Daniel Radcliffe's Roles Ranked Worst To Best

The transition from child star to adult actor is not an easy one. It can be challenging for an actor to take on more serious or provocative roles when the audience has grown to perceive them as a child. For Daniel Radcliffe, that challenge was even bigger since he headlined one of the biggest movie franchises in history. With eight movies in the main saga, several spin-offs, video games, amusement parks, and interactive stores (all inspired by the original book series by British author J.K. Rowling), "Harry Potter" is a phenomenon to this day, 

The role of Harry Potter wasn't Radcliffe's first, but it's the one everyone knows him for. Only 12-years-old when the first "Harry Potter" movie was released in 2001, Radcliffe grew up before the audience's eyes. He has kept busy since the end of the "Harry Potter" saga, appearing in both movies and Television in a wide variety of roles across many genres. He's also been involved in several independent projects.

With a resume that boasts over forty acting credits, Radcliffe often goes for eccentric roles outside of his comfort zone, stretching his acting skills to the maximum. In keeping with his penchant for odd roles, it's recently been announced that he'll play Weird Al Yankovic in a biopic.   

For this list, smaller parts have been omitted to focus on Radcliffe's major roles over the last two decades. Here are Daniel Radcliffe's roles, ranked worst to best.

20. Beast of Burden

Sean Haggerty (Daniel Radcliffe) has a lot on the line: His wife Jen (Grace Grummer) is sick and needs a life-saving operation, he's a drug mule for a dangerous Mexican cartel, and he's playing double agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration (which has promised to pay for Jen's expensive surgery). 

"Beast of Burden" takes place mostly over the course of one night in the cabin of a small plane. Sean is making what is supposed to be his last cocaine smuggling run for the cartel, but tensions run high as his wife and DEA agent Bloom (Pablo Schreiber) continuously call him as he crosses the border.

While its premise is enticing and has worked well in other films (such as "Locke"), "Beast of Burden" gets lost in too many flashbacks and stiff, uninspired dialogue. Radcliffe isn't given much room (pun intended) to give life to Sean, so his performance falls flat — as does the entire movie.

19. The Gamechangers

The 2015 BBC docudrama "The Gamechangers" explores the rocky true story of the "Grand Theft Auto" video game series and the legal drama that took place between Rockstar Games and American attorneys following the release of "Vice City." 

After 17-year-old Devin Moore, an avid "Vice City" player, is accused of killing two police officers and a dispatcher and stealing a cop car in Alabama, conservative Florida-based attorney Jack Thompson (Bill Paxton) decides to file a lawsuit against Rockstar Games for inspiring the young man's rampage through the game's glamorization of crime and violence.

Daniel Radcliffe plays Sam Houser, the president of Rockstar Games, as he goes through this legal battle and its aftermath. Unfortunately, "The Gamechangers" doesn't do justice to "Grand Theft Auto" or the massive cultural impact the video game series has had. The dialogue is robotic and unbelievable, and overall, the movie simply misses its mark.

18. Now You See Me 2

An unneeded sequel to the surprise 2013 hit "Now You See Me," "Now You See Me 2" sees the illusionists known as the Four Horsemen from the first film (including returning members J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), and newcomer Lula May, portrayed by Lizzy Caplan), coming back together for another heist. Their new handler, Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), is a former FBI agent who wants to exact revenge on magic debunker Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), who he believes to be responsible for his father's death. While they are on a mission to expose a corrupt CEO, Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe), another young tech mogul, captures them. He wants the Horsemen to steal a special chip that will give him access to all the private mobile data in the world.

Author E.B. White allegedly said (there are several variations of the quote), "Explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog. You understand it better, but the frog dies in the process." "Now You See Me 2" isn't about jokes, but it embodies the spirit of those words perfectly. It spends so much time explaining (and re-explaining) how the characters' motives aren't what you think they are that it doesn't even matter by the end. Radcliffe's presence feels superfluous in an already overstuffed movie.

