Born Daniel Jacob Radcliffe, July 23, 1989, in Fulham, England; son of Alan Radcliffe (a literary agent) and Marcia Gresham (a casting agent).
Addresses: Contact —ICM, 4-6 Soho Square, London, W1D 3PZ, England. Home —London, England.
Actor in films, including: The Tailor of Panama , 2001; Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone , 2001; Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets , 2002; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban , 2004; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire , 2005; December Boys , 2007; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix , 2007. Television movie appearances include: David Copperfield , 1999. Stage appearances include: Equus , Gielgud Theater, London, February-June 2007.
Awards: Golden Apple Awards, Hollywood Women's Press Club, 2001; Youth Major Discovery of the Year, 2001; Time for Kids , Person of the Year, 2002; ITV 2004 Celebrity Awards, Young Celebrity of the Year, September 2004.
In 2001, a little-known British lad named Daniel Radcliffe brought the famed fictional child sorcerer Harry Potter to the big screen and instantly became one of the world's most recognizable faces. Thousands of children from around the globe vied for the coveted role, hoping to play the young bespectacled wizard made famous by British author J. K. Rowling. With Radcliffe in the title role, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was an international box-office smash, ranking as the second-highest overseas earner in history behind 1997's Titanic . By 2007, Radcliffe had portrayed Harry in five installments of the series and had become Britain's richest teenager.
An only child, Daniel Jacob Radcliffe was born on July 23, 1989, in Fulham, England. His father, Alan, studied at the Guildford School of Acting. Alan Radcliffe worked as a literary agent, but quit the profession after his son became involved with Harry Potter and needed a full-time chaperone. Radcliffe's mother, Marcia, has worked as a casting agent for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
When Radcliffe was about five years old, he expressed a desire to act. One of his first roles was playing a dancing monkey in a school play. Radcliffe got his first big break in 1999, when he landed the role of young David Copperfield in a BBC adaptation of the famed Charles Dickens book. When Sorcerer's Stone director Chris Columbus saw the Copperfield video, he had a feeling Radcliffe might be perfect for the lead role in the upcoming Harry Potter film he was directing. Radcliffe, however, had to audition for the role and, as a novice who had never been to stage school, the task seemed daunting. He was nervous but nailed the part. "The process was intense and at times we felt we'd never find an individual who embodied the complex spirit and depth of Harry Potter," Columbus told the Daily Mirror . "Then Dan walked into the room and we all knew we'd found Harry."
Radcliffe, himself, was shocked when he learned he had been cast in the role and would play Potter as he matriculated through the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Speaking to the Daily Mirror , Radcliffe recalled the surreal moment the casting call came; he was soaking in the bathtub. "My dad … picked up the phone in the kitchen. He said, 'Right … OK … Yes.' Then he came up a few minutes later and told me I was going to play Harry Potter. We all cried. Later that night I woke up at 2:30 a.m. and had to go in and wake my dad to ask him if it was a dream." Incidentally, Radcliffe's parents had been reluctant to let their son vie for the role. Initially, Warner Brothers wanted a contract for all seven movies, with filming in the United States. Eventually, Warner Brothers offered Radcliffe a contract for just two movies, with filming to be completed in England.
The first day of filming nearly unnerved the eleven-year-old Radcliffe. As reported in the Guardian , Radcliffe discussed his unease by noting, "I'd only rehearsed with maybe eleven people in a room. I'd done a read-through, but that was different. I got the call sheet and it said there was me, Rupert [Grint] and Emma [Watson], and I thought, 'That's not too bad at all.' I turned over the sheet and there it was, 150 extras, and that really made me nervous." Besides performing his lines, Radcliffe also had to do stuntwork for the film. His favorite feat in this film involved a scene in which he dangled, 22 feet in the air, from a broomstick.
Released in November of 2001, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone outpaced all box-office expectations, earning some $117 million its first six days in the theater. Warner Brothers distribution president Dan Fellman could not have been more pleased. "Harry Potter has taken on a life of its own," he told Rick Lyman of the New York Times . "We're getting a tremendous amount of repeat business, and it's drawing in everyone, ages 8 to 80. The whole thing is working out great."
Radcliffe, naturally, was brought back for the next four installments. Each film took about eleven months to shoot. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets , released in 2002, was based on Rowling's second book in the series. Darker and edgier, this film followed Harry through his second year at Hogwarts during a time in which a sinister force was threatening the students. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban followed in 2004. This film covered Harry's third year at Hogwarts during which he learns his life is in danger. As the story unfolds, viewers learn that Sirius Black, a trusted aide to Harry's archenemy Lord Voldemort, has escaped from prison and wants to kill Harry. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire came out in 2005. This film took viewers deeper into the dark world of wizardry as Harry competed in the Triwizard Tournament.
