Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

From wizard to whiz kid

Daniel Radcliffe leaves Harry Potter behind for Broadway and gothic role in The Woman in Black

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4The whole world watched Radcliffe grow up in eight consecutive Harry Potter movies from 2001 to 2011. The attention and pressure of all that responsibility has wrecked the lives of many a child star, but the London-born Radclife emerged from the concluding Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II (the highest-grossing film of 2011) to jump into a pair of challenging followups, playing the lead in the Broadway revival How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and starring as a widowed lawyer facing a vicious spectre in the gothic horror film The Woman in Black.

Radcliffe spoke to the Free Press on the phone from Toronto during a publicity tour for the film.

 

On any trepidation he felt jumping from the supernatural themed Harry Potter films to the supernatural ghost story The Woman in Black:

"That wasn't a concern. If I shut myself off, if that was the reason why I chose not to do a film, that would have been a crap reason.

"The thing I've been saying about this issue is if you were to compare the ghosts of Hogwarts to the ghosts of The Woman in Black, it's like comparing the elves in Harry Potter to the elves in Lord of the Rings. They're as far apart as Dobby and Liv Tyler. It's much bleaker and darker than any of the other Potter films ever were.

"It's interesting, people have heard me talk about Potter being dark for ages and these people haven't really been taking me seriously when I say that about this film, because we have had people coming out of screenings saying: 'I did not expect it to be that scary.' One of the German journalists complained there had been no mention on the press release about (Woman in Black) being a horror film, and she came out completely traumatized."

 

On playing a role as a morose widower at the same time as he was preparing for the singing-dancing requirements of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying on Broadway:

"This was filmed prior to doing How to Succeed at the end of 2010, and it was slightly odd to be filming that during the day and then going home and practising my songs and my dancing in my hotel room at night.

"But it was kind of great to have such contrasting things to work on, because one sort of gets you out of the other one. When you're playing all day someone in mourning and just being terribly sad all the time, it's quite nice to go home and do some Broadway singing."

 

On doing publicity for a film solo after years of being backed up by his co-stars Emma Watson and Rupert Grint:

"I hadn't really thought about that until I was doing the première (for The Woman in Black). It wasn't even the première on the red carpet in London, but it was getting ready for the première, knowing that there weren't also two other people getting ready in other rooms in the same hotel. That was actually rather strange, and slightly nerve-racking. But when I actually got to the red carpet, it felt kind of exciting to be (representing) this movie on your own."

 

On the challenges of being quiet for long stretches of time in The Woman in Black after years of doing intensive dialogue in Harry Potter:

"I love language and text and dialogue and that's where I feel relatively comfortable, so yeah, it does feel odd to be not talking at all.

The Artist has rather stolen our thunder, but there are few films that have 20 minutes of absolute silence in the middle, and I think that was something that was quite special and different, especially in a film of this type. And I think those 20 minutes are more or less the most exciting 20 minutes of the film. It was over that period where you really do come to rely on the director (James Watkins), because after four days of running around the house looking scared, you have no idea what you're doing anymore.

"His whole philosophy is that if we don't need dialogue to tell a story, then let's not use it, which is is stark contrast to Harry Potter, where there's so many of those scenes where there's me, Emma and Rupert are all standing around telling each other information that we already know, just to remind the audience. So it's nice to not have that kind of pressure of exposition on you constantly."

The Woman in Black opens in Winnipeg Friday at the Polo Park, St. Vital and Towne cinemas.

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

Harry goes Hammer

11111Call it a shout-out referring specifically to the Hammer horror films of the '50s and '60s, when the British studio presented authentically English iterations of classic horror icons such as Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf Man and the Mummy.

Newly reconstituted as a production company, Hammer produced The Woman in Black and the 2010 chiller Let Me In.

And yes, even at the tender age of 22, Daniel Radcliffe is very much aware of the Hammer legacy.

"Dracula is the one I've seen," he says. "It was on TV a lot when I was a kid. I think I'm probably the last generation (to see them)."

Of course, the Hammer imprint on The Woman in Black suggests a whole new generation has yet to discover the gothic pleasures of the classic Hammer film. At least Radcliffe had an appreciation for the good old stuff. Christopher Lee, he says, may have been the best screen Dracula.

"But I was the only kid in my class who was a big Peter Cushing fan," he says of the actor who is probably most recognized in Star Wars Episode IV as the evil Grand Moff Tarkin. Cushing far more frequently played the hero in Hammer films, turning up again and again as Dracula's nemesis Van Helsing (and in a less heroic capacity as Baron Von Frankenstein).

"Everyone else loves Christopher Lee and wants to be Christopher Lee, but I wanted to be Peter Cushing," Radcliffe says. "There's no question that if the film was made in that era, he would have beaten me to this cast. I'm kind of honoured to be in a Peter Cushing role in a Hammer film."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 2, 2012 E12

History

Updated on Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 12:09 PM CST: Corrects photo caption.

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About Randall King

In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.

His dad was Winnipeg musician Jimmy King, a one-time columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press. One of his brothers is a playwright. Another is a singer-songwriter.

Randall has been content to cover the entertainment beat in one capacity or another since 1990.

His beat is film, and the job has placed him in the same room as diverse talents, from Martin Scorsese to Martin Short, from Julie Christie to Julia Styles. He has met three James Bonds (four if you count Woody Allen), and director Russ Meyer once told him: "I like your style."

He really likes his job.

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