Daniel Radcliffe Talks About 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince'

Daniel Radcliffe on Playing Harry for the Sixth Time

Daniel Radcliffe
Daniel Radcliffe in 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.'. © Warner Bros Pictures

We all know by now, six films into the Harry Potter franchise, that Harry Potter is basically a pretty serious guy. Sure, he's been known to crack a few jokes and he's quick to smile. But let's face it, it's hard to be the class clown when you're the chosen one. A royal battle with Voldemort looming on the horizon can dampen anyone's spirits. But Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who'll forever be associated with Harry Potter, admits he's not nearly as serious as the character he plays.

In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry has to take a potion that alters his state of mind. That altered state was something Radcliffe enjoyed portraying. "To be honest, I just let the more manic side of myself that I suppress for 23 hours of every day loose for a while on set and just became a kind of uncontrollable, vaguely irritating but sort of vaguely amusing person that I sort of keep hidden," said Radcliffe at the press conference for the Warner Bros Pictures film. "I just let him out and run mad for a few days and it was great fun to be able to, actually. It is a side to the character that hasn’t really been seen before. We always sit next to each other, so [producer] David Heyman leaned over to me and said, 'That’s my favorite piece of acting that you do in this film.' So maybe I should have really been playing him slightly more manic all along."

Both Emma Watson ('Hermione') and Tom Felton ('Draco Malfoy') believe that Harry on drugs is closer to the real Daniel Radcliffe.

"I do think people probably - if you spent a proper amount of time with me, you would probably wonder if I was on drugs. I'm not. I'm just incredibly hyperactive, manic," admitted Radcliffe. "I can be quiet and serious at the same time, but when I get like that, at the premiere in England the other night, my God, I was just this kind of beast that had been unleashed onto the red carpet.

It was incredible."

Daniel Radcliffe at the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Press Conference

What did you learn the most about Harry in this film?

Daniel Radcliffe: "For me, the difference in Harry this year, wherein the past…particularly the big change in Harry this year is his relationship with Dumbledore. Previously, he’s always been very much teacher/student. This year it kind of changes to being a general with his favorite lieutenant. Harry becomes a foot soldier in this movie and happy to be so. Also, in all the other ones, you sort of see Harry has been, 'Yeah, we’re going to get Voldemort. We’re going to kill him,' but he never really does anything towards it. Whereas this year he’s actually been trying and planning, and actually trying to actually do something towards the ultimate destruction of Voldemort. That’s the difference in Harry this year."

Has it finally set in with you that the Harry Potter series is ending?

Daniel Radcliffe: "It hadn’t until this week when everybody seems to be telling me that it’s almost over. I was actually kind of getting along quite nicely until people said, 'Well, so, your dream’s coming to an end.' To be honest, I think I speak for most of us when I say we’ve got a year left on seven.

It’s a long way to go. Then, we’ve got to do lots of publicity and meet up with all of you lovely people twice more. Which is something I…That sounded sarcastic. It wasn’t. So there’s a long way to go to be honest, certainly for us. ...So I’m not contemplating the end too much too soon."

How do you handle the world of dating as a young twenty-something, in real life, without the aid of magic spells?

Daniel Radcliffe: "You know, I’m not really doing the dating thing. I don’t feel like I’m in the world of dating. I don’t feel like a young twenty-something in that sort of [way]. I don’t have that sort of life. I’m working. I’m happy to be working. It’s not a bad case of, I don’t have time to have a girlfriend.' I do. It’s just like everyone else, I suppose. It’s weird, you know, because people sometimes ask, 'Does being Harry Potter help you get girls?' I was nine before I did Harry Potter, so I don't know what it’s like to get girls without the aid of being Harry.

So I don't know."

How much time did you spend working on balancing the light comedy and the heavy drama in this film?

Daniel Radcliffe: "I have to say, I think this is, for Ron, for my money, in terms of the comedy, this is Rupert [Grint’s] finest hour. He’s absolutely brilliant in this movie. It kind of reveals himself to be a fantastic practitioner of physical comedy. You balance the dramatics off as well, obviously wonderfully, but the scene on the broomstick in Quidditch - which is like something out of Buster Keaton or something - it’s absolutely brilliant, and I was belly-laughing. It was wonderful."