The latter film—directed by Mike Newell who did Four Weddings and a Funeral —was more of a thriller than previous installments in the series. In this film Harry finds out that his archenemy, Lord Volde-mort—played by Ralph Fiennes—will be returning. Lord Voldemort is the villain who killed Harry's parents at the start of the series. The movie, fraught with scary sequences, garnered a PG-13 rating. Radcliffe himself got spooked during production while shooting a scene where Harry wrestles a dragon and falls from 50 feet. "You try not to think about it," Radcliffe told Grant Rollings of the Sun . "You are falling so fast that your mind does not have the time to catch up with your body. Everyone knew I was terrified because I was going 'Aarrgghh.'" The film also included an extended underwater scene, which was tough on Radcliffe, a poor swimmer. For Radcliffe, there was only one disappointment in the film—he did not get to kiss co-star Katie Leung, who plays fellow student Cho Chang. Harry's coming-of-age kiss, with Leung, was set for the next film.
In 2005, Radcliffe found time to make a film outside the Harry Potter franchise when he traveled to Australia to shoot December Boys . In this low-budget film, Radcliffe plays an orphan named Maps who vies for the attention of a prospective adoptive family. The film was set for release in the fall of 2007 and marked Radcliffe's first attempt to forge a new on-screen identity.
Radcliffe created a stir in 2007 when he hit the London stage in a production of Peter Shaffer's Equus , which had been controversial during its last major run on Broadway during the 1970s. The play won a Tony Award in 1975 but had not been featured in any major productions since then. In the play, Radcliffe inhabits a character nothing like the upright, boyish Harry. Instead, Radcliffe plays a disturbed young stablehand named Alan Strang who muti- lates horses with a hoof pick in a moment of madness. Aside from the violence, Radcliffe's character appears naked, smokes, and has sex. Before the play opened, it was rumored that Warner Brothers worried about the effect the role would have on the future of the Harry Potter series. The promotions for the play featured Radcliffe's buff, on-the-verge-of-manhood torso, naked almost to the groin. Radcliffe, however, was eager to prove he could take on other roles.
By all accounts, Radcliffe was successful in this attempt to craft another persona for himself. According to the New York Times , London newspaperman Charles Spencer wrote, "Daniel Radcliffe brilliantly succeeds in throwing off the mantle of Harry Potter, announcing himself as a thrilling stage actor of unexpected depth and range." The play, with sold-out crowds, received good reviews and there was talk of moving it to Broadway. Some of the audience members, however, had trouble separating Radcliffe from Harry. "We're all kind of freaked out about seeing his—well, him naked," Erin Tobin told the New York Times ' Sarah Lyall. "I still think of him as an eleven-year-old boy."
The year 2007 was a busy one for the Potter franchise. In July, Rowling was scheduled to release the seventh and final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows . Radcliffe has said publicly that he hopes Harry—and Lord Voldemort—are killed off in the book. In addition, the fifth fantasy adventure movie in the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix , was also scheduled for a July release. It was to be released in conventional theaters and on IMAX. This film tracks Harry's fifth year at school as he attempts to warn everyone of Voldemort's return. Radcliffe was to earn more than $12 million for this film, directed by David Yates. David Heyman, producer of the Potter films, says the seventh—and final film in the series—will be completed in 2010, when Radcliffe is about 20. He will have spent nine years playing Harry Potter.
When Radcliffe is not busy filming, he likes to play bass guitar. He was taught by co-star Gary Oldman, who played Sirius Black in the Potter films. Radcliffe also likes to buy CDs and has said he is obsessed with music. He absolutely does not care for pop music.
For the most part, Radcliffe's rise to stardom has been pretty smooth. There have been a few incidents, however, with crazed fans. At the 2005 premier of Goblet of Fire , one girl followed Radcliffe's limousine all over Manhattan, then tried to climb in a window when the limo stopped at a traffic light. Another girl waited for him dressed in just a towel. Yet another female fan trailed him with a banner that read, "Mrs. Radcliffe here."
Despite these few confrontations, Radcliffe feels relatively safe and only travels with bodyguards at premieres. "I know there are people who are slightly obsessed, but it doesn't really worry me too much," Radcliffe told the Houston Chronicle 's Ron Dicker. "Occasionally you meet someone slightly worrying, but I never really feel in danger."
After Radcliffe earned the role of Harry Potter, his parents set up a company, called Gilmore Jacobs, to oversee Radcliffe's money. Philip Beresford, who compiles the Sunday Times Rich List, told the Independent on Sunday that Radcliffe was very wealthy. "I've never seen such profitable accounts for someone so young. I would not be surprised if he enters adulthood with pounds 20m in the bank, with all his taxes paid." That is roughly 39 million U.S. dollars.
When the Potter series is over, Radcliffe will likely go on acting, he told the BBC's Jonathan Trout. "I've got loads of other things that I'm interested in, like music, but I do love acting, and it is something that I want to go on and do. I suppose we'll have to see what happens."
Daily Mirror (London, England), October 20, 2001.
Guardian (London, England), December 1, 2001.
Houston Chronicle , November 16, 2005, sec. Star, p. 1.
Independent on Sunday (London, England), March 4, 2007.
New York Times , November 23, 2001, sec. Movies, p. 3; March 7, 2007, sec. The Arts, p. 1.
Sun (London, England), October 27, 2005, sec. Features, p. 36.
Toronto Star , February 17, 2007, p. H3.
"Interviews: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint," BBC, 2004. Transcript available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2004/06/01/daniel_radcliffe_emma_watson_rupert_grint_azkaban_interview.shtml .