Daniel Radcliffe on his tearful ‘Harry Potter’ farewell — and his scary acting future

July 28, 2010 | 10:49 p.m.

EXCLUSIVE: THE ACTOR SAYS GOODBYE TO HARRY AND HELLO TO HAMMER

Dan Radcliffe portrait

Daniel Radcliffe’s next magic trick will be his hardest — can he successfully disappear into a new starring film role after a decade as Harry Potter? On Monday, just three days removed from his 21st birthday, the actor seemed eager for the challenge even though his thoughts kept drifting back to Hogwarts.

“Working is how I will best get through a very weird time,” Radcliffe said. “I know it’s the most constructive thing I can do because otherwise I’d be moping around and being a bit like, ‘Oh, I miss everyone … ’ So I’m quite pleased to go on to the next thing and the next challenge.”

The “next challenge” is actually a list of things. Radcliffe will appear on Broadway in the spring in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” (he was fresh from dance class, in fact, when he spoke by phone from London), and he is attached to three film projects. First among these movies to reach the screen will be  the just-announced adaptation of “The Woman in Black,” the spooky 1983 suspense novel by Susan Hill that is best known for inspiring a popular stage version — it’s been playing on London’s West End since June 1989 and, yes, that means the production is a month older than Radcliffe.

The novel presents a small English town where terrible things happen to children and they always follow the appearance of a spectral woman in widow’s garb. Radcliffe said the script by Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass,”Stardust”) digs up beyond-the-grave themes that are far more unnerving than Halloween visions of the “Potter” films and that director James Watkins (“Eden Lake”) is intent on finding the heartache inside the horror.

“When I met first met James Watkins, our director, he told me about a quote of Stanley Kubrick’s, which was that all films about the afterlife or ghosts are innately consoling,” Radcliffe said. “I think there’s something about that that is very true to our story. While it is a horror story and it is very frightening, it’s also about loss and grief. I read it on a plane, and I don’t know what the people around me must have thought. I kept jumping and gasping…”

Dan Radcliffe cheer sin Orlando

Radcliffe, who begins shooting the film this fall, will be on screen in almost every scene of the film, and it will be the first true test of his ability to carry a movie in which he doesn’t wave a wand. “People really have only ever seen my face with glasses on it … that’s going to change in this movie,” said Radcliffe, who’s also attached to a new version of “All Quiet on the Western Front” as well as “The Journey Is the Destination,” the story of slain photojournalist Dan Eldon.

It might be hard for some moviegoers to see Radcliffe as another character, with or without the spectacles. The six “Harry Potter” films to date have pulled in $5.3 billion in worldwide box office, and there are still two installments left, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” in November and “Part 2” in July 2011. Radcliffe says his preparations for “The Woman in Black” have helped him avoid the full emotional impact of leaving his decade-long role and costars Emma Watson and Rupert Grint.

Harry Potter Sorcerors stone

“We, all three of us — me, Rupert and Emma — we just wept,” Radcliffe said of June 12, the final day on the set of the last “Potter” film.

As Radcliffe walks away from the last decade’s shining success of  the British film community — the “Potter” movies were filmed in England by local crews and starred several generations of top British and Irish actors — he steps into a project that taps into an older and edgier part of U.K. cinema lore: “The Woman in Black” is being made under the banner of Hammer Film Productions, the most revered brand name in European horror, which is coming back from the grave after three decades without a feature-film release.

Radcliffe, a devoted student of the British stage and film, is eager to be part of the resurrection of Hammer. The studio dates back to 1937 but really began carving out its reputation with the release of “The Curse of Frankenstein” in 1957 and “Horror of Dracula” the following year.

“It does bring a smile to my face, and it’s an absolutely genuine smile,” Radcliffe said. “Hammer is the company that everybody wants to see succeed. It’s such a part of our film heritage. It was a massive producer of films in its heyday — they were really prolific, there were tons of them — and with actors like Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. It’s wonderful to see that company, that name, in a resurgence.”

That resurgence begins with the October release of the wintry vampire tale “Let Me In,” directed by Matt Reeves (“Cloverfield”) and starring Chloe Moretz (“Kick-Ass”) and Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road). Hammer also recently wrapped production on “The Resident,” which stars two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (“Watchmen”) and was directed by Finnish filmmaker Antti Jokinen. In a bridge to the Hammer past, Lee also appears in the film.

Hammer Chief Executive Simon Oakes said some recent compass points for the reconstituted Hammer and its ethos might be The Sixth Sense,”The Others,” “The Orphanage” and Let the Right One In,” the Swedish film that is being remade in English as “Let Me In.” He said that sets the horror-house apart from the shock-and-splatter “Saw” and “Hostel” crowd of today.

