Daniel Radcliffe’s all-time fave Harry Potter moments
Daniel Radcliffe was just 11 years old when he first starred as Harry Potter. Now, a decade later, the blockbuster movie saga comes to its climactic end, with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2 opening July 15.
Here, Radcliffe, 21, shares his personal favorite moments from each of the eight films:
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: “There are certain perks of the job playing an action hero affords you,” Radcliffe says simply. “Never again probably in my career, no matter how many films I do, will I ever burst out of the water surrounded by a ring of fire.”
The magic is over for Daniel Radcliffe.
At 21, an age when many are toasting their official entry into so-called adulthood, Radcliffe is just now graduating from Hogwarts.
Friday, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2, the final chapter of the eight-movie saga, opens. And with it, life as Radcliffe has known it since age 11, when he made the first installment, ends.
“The Harry Potter films finishing comes with the same inevitability as aging,” the British-born actor reasons after our two-hour photo shoot in downtown Manhattan, not far from his West Village digs. “While there’s sadness for things that won’t be the same again, experiences I’ve had now that I won’t have again, it was always going to have to end. So I’ve been prepared for it for quite a while.”
He considers it for a moment. “I’m not crying myself to sleep at night, luckily.”
Radcliffe may be the only one. Many tears are sure to be shed by the legions of Potter fanatics who’ve read every one of the seven J.K. Rowling books countless times and breathlessly awaited this last film and the climactic finale between Harry and the dark wizard Voldemort.
It’s a seminal moment for the young actor, too. He has dabbled in a few other movies and a play (winning critical praise for his daring performance in Equus, in which he appeared nude). But Hogwarts has been home. He has quite literally grown up on multimillion-dollar movie sets and today is the face of the $6 billion(!) cinema franchise, the most successful of all time.
Radcliffe is the first to concede that it has been a pretty weird way to grow up.
“To have been in the middle of a worldwide phenomenon for 10 years is just bizarre, to be honest,” he says. “It affords you no end of very surreal moments in life.”
Radcliffe was a bright-eyed 11-year-old boy mostly jazzed by the fact he didn’t have to go to school when he started making 2001’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
“I could go and fool around on the set for three hours every day,” Radcliffe recalls. “I do maintain there is no place more fun on Earth as an 11-year-old boy than a film set, because you just have limitless toys at your disposal.”
Free of the famous Harry Potter glasses, his bright blue eyes glisten as he cracks wise about walking around Manhattan incognito (it’s easy for him, “especially when you’re this short,” says the 5-foot-5 actor), nixing the chance of one day starting The Daniel Radcliffe Experience (“Nobody wants to see actors in bands, just like we don’t want to see musicians in films”) and possibly starring in a superhero movie one day (“There’s not been nearly enough Lycra in my career so far.”)
On this day, he’s a bit nerd chic, clad in jeans and a dark blue shirt touting the periodic table of the elements, as he talks about being involved in such a huge adventure.
Like Beatlemania before it, Pottermania has been a worldwide phenomenon. Radcliffe remembers landing in Japan and being greeted by 5,000 adoring fans.
“As a 13-year-old, it was pretty intimidating,” Radcliffe says, smiling as he’s reminded that he now has something in common with Paul McCartney. “I was terrified. And then you suddenly realize, ‘OK, lots of people taking pictures. Smile — otherwise you’re just going to look like you’re being assaulted tomorrow in the papers.’”
Though child actors have often flamed out spectacularly, Radcliffe credits his parents — who live in the USA for the time being while he’s on Broadway in the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying — and the folks he was surrounded by on the Potter movies for a successful upbringing.
“Through the process of making the films, I’ve learned everything I know about how to live,” he says, sounding older than his years, “about my own morality and my principles and what I think is important.”
For Chris Columbus, who directed the first two Potter films, seeing his young protégé on the Broadway stage in How to Succeed gave him “a real sense of fatherly pride,” he says. “He was much more mature than most 11-year-old kids, and I was much more immature than most 43-yer-old men. So we met somewhere in the middle.”
The young actor, who concedes he’s a full-fledged “workaholic,” says his way of dealing with the end of Potter has been to throw himself into more work.
That can be a dangerous strategy at times, Yates warns. “At some point he needed to rest and spend some time with himself, which I know he’ll do, but he loves work and gets a genuine joy from it. It’s hard to tell someone like that to stop when they love it so much.”
We caught him on his one-day-a-week off. He’s now starring in a role wholly different from Harry — this one hoofing his heart out as J. Pierrepont Finch.
Radcliffe found someone with the same work ethic — and a fellow only child — in John Larroquette, his How to Succeed co-star. The newly minted Tony winner echoes the sentiment of others when he calls Radcliffe “an old soul in that young 21-year-old body.
“I don’t try to, but he’s pretty easy to crack up,” Larroquette says. "It’s so much fun to see those eyes of his and his little mouth curl up in a smile when I do something that might be slightly new and off record.“
Still, Harry endures, it seems, at least for the mostly young female fans swarming around the show’s stage door one recent evening.
For Radcliffe, it’s a bit daunting.
“There’s a certain amount of people who like that I’m doing something unexpected and want to support me in that, which is very, very nice,” he says, again slightly philosophical. “But they don’t know me.
“They’re cheering for the me they’ve read about in interviews or on TV, which is a side of me when I have to be eloquent and articulate. The rest of the time I’m just lazy,” Radcliffe adds, laughing.
As for those who are waving “Marry me, Daniel!” signs, they’re probably out of luck. Radcliffe won’t reveal her name, but he says he has a girlfriend of nine months back home in London. (He insists it’s not Olive Uniacke, as has been rumored.)
“I thought it was part of an actor’s life not to bed-hop but to be with lots of women. I tried it for maybe three months. I was really bored not getting to know anyone,” Radcliffe says.
“It’s a nice feeling to suddenly meet somebody and go, ‘I’m really happy with you, and I like the idea of coming home to you at the end of the day.’”
He plans to return to England to see her when his How to Succeed contract is up in January — the same month his next film, the horror movie The Woman in Black, is due to arrive in theaters.
He’s also plotting his personal path, post-Potter, and a role he’s looking forward to claiming one day that may be surprising coming from a 21-year-old — although maybe not from one as seemingly wise as Radcliffe.
“I think about being Dad quite a lot,” he says. “I can’t wait to have kids. I’ve seen so many people on the set go from being single to being with someone and having children, and the change in them and their lives is so vast and so happy. I see them and I go, ‘OK, that looks like a lot of fun.’ ”
So the next time Radcliffe revisits Harry Potter, it may be reading those adventures of a magical boy to his own children.
“I imagine I will,” Radcliffe says, his eyes glistening again as he ponders the idea. “It will be very, very strange, though.”