.: Biographie :.
In The Beginning...
Daniel Jacob Radcliffe was born on 23rd July 1989 in the London suburb of Fulham.
From the tender age of five, Dan had expressed an interest in acting, although his early experiences were limited to playing a monkey in a school production ("I hope no one ever finds any pictures of that!"). He became involved in the acting profession "by accident". He had missed out on auditioning for a part in a television production of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist - his parents didn't think it would be a very good idea - but he was destined to make his small screen debut as another of Dickens' famous titular characters: David Copperfield, starring alongside Maggie Smith and Bob Hoskins.
"A friend suggested that I audition, as a bit of fun, for the role of David Copperfield. I never expected to actually get the part as I knew there would be hundreds of boys trying for it, so when I did, it came as a huge surprise."
The annual Christmas BBC period drama is very popular in the UK and this 1999 adaptation of the classic novel was particularly well received. Copperfield producer Kate Harwood had these comments after working with Dan:
"He has a particular quality of naturalness and innocence. One normally dreads working with child actors, but in his case he was wonderful. He has a great deal of charm and simplicity."
Dan followed up his appearance in "David Copperfield" by taking a small part, to gain some experience, in the film "The Tailor of Panama", directed by John Boorman, adapted from the John le Carré spy novel and released in March 2001. He played Mark Pendel, the son of Harry and Louisa Pendel, who were played by Geoffrey Rush and Jamie Lee Curtis. While the filming was taking place, a major talent search was underway in the UK to find someone to portray a certain popular literary character and Curtis was struck by a particular insight:
"One day I was looking at Daniel, who was standing beside the swimming pool. I turned to his mother and said: 'He could be Harry Potter.' "
The Role Of A Lifetime
It was Dan's "charm and simplicity" that caught the eye of Chris Columbus and David Heyman whilst on the search for a young British actor to bring to life the lead character of what is arguably the modern literary world's most successful phenomenon: Harry Potter. This was going to be no mean feat for whoever won the role and superb casting of the part was, of course, vital to the film. Director Columbus had seen a tape of "David Copperfield" and had badgered his casting director into calling its young star in for an audition. However, Dan's understandably protective parents were reluctant to subject their son to any gruelling audition process only to have his hopes dashed and so the life-altering role was at first turned down. But serendipity smiled down on Dan one evening in a theatre: producer David Heyman and screenwriter Steve Kloves spotted him with his parents in the audience while watching the play 'Stones in his Pockets'. Heyman knew Dan's father through business connections and introduced himself to Dan during the interval. He then spent the second half of the play totally distracted by his potential Harry. The next morning, Heyman called Dan's parents to try to persuade them to change their minds about letting him audition and... discovered that they had already had the same idea! They agreed to an informal meeting between Dan and David Heyman and, once they were confident that he would be protected as much as possible from the media glare if offered the role, agreed that Dan should go for an audition. Then one night while taking a bath, Dan heard his father answer the phone:
"My dad came in and told me I'd got the part of Harry Potter. I cried, I was so happy. I woke up in the middle of the night, around half two, and I woke up my dad too, just to check with him that it wasn't all a dream. That I really was going to be Harry Potter."
The casting of Dan, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson in the lead roles of Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger was subsequently announced in August 2000. Importantly, Potter author Joanne Rowling gave Dan her seal of approval - when she saw Dan's screen test, she claimed that she felt that "it was like being reunited with [her] long-lost son":
"Having seen Dan Radcliffe's screen test I don't think Chris Columbus could have found a better Harry... I think Dan nailed it, and I am really pleased."
Production of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's (Sorcerer's) Stone" began in September 2000 and the worldwide interest in the film was unprecedented. It was released on 16th November 2001 and was praised widely for its faithful adaptation of Rowling's book, going on to become the second-highest grossing film of all time, behind "Titanic". Also praised widely was its young star ("... a wonderful Harry... young Radcliffe is perfect as Harry... seems to have been born to play the part...") who found himself on the cover of Vanity Fair, The Face, Empire, Premiere and practically every other entertainment magazine of the moment. Numerous TV appearances in the UK and US followed and curious audiences began to discover the boy behind the lightning-bolt scar. Fan sites began to spring up across the Internet. A star was born.
