There's little doubt that if Daniel Radcliffe were a rock musician, his current press tour for "Kill Your Darlings" would have a title like "The Moving On Tour '13" or "Harry In The Rearview Mirror." Yes, Daniel Radcliffe is no longer Harry Potter -- as a recent New York Times Magazine profile deftly illustrated -- but what's interesting about Radcliffe (great, even) is that he's not anti-Harry Potter.
Here's your for instance: In "Kill Your Darlings," Radcliffe plays a young Allen Ginsberg, who, at the outset of the Beat generation, finds his friend, Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan), embroiled in a scandalous relationship that leads to tragedy. When I pointed out that the Ginsberg, wasn't exactly a connoisseur of mainstream tastes, Radcliffe defended the "Harry Potter" franchise. The 24-year-old may be moving on from Hogwarts, but he certainly hasn't forgotten, nor dismissed, where he came from.
Not only do you have "Kill Your Darlings" coming out this year, but you also starred in the Toronto International Film Festival debuts, "Horns" and "The F Word." It's not easy to redefine yourself from Harry Potter, but it appears it's happening.
I think it depends on the attitude you take towards it, basically. If you say, yes, "Potter" was the biggest thing that I'm ever going to do and I'm never going to come close to that again, and it's going to hold me back from getting parts, then probably all of those things will come true. But if you take the attitude that this is the most amazing platform, in a way, to get set for a career in the world, it's an amazing start to have had and it's something that can be capitalized on rather than being something that holds you back. And I just have such fun doing my job, as well. Like, the most interesting way for me to do it is by picking diverse, varied things -- like "The F Word" and "Kill Your Darlings."
And I think there's definitely an element of you grow up for 10 years on a set and you don't really have peers when you're 12 or 13 that you look to in other films. When you're 16 or 17, you start becoming aware of guys like Aaron Johnson or Eddie Redmayne or Ben Whishaw or James McAvoy. And you start being fans of them and you also start kind of going, "Oh, I want to do what they're doing. I want to have loads of different parts as well." So it builds up this desire to get out there.
"The Woman in Black" felt like its narrative was basically, "Here's Daniel Radcliffe's first post-Potter role," and now, with these, people have moved on.
I think that's a really astute observation. I think that's completely true. "The Woman in Black" was a fantastic transition because it wasn't so different than Harry that people were like, "Oh, he's just trying to shock us." But it was different enough that people realized it was a different reason to go and see it. And the fact that it did so well and it was a really good movie. I may not be over the moon with my own performance in it -- there's still stuff I see when I see that that's very reminiscent of Harry. I only started filming it six weeks or something after we finished the last "Potter." So, it came very soon after. But I do think, now, with these next three films, people will see it is so different from anything I've done before. I just think I've grown up a lot as an actor in the last couple of years. And I think, as a consequence, my work's gotten better and I'm just looking forward to people finally seeing it because I feel like I've been talking about this film for ages and now people will get to verify for themselves.
And you're playing a guy who is part of a group that despises mainstream tastes.
[Laughs] Yes. Yeah, I know what you mean. But, you know, I think that's what I liked about Potter and that's what I'm still very proud of about Potter. Even though it was the most commercial series in the world -- in terms of the money it made and the appeal it had -- we always did try to make them as challenging as possible. I think the reason I'm so proud of it, still, is that we made eight films that got better and better and better until the last one. That's not very often achieved in film and the fact we achieved it is a testament to the amount of care and love put into it by everyone who was involved on that set, all the time. So, yeah, I still think we did a remarkable thing and even if we were very mainstream -- which, of course, we were -- we brought a lot of integrity and sort of a boldness to the franchise. Because, when I was growing up, I don't remember people talking about franchises before I was in one. I remember people talking about "Lord of the Rings" and "Potter" would be like "franchises" that's the first time I remember ...
Last time we spoke you mentioned you had never watched "Star Wars."
Well, except for "The Phantom Menace."
Let's not tell anyone that.
You have to catch up before "Episode VII" comes out.
I know! I know I do. I have to catch up before that because fucking all of my friends are working on the new one. Because "Star Wars" is filming in Leavesden. There was at least one guy, Digby Milner, who worked on all the "Potters" who had also worked on "Star Wars," the originals. And he will be working on new "Star Wars" at Leavesdon as well. And it is kind of amazing because "Star Wars," the originals, were made in England as well. So there's a lot of that crew who we'll basically have a huge amount of sons and daughters of the original crew who are now on the new "Star Wars" movie.
It's come full circle.
That's all they do at Leavesdon, apparently, is franchises [laughs].
"Kill Your Darlings" is interesting because it involves famous people in a story that's really not that well known.
I mean, I didn't know the story at all. I really wasn't aware of it. That's one of the things that's so cool about it -- and cool about reading the script for the first time is you just go, "Wow." When you have a story that is this fascinating about a group of characters that is this well known -- and, yet, this story has really never been told -- you start of just feel like this is buried treasure we've struck.
Allen Ginsberg wanted to write a book about this at one point and he was told not to.
Absolutely. Lucien, for reasons you understand when you see the film, did not want anyone to know this story. But I definitely think that was one of the fascinating things about it: people didn't know. And one of the things I think people will like about this film that I think, perhaps, they won't expect is that when you hear "1940s Beat poet historical drama," you sort of think, Oh, that sounds quite dry. But it's actually a lot of fun as well. I don't think you can make a movie about the Beats without having fun -- because they had a great fucking time.
This might be a bad comparison, but it's got a superhero origin story feel to it, only with writers.
Oh, I've said that a lot.
Like when we're introduced to Jack Kerouac, it felt dramatic.
And the first time we see Allen's name in the film is on his university application. [Director] John Krokidas loved the idea of taking this famous person's name, but actually seeing it in the context of them applying to university.
What was your reaction when you heard J.K. Rowling was revisiting the "Harry Potter" universe with "Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them"? Were you surprised?
I had never heard her say "no." I don't think any of us would ever be foolish enough to, you know, say never. But, I think with Jo, I wasn't really surprised. It kind of made sense to me actually, when it was announced. Because I was kind of like, "OK, yeah, she's gone off and had 'Casual Vacancy' and then done the Robert Galbraith books -- and both have been very successful. And I imagine that has given her a confidence of, "Oh, OK, now that I stepped away from it, I can actually go back to it with confidence." And I think she recognizes that there is still a huge hunger out there for more sides of the "Potter" world. And, yeah, she's wants to give people what they want. And I think it will be really good. I'm just relieved that it's in her hands, to be honest. That lets me know that it's not anyone just cashing in and it's going to be authentic.
She doesn't need the money.
She definitely doesn't need the money.
Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. You can contact him directly on Twitter.