When Harry Potter was 11 years old, he was whisked away from his rough childhood living under the stairs and ultimately transformed into the hero of the wizarding world. When Daniel Radcliffe was 11 years old, he was whisked away from his quietly normal childhood living in London, England, and ultimately transformed into one of the richest and most famous stars in the entire world.
Now 22 years old, Dan not only has eight Harry Potter films under his belt, but he's also starred on stage in serious plays like Equus and fun-loving musicals like How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and his face can be seen on everything from Legos to amusement park rides.
But what truly makes Dan Radcliffe so impressive is that despite being one of the most famous people on this earth for more than half of his life, he's so extremely normal.
When J-14 Magazine sat down with him one-on-one to chat about his first post-Potter project, The Woman in Black (in theaters today), he welcomed us into the room and offered us drinks and snacks before we sat down to chat. Modest, self-depricating, thoughtful, and downright hilarious, Daniel Radcliffe is proof that just because you're rich and famous doesn't mean you have to act rich and famous. In fact, you can be one heck of a normal guy... who just happens to be uber talented and super successful.
J-14: The Woman in Black is the first movie you've done after playing Harry Potter in eight films. Why was this the first role you chose?
Daniel Radcliffe: I read the script for The Women in Black about two hours after doing my last shot on Potter in late July 2010. I saw it as an opportunity to make a horror film that was terrifying but also poignant, tragic, and sad, which is not always a combination you have. Also, I'm playing older than I normally have, which is different for people, and I'm playing a father, which automatically is a bit of a leap for people. They might be going in thinking, "Oh we're going to see Harry Potter do his new film," but like ten minutes in, they're just really not.
J-14: The film delves into human fears -- did you have any irrational fears growing up?
Daniel: That's the thing about a phobia -- it has to be irrational. My big fear is being buried alive, but that's quite a thing to be legitimately scared of. It was always something that freaked me out. I also have a problem with cockroaches. But I think there are things in everybody's life that they suddenly become worried or frightened of. Those are the moments that test our character as to whether we can address them or continue to be affected by them.
J-14: So what were some of those character-building moments for you while you were growing up?
Daniel: I went through the same hormonal awfulness that everyone goes through. Puberty is no fun. My main thing was how awkward I was with girls. When I was 15 and in films, there was a perception that I must be pretty cool. I never was, so I never knew how to live up to people's expectations. I would think, "Oh gosh, you must be so disappointed. I'm not very exciting in real life." But I've learned if you can make people laugh, which occasionally I can, that's not a bad thing.
J-14: With that kind of pressure, how did you deal with breakups?
Daniel: My first proper girlfriend was when I was 14. We only went out for six months, but I was just a really messed up person after. At the time, it feels like the most important thing in the entire world, but I promise you it won't be the problem you're having tomorrow. I've been lucky enough to fall in love with some pretty wonderful people. And I'm happy to say I'm friends with all my ex-girlfriends.
J-14: That's impressive! So did you have close friends in school?
Daniel: There was a bit of name-calling. A few kids in school thought it would be funny to not like me -- and I'm sure some of them didn't like me. Some say it was jealousy, but I don't think so. I think it's just people being people -- that's what we do. What's good about being a teen is that anything that's bad just goes away and stops being a problem after a while. Ultimately, those years are full of wonderful memories -- and they can be a lot of fun!
J-14: Were there certain things you were self-conscious about growing up?
Daniel: I had terrible acne and had to go on medication. But when you're this pale, the slightest blemish seems like you're growing another head! I'm paler than anyone I've ever met. You could put me beside anyone and my arm will be whiter than theirs.
J-14: Nick Jonas just took over the role of J. Pierrepont Finch in How to Succeed in Broadway Without Really Trying on Broadway that you starred in for eight months. What were your thoughts on him taking over the part?
Daniel: I'm glad to see that Nick has signed on for an extended length of time, just because obviously the rest of the company has to rehearse new people coming in, so to say there was somebody else coming in every month would be unmanageable. I haven't seen Nick in Les Miserables, but I saw clips of him in Hairspray and thought he did a fine job. The most important thing for me is that it keeps the show running.
Photo: Courtesy of CBS Films/Nick Wall