Into The Chamber
Filming of the sequel, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets", began a mere three days after the first film was released. Frequently described as "a lot darker, a lot scarier... and a lot funnier" than the first film, "Chamber of Secrets" was more of a straightforward action movie and received generally positive reviews when it was released on 15th November 2002. History repeated itself as the film smashed transatlantic box office records and it is currently the seventh-highest grossing film of all time.
Those who worked with Dan on the film have lavished praise on him. Kenneth Branagh has spoken of his joy to work with such a well-balanced young cast and Rupert has admitted that Dan always knows his lines! The special effects team were amazed by his ability to act convincingly opposite a ball on a stick in the scenes involving Dobby the House Elf, before the CGI creature was added. Chris Columbus, speaking after the release of "Chamber of Secrets", was more precise:
"What used to take eight or nine takes, now we do it in two or three. Particularly Dan. He has almost become a mini action hero. He is really strong and I like that strength about him because Harry Potter needs to develop that strength... He is incredibly focused. I've seen actors twice his age who couldn't give as convincing a performance."
After the promotional whirl of the UK and US, Dan took a little time out from promoting the film to make his West End stage debut in November 2002 in "The Play What I Wrote", directed by Kenneth Branagh. The play, which is a tribute to former top British comedy duo Morecambe and Wise, has a different surprise guest every night and makes them perform a humorous sketch. Actor Toby Jones, who voiced Dobby in "Chamber of Secrets" was one of the stars in the play. Says Dan of his experiences:
"It was great fun. I had never been on stage before so it was a little scary at first but it certainly gave me the desire to do more on stage."
In December 2002, Dan and producer David Heyman paid a special visit to the Far East to attend film screenings and press conferences to promote "Chamber of Secrets". Hundreds of screaming fans gathered at Tokyo's Narita Airport to welcome them at the start of their three-day visit to Japan, which was then followed by two days in China.
Something Wicked This Way Comes
The majority of 2003 was taken up with the filming of "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban". In preparation, new director Alfonso Cuaron (who has a "much more laid back, emotional, intense way of directing") had Dan, Rupert and Emma write essays on their characters, which Dan found useful. An excellent interview by TLC editor Melissa Anelli quotes Dan as listening to music to prepare for particular scenes, and having lengthy conversations with his father regarding his life experiences in order to portray the passionate emotions that Harry displays in the book.
"There's a lot of teenage angst in this one, probably more than the book. It's much more of an internal journey for the children, especially for Harry. And he's much more comfortable with confrontation, especially with Snape. He's a lot angrier. If you had all this stuff happening to you in real life, you'd be pretty angry too."
This year promises to be even more exciting for Dan and his fans when "Prisoner of Azkaban" is released on June 4th. It is one of the most anticipated films of 2004, and Harry Potter fans everywhere are looking forward to seeing where the new direction takes the highly successful franchise. The films to date have certainly delighted Potterphiles.
Behind The Glasses
There are a few parallels to be drawn between the apprentice wizard and Dan. Thrust into the limelight at an early age, both Harry and Dan have had to deal with the hazards of the media circus. Both are coping well. It is possible to imagine Dan walking the corridors of his school with people muttering "Bless my soul, it's Daniel Radcliffe!" but happily, this does not seem to be the case! The words of the Sorting Hat could also ring true: "Plenty of courage I see. Not a bad mind, either. There's talent - and a thirst to prove yourself." When Dan himself is asked what qualities he shares with the bespectacled schoolboy hero, he states that loyalty, curiosity, standing up for himself and a propensity to land himself in trouble are the greatest similarities. His friends are, like Harry's, incredibly important and they have not changed their attitude towards him since stardom has struck.
Dan attends an all-boys private school in London when not receiving private tuition on set and he has diverse interests. He supports his local football (soccer) team, Fulham, and looks after his two dogs, Binka and Nugget. He has credited Chris Columbus with giving him a love of film, and counts '12 Angry Men' and 'What's Eating Gilbert Grape' among his favourites. He has developed a love of classic punk music (The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Pixies) and still has a passion for the Simpsons! He has a lot to keep him occupied in his free time - practising the bass guitar, really studying magic (he's a dab hand at card tricks) and he has recently expressed a desire to learn how to cook, which inspired the staff and fans here at DanRadcliffe.com to create and send him a recipe book!