17. Playmobil: The Movie

Trying to bring a toy or game to the big screen in an interesting way is not an easy feat, but films like "The Lego Movie" have proven that it is possible. Unfortunately, "Playmobil: The Movie" isn't up to the challenge, and it bombed at the box office. As far as children's movies go, it starts rough with the sudden death of the parents of Charlie (Gabriel Bateman) and Marla (Anya Taylor-Joy). A few years later, Marla is crumbling under the responsibilities of taking care of Charlie, who runs away. Tracking him with her cellphone, she finds him sneaking into a Playmobil display at a toy fair that's about to open. Inexplicably, they're both sucked into the display, becoming Playmobil figures themselves.

When Charlie is kidnapped by Emperor Maximus (Adam Lambert), Marla teams up with a ragtag team, including secret agent Rex Dasher (Daniel Radcliffe) and food truck driver Del (Jim Gaffigan). 

The movie sets up rules for how this new world works, then proceeds to ignore them. Radcliffe voices Rex nicely, giving him a sultry James Bond-esque charm. Still, his performance alone can't save this mess of a movie.

16. Escape from Pretoria

Based on the life of anti-apartheid activist and former political prisoner Tim Jenkin, "Escape from Pretoria" is the true story of his escape from prison in 1979. The movie picks up as Jenkin (Daniel Radcliffe) is sentenced to twelve years in prison with another activist named Stephen Lee (Daniel Webber) after setting off a leaflet bomb in Cape Town. As soon as they're in, they're looking for a way out. Jenkin plans to carve keys for the different doors barring them from freedom out of wood stolen from the prison's woodshop. Tensions run high as they're brutally bullied by prison guards for their anti-apartheid views.

"Escape from Pretoria" is more concerned with being a good prison-break movie than with Jenkin's real-life backstory and political and historical accuracy. At times, it plays fast and loose with facts. To be fair, it does it well, but considering the subject matter, it's a missed opportunity. Radcliffe makes do with the clumsy exposition and dialogue to deliver a haunted portrayal of Jenkin but misses the mark with a bad South African accent.

15. Victor Frankenstein

The question of whether the world needed another interpretation of Mary Shelley's novel "Frankenstein" is up for debate, but it might not have been a question that the creators of 2015's "Victor Frankenstein" even paused to ponder. Mashing together elements from the original novel and countless cinematic adaptations (and mixing some new stuff in as well), "Victor Frankenstein" is a surprisingly boring yet chaotic movie.

James McAvoy takes on the role of the mad genius Victor Frankenstein, and Daniel Radcliffe plays his assistant Igor. Victor rescues Igor from a circus after discovering his extensive medical knowledge. After fixing Igor's hump in a most gruesome way (as Radcliffe told us in an interview, "Victor Frankenstein" doesn't shy away from gore) and giving him his old roommate's name, the duo embarks on their journey to discover the secrets of life and death. Radcliffe and McAvoy's chemistry is the only thing giving this movie any life, and their bromance carries the dead weight of the rest of "Victor Frankenstein."

14. A Young Doctor's Notebook & Other Stories

Based on the short story collection of the same name by Russian author and medical doctor Mikhail Bulgakov, BBC's "A Young Doctor's Notebook & Other Stories" is a dark comedy series starring Daniel Radcliffe as the titular young doctor and Jon Hamm as his older counterpart. The unnamed young doctor is on his very first assignment in a remote country hospital and is confronted by his inexperience in a rudimentary setting. In the series, the older doctor looks at his past as the young doctor wonders how a more experienced person might react to the situations he encounters. 

In two short seasons comprised of four half-hour episodes each, "A Young Doctor's Notebook & Other Stories" is entertaining and doesn't spread itself too thin. The series has no overarching story and is rather anecdotal, just as Bulgakov's stories are. Despite their height difference, Radcliffe and Hamm play well against one another. They both had a lot of interest in the material, and their passion for the project shines through.