How difficult was your kissing scene with Bonnie Wright?

Daniel Radcliffe: “I saw the film again a couple nights ago at the premiere and I really watched it. And my God, my lips are like the lips of a horse, kind of distending away, independently away from my face, trying to encompass the lower half of hers. So I apologize, Bonnie."

Speaking of horses, you recently did Equus on Broadway. Do you have another stage project lined up?

Daniel Radcliffe: "Another stage project? Nothing specific, no. Nice segue by the way, using the horse to get that question. That was excellent. No, nothing specific at all. I would love to be back on the stage sometime maybe in the next two or three years, but there’s nothing planned at all. Obviously, I’d love to do it in England. And if Broadway would have me back, then that would be incredible because I had an amazing time here."

Can you talk about the scene in which you all raise your wands? Also, what does it mean to lose [spoiler deleted so let's say a major character]?

Daniel Radcliffe: "I think it’s actually a really, really moving moment, the moment when the wands are raised in salute and that the dark mark in the sky is slowly kind of eroded by this white light. It’s a wonderful moment. Yeah, it was a hard scene for me because at the time I had never lost anybody close to me. You can never hope to imagine what that feels like or what that must feel like. So I was trying to imagine the feelings and if it came a third of the way close to being real, then I’m happy with that, to be honest."

Continued on Page 2

Daniel Radcliffe at the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Press Conference

Since you started the films when you were so young, do you cringe or critique the earlier films when you watch them?

Daniel Radcliffe: "I haven’t watched any of the films after they’re done. I think it would be an entirely disruptive experience for me if I was actually to watch that. I’m far too critical. I remember we were having a conversation on the fourth film.

I remember I said something like, 'God, I saw a clip from the first film the other day. God, I can’t believe how bad I am in it,' or whatever. I said something to the affect of, 'Why did they cast me?' The only reason I remember it was on the fourth film that we had this conversation was because Mike Newell’s massive booming voice on the other side of the set came back, yelling, 'Because you’re absolutely bloody charming!’ [Laughing] In answer to your original question, I have not watched any of the films."

Can you talk a little bit about the sexual tension in the film? They're great at magic but they can’t control their hormones. Do you continue to reconcile it in the seventh film?

Daniel Radcliffe: “I think it’s kind of a wonderful thing in the film, the fact that these guys are all… Particularly, I find it very endearing with Harry, the fact that he’s this kind of very, very acclaimed wizard and he’s crap with women.

I think it’s a wonderful, rather endearing quality that he has. I think this film does demonstrate basically two types of teenage relationships. One, which is mine and Bonnie’s, which is that kind of teenage thing when you’re just in love and it’s pure and innocent and it’s all that matters in your life, is when you’re like 14 or 15 and you fall in love with somebody.

That’s all there is. And the other kind, which is kind of much more carnal and energetic, which is the one Rupert was lucky enough to have. [Laughing] Yeah, but those are my thoughts on the relationships in this sixth Harry Potter film. You kind of lost me, slightly, to be perfectly honest, in the reconciling thing. I wasn’t sure I quite got what you meant about that."

You have such great control over magic but not over hormones.

Daniel Radcliffe: “Absolutely, and I think that is probably quite true of teenagers, a complete inability to control hormones or desire. And it’s no different with wizard children."

J.K. Rowling was still writing the books as the earlier ones were being filmed. How did the process work of you reading these books, knowing that you were going to have play what these characters were doing, specifically in books six and seven?

Daniel Radcliffe: "My reading of the books was always one of sort of, ‘Oh God, another one’s dead. It’s another death scene. Oh God.' I always would be able to very much enjoy them when they came out but I would, also there’d be a lot of… I would get nervous when I’d read them about whether I would be able to do justice to certain aspects, which is probably not the healthiest mindset to be in when you read them.

But I don't know, I couldn’t help it."

After doing six Harry Potter movies, will you continue acting or do you have any other ambitions?

