Radcliffe Hanger

As the Harry Potter juggernaut begins to draw to a close this week, with the relase of part one of the final instalment, Daniel Radcliffe reflects on the last 10 years playing the boy wizard and why he’s not happy with all his performances

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Published: Tue 16 Nov 2010, 7:33 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:00 PM

The light at the end of the tunnel is now officially behind Daniel Radcliffe.

Radcliffe knew, heading into the two-part Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, that his days as the cinematic version of J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard were dwindling. Now the films are wrapped and all that’s left for Radcliffe to do, really, is to finish some dialogue looping, wave to adoring throngs at premieres worldwide and jump on the telephone to discuss the final two adventures, to bid Harry adieu and to contemplate life after Harry Potter.

“In terms of my own personal emotions, it was a very, very long film,” Radcliffe, now 21, says of the final doubleheader, which took a full year to film, with the first half set for release on November 19 and the final instalment on July 15. “It was very exciting. It was, at times, very hard work. But that’s why we do it and that’s why we love it. I didn’t have any of the more dramatic emotions that Harry had, but toward the end it was very, very emotional. On the last day, I think I’ve been quoted recently as saying, we all cried a lot, and we did.

“Since then it’s been very odd,” the young actor continues. “The first month away was very strange, but luckily there were lots of times over that period where I saw people who worked on the films. I was at Pinewood the other day, prepping things for (his next film) The Woman in Black, and I bumped into at least 30 people, some of whom worked on the last film, but some I hadn’t seen since the third or even the second movie.

“I’ve always said about Harry Potter that it’s like the Mafia – once you’re in, you’re never really out,” he continues. “I will know these people for the rest of my life, no matter where I go or what happens.

“So there is some sadness in leaving it,” Radcliffe concludes, “but also now I have gotten to the point where I’m excited about the future. I’m also very excited to see the films. The journey is not over yet, in the sense that people still have to see these movies and make their own opinions. And I’m excited to see what people think.”


The first part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows finds Harry, Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) still mourning the death of the beloved Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore, and also more determined than ever to defeat the evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). Voldemort has grown strong and bold, however, and the three friends race desperately to corral all seven of the horcruxes – mystical talismans containing parts of Voldemort’s essence – before He Who Must Not Be Named completes his rise to power.

Speaking by telephone from London several weeks after completing production on the films, Radcliffe says that, as they pertain to Harry, both films, but particularly the first one, explore “the theme of faith, and his faith in Dumbledore being tested.” Dumbledore is dead, but he has left Harry with a mission – but has provided almost no information, apart from three rather cryptic bequests, with which to undertake that mission.

“They make no sense at the time,” Radcliffe says, “but gradually, as the films carry on, make more and more sense. But hearing all this stuff about Dumbledore, constantly, stuff he didn’t know, stuff that makes him doubt the man’s integrity – something that he’d never even questioned before – he’s questioning what Dumbledore’s actual motives were all along.

“It’s always dangerous drawing religious comparisons,” he continues, “but it is sort of a job-type test of faith. It’s how far can that faith be pushed before Harry gives up? Ultimately, every time Harry finds himself in that dark moment where he thinks it’s a worthless quest and he doesn’t even know why he’s doing it, something happens which just allows him to continue on.

“As far as his relationship with Ron and Hermione goes,” Radcliffe adds, “it’s one of them gradually realising that Harry has no idea what to do. He has no plan, he’s just winging it. So, as they lose faith in him, he starts to become more paranoid and isolated and, I suppose, angrier. But it doesn’t ever display itself that much – it just comes across as more of a desperation, I suppose.”


The Harry Potter movies have earned billions of dollars worldwide, and made a star of Radcliffe. When he appears on Broadway or in London’s West End, he is mobbed at the stage door by adoring fans.

Even so, he admits to dissatisfaction with his work, especially in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009).

“I think, most actors, it’s part of your job to be highly critical of your own performance,” Radcliffe says, “and I always have been. I have never been entirely thrilled with my performances, and I never like watching myself, but it was in the sixth one that I just felt there was a lack of variety. So I think, in the seventh film, I have made an effort to be more expressive and have more of that variety – not over-the-top and hammy, obviously.

“I think, in a way, I was fortunate to have that experience of not being entirely thrilled with my performance in number six,” the young actor continues, “because it sort of gave me the kick in the pants that I needed in order to psych myself up and get ready for the journey of the seventh film.

“In terms of my preparation, I think I was probably just a lot more thorough when it came to each scene,” he says. “Not that I was ever complacent – I’d hate to give that impression, because that’s not really in me or in my makeup. I became slightly more obsessive about my preparation for the seventh film and all the various scenes.

“And I found a way of working that was not a method,” he adds, “but what works for me, in terms of those big scenes, was to take myself off to a corner of the set and almost work myself into a little bit of a frenzy where I stop being aware particularly of what I’m doing. You do your best work when you’re not really thinking about it. Or I think so, anyway.

“If you do all the preparation in advance and you know the thought of the character and you know the character,” Radcliffe says, “why, he’s there in that scene, what he wants in that scene and what he wants in that particular moment ... If you’re aware of all that and then you just put all that to the back of your mind, so it’s inbuilt, and you let whatever happens happen, that became my way of working on the seventh film, which I probably didn’t have on the sixth.”


And now it’s time to move on. Whatever lies ahead for Radcliffe, it probably won’t involve glasses and a lightning-bolt scar, though, to be on the safe side, he’s keeping hold of the former as a souvenir.

“The only thing I wanted was the glasses,” he says. “I didn’t want the wand, I definitely didn’t want the broom. And I actually ended up getting two pairs of glasses. Often the glasses we wear on set are lens-less, because of camera reflections, and they’re the ones we used a lot of the time. So I got them, from the seventh film, but I also got the lensed versions that we had from the very first film. I didn’t even know they still kept them, but they did.

“So I’ve got two pairs of glasses, one from the first film and one from the last, and I’m very happy,” Radcliffe says. “And they’re both in a private place.”

Moving on fast and furious from a decade of Harry Potter, Radcliffe has several projects in the works. He’s now shooting the aforementioned The Woman in Black, an old-fashioned ghost story co-starring Ciaran Hinds and Janet McTeer, and is reportedly attached to the films The Journey Is the Destination and All Quiet on the Western Front.

Prior to working on either, however, he’ll return to Broadway in March, to star in a revival of the classic Frank Loesser musical How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying.

There have, of late, been hints from J.K. Rowling that she might after all pen a new Harry Potter novel at some point in the future. Asked if he’d want to star in the inevitable movie version, the actor stammers for a moment before replying.

“No, probably not,’ is the answer, I think,’’ Radcliffe says, “because 10 years is enough. I think the films have reached a rather perfect and wonderful conclusion, and I think to do any more at this point would be gilding the lily, rather unfortunately.

“But I have had assurances from her that she will not be doing that.”

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