This a continuation of the Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part One coverage that I did for Total Film Indonesia magazine. This Daniel Radcliffe interview is part of the Deathly Hallows press junket that the magazine attended (but we weren’t allowed to publish it until last month). The rest of the Deathly Hallows cast interview can be found in the archives.
THE TOTAL FILM INTERVIEW: DANIEL RADCLIFFE
Jack Kipling. Alan Strang. Arthur Kipps. J. Pierrepont Finch. And, of course, Harry Potter. After 10 years, Daniel Radcliffe’s journey as the young wizard whose name is on the mouth of every people in the world will end in July 2011. “I actually miss Harry,” said Radcliffe of his on-screen alter ego, “like you would miss a friend who you haven’t seen for a while. I do feel the fans’ pain.”
In early March 2011, Total Film Indonesia has its eyes glued to a YouTube video of the 21-year-old Brit actor Daniel Radcliffe singing “I Believe In You”. The song, from Broadway musical How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, is beautiful and not only owns the song, but he should be able to own the world with it. Or, at least, should he ever feel inclined to join the reality TV show, he could really impress the judges of American Idol.
A month later, Radcliffe and his fellow How To Succeed cast performs live at The Today Show, this time singing “Brotherhood of Man”. Agile and acrobatic, Radcliffe sings and dances as if he was born for it. It is now wonder, then, that Rob Ashford’s How To Succeed gets nine Tony Awards nominations and a generally positive reviews from all corners. And surely the Harry Potter alumnus will not be begging anyone for jobs after the Warner Bros. film franchise ends its run on multiplexes.
The young actor has proven he can work in any media: he’s a live action film actor who has done TV (Extras), stage (Equus) and even animation (as the voice of Edmund, a parody of Twilight’s Edward Cullen in The Simpsons‘ “Treehouse Of Horror” episode). What next? Forming a band and releasing an album with Rupert Grint, Tom Felton and Matthew Lewis? “No. I would not be good in a band. I don’t think I particularly have a rocky kind of sounding voice.”
That’s what he said to TFI when we interviewed him last year in August in Claridge’s, London, a couple of months after the Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows shoot wrapped up. Radcliffe had waited for us with a firm handshake and a warm greeting and, like a good host, offered us a drink as we sat down. On that day, the actor who was born on 23 July 1989 did not resemble any character he has played. But despite his jeans-and-t-shirt-clad slight frame and completely fluffy hair, he still manages to exude poise, presence and professionalism.
Radcliffe may sidetrack himself and tell an unrelated story but he always remembers the original question at the moment you find yourself about to despair. Then he returns to it unprompted. His stunningly blue eyes will be focused intently on you as he answers your question. During our chat, he faltered – very slightly – only once, when he forgot the name of his ‘eldest son’, which we had to remind him of. But on the whole we found it was quite impossible not to fall at least a little bit in love with the charming Mr. Radcliffe…
Very soon all the Harry Potter fans will experience withdrawal syndrome. What do you suggest for them to be able to deal with it and how would you deal with it?
I’m fortunate because of course all my friends worked on it as well, so we sort of… we talk a lot so I don’t have to miss it too much. Because the thing I miss most is hanging out with the people. So I think I’d just maybe read the books again. That’d probably be a good thing to do. I think they might do that, anyway. I suppose, treasure it for what it was, while it lasted. It ended at the right time, I think.
Was it hard, ending it?
It is hard. It will be very, very odd for people. In about a month’s time it’s going to be very strange, for me, because it’s generally about two months after I stop filming something that I start to get… I actually miss the character, like you would miss a friend, or something, who you haven’t seen for a while. It’s a very peculiar feeling. So yeah, that’s coming up. I’ll be feeling that soon, so I feel their pain in advance, for them.
Whose reaction was worst when it ended?
Probably me (laughs). I was going to think of someone else, but probably me. I have to say, me, Rupert and Emma were all in floods of tears. I’ve never seen Rupert cry before… ever.