Over the last couple of years, Dan has begun to put his fame and influence to good use, quietly engaging in charity projects. In May 2002, Dan contributed to a video which is designed to help autistic people learn to recognise facial expressions, an act which inspired fans here at DanRadcliffe.com to raise over £2000 for the National Autistic Society to mark his 14th birthday (click here for details). Then in March 2003, a lock of his hair and an autograph raised over £750 for the British charity Comic Relief, which benefits deprived areas in the UK and around the world. Another very worthwhile cause that he has chosen to support is Demelza House Children's Hospice in Kent, south-east England. Dan's request to fans that they make a donation to Demelza House for Christmas 2003 raised more than £1850 to help improve the quality of life for terminally ill children (click here for details).
Reviews of Dan's portrayal of Harry Potter thus far have been consistently positive and, in February 2002, he won the Variety Club Award for Outstanding New Talent. Since then, he has received a number of popular awards, including two Silver Otto Awards from German magazine "Bravo" and a "Relly" Award for Junior Achiever of the Year from the Regis and Kelly show in the US in September 2003.
The enormous success of the Potter franchise doesn't seem to faze the young actor. He has stated that he never watches his performances once the premieres are over and, in order to stay focused and grounded, does not pay attention to his own press.
"To this day I have never ever read a word that has been printed about me or the films - and I never ever watch interviews I have given on television."
Playing the world’s most beloved young wizard has had another side effect - Dan has earned quite a large female following recently, which is doubtless set to increase this year! He has received thousands of letters, but does he consider himself a heartthrob? Comes the modest reply:
"Personally I can't see it, but if other people can, fine. Cool!"
Unfogging The Future
What next for the remarkably mature young thesp, whose exquisite manners, talent and charm have cast such a spell over the cinematic world? The press delights in speculation regarding how long Dan and his friends will remain in their current roles post-'Goblet of Fire'. (Mike Newell is set to direct this fourth installment and filming begins in Spring 2004.) At this stage, future casting remains just speculation, as the children are growing at the same rate as their fictional counterparts. However, Dan has wisely refused to commit.
"At the moment, I’m just looking forward to playing Harry for the fourth (film), because it’s such a fantastic book."
Of course, the fifth Harry Potter book was released last June and Dan loved it. He commented that it was difficult not to imagine himself as Harry when reading it!
"There are lots of interesting parts but I thought the detention scenes between Harry and Professor Umbridge were particularly dark."
In the longer term, Dan has expressed an interest in writing and in directing. We could possibly be following Dan's progress behind the camera in years to come. So does he intend to continue acting in the future? Does he have any preference with regard to role or genre?
"I would consider doing any part as long as the script is good and the film has an interesting director."
As an experienced actor, Dan is well aware of what’s important in the film industry!
Dan has now worked alongside half of Britain's A-List actors, such as Alan Rickman, Kenneth Branagh, Julie Walters and the late, great Richard Harris. That list has grown to include the inspirational Gary Oldman, who plays the eponymous Prisoner, Sirius Black, in the third Harry Potter installment. When asked who else he would like to work with, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ralph Fiennes, Geoffrey Rush (who played Dan’s father in "The Tailor of Panama") and Robert Carlyle are at the top of the list. Oh, along with Lucy Liu, who Dan would like to see cast as Harry’s "love interest" Cho Chang in "Goblet of Fire"! Could Cameron Diaz (Dan’s favourite actress) therefore be a contender for the part of Fleur Delacour? Unfortunately not, sorry Dan!
It is safe to say that whatever path he chooses, Daniel Radcliffe will probably continue to charm all those he meets. The staff of DanRadcliffe.com are very excited about what’s in store for 2004 and we wish Dan all the very best in a year which should see his star shine even more brightly in the sky than it does already. Oh, and if you're learning to cook, Dan, will it be roast turkey a la Daniel chez Radcliffe by Christmas? Just don't forget the cranberry sauce. Good luck!!