‘Hi, I’m Dan’

- Raymond de Asis Lo L.A.&l -

When you are Daniel Radcliffe, you hardly need an introduction.

Three weeks ago, The Philippine Star was invited to a “round-table” interview with the actor, who was in Los Angeles to promote his latest movie December Boys.

Normally, a “round-table” would be composed of about eight to 12  journalists from all over the world. Luckily, that day this writer had to contend with only three others: Two from Taiwan and one from Japan. As we were ushered in to the interview suite in posh Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, this writer immediately eyed the chair where Radcliffe would be seated and took the spot right next to it.

And bingo! This writer had control of the interview.

Radcliffe, clad in a blue suit and holding his right shoe on his hand (he was complaining that it didn’t fit him well), graciously introduced himself to us — his blue-green eyes gleaming with genuine sincerity.

December Boys is a poignant story of four orphans through a summer of discovery and awakening.

Yes. Radcliffe portrays yet another orphan (which he addresses below).  He is Maps, the oldest of the four boys who acts as their quasi-parental figure as they go through a tumultuous summer: From the boys’  first glimpse of a woman’s full figure to the joy of first loves and the heartbreaking pain of rejection and death.

Based on a book by Michael Noonan and directed by Rod Hardy, Warner Independent Pictures’ December Boys will be released in the Philippines on Oct. 3. It also stars promising Australian newcomer Teresa Palmer in a sizzling role as Lucy.

Radcliffe became a global star through the Harry Potter series. He turned 18 this year and was estimated to be worth more than 30 Million Sterling Pounds. Earlier this year, he created quite a stir when he appeared naked on the London stage in the production of Equus.

Below is the complete text of the interview where the actor addresses questions on his fame, his success, his first crush, his best friends, and many others. Surprisingly, despite the enormous success he is having, the young actor still shows a certain naiveté that maybe testament to how he was reared by his parents.

STAR: How does it feel to be so successful at such a very young age?

Radcliffe: I don’t know! I mean, you never think about it. I feel very lucky to be successful in terms of the amount of work I am getting today. In terms of the celebrity side, that’s not what I think about or particularly enjoy. I don’t get any greater sense of excitement than when I am on the set and filming.

How do you want your fans to know you, as the “celebrity character” Harry Potter or as the “actor” Daniel Radcliffe?

Obviously I’d be the actor ideally. I know some people will probably see me for a long time as Harry and I’m sort of fine with that but that’s just one thing really but hopefully people will eventually see me as an actor rather than as the character.

Jumping off from what you just said, if you are to meet someone who is not familiar with you, how would you introduce yourself?

“Hi! I’m Dan.”

Just Dan? Not Dan, the actor?

No. If I have to meet someone who instantly tells me their profession after they told me their name, I would instantly think that I probably won’t like them. I don’t think that’s how polite people really talk. Dan is good.

Does it bother you that, in terms of casting, they always think of you as Harry Potter?

So far, that hasn’t really seemed to happen. It doesn’t seem to have made any difference to the way directors and people see me, which I am very, very pleased with.

Are you trying to break free from Harry Potter?

It’s not that, It’s about doing stuff that’s different. I am not actively trying to lose Harry Potter because I love playing him and I am proud of the film and I’ve given almost half of my life to it, you know. It’s just about establishing me as an actor rather than as a character. When I say that “I want to do things that are different,” I’m not just saying that I only want to do things different from Harry but I also want to do things different from Maps (his character in December Boys). I want every part I have to do to be different from those I already played. That’s certainly the plan.

What are the criteria you follow when choosing a film?

Obviously, it has to be different from any part I played before and also it’s not just the part but the overall script. For me, what really appealed to me about December Boys is it very much an ensemble piece. It isn’t just about my character    and that was very, very good. Essentially, if you’ve got a good script — and I fairly have a good instinct about scripts, and they come up to your standards, then there’s no good reason not to do it.

What was the biggest challenge for you in making this film?

The biggest challenge in this film is playing a character that is very quiet. Some people think that line learning is the hardest part but it is not at all, actually it is the easiest part. So to have to communicate the same amount of communication but actually with a lot less dialogue is the biggest challenge for me.

What did you learn from your experience in working on this film?

Being outside the world of Harry Potter I felt an even greater need to focus and concentrate because you have so much less time to film it, and you very quickly learn the necessity of absolutely being totally prepared all the time. I mean, I am very prepared but on a six-week shoot doing five scenes a day, you need to absolutely know what you are doing every time you go on the set.

What can you say about portraying yet another orphan?

I don’t mind doing it. It’s just one of those things. You don’t plan for it that way, I mean, I got to the second page of the script and there was a line there that says “The first thing you have to know is we are orphans” and I just went, “Oh no! This is orphan number three!” If I was playing another orphan and he is very similar to Harry then it would have been a problem. But because it was so disparate it didn’t really make any difference.

