From Harry Potter to Miracle Workers, Daniel Radcliffe dishes on Fame

From Harry Potter to Miracle Workers, Daniel Radcliffe dishes on Fame

From Harry Potter to Miracle Workers, Daniel Radcliffe dishes on Fame

Actor Daniel Radcliffe, who is now starring in the third season of the hilarious and clever anthology TV series Miracle Workers with Steve Buscemi, has experienced fame and notoriety like few others, except perhaps for music superstars.

Starting at age 11 when he began filming the Harry Potter series, about an orphaned boy enrolling in a school of wizardry, the actor filmed eight movies overall in the world-wide phenomenon. From 2001 to 2011, beginning with the Sorcerer’s Stone and ending with the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the movie series juggernaut has earned $7.7 billion in worldwide box office receipts.

That brought almost Beatles-like fame to English-born Radcliffe, who claims, “I got a big taste of what the Fab Four went through when they went abroad. I went to Japan when I was 12 to do my first international press tour. My parents went with me, and when we landed, thousands and thousands of screaming fans turned up at arrivals, which overwhelmed the security people. They were highly trained people being pushed around by six-year-old girls and their mothers. And, we had to wade through this mass of bodies to get to our car.”

Quite simply, there was no plan or blueprint to lean on and follow, so over the years, as Radcliffe grew up, he began using his own techniques to deal with the crushing weight of fame and fandom.  Radcliffe, now 32, and happy in his own skin, developed survival strategies from dealing with the likes of over-enthusiastic fans, and lurking professional autograph hunters to also countering the paparazzi.

Radcliffe now says of working with talented character actor Buscemi (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Fargo), “I’d find myself crying out loud with laughter when I was off the set watching Steve act, and doing that magical thing he does.”

In Miracle Workers: Oregon Trail, the third season of this anthology where the actors change up roles, Radcliffe and cast are transported to the American Old West. Set in the year 1844, the season follows an idealistic small-town preacher (Radcliffe) who teams up with a wanted outlaw (Buscemi) and an adventurous prairie wife (Geraldine Viswanathan) to lead a wagon train west on the Oregon Trail across an American landscape which is fraught with both promise and peril, much like today.

Radcliffe now says he feels the “most comfortable” when he is on the set, and talks to us about acting and also dealing with all the fame at such an early age, and the challenges that came with notoriety.


What’s your take on acting, now that you’ve been doing it professionally for 20 years?

Acting by its very nature is sort of embarrassing, like when you’re performing, having a full-blown emotional breakdown in front of the crew who really don’t care, because they’re busy with their own jobs. They don’t come to see you bawl or act, they’re just doing a day’s work as best as they can. But I always loved the work, and whenever the pressure got to me, I would go back to that basics. I always loved learning the lines, rehearsing with castmates, going to the set, there was never a point where I wished the wonderful world of storytelling hadn’t happened to me.

How did your parents guide you through the early years of Potter fame?

Laughter is good medicine. I was so young but my parents always had a sense of humour. And some absolutely bonkers things happened to our family. At first, the producers wanted to shoot in LA and my parents were like “no way!” But they handled things with humour like that melee of fans in Japan—when we finally made it to the car, my parents broke out laughing, saying, “Okay how ridiculous was that?!” And I looked at them, and they were handling it with laughs—"Yeah, it’s crazy and even a little scary but we’re here,” and I took it in stride like them.

How quickly did the whole thing take over your life?

I came in late to the series as Rupert Grint and Emma Watson had already done several auditions before me. I only did 5 or so auditions and then in a relatively quick time, they hired me. My first audition was in June/July, and we started filming in September. My parents were never pushy showbiz parents, but I can trace my success back to my parents’ persistence in reading the books to me and looking out for me.

How familiar did people out in normal day life act with you?  

People initially wanted to see what “Harry Potter” was like in the real world—does he dance, does he drink, can he shoot a ball? Like many others who are big in the public eye in the UK, I was scrutinized, and you’d find that some people would have a sense of ownership of you. They’d be way too familiar. Like so-called important people would say, “Come here, say hello to my best pal.” And they don’t even know you.

What effect did that have on you?

In my later teens, at the height of “Harry Potter,” I definitely struggled with going out to public places, perhaps feeling I was being watched, maybe it wasn’t that much but it felt like that. However, for a while, to avoid that scrutiny, I’d get really drunk, which defeats the purpose because you only get more paranoid, and then drink more to get over the increased paranoia.

How did you pull out of that spiral?

It took a few years, and a lot of work. But I was also lucky with having good people around me at important times, and got great advice from some actors and people outside the business, and they cared for me, which was key. Ultimately, it was my own decision, waking up hungover in some situation: Okay, this is not sustainable. And I just didn’t invite that chaos back into my life.

Did you feel guilt over having such success?

Sure, there’s the expectation put on you that you should be just so happy with all the fame and material trappings. That you have a great job others would die for, so you don’t have a right to be unhappy. And because there was no blueprint, if I was feeling a tad sad, does it mean I’m living this wrong? I’m not being good at being famous? I had all these things in my head, imagining stuff. So, I stopped Googling myself, because I was putting on appearances during my interviews. Even making stuff up. For a while, I had a neurotic way of dealing with fame and questions.

Okay, what anti-paparazzi strategies did you develop?

If you’re doing a play in London’s West End or on Broadway, photographers know you’ll be leaving the theatre at the same time every night. If they want to take photos of you tired, messy and pale, which is my default look, they can wait in the alley. But if I’m wearing the same basic clothes, it looks like the same night every time. So. there’s no more value in it. I am totally comfortable wearing the same pair of jeans and leather jacket for months on end, while a play runs.