Maybe he’ll deny it if you ask him…
I don’t think he will. You know why he won’t? Because there’s footage! (laugh) So I could confront him with that… but Emma’s a girl so she’s allowed to cry. Me and Rupert like to view ourselves as being quite, you know… not tough – because we’re not tough – but I don’t think we get emotional about things too often. But that final day was really… It was heartbreaking. Really heartbreaking. Another candidate for that would be David Heyman, our producer. He was very upset as well. It was a genuinely very sad day. I hate to say it but it will probably be on the DVDs. I don’t know but there was certainly a bit of behind the scenes footage filmed of us. I’m sure they’ll show that, and I think it’s probably right that they do because it means a lot to us.
You’ve worked with the same people for a decade. In the future, are you going to avoid them or, if they’re attached to a project, are you going to jump at the chance?
Nice question! I would jump at the chance, absolutely, definitely, both in terms of crew and cast. Actually, funnily enough, our second unit first AD on Harry Potter is in The Woman In Black. Which is brilliant. He’s a guy I know really, really well. He gets the set moving, and he’s fantastic. It’ll just give me that little bit extra confidence, knowing that I know somebody there because then it’s not like your first day at school. But Richard Griffiths said something to me once, that after your second job you will never again have the experience where you don’t know anyone. After you’ve done two jobs in the film or theatre industry, you will always know somebody you’re working with. Which is, fairly true, I have to say. What would be interesting, actually, is that I think probably directors would be more hesitant about combining people from Potter. I don’t think the issue would be us being reticent about that at all. I think it will be that they don’t particularly want to put us together because it’s so… When we’ve all grown up and look wrecked, like we eventually will do, then they might use us, together because nobody can tell the difference. But I think they’d probably try to split us because, you know, if my next film I was playing Alan Rickman’s son, people might find that a little hard to take so quickly after Potter.
Who or what will you miss the most out of everything?
Working with Gary Oldman was one of the most brilliant things I’ve got the chance to do. He’s an inspiration and I’m very proud to now be bale to say he’s a friend I met up with him recently, actually, in America. But I suppose the most important person to me on that sat was a man called Will Steggle, who was my dresser. He worked in costume and we got each other through the films, basically, because you’re there for then years and there are good days and bad days. There are some days when I’m like “oh my god, I’m tired” but we’d gee each other up and we’d tell each other to stop complaining and get on with it. It’s great, we love each other. He’s awesome and he’s my best mate. So for my best memories, even though I can’t think of a specific one, he was probably there for all of them.
Tell us about the epilogue. Who ages best?
Me. Out of the boys, me. Rupert does not age well (laugh) Obviously [Emma and Bonnie Wright] aged better. They aged the best but the boys were all, like, “Yeah, give us the fat suits!”
But you’re Aurors!
I know, exactly! I’ve got a tiny layer, which doesn’t really add… it just adds a bit of bulk to my shoulders that makes me slightly wider but I haven’t got a belly or anything, like Rupert. Rupert looks like Hermione has just been feeding for the last nineteen years. But I think Rupert was really keen on that. And Tom and Jade, his girlfriend, look fantastic. I’m so pleased that Jade’s done that because I never thought she would. I thought she’d be really, really embarrassed because I know her. The reason I’ve got to now Tom so well is because Jade’s one of my best friends. She looks just brilliant as [Astoria] and their boy, Bertie [Gilbert], is the perfect mini Malfoy. He’s thirteen years old with not an ounce of puppy fat, just this incredible jaw line. He looks incredibly imposing. But I think it’ll be a really good scene.
How about your own children?
My children are adorable. My children are fantastic. They’re wonderful, sweet, all of them. Arthur [Bowen] is very good, sort of the quietest of the three and he plays Albus. He’s very, very sweet, young polite. And then there’s the other two. There’s Will Dunn who plays my elder son… who is…
James! Thank you very much. Oh god… I should have read that script better (laugh). He reminded me a lot of me when I met him in the auditions. I think that’s why I was like “he has to be one of my kids!” Even though he’s not as pale as I am but he has this… he’s very chatty, he’s fourteen… kind of like how I think I am – very bright but not academic. he had a lot of trouble at school. Not trouble but, you know, school wasn’t easy for him, like it wasn’t for me. And he’s super bright, a really smart kid, so that was great to have him as my son. And then there’s Daphnie [de Beistegui] who plays Lily. She was amazing. She’s just like this little, incredible creature. She kind of basically adopted me as her father for the days that we were filming. So she would sort of be hanging onto me as we were walking around the set, which was great. And she’s really, really sweet. They’re all so smart, Arthur, Will and Daphne are all very bright.
