LONDON – There are few actors who can enjoy the kind of success that Daniel Radcliffe has enjoyed at his age. At 10, he became the face of the multibillion-dollar “Harry Potter” franchise, which became a cultural phenomenon. As the series drew to a close in 2011, the young British actor was faced with two dilemmas: shaking off the typecasting of his initial success and making the jump from child to adult actor — all without magic.
Only four years later, Radcliffe is well on his way to achieving both goals. Magic wasn’t a part of it, the 25-year-old actor simply made smart career choices. He played American poet Allen Ginsberg in “Kill Your Darlings,” got romantic in “What If” and took roles in two horror flicks — James Watkins’ “The Woman in Black” and forthcoming horror-comedy, “Horns.”
Directed by Alexandre Aja and based on the novel by Joe Hill (the pen name of author Stephen King’s son Joseph), “Horns” stars Radcliffe as Ig Perrish, a young man ostracized by his town when his girlfriend is raped and murdered, a crime in which his fellow citizens view him as the prime suspect. After a particularly heavy night of drinking, Ig awakes with horns protruding from his head, a characteristic that coincides with him suddenly being able to draw out people’s darkest secrets — a skill that will hopefully lead him to his girlfriend’s true killer.
While the story is filled with a lot of dark elements, Radcliffe says he was drawn to the role due to the humanity of his character.
“(Ig) is someone dealing with the loss of his girlfriend, who’s trying to do the right thing,” he says. “He’s pushed into this corner by the people around him, who all think he’s guilty, and along the way he does some things that aren’t entirely good. He makes mistakes, but it’s all in pursuit of what’s right.”
Though the move to horror films and a role that saw him strip down to nothing in “Equus” (in London’s West End and on Broadway in New York) has helped Radcliffe shake off his preteen Potter image, it’s inevitable that some fans will always see him as “the boy who lived” (if you get that reference, you may be one of them). Rather than recoiling when the subject comes up, however, Radcliffe is instead quite philosophical.
“It doesn’t bother me,” he says. “I think I would be surprised if people weren’t talking about it! It’s great that people still enjoy (the films) and still identify with the characters. It means we all did something right.”
The “Harry Potter” franchise, based on the novels by J.K. Rowling, still have a loyal and devoted fan base. As a result, its cast continues to see themselves as the topic of immense scrutiny by passionate followers. While he admits there is a “microscope” that comes with such fame, Radcliffe still appreciates the support.
“You’ve been part of something that means a lot to people, it’s hard to be angry at that,” he says with a laugh. “The fans have always been brilliant and if being in those films means that the films I do now are introduced to people who otherwise might not thought of seeing them, then that’s great.”
Radcliffe has also done a lot of theater work in his post-Potter years, performing to rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition to the headline-making nude performance in 2007’s “Equus,” Radcliffe packed theater houses with the musical “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying” and the drama “The Cripple of Inishmaan,” both of which were another part of the growing process for the star.
“Theater is a completely different discipline,” he says. “It requires you to focus on delivering the performance night after night, keeping it consistent and also keeping it fresh so there’s a new and different performance every night. You’re also working with the other actors in a very different way, and even the audience in a different way. With film you’re creating a story that you hope people will respond to, whereas in theater you can see the response in front of you.”
“I love working on stage — I can’t say whether I prefer (theater or film) because they are quite different, but I definitely hope to do more theater in the future.”
The future looks particularly busy. He once again delves into rom-com waters with a brief appearance in Amy Schumer’s “Trainwreck” and revisits the world of horror as ghoulish assistant Igor in Paul McGuigan’s “Victor Frankenstein,” which is set to come out this fall.
Perhaps most interestingly, he is also returning to the world of magic, albeit the staged kind, in the sequel to “Now You See Me.” Is this a case of you can take the boy out of Hogwarts, but you can’t take Hogwarts out of the boy?
“I’m interested in anything that interests me,” Radcliffe says with a smile. “If there’s a role that I feel excited about, and one that I think I can bring something to, then I wouldn’t be put off by how big the budget is or who’s starring in it, I want every new project to be as interesting and worthwhile as the last one.”
“Horns” will start showing in cinemas across the country from May 9. For more information, visit www.horns-movie.jp.
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