13. My Boy Jack

"My Boy Jack," based on the play of the same name, is the real-life story of British author Rudyard Kipling, known for such classics as "The Jungle Book." David Haig, the author of the play, tackles the role of Kipling as he encourages his son John (Daniel Radcliffe), nicknamed Jack, to enlist in the British Army to fight in World War I. However, Jack faces a major challenge: He is severely myopic, making him unsuitable for military service. He's finally accepted into the Irish Guards, much to the dismay of the rest of his family. His mother Caroline (Kim Cattrall) and sister Elsie (Carey Mulligan) immediately realize the fate that will befall him, and they're quickly proven right. Just as he turns 18, Jack is deployed for the first time and goes missing. He's later confirmed to have been killed in action.

While "My Boy Jack" glosses over the racist, colonial attitudes for which the elder Kipling is infamous, it features some great performances. Radcliffe is a standout in one of his first adult roles.

12. Guns Akimbo

"Guns Akimbo" is a relentless thriller packed with chases, gore, and explosions. Daniel Radcliffe plays Miles, a coder of children's mobile games by day and an internet troll by night. He becomes obsessed with an online reality show produced by a shadowy criminal organization called Skizm in which real people hunt down and fight each other to the death. When Miles starts insulting the show's viewers, Skizm thugs show up at his apartment, knock him unconscious, and bolt guns to his hands. From that point on, Miles is in the game. Soon, he's pitted against reigning champion Nix Degraves (Samara Weaving).

While the movie is too busy with over-the-top action scenes to really be self-aware and reflect on its message, Radcliffe makes the best of the ludicrous premise. The role is thankless, yet he manages to make Miles charming and funny. Radcliffe also commits to the physicality of the part, leaning into how ridiculous it is to have guns attached to his hands — which makes doing anything other than pulling the trigger very difficult.

11. Horns

Based on the novel of the same name by Joe Hill, "Horns" is a fantasy-comedy-horror film about a man who grows horns. And that's not even the weirdest thing that happens. Daniel Radcliffe plays Ignatius Perris (nicknamed Iggy), who is presumed to have killed his childhood sweetheart Merrin (Juno Temple) right after their break-up. The whole town is convinced he did it. Completely drunk at the time, he doesn't remember that night at all Consequently, he has no convincing alibi.

Consumed with grief, Iggy starts growing horns and gains a weird power: Everyone he encounters is compelled to reveal their deepest thoughts and secrets to him. Well, everyone except his best friend Lee (Max Minghella), who is also his public defense lawyer in the murder case. After trying unsuccessfully to have the horns surgically removed, Iggy starts using his powers to discover the real killer's identity. Radcliffe is an angsty anti-hero, and we sympathize with his predicament. Nevertheless, the rest of the movie is disjointed and clumsy with an overbearing narration and too many flashbacks.

10. Jungle

"Jungle" is a biographical survival drama based on the real-life story of Israeli backpacker Yossi Ghinsberg. In 1981, Yossi (Radcliffe) visits Bolivia and meets Karl (Thomas Kretschmann), an Austrian man who intrigues him with tall tales of adventures in the Amazon. Yossi decides to head out for the dangerous South American hike with Karl and two other people: Swiss schoolteacher Marcus (Joel Jackson) and American photographer Kevin (Alex Russel). Things quickly become tense in the group, and Marcus and Karl decide to abandon the hike. Kevin and Yossi push onwards. Yossi is soon separated from Kevin and stranded for weeks without proper training or supplies.

Rather than letting Radcliffe do his job and act out the delirious panic that comes with such a situation, director Greg McLean goes for cheap shots. Hallucinations, flashbacks, and jump scares take over the film. Ultimately, McClean makes the mistake of telling instead of showing what Yossi is going through, blunting Radcliffe's performance.