That’s good, what else?

I had an anti-paparazzi jacket, and I’d wear it with a hood up, and at night if someone took a photo with a flash, it looked like a floating ghost in a hoodie! Really nothing they wanted, so they got bored and backed off.

How do you deal with those overly enthusiastic fans?

Luckily, I never felt threatened by Potter fans. But one thing that was unsettling was professional autograph hunters. Yes, they do exist, and they make money off it. But, it’s hilarious that people can make money off my handwriting, and that’s fine. Many go about it in a way that’s okay, not too intrusive, but there are others who will boo at young actors. I’ve had that done to me, but these days, there’s less chaos, and I actually have time to sign for them or even pose for selfies with fans. I’m in a happy place these days, especially when I’m working.

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  • Paul Stratford

    He will always be Harry Potter for me. Daniel Radcliffe is a phenomenal actor. He knows how to reinvent himself.

  • Ashley Jude Collie

    In reply to: Paul Stratford

    Thanks for commenting, Paul, his family helped keep him grounded. ;)

  • Cody Townsend

    It's incredible that some people are making money by selling autographs !

  • Ashley Jude Collie

    In reply to: Cody Townsend

    Cody, Daniel thinks it crazy people want to see his scrawl. I interview peeps all the time but have only asked for signed photos of maybe two or three peeps (one for my mum and the other for my young nephew). Personally, I don't save autographs. ;)

  • Neil Williams

    Must read... Brilliant interview...

  • Ashley Jude Collie

    In reply to: Neil Williams

    Thanks for reading, Neil, cheers! ;)

  • Neil Williams

    In reply to: Ashley Jude Collie

    You're welcome....

  • Daniel West

    He truly is one of the kindest and most intelligent celebrities

  • Ashley Jude Collie

    In reply to: Daniel West

    Daniel, yes he is. Thanks for reading. I do find that most interviewees treat me with respect, as I do them. Cheers ;)

  • Daniel West

    In reply to: Ashley Jude Collie

    Good to know

  • James Reid

    Excellent interview

  • Ashley Jude Collie

    In reply to: James Reid

    Much appreciate it, James. Cheers! ;)

  • Alex Carjan

    Harry Potter always makes me smile when I'm down

  • Ashley Jude Collie

    In reply to: Alex Carjan

    Alex, did you also read the books? ;)

  • Alex Carjan

    In reply to: Ashley Jude Collie

    Yes I did, still have them at home

  • Dom Morrison

    All his projects are honestly amazing. Daniel knows and understands the entirety of the human condition and that's just fantastic.

  • Jake McAvoy

    Radcliffe is a legend for performing this masterpiece character (Harry Potter).

  • Ashley Jude Collie

    In reply to: Jake McAvoy

    Jake, he's played an unforgettable character. legendary, even. ;)

  • Andrew Leighton

    Thank you for this interview

  • Ashley Jude Collie

    In reply to: Andrew Leighton

    Cheers, Andrew, much appreciated. ;)

  • Roy Tappenden

    Inspirational !!

  • Ashley Jude Collie

    In reply to: Roy Tappenden

    Glad you enjoyed it, Roy. Cheers ;)

  • Luke Emerick

    I wanna meet him. As a Potter fan, I absolutely adore him.

  • Ashley Jude Collie

    In reply to: Luke Emerick

    Try to find if he's doing a play near you, and catch him at the exit door, just be polite. ;)

  • Luke Emerick

    In reply to: Ashley Jude Collie

    I'll try to catch him

  • Tom Valentine

    Daniel is one of the only actors I could watch and know I would not be disappointed.

  • Ashley Jude Collie

    In reply to: Tom Valentine

    Tom, have you seen Miracle Workers? cheers ;)

  • Tom Valentine

    In reply to: Ashley Jude Collie

    I watched the first two seasons

  • Wayne Fox

    He's profoundly insightful and wise.

  • Ashley Jude Collie

    In reply to: Wayne Fox

    Wayne, he tells a story of someone throwing an "owl" onstage when he was doing Equus, and after the show, JK Rowling's first words to him were, "I threw it." What an ice-breaker!

  • Andy Hunt

    Simply priceless !! Radcliffe is such a good guy.

  • Ashley Jude Collie

    In reply to: Andy Hunt

    Thanks for commenting, Andy. ;)

  • Leon Kerman

    I respect the level of effort he puts into his craft and what he brings to the big screen.

  • Ashley Jude Collie

    In reply to: Leon Kerman

    Leon, he's a true professional. Thanks for commenting. cheers/Ashley ;)

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Ashley Jude Collie

Entertainment Expert

Ashley is an award-winning journalist/author/blogger who has written for Playboy, Toronto Star, Movie Entertainment, Sports Illustrated, Maclean's and others. He's interviewed various "leaders" in their fields, including: Oscar winners (Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Lawrence, Alicia Vikander, Jane Fonda, Mira Sorvino, Geena Davis, Anthony Hopkins); Grammy winners (Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Ice Cube, Pete Townshend); MVPs in sports (Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Wayne Gretzky, Kobe Bryant); and, business leaders (Amazon's Jeff Bezos). He has an upcoming novel, REJEX, coming out on Pulp Hero Press. And he has written several episodic TV shows, appeared on CNN, and blogged for Mademan, Medium, GritDaily and HuffPost.

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