Simon Oakes

“We’d like to try to re-ennoble the horror film — it’s ‘smart’ horror, if you like, intelligent films that are not gore-nography, as I call it, and have good story lines that attract talent and are relevant to a modern audience,” Oakes said. “It’s a much-loved and revered brand, certainly in the U.K., but like many of these things, people have a nostalgic love affair with it and they’re not entirely sure why. There are some people who are not old enough to remember the films, and some are old enough but only remember the good ones and don’t remember the not-so-good ones.”

Let Me In poster

Hammer’s “Woman in Black” will get a major spotlight due to its star, but some of it will be the glare of skepticism. Will Radcliffe’s face — so familiar after a decade of “Potter” lunch boxes, pajamas and action figures — make some moviegoers snicker when they should shiver?

Radcliffe points out that in this film he plays a troubled father, not a magic orphan, and that gives him a foothold to step up and away from the “Potter” image that has dominated his public persona.
“It worries me, but the challenge is to look like a dad and a young father. If I get that right, that is something that immediately separates me from Harry,” Radcliffe said. “The script is so good and the characters are so clear, there is actually reduced pressure on me to be constantly ‘different,’ if you know what I mean; in other words, once people are into the story, they’ll be watching this really compelling movie and will stop — I hope — thinking about me.”

Goldman, who calls the Hill novel “the perfect ghost story, a fresh and original story that has the literary touchstones of Victorian literature,” says the movie will be remembered as the project that drew a line between Radcliffe’s youthful past and his mature future.

“I think there’s a clear-cut demarcation,” Goldman said. “He was playing a boy in the ‘Potter’ films or perhaps a young adult. Here, he’s playing a man. Also I think in general today audiences know actors much more as individuals, there’s an awareness of them apart from their roles. Dan is a brilliant actor, and he’s much more than the person who played Harry Potter.”

– Geoff Boucher

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At top, Daniel Radcliffe portrait by Ethan Hill. Second, Radcliffe at the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando theme park in June (John Raoux/AP). Third, Radcliffe in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (Warner Bros). Fourth, Simon Oakes of Hammer Films (Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times). Fifth, promotional poster for “Let Me In.” Sixth, Radcliffe in Harry Potter role. (Warner Bros.)


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Comments


28 Responses to Daniel Radcliffe on his tearful ‘Harry Potter’ farewell — and his scary acting future

  1. Laura says:

    Oh every ending has a beginning…
    Check out this Harry Potter-inspired song and music video on YouTube:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNikmh6oOYI
    HERMIONE GOT HOT!
    It's just fun….
    By NYC singer-songwriter David Ippolito
    thatguitarman.com

  2. It's interesting to see his next movie choice. Hopefully it does bring out more of his capability as an adult actor moving forward. Playing one role for a decade is not something that is easily erased from someone's mind. All the best to Dan, and a tearful farewell to the boy who lived.

  3. jkr says:

    How dare you write a piece on this boy without mentioning me.
    my name should be attached to everything Potter.
    and, thus, until he does something else, to everything Daniel Radcliffe as well
    – I MADE this young man.
    this is a disgrace.
    I will sue. oh yes, LA Times, I'm coming after you now.
    muahhahahahahhahahahaha
    j.k. rowling

  4. MIssy says:

    He'll always be H.P.
    Go get 'em JKR!

  5. Bethany says:

    Wow…Harry Potter is almost over. It's been so long. I remember reading the first book about 11 or 12 years ago! Good for Daniel Radcliffe that he has more projects coming up. I think he will be able to move past Potter and become a versatile actor.

  6. apple says:

    OMG… this is one of the best posts I have ever read in my entire life.. I know I sound conformist, but… seriously… the whole thing about daniel it's so moving… and I would love to see him on new films… especially a horror film. besides, two of my favourite horror films are mentioned: the others and the orphanage…. and what a clever way to name that rubbish as hostal and saw…
    man! amazing post for my inner fan girl…♥

    • Cindy Stanley says:

      I agree with your view of this post. I'm also very intrigued by the resurgence of the Hammer Productions. I grew up watching these films with my mother. They are still our all time faves of the genre. Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, etc. we absolutely love! Perhaps Daniel Radcliffe can possibly be one of new mainstay actors of Hammer Productions as Cushing and Lee were in the Hammer heyday. Perhaps Hammer Productions and Daniel Radcliffe would be open to this suggestion. I personally love the idea! I also believe that Daniel has the talent to follow in the footsteps of such film legends. I will have no trouble separating Daniel from Harry. I can hardly wait for the filming, completion and release of "The Woman in Black" and his other projects. I hope that Emma Watson and Rupert Grint will continue with acting. I'd love to see them in Hammer Productions as well.