9. December Boys

The Australian drama "December Boys" is based on the novel of the same name by Michael Noonan. The eponymous December boys are four adolescent orphans whose birthdays happen to be in December (the middle of the Australian summer): Misty (Lee Cormie), who narrates the film, Spark (Christian Byers), Spit (James Fraser), and Maps (Daniel Radcliffe). The nuns running the orphanage where the boys live arrange for them to go on a seaside vacation — after which their lives will never be the same.

While the three youngest December boys battle for the attention of potential adoptive parents, the slightly older Maps spends his time flirting with Lucy (Teresa Palmer), a girl who is visiting the beach with relatives. "December Boys" is a touching coming-of-age tale and Radcliffe's first post-Harry Potter film role. It features many firsts for Radcliffe as an actor with audiences seeing him kissing, smoking, and drinking for the first time on film. Consequently, the film was dubbed "Harry Potter Gets Laid" by the press.

8. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend

The Netflix series "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" finished its four-season run in 2019, but the show's creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock weren't done just yet. The follow-up movie, "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend," is an interactive special — a programming concept which Netflix had already explored with the "Black Mirror: Bandersnatch."

"Kimmy vs. the Reverend" takes place four years after the final episode. Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) is now a successful author and is set to marry Prince Frederick (Daniel Radcliffe), who, in a weird turn of circumstances, suffers from arrested development like Kimmy. However, Kimmy gets sidetracked when she discovers a book hidden in her backpack. She confronts the Reverend (Jon Hamm) in prison, who slips up and admits to having hidden other women in bunkers. Along with Titus (Titus Burgess), Kimmy decides to find and rescue them — with only days to go before her wedding.

While Prince Frederick isn't a big presence for most of the movie, he does make an impression. Radcliffe is a comedic revelation in the already chaotically hilarious universe of Kimmy Schmidt. The Prince is a perfect match for Kimmy, and Radcliffe matches Kemper's energy superbly.

7. The Woman in Black

Based on a novella of the same name by Susan Hill, "The Woman in Black" is the latest of several different adaptations, including a play and a 1989 TV movie. It's a classic Victorian ghost story (despite being published in 1983) that relies on invisible threats, ominous noises, and pent-up tension rather than gore and monsters. Daniel Radcliffe stars as Arthur Kipps, a young lawyer sent to retrieve the papers of a recently-deceased widow named Mrs. Drablow (Alisa Khazanova) that are hidden somewhere in her decrepit mansion. He's on his own, as most of the people in the surrounding village want nothing to do with him. They say the mansion is haunted, and children have been mysteriously dying because of the widow's ghost.

Radcliffe nails the quiet anguish of Kipps, who senses danger in the creaky, dimly-lit mansion, as well as the horror at what he uncovers. Although Radcliffe seems a bit young to play Kipps, who is a widowed father of a four-year-old, his performance is still believable and carries the film.

6. Imperium

Daniel Radcliffe takes on another serious role (and a very different one) in "Imperium," a film based loosely on the real-life story of FBI agent Micheal German. After reading German's memoir "Thinking Like a Terrorist: Insights of a Former FBI Undercover Agent," screenwriter and director Daniel Ragussis reached out to the author to help create "Imperium." 

Radcliffe stars as Nate Foster, a nerdy FBI agent with a lot of potential who has trouble fitting in. He's recruited by his colleague Angela Zampero (Toni Collette) to go undercover in a white supremacist group that she believes is planning an attack in Washington, D.C.

Radcliffe's casting as the diminutive but brilliant Foster is an unconventional choice, but it works. As Zamparo tells Foster, undercover work involves mostly people skills. While it is an undercover terrorism story, "Imperium" doesn't go for classic gun-slinging action scenes. Foster has to be crafty and rely on his wits to come up with solutions on the go and talk his way out of tight situations without blowing his cover. Radcliffe pulls it off.

5. What If

Originally titled "The F Word," this Canadian rom-com's title got changed in some countries (including the U.S.) to "What If" to better suit certain sensibilities. Although the word in question is "friend," the title nevertheless clashed with MPAA restrictions.

