Moviehole has been fortunate throughout the years to be invited onto the set of Harry Potter to interview the actors. We sat down during the filming of ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2’ for one final interview with the star of the franchise, Daniel Radcliffe.
Moviehole: It has always seemed like a blind leap of faith for everyone involved in the films to charge ahead whilst the final book hadn’t been published. There seems like huge potential in adapting from book into script to leave some important detail out which would come back to haunt you in a later film as essential information. Now that the final book is out there, can I ask what you all knew in advance relating to the series ending?
Daniel Radcliffe: “The only person who had inside information on his character was Alan Rickman – he had some information on Snape. Occaisionally she (J.K Rowling) would talk to me. When we were filming the fifth film (The Order of the Phoenix), she was very careful to stress the importance of all the scenes with Dumbledore’s Army, because she said in the future books and films, Harry would have to lead large numbers of people. So, I got a bit of an inkling that there would be a huge final battle in which Harry would be at the head. But to be honest, if I hadn’t guessed that already, I would have been doing something wrong. But I never got too many hints or previews as to what might be going on in the next books.
MH: This film is a return to Hogwarts after the school has been increasingly absent in the last couple of films, especially ‘The Deathly Hallows – part 1’. What do we find on our return, how has it changed?
DR: “Its Hogwarts like we’ve ever seen before, because its Hogwarts under siege. Everything’s being blown up and torched. At one point you’ll see the Great Hall bashed and battered to bits. These iconic images that have become part of every 10 year old’s consciousness are going to take a bit of a walloping in the last 2 hours of this film.”
MH: Looking back on the entire series was there one thing that you can identify as being glad that Harry had to go through, as it really tested you as an actor?
DR: “Good question! My favourite book is probably number five (The Order of the Phoenix), as is my favourite film. I found it the most moving, and I also love the character of Sirus Black, so I’ve always loved reading about him and his relationship with Harry, and also filming those scenes with Gary (Oldman). There is all the stuff in the fifth film with Sirius, all of that was great because that was probably the biggest lesson I’ve learnt as an actor. Having someone like Gary Oldman around when you do the scene helps because he is completely fearless. He taught me a lesson in fearlessness and losing your inhibitions and doing it and not actually analysing it and trying to keep self-doubt and self-criticism out of it until you have actually finished. So, I’d have to say Siruis’ death and the series of scenes related to that would have to be the hardest I’d ever done at that point and is still some of the hardest I’ve done to date, simply because I’ve not had that experience of bereavement, so its hard to know where to find it.”
MH: As you approach the end of the series your thoughts must surely turn to life after Harry Potter. How do you feel about it now coming to an end?
DR: “There are many exciting things about that; the fact that I will then be allowed to go off and do whatever I like, and not have to say when people phone up about jobs, I won’t have to say ‘Oh, I’m not available for the next 2 years’, so that’s really exciting, but on the other hand this has been my family, my second home for ten years, so I’ll be inconsolable I think, at least for a little while, I’ll be very sad…It’s bittersweet. There’s the part of me thats happy to finish this film because this is the longest we’ve ever filmed for, and its been hard simply because of the length of it really. So I’ll feel a great sense of achievement to have finished this one, but a lot of sadness to now be finishing the series, and realizing that I will walk out of here.
MH: Harry Potter has taken over Leavesden studios in its entirety for over a decade, with sets being built and staying up, and props and monsters practically taking up every inch of floorspace. Coming into the studio is very much like entering the world of Harry Potter, and has been a wonderful experience, for me personally, over the years. What will happen now that the films have come to an end?
DR: Its the last time that this place looks like it does now, as its all going to be done up and a huge, I think $160 million investment, going in, and they’re going to revamp the entire place and turn it into a proper studio, (he laughs) rather than the aircraft hanger we’ve been filming in for the last ten years! Alot of people who have filmed in other studios come here and go ‘what is this place?!’, but because I’ve always generally worked here I developed a kind of love for it, which is not shared by many other people I have to say!”
MH: Do you have anything lined up? Do you have any fears about typecasting and do you see a pressure from others to put you in a similar role to try and capture some of the Harry Potter audience, and box-office? Do you recognize a conflict between your ambitions and what the industry or public would want you to do?
DR: There are two or three other things that might be happening but I can’t talk about them yet because they a) probably won’t and b) if I talk about them they definitely won’t – I’ll put a curse on them. The stuff that I’m being sent and talked about for, is so, so dissimilar to Harry its very encouraging. I’ve never filmed in America, so I would love to at some point have that experience. I dont know when that might happen, but I’m looking forward to it. I’d always like to work ideally here, its my home, but it would be a very, very good thing to have actually done something in America, just to have that behind you…I was very jealous of someone I was talking to the other day who is going off to be in the new Coen Brothers movie. They would be directors who I think any actor would crawl over, or crawl through the gutter to work with, and I would! There are lots of things in the future…hopefully in 6-8 months I will be working again and in gainful employment, but we’ll just have to wait and see I suppose.”
MH: Are there any other actors out there who you look towards for inspiration in terms of their career path? (Note: Daniel answered this some time before his current stint on Broadway, so its interesting to hear what was going through his mind in making that decision)
DR: Its very well documented how much I love Gary Oldman…I do think that his body of work is one of the most wide-ranging, varied stuff, and I think that he can do anything. Unfortunately I’ve never seen Gary on stage, but I would have loved to have seen him because some of the stage work he did was supposed to have been incredible as well. There are also people like Hugh Jackman, who I think is kind of amazing because he’ll go off and do an X-Men movie, which will go and do so many hundreds of million of dollars worldwide, and then he’ll go and do a play! I think I read it in an interview somewhere, it was either him or Guy Pierce, one Australian actor at least, they were saying that they always go back to the theatre because it keeps them sharp. It keeps them on their toes between films, and I think that’s absolutely right. Generally speaking I don’t think that you are tested as much on film as an actor as you are on stage.”
MH: My final question is whether there is a future for the franchise? It must be very tempting for everybody involved to come back in a few years, not just for the financial benefits, but because the last 10 years seems to have been a great experience for everybody on a personal level, at the very least it would allow you to get everyone back together and see if you can recapture the magic – would you be tempted?
DR: “I met a 5 year old boy the other day, he was very sweet and very cute and he said “oh, I really wanted to play Harry Potter!” And I said ‘Come back in 10 years and they’ll be doing the remakes!’ I don’t know, they might do prequels or stuff, but they can’t can they? Unless Jo writes them, and certainly its not something that I would leap to be a part of. I’ve done my Harry Potter stint – I’ve put in the hours, and loved it along the way.”
And with that Daniel is called back on set, where we watch him play a scene for a while before saying goodbye. I’m reminded of all the times that I’ve been here before and marvel at what the boy I first met years ago has matured into. He’s been surrounded by some of the UK’s finest actors (mostly theatre actors) and learnt from them not just their craft, but also their attitude and professionalism. He’s been largely protected from Hollywood, whilst having the weight of the biggest film franchise in the history of film resting on his shoulders, and he’s come through it seemingly unscathed. No-one can predict what the future holds for him, but its a good sign that his ambitions lie in the quality of his work and not the magnitude of his stardom. We wish him all the best.
The ten year journey comes to its thrilling conclusion (Battles! Dragons! Deaths!) in ‘Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows – Part 2’ which opens in cinemas on July 15th.
– JAMES KENNETT