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Radcliffe lays his past to rest
7:00am Saturday 18th February 2012 in AdXtra
In his first post-Potter role, Daniel Radcliffe is going gothic for Hammer Horror's The Woman In Black, released in cinemas on Friday, February 10. The actor reveals how hard he found playing a dad and how he overcomes his short stature on sets.
By Kate Whiting.
Daniel Radcliffe's tastes have changed. Gone is the can of Coke that accompanied him into Potter-era interviews, replaced instead by a white coffee in a delicate china cup.
He's still as charming and blissfully candid as he ever was, but his words seem more considered and his enthusiasm, while boundless, is no longer quite so puppyish.
In short, he's now a man. And one who's determined to show the world what he's capable of after a decade of playing one of fiction's most famous heroes.
Fresh from an acclaimed stint on Broadway in the all-singing, all-dancing How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, the next weapon in his arsenal is the film adaptation of gothic thriller The Woman In Black.
"This is the first step, absolutely, in the transition of me moving on and doing other things - and it's one I'm very proud of," he says, earnestly.
"People are going to stop thinking about Harry Potter pretty quickly when they see this film. Even if they go in thinking, 'What's Harry's up to now?', the story is so compelling that after the first five minutes, 95% will not be thinking that."
Based on the classic 1983 novel by Susan Hill, which was adapted into the successful West End play, The Woman In Black has been slightly reworked for the cinema by Kick-Ass writer Jane Goldman.
Radcliffe plays young London solicitor Arthur Kipps, who in Goldman's version lost his wife when she was giving birth to his son. Eager to please his boss and keep his job, he leaves the boy and travels to a remote northern village to wrap up the affairs of the deceased owner of Eel Marsh House. And that's when the spooky sightings of a mysterious ghostly figure begin.
The 22-year-old actor's own little godson, Misha Handley, plays his son, which Radcliffe says made his transition from young man to father more convincing.
"I knew it might be a hindrance to making me seem older if the relationship with my son didn't feel real. They auditioned a lot of boys for that part, but it was very hard to beat that natural chemistry, because he's known me all his life," he says.
Misha's first scene with his godfather was the last scene in the film, where father and son are reunited at the village train station.
"I felt slightly awful on his first day," the actor admits. "I was really excited to have him on the film, you know, a young boy, his first job. But his first day of shooting was a night shoot, and it was cold and horrible on this train track.
"He's only this little five-year-old and suddenly 9.30pm rolls round, which is later than he's ever been up. But he was a trooper and very, very sweet."
Playing a father wasn't the hardest challenge Radcliffe faced. While Harry Potter and he shared a similar vigour, the character of Arthur was a totally different animal.
"My energy levels are naturally very frenetic and Arthur is somebody who's been completely deadened to the world; stripped of his own vitality and zeal by the tragic circumstances of his wife's death. He's totally detached from other people."
And then there was the scene with all the mud, when Arthur dives into the marsh to try and recover a body.
Radcliffe spent three days in a cold tank of "Saturday morning children's show" gunk.
"I thought it was going to be really cool, I was getting all psyched up to break the surface like Apocalypse Now, but when I came up, I was informed I looked more like Al Jolson."
As to how he managed to get through the scene, he says: "You have to keep in your mind how great it's going to look."
Then he pauses and admits: "Basically, it's short man syndrome. I'm in here and I'm now going to prove how tough I am. I'm going to be in here for two days and dammit, I'm not going to complain once. That's the kind of pig-headed attitude that sees me through!"
Cast as Harry Potter in 2000, when he was just 10, Radcliffe acknowledges most of his childhood happened on set, but insists he hasn't missed out on anything.
"I still got a very good education, it was just a different way of growing up," he says.
Appropriately, he read the script for The Woman In Black just four hours after shooting wrapped on the final Potter film, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2, which was released last summer.
While it took a while to "recalibrate" on a film set that wasn't Potter-related, he says it was refreshing: "Just to see my name on the call sheet next to a different character's name was a thrill," he remembers.
The shoot neatly filled the gap between the end of Deathly Hallows and the beginning of How To Succeed, which saw Radcliffe take to the stage once more in New York following his successful transfer of the play Equus, which required him to get naked.
He can barely walk down a street on either side of the pond without attracting female attention, unless he keeps his head down and follows his production assistant girlfriend Rosie's feet.
"You get recognised if you make eye contact. I'm told I've got fairly distinctive eyes," he says.
"Halloween is my favourite day of the year because I can put a mask on. It's the most surreal feeling to walk round with my head up, unafraid, and look into people's eyes."
Next month, he starts work on the next phase of his post-Potter career, playing the American poet Allen Ginsberg in Kill Your Darlings, about the true story of a murder committed by one of Ginsberg's friends.
He's currently absorbed in poetry and you can tell he's champing at the bit to start.
"His mother had a completely debilitating personality disorder, which might now be put down tobeing bipolar or schizophrenia, so his whole childhood was spent trying to mollify. I think that's the reason there's so much confrontation in his poetry."
Whatever comes after that, only Radcliffe can decide.
"I understand there's a lot of interest to see what I do next, but I have to do what I'm passionate about. It's about showing people you've got good taste, like Brad Pitt or George Clooney.
"I want to be one of those actors about whom people say, 'I don't know what this movie's about but he normally picks good films'."
Extra time - Daniel Radcliffe :: Daniel Jacob Radcliffe was born on July 23, 1989.
:: He keeps in touch with Potter co-star Emma Watson via text message and says Rupert Grint is so laid-back, they can pick up where they left off at any time.
:: He's afraid of the dark and was recently spooked by a poster of The Woman In Black late at night in his New York house.
:: He admits he's a workaholic and can't imagine what life would be like without film sets.
:: He gave up alcohol in 2010, saying he'd become too reliant on it to have fun and recently admitted he used to black out after drinking too much.
:: The Woman In Black is released in cinemas on Friday, February 10