In the film, Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) has just dropped out of med school and is recovering from a bad breakup when he meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan), who works in animation. They immediately hit it off, but to Wallace's dismay, Chantry is already in a relationship with Ben (Rafe Spall). They become good friends and Wallace keeps his feelings to himself for a time.

"What If" hits all the rom-com tropes but is self-aware and attempts to be more realistic in its twists than is typical of the genre. Overall, it's more grounded — if still sticky sweet. Radcliffe is believable as Wallace, and his chemistry with Kazan (who is a quirky and witty love interest) is undeniable.

4. Kill Your Darlings

Before the Beat poets became literary legends, they were simply students at Columbia. "Kill Your Darlings" is set in 1944 when a young Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) begins his studies and meets his contemporaries Willam Burroughs (Ben Foster), Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston), and Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan). Ginsberg forms an intimate friendship with Carr which turns into a romantic attachment. Carr, however, is trying to distance himself from his former mentor and manipulative suitor David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall).

As the young men dream of revolutionizing literature and bringing forth a movement called "The New Vision," jealousy, obsession, and murder loom. "Kill Your Darlings" can seem a bit tedious at times with its perfunctory montages of artists hard at work in smoky cafes and clubs and then partying just as hard in a world of sex, drugs, and jazz. The chemistry between Radcliffe and DeHaan's characters is raw and genuine. Radcliffe, again proving his versatility, is perfectly suited to the role of the innocent and sympathetic Ginsberg.

3. Miracle Workers

The TBS anthology series "Miracle Workers" was created by novelist Simon Rich, based on his own writings. With an ensemble cast that includes Daniel Radcliffe, Steve Buscemi, Geraldine Viswanathan, Jon Bass, and Karan Soni, every season explores a new universe. The first season takes place in heaven as God decides to blow up the Earth. Subsequent seasons are set in different periods. The second season is subtitled "Dark Ages," and the third season is subtitled "Oregon Trail." The series has already been confirmed for a fourth season, though the plot and release dates are as yet unknown.

Since the cast takes on different roles every season, Radcliffe has ample room to flex his acting skills — especially when it comes to his flair for comedy. So far, he's played a prayer-answering angel, a naive prince, and a reverend learning to embrace his inner diva. Rich's writing is absurd and hilarious, and the series has definite sitcom inspirations, making for bingeable entertainment.

2. Swiss Army Man

Daniel Radcliffe seems to have made a point of collecting weird, eccentric roles. "Swiss Army Man" might be the weirdest of them all. "Swiss Army Man" marries crude and rude absurdity with profound life lessons. In the film, Paul Dano plays Hank, a man stranded on an island. Radcliffe plays a corpse who washes ashore and interrupts Hank's suicide attempt. Upon discovering how the corpse, whom he dubs Manny, can propel himself in the water using his farts, Hank mounts him and rides the dead man like a jet ski to the mainland.

Slowly, Manny begins to speak and exhibits unsettling powers that help Hank stay alive. Soon, an unlikely friendship blooms between the two. 

Radcliffe pulls off the silliest of acting challenges in giving life to Manny. His physicality is on point, but his portrayal is also earnest and sweet, counterbalancing Dano's wackiness. The film is very emotionally potent and delivers some touching sequences amid all of its crude humor.

1. The Harry Potter Saga

Daniel Radcliffe grew up on-screen as Harry Potter, and much of the franchise's audience grew up alongside him. Radcliffe took the role at age 11, and although it was not his first part, it was definitely the most ambitious of his young career. His casting turned out to be an amazing (and career-defining) decision, and over the course of eight movies, he was able to bring us on the harrowing and emotional adventures of the young wizard in a series of standout performances.

It will probably always be hard to separate Radcliffe from the iconic role that established his career as an actor. Even if he doesn't see eye-to-eye with author J. K. Rowling, the creator of the boy who lived (he publicly denounced Rowling's comments on transgender women on Twitter), he still believes in the story "Harry Potter" tells and its place in the hearts of fans around the world.