences in Potter that cost more than the entire film. I say that without any hint of irony. [laughs] So no, it’s not something that scares me particularly. I’m quite looking forward to it.
Question: I’m just curious. You’ve done an awful lot of press on this. You’ve done set visit press. You’ve talked to everybody for so much. What is the one thing, or maybe there’s something you haven’t talked about that you’re like, “Man, when is someone going to ask me about that?”
Daniel: I think we’ve pretty much covered it all!
Question: But I’m being totally serious about this. People have asked about every intimate detail.
Daniel: The one thing that doesn’t come up very often is I think people often come into interview, particularly with certain particular media outlets, that want a slightly negative spin on it. Or even if it’s not that they want a negative spin, they have an idea that Potter will have been like shackles today and kind of that I won’t have been… Very few people ask about, “Wow, isn’t this an amazing opportunity for a young actor?” Very few people say, you know…There are very few young actors that can get a chance at the age, you know, like when I was 17—very few 17 year olds get a chance to play Alan Strang in Equus on the West End. That doesn’t happen unless you’ve got something behind you which is kind of quite a big deal. So Potter for me is something that’s been giving me these amazing opportunities to start a career and learn while I’m doing, which is the best way to learn. I suppose people very rarely ask me about that.
Question: Are you going back to the stage soon?
Daniel: Yes, next year.
Question: Yes? Are you in rehearsals for…
Daniel: No, not yet. No, we’re filming Woman in Black at the moment. But I start rehearsals in January. I’ve been doing singing lesson for upwards of three years.
Question: Yeah, that’s a big singing part.
Daniel: It is a big…The thing is, it is a big singing part, but it’s not when you compare it to somebody playing Frankie Valle in Jersey Boys, you sing 29 songs in that part. I think I’ve got nine songs in the whole show? And I think only two of them are me on my own. So it is a big sing, but the highest note is like a G or something, which is sort of relatively comfortable for me. So it’s sort of not too intimidating. If I had to sing “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” every night, then I’d be a lot more worried, because then you’ve just got thousands of G Sharps, and that would just be a nightmare. But yeah, it’s the dancing more than singing that’s totally out of the comfort zone. But it’s good. I’ve been doing lessons now for like two years. And you know, I’m not a born natural dancer, but I certainly think it will be a testament to putting in the hours… If I’ve got a free week, I’ll do about nine hours of dance a week if I’m not filming. So I’m putting the hours in. So if I screw up, it won’t be through lack of trying.
Question: Want to give us a preview of “I Believe in You”?
Daniel: No. I’m going to make you pay for that!
Question: Hypothetically speaking, if you were to borrowed stuff from the set to take home, what would you have maybe borrowed? This is all hypothetical.
Daniel: Yeah, of course. One thing I did take I did ask for. I would have stolen it had they not given it to me. But I did ask for it and they complied, was the glasses. I’ve got two sets of the glasses. One from the first movie, which are tiny now, and one from the last movie. And there both the lens-less pairs, because that’s the ones we used more often, so they’re the ones I associated more with Harry. Yeah, those would be my souvenirs.
Question: My daughter was an extra on the last film and cannot get over how friendly you were with the extras and how present you were on set the whole time.
Daniel: Cool. Great.
Question: So how do you keep up that level of patience and attentiveness?
Daniel: Well, I think as an actor, and particularly if you are playing the lead in something, you have to view yourself as the head of department for the cast. All of the other departments are accountable and have somebody at the helm who is leading them all the time, and I don’t think that the actors should be any different. And the thing is, you know, it’s amazing how…if I was walking onto set every day with a kind of dull, unhappy attitude, how quickly that would filter through to everybody else on the crew. And when you’re filming a film for nine months, you can’t afford to let morale really slip. So I think you have to sort of be a bit of a cheerleader as well as lead actor. And when you’re on there and there’s a lot of crowd scenes, I think it helps everybody raise the standards a bit of what they’re doing is they think that the actors are as involved with them as they are with the scene. And I think it all just helps to…I think it’s all very important to the creation of a happy set.