Did you feel that this scene should’ve been played out with older actors playing your characters?
I actually did say that in interviews before, that I’d rather they cast new people, so that it won’t be distracting. But I think it’s been done really well. Apparently, it’s been lit… I’m sure it’ll be touched up a bit in post-production like they did in Benjamin Button. The technology does now exist to make that stuff work well. I think it’s going to be a divisive scene because a lot of people don’t like that part of the book. I think a lot of people might have an objection to it in the film. We like it and we put it in. Somebody was saying to me that they’d seen it and they thought it was quite moving. It’s a scene I’m very, very looking forward to seeing, definitely. [Note: The epilogue has since been reshot in December 2010.]
We heard from a couple of Hufflepuff extras that you chatted with them. You even said that your favorite cheese was Stilton…
Blue or white?
You remember them?
Yes. The Hufflepuffs were a rowdy group. They were brilliant. There were these two, Ben and George, who got so excited so very quickly. I love them both dearly. They’re like I was when I was nine and like every nine-year-old should be. They’re insane! They have no concept of when they should stop making faces when the director’s talking to me or stuff like that. But that’s all part of the fun!
After all this… you remain so polite, patient and enthusiastic – even to the point of talking to all the little Hufflepuffs between takes. How are you not a total diva?
(laugh) I don’t know. I love talking to the background because we have great kids on our films. They’re brilliant and they all want to be there. In the earlier films, there were some quite obnoxious kids in the background. On the last few films, they have just been brilliant. I think that, if you’re an actor, especially if you’re the principal in something, you have to see yourself as the… just like Amanda Knight is the head of the make-up department, and Lisa Tomblin is the head of hair, and Jany Temime is head of costume, you have to view yourself as the head of your department. So you lead by example and set a good example. I hate the hierarchy of the film industry. It’s one of the only things I dislike about the film industry. You hear horror stories about actors that won’t let people talk to them. I just think that, to be honest, if you’re doing that, you must be pretty stupid. There are moments, obviously, when you say, “I just want to be alone now”. That’s fine… but I think I have a more interesting day talking to them than I would be just chatting to myself. If you’re involved and you’re checking that everyone’s all right, everyone knows what they’re doing. There’s a legendary man called Michael Stevenson, who’s been in the film industry since long before I was a twinkle in my parents’ eye, and he is just amazing with names, If we have a Great Hall scene with four hundred extras, he will know every single one of them by their first name. He’s phenomenal. I watch him because he’s always going around and checking, “Do you know what you’re doing? Do you know what you’re think at this point?” Eventually I want to direct one day so you learn from people like that, in terms of how to run a set… how to make everyone work as happily and as most efficiently as they can. That’s kind of the art of being on a film set, I think: happy efficiency. If you can get that, then you’ll probably make a good film. Even if you don’t, everyone will want to work with you again.
How did your preparation for How To Succeed go?
I’ve been taking dance lessons, at this point, for just over eighteen months and singing lessons for two and a half years. That was actually for something else, originally. Just to be clear, I haven’t known about How To Succeed for all that time but just for the last year or so. When I was doing Equus, I would sing the Milky Bar theme at the beginning and I kept getting it wrong. So the idea that I’m now doing a musical, that is quite embarrassing, actually.
But your training seems to have paid off…
I got sent to a singing teacher to teach me the melody to the Milky bar ad and then he said, “You’ve actually got quite a good voice. Do you want to keep cooing and seeing me every so often?” Then it started off… I’d have a singing lesson maybe once a month. Then it was once every two weeks and then once a week. Now I’m seeing him three times a week. I love it. And he’s great, my singing teacher… I also love my dance teacher but dance is a lot more painful. Dance does not come as naturally to me at all. A lot of hard work has been done and there is still a lot of hard work to do but I will do it.
You’re a music lover yourself. Does that mean you’re going to start your own band soon?