What attracted you to the role of Maps?

It was because he was so different from Harry. In every other respect he was a polar opposite and it goes about to what I was saying that Harry shouts aloud about how he failed and Maps doesn’t. And also because Maps feels very parental about the other boys and wants to look after them, that’s what I felt in real life. I wanted to make sure that these kids (the other child actors) have a great time on this film because they were all great kids and my experience of filming when I was 12  and 13 was incredibly positive and I wanted theirs to be positive as well.

The movie is about friendship and loyalty among friends. Could you tell us who your best friends are?

One of my best friends is a guy who works on Harry Potter. He is in wardrobe and he is 40 and his name is Will. Another best friend would be a guy I know called Robin who I’ve known since I was five. I’ve met a few people I’m very, very close to through Equus, the play that I did earlier in the year. Bonds that develop between people on stage are very, very intense. A lot of my friends are people I met through work except for Robin, who I went to school with in my childhood.

Obviously, you follow a very busy schedule. Do you still have time to bond with your friends?

That’s the thing that’s very, very important about my friends. True friends are the people who will understand when you say, “Hey, look, I’m really sorry, I’m leaving the country for three weeks so I won’t be able to see you” and you know, some people who I used to know, used to get really offended and angry and that’s why our friendship didn’t last whereas people like Robin, Will or other people I’ve met, they tend to understand about what the situation is.

Tell us about the first girl you ever had a crush on.

When I was eight    no, seven! I had a crush on a girl named Charlotte Pritchard, I think it was Pritchard and she had an identical twin sister called Emily and she went to my third school which was Radcliffe — I am not sure how she would feel about me mentioning her name (chuckles). I’m sure I’ll find out when I get those angry phone calls but I was very young and I haven’t seen her or spoken to her in years since I left that school.

What do you find attractive in a girl?

Someone who is level-headed. The least attractive quality that someone can have is neediness and as soon as you get the hint that a girl is — and I am giving this advice to all men everywhere and to all girls also because it works both ways — going to be terribly needy, don’t go out with them, it will not be a good idea.

Are you saying this based on experience?

(Laughs) Mm… No. It’s from a vague experience of things that didn’t work. It was with one particular person but we didn’t go out properly, luckily.

In the seven years that you’ve been in the business, what were the most important lessons you’ve learned?

Working with people like Imelda Staunton (Oscar-nominated actress from the film Vera Drake) and Gary Oldman (Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Romeo is Bleeding) have made me learn to show up on time, learn my lines, and don’t ever be rude to anyone. You’ll be amazed with the stories you’ll hear about people who never know their lines or don’t show up on time. When you do stuff like that, like not showing up on time, you are implying that you have sometimes the right to — and no one has the right to do that! The sound crew turns up on time, the lighting, make-up turn up on time, so you have to. Actors are essentially members of the crew and that’s how they should see themselves, I think.

What was the last good film you’ve seen?

I loved The Bourne Ultimatum. It was fantastic.

Do you think you can do an action movie?

I don’t know. The thing is, I am not a big fan of action movies and the greatest thing about Bourne is that it’s clever and it takes into account more things and not just the action.

I heard that you are very fond of books. What were the last books you’ve bought?

I bought a lot of plays. Vladimir Nabokov’s Laughter in the Dark  is just amazing.

Can you tell us about your experience in Equus?

It was a totally positive one. I loved doing it. I loved the rush of adrenaline that you get every time you walk out on stage — the thrill of having something on stage goes  wrong and then trying to work it out. Everything about it was just amazing. I loved it. Yeah, it was just fantastic for me.

Did it take a lot of convincing for you to get (completely) naked on stage (in a review by Details Magazine, they hinted that Radcliffe even goes from flaccid to you-know-what in one pivotal scene)?

No. Not really.

You always knew you’re gonna get naked because the play has been done before, right?

Yes, Actually.

Is it true that you are taking the role to Broadway?

Yes. Hopefully, maybe around this time next year and it might be later — I am not sure. But the plan is in around a year’s time it has to be on Broadway.

This is hypothetical: With all your success now, what if you are to lose everything and you can only save one thing, what would it be?

(Thinks for almost a minute) Mm… Probably…do I have to pick one book, or could I say my books?

Whatever, you can pick anything?

I would pick my books.

(Ribbing the actor) Not your parents!?

Oh! LOSE EVERYTHING! That is more intense then! Of course I would keep my family — and my dogs, because they’re family.

Do you have any fears about the future?

Yes. Everyone fears about the future.

What do you fear most?

I don’t know. I’d say being buried alive — that would be very terrible! In terms of my career, I don’t know. I fear not meeting my own standards. 




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