Question: You’ve lived basically over here filming on location quite a bit. Would you like to carry on getting projects that will keep you in the UK, or would you like to move out to Hollywood?
Daniel: I don’t think I would like to move out permanently. You know, I will go wherever the scripts take me, basically. I have to say I love working in England, because it means I get to go home most nights. And it creates less, sort of, discord with your friends and things because you get to see them a lot as well. But if there was a script which meant I was filming in America for six months, then that’s what I would do if the script was good enough. And I also think it would be a bit of an adjustment working in America, because in England there’s a huge amount of involvement between the cast and the crew. And by all accounts, I’ve heard that that’s not always the case in America, in that there’s a slight hierarchy of the film industry, which is ridiculous, but it does exist in England, but it’s very easy to break down in England. You know, just by hanging out and making it obvious that you don’t care about the sort of nonsensical hierarchy structures of the industry. But in America, I’ve certainly heard stories about there’s more of a divider. I think I would find that very hard. But I think I’d still, even if I was over there, I wouldn’t really pay much attention to that, just because I find it ridiculous. The idea the actors are the most important people on a film set I think is very stupid. Actors are the most replaceable people there. There are literally millions of us. There’s very few people that can operate a steady-cam. The numbers are a lot, lot fewer for that, you know? [laughs]
Question: Could you talk a little bit about with part two coming next summer, what are you looking forward to for fans? What do you think fans are going to take away the differences between part one and part two?
Daniel: It’s interesting, because over the course of the interviews, lots of people have been coming up to me and saying, “Oh, part one is a real action movie, isn’t it? There’s so much action in it.” I was thinking, “Jesus, you’ve…no! This is like the sedate younger brother to the last part.” In the last part you will be flung headfirst 200 miles an hour into a firestorm. I mean it’s…the level of action is insanity. It’s nonstop. I’ve been categorizing these two films as first it’s a rogue movie that turns into a heist movie that turns into a war film. And the heist part being when we break into Gringotts and all of that stuff. But then right in the end, the battles in Hogwarts is just incredible, and it really is epic. And I think people are going to be left slightly breathless by it.
Question: The other thing is…obviously, minor spoiler for people who haven’t read the book, there’s an epilogue that a few set pictures leaked of a certain thing towards the end. Could you sort of talk about, though, filming that and what it meant to you?
Daniel: Probably pointless, because we’re reshooting it!
Question: What’s that again?
Daniel: We’ll be reshooting parts of it, I think. So it might be slightly pointless to talk about it, I don’t know. [laughs] It was an interesting one, because I think we made it very hard on ourselves, because we shot it at King’s Cross, for real. And, you know, this time we’ll be shooting it in Leavesden on a set, because it’s…We made it very hard on ourselves. To have to rush that sequence, and it’s an important sequence, is not something that any of us want to do. So I think next time, when we come back to it and revisit certain moments in it, we’ll be trying to keep it paced slowly…
Question: Oh, you’re talking about reshoots or something?
Daniel: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Question: I was asking about the real actual shooting. So you’re doing some reshoots?
Daniel: I think we will be, yeah, because I think we just pushed ourselves too far too quickly to get that all done at King’s Cross when the time constraints are so massive. Because it’s a train station; people actually need to use that platform. So we made it very hard on ourselves. So I think we’re going to revisit it and have a slightly slower, more measured pace next time.
Question: I understand. Cool. Will the same actors come back then?
Daniel: I think so, yes. As far as I know, absolutely.
Question: All right. Cool. Thanks man.
Daniel: Brilliant. Thanks very much.
Question: One last question about the horror film?
Daniel: Pardon me?
Question: The hammer film…
Daniel: Oh, It was the best script I’ve read. It was an incredible script, and James Watkins directing it, who I think is one of the most exciting, young filmmakers. I think he’s the kind of heir apparent to the Chris Nolan’s of this world in terms of British big movie ambition.
Question: Great. Thank you.