No. No, I think… I was just saying, actually, to somebody the other day that one of the best things you can do in life, and particularly in this industry, is recognize what you’re not good at. I would not be good in a band. I have no musical talent. I don’t think I particularly have a rocky kind of sounding voice. I could probably fake it but… hey, if you come back to me in five years and I’m in a band then, you have full permission to quote this back to me… but I find it a bit boring when actors go to do bands. Because a lot of bands the actors are in, you wouldn’t have heard of them unless the actors were in them. With Jack Black being the obvious exception to that because Tenacious D is hilarious. But for me, I don’t think that’s on the cards any time soon… no.
There are so many young British actors, such as yourself and Robert Pattinson that are on the rise. What do you think?
The thing is, I think it’s so much more exciting than just myself and Robert. It’s Aaron Johnson, Nicholas Hoult, Eddie Redmayne… there is a really amazing crop of young British actors at the moment who are coming out, doing amazing things. Eddie Redmayne did brilliantly on Broadway, in Red. And did I mention Nicholas Hoult?
I did! Good. It’s a very, very exciting time for the British film industry, generally. I’ve only been in it for ten years but there has never been a time before that there have been six huge films all filming in England at the same time. You’ve got War Horse, Hugo Cabret, the Martin Scorsese film, X-Men, Pirates of the Caribbean and Captain America. I think there’s one other but I can’t remember what. But in terms of myself and Robert… I don’t know Rob, very well but I thoroughly enjoyed working with him. I’ve always known him to be a lovely man. I haven’t met him at all since Twilight started. I don’t think he’s probably got very much time to meet people. He’s doing great for himself and it’s lovely to see somebody that you work with go off and do brilliantly. AA/LJ
Five star turns
How to act in movies by being Daniel Radcliffe…
1. HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN (2004)
Where did the cute boy in the first two Harry Potter films go? With Alfonso Cuaron taking over directorship of the third Potter movie, Daniel Radcliffe took another step to maturity. Even though he was still very young in this installment, he was able to generate enough sexual tension with co-star Emma Watson to make us believe he was a lot older. This was also the first time ever where, under the guidance of an adult film director, we could see the sharpness of Radcliffe’s acting. Good sign for the future!
2. MY BOY JACK (TV) (2007)
Compared to December Boys, the coming-of-age flick (where Radcliffe played an Australian boy) that was released in the same year, his performance in this made-for-TV movie (ITV1) was rather more compelling. As the son of renowned writer Rudyard Kipling, Radcliffe played Jack Kipling who fought in the World War despite his poor eyesight. Yet another first time for us, the audience, to see Radcliffe showing an aptitude for high class drama.
3. EXTRAS (TV) (2006)
He only once appeared in this BBC comedy that Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant labored on but that was enough to roll the stomach of anyone who watches. Who could ever forget Radcliffe throwing a condom at Dame Diana Rigg’s head? “Ricky’s lovely. He’s really, really nice, him and Stephen Merchant. And very funny in real life,” he said in 2006. “I wouldn’t have turned down this role. It’s nice to work with people who are at the forefront of comedy at the moment.”
4. HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX (2007)
In Potter‘s darkest installment, Radcliffe had to emote. A lot. He needed to convey Harry’s doubts and pains, especially when his godfather (in the form of Gary Oldman) got Avada Kedavra-ed. Apparently, he executed it perfectly. And when Voldemort took temporary possession of Harry’s body, we were treated to a sight of the wizard’s transformation from boy to young man and it just struck us how very mature Radcliffe had become. Delicious.
5. HARRY POTTER AND THE DEADLY HALLOWS: PART 1 (2010)
From fisticuffs with Ron to awkward dances with Hermione, Radcliffe displays another example of his constant, steady skill as an actor in the first part of the Potter finale. He said kissing Watson was “weird” but it was more difficult for him to pretend to fight with Rupert Grint. “It’s impossible to hate Rupert,” he said. But the result was definitely not a disappointment – he could only get better in Part 2.
NOTES: For more of my articles on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two, buy Total Film Indonesia Issue 20 (July 2011) and Issue 21 (August 2011). This English version of the interview is a partial translation of the article that appears in Total Film Indonesia Issue 20. (Some points of the interview have been extended, however, matching the original transcript of the interview with Mr. Radcliffe.) This interview was translated exclusively for this blog and is not to be posted anywhere else without permission. If you are a website owner and want to translate this to another language other than English/Indonesian, please contact me in the comments and I will get back to you ASAP.