Welcome to Daniel Radcliffe's world
The actor who plays Harry Potter keeps his feet on the ground, despite newfound fame
LONDON — Robbie Coltrane, who plays Hagrid the giant groundskeeper in "Harry Potter," was chasing barely 5 ft. Daniel Radcliffe. Wearing a 65-pound leather jacket and 20-pound platform shoes, Coltrane was in "slow" pursuit of the whippet-fast boy.
Radcliffe, the youngster selected from literally thousands of hopefuls to play the hero of J.K. Rowling's bestseller, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," on screen, was being a normal 12-year-old boy. When he wasn't before the camera, he managed to have plenty of fun.
As he told me, "Everyone on the set has a mobile phone, and I found by pushing a few buttons, they could be programmed into different languages. I fixed Robbie's to speak in Turkish." Hence the pursuit.
The youngster has already begun filming the second book, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," so he had some perspective in explaining how he had become one of the most recognized youngsters in Great Britain.
Putting aside his spectacles, which were plain glass but coated not to reflect the movie lights, he explained: "I went to see the play 'Stones in His Pockets' with my mom and dad. In the row in front of us were two men who knew my dad."
The men kept turning around and looking at young Daniel. At intermission, they talked with his dad. His father was a literary agent and his mom a casting director. They were acquaintances of David Heyman, the producer of "Harry Potter," and screenwriter Steven Kloves ("Wonder Boys").
"I didn't know who they were," Radcliffe says, "but my dad asked if I'd like to go to the studio and have lunch with them."
Radcliffe had appeared as David Copperfield in a BBC production, and loved doing it. "I had lunch at the studio and saw the sets they were building for Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and had so much fun.
"[The interview] went really well, and they asked me to come back and audition for 'Harry Potter.' I did three screen tests. The next day after the third test, the phone rang. I was in the bath when my dad came in and said they'd called [to tell me] I was Harry Potter. I was so happy, I cried."
At 2 a.m. the next morning, he woke up his parents to ask if it was a dream. They assured him, it was real.
"My best friend at school, Alex Berman, is a fanatic about Harry Potter," Radcliffe says. "I believe he's read the fourth book six or eight times, which is pretty impressive. Almost every night after the movie started, we'd talk on the phone, and I'd tell him what scenes we had filmed."
Radcliffe's main objective was to keep his feet on the ground and not get big- headed.
"I think I've succeeded in that, and I'm proud I'm still me. My parents didn't give me any advice, so much as just being there. They are amazing: so good, so supportive. They've just been with me every step of the way."
His dad has put his own job as a literary agent on hold, and he serves as his son's chaperon.
So, how is Radcliffe doing since finishing "Harry Potter"? He's attended the première of the movie in London, he's withstood a media blitz in his first trip to New York, he's grown two inches, his voice has lowered, and he's done three scenes so far in the filming of the second book.
Oh, yes - he's also hidden a frog in one of Coltrane's boots.