Daniel Radcliffe: "I think certainly from my point of view, I definitely want to go with acting, as long as I can find employment. I love it, and to be honest, I’m never happier than when I’m on a film set. So long may that continue. I just want to keep working on this, to be honest. Not on Potter, just acting."

How would you characterize your relationship with David Yates compared with the other Harry Potter directors?

Daniel Radcliffe: “I’ve had nothing but great things to say about David. We get closer every year. We get on very, very well off set. We have a very, very good relationship, not only professionally but personally as well. I think as we go on in the films, we become more in tune with each other to the point that he could say cut and I will immediately know, without having to see or hear him, know whether what I’ve just done is what he wanted.

Simply because I know what he’s looking for in a performance. At least I think I do, but I can’t always get there. He’s always very good at being honest with me as well, saying to me, 'You can do better than that.' And that’s a wonderful thing to have, that trusting relationship with a director."

“I think also the thing with David is that even if he was shouting, you wouldn’t really be able to tell. He’s a very, very softly spoken man, so his manner is wonderful on set. You would never pick him out as the director. Nothing about him screams, ‘I am the creative powerhouse of this movie!’ He’s a very quiet and gentle man. What he had in a good way as a director, which is brilliant, is that he has the ability to be able to see the entire storyline in his head in one frame almost, and be able to encapsulate it all in his mind at any given moment. So he can pick out moments from the end of the fifth film and find a relevance with them at the beginning of the seventh. He will find things, link moments constantly in the story. He’s just got a fantastic vision of the films from day one. Also, one thing I will say, very quickly, before I bore you all with this praise is his enthusiasm for being on Potter is the same now as it was on day one of the first film he did with us."

Continued on Page 2

Daniel Radcliffe at the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Press Conference

Did you shoot the underwater scene in a studio or was it all CGI? Were you holding your breath or did you use a tank? Were those stunt people or animatronics holding onto you?

Daniel Radcliffe: "I was holding my breath, certainly. To be honest, it was quite easygoing, this particular underwater scene, in comparison to what we did on four when I was underwater for about 41 hours over the course of a month.

And 23 minutes, but it doesn’t matter. Yeah, so compared to that it was very easy. I think it was maybe two days we were filming underwater."

"It was a stunt woman who was wrapping herself around me as the kind of lady fairy. It was actually one of the coolest moments of my career -- was bursting through the surface of the water surrounded by the circle of fire, real fire, yes. What they did, they had a little pipeline just underneath the surface of the water that shoots up bubbles of kerosene or whatever, propane. They kind of ignited just after the surface, so the surface of the water was completely just black with soot and it was kind of horrible, but it was also very fun. Then I get to climb up onto the separate island where I look up and I see Michael Gambon there just looking like God or Moses, with swirling fire around his head. It was one of those moments where I went, 'I will never, it does not matter how many more things I do, I will never have this scene or anything like this ever again.'"

Are you happy with the way the next film is shaping up?

Daniel Radcliffe: “I couldn’t be happier, personally, because I am so excited about the seventh film. I don't know if anybody else had the same experience as me over the last couple days, but seeing the sixth film again, I started to realize we’re doing something very, very different.

We’re not at Hogwarts. It’s a different dynamic."

How do you feel when J.K. Rowling visits the set?

Daniel Radcliffe: “She’s always been very, very good about letting go of the films of ours and realizing that they are a totally separate entity from the books. She’s not been too precious about anything. She realizes things have to be cut in order to make them doable. So she’s always been very good. When she comes out to the set, it’s a pleasure. It’s a rare treat because she doesn’t want us to feel she was kind of prying but she’s always been wonderful. She’s incredibly gracious and a lovely woman."

“Just one for the record, it might be interesting to note that the only thing in thus far six films that has been on screen which is not in the books, which she said, ‘I wish I’d thought of that,’ was an idea Alfonso Cuaron had on the third Potter film to make the temperature drop when Dementors came by so you would see the water froze over. That’s the only thing that she’s gone, ‘Oh God, I wish I’d thought of that.’ That’s a little piece of Potter trivia for you.”

* * * * * * *

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince hits theaters on July 15, 2009 and is rated PG for scary images, some violence, language and mild sensuality.