  7. ryan says:

    I'm really glad to see Dan grow into this responsible young man with a passion for acting. I'll be supporting and cheering you on!

  8. Melyssa says:

    He'll always be Harry Potter to me. Just like Harrison Ford will always be Indiana Jones and Han Solo. It's the first thing you think of. I'm happy Daniel is moving on to other things already. Just means I get to see more of him in more movies, which I'm very very very much looking forward to! He's got a fan for life with me! =D

  9. Sherial Wintin says:

    I have enjoyed all of his Harry Potter movies. I recently saw him in a war movie in which he played a soldier. I was pleasantly surprised by his adult part in this movie and think he will continue to do well in anything that he undertakes.

  10. Kim Atkinson says:

    I think Radcliffe should keep on playing Harry Potter because he is a great actor in his movies, games and books on Hrry Potter and I don't think shouldn't disk point his fan , his movie crew it it all period.

  11. sherillen says:

    I always watch every part of harry potter
    until i saw him grow up,,
    i can't believe harry potter will
    end so fast,,

  12. sherillen says:

    kadali gid man sang oras,,
    tapos na burbay harry potter,,,
    see you on your next movie dan!

  13. Michelle Cavins says:

    I have been whatching harry potter since i was 20. I fellin love with the story line. I have read every book at least 4 times and I am going to be sad that there are nomore of them.
    I think they should do some movies that include the kids that Harry and Genny, and Ron and Hurmiony have in the end of the last books for the next fgeneration that is to come.
    But that ids only my openyon. I would like to hear what other fans think.

  14. Rosie says:

    I was 8 or 9 when i read the first book and can remember going to collect all of the books with my mum and ym brothers they were usually on a friday so my dad was away. I also remeber when we went to the white rose to collect one of the books it was me my mum my two brothers and their friend sam marsh he is a potter lookalike when he was younger he could of been his twin. We all snuck out in to the carpark while mom got the book and my brothers and sam stole trolleys and began to push each other around in them and down the hill it was very funny. I Once bought HP 4 from my library for 10p because i broke my brothers by accindent that was 7 years later i thhink lol.

  15. Agnes says:

    I am really going to miss harry and the gang i will need a box of hankies when i go to see them but good luck for the future to the all

  16. ramana says:

    Good luck harry potter (daniel redcliff) for your future. i admire u always.

  17. cristiane says:

    adoro os seus filmes harry potter(daniel redcliff)acho vc lindo pena que ja vai acabar o filme de de bruxo harry potter adoraria que tivesse mais ñ perco um tenho todos tanto os livros como os filmes.
    Parabens pelo sucesso um abraço da sua fã 1. do brasil

  18. Aranel says:

    It really is hard to believe that it will soon be over. I remember thinking….oh, we've got a good 10 years before its done, back in 2001. And now…. here we are. When I think how much MY life has changed in 10 years, I can't begin to imagine how different the kids' lives are. I wish them the absolute best in every endeavor. And thank them, the entire cast and crew, and of course, JKR for giving us one of the best stories ever penned. Blessings to all of you!

  19. jessica says:

    love u harry potter ever!!!

  20. TEENAMARIE ANDERSON says:

    WELL !!!! I just finished reading the book and it was great I wont say to much on the book but I was suprised by who was in Love with Lily Potter and it wasn't James Potter this time it was?????? Hope the movie is as good as the book cant wait all ways go see it soon as it comes out am going to miss them all but all things fade away with time but I will always LOVE HARRY POTTER NOVELS

  21. salonica says:

    cant believe its gonna end………really gonna miss the trio………gud luk 4 future daniel,emma,rupert…

  22. Ashu says:

    I can't believe the HP movies r going to end and i don't think i can ever see Dan and not think of him as Harry cause i've seen him grow up in this character…..He'll always be Harry to me whenever i catch a glimpse of him somewhere eventhough i am sure he is an incredible actor and he will be recognised for other roles he'll play in future!!!!

    • ZenRider says:

      Just wait until you see him sporting a beard and getting more buff. That will surely help you to see him as he can be, other than HP.

  23. […] We’ve got an exclusive look at the new poster for “The Woman in Black”  and if you’d like to find out more about the movie check out our earlier conversation with Radcliffe. […]

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