Daniel Radcliffe: I’ve been naked with Richard Griffiths more times than with my ex-girlfriend!
Daniel Radcliffe takes on the role Arthur Kipps in the chilling screen adaption of ‘The Woman in Black’. He discusses what it’s like going from Harry to horror, how he’s moved on from more difficult times last year, and why he’s happy to get naked again for his craft.
The film isn’t just a horror story, it also deals with the issue of bereavement. How did you prepare for the role?
It was basically about giving yourself all the information you could. James [Watkins, the director] set me up with a bereavement counsellor. I had questions about my character – as his wife died during childbirth, what would the relationship with his son be like? Would there be resentment there? The answer was a very definitive yes. I also read a couple of books, one was ‘A Grief Observed’ by C S Lewis, and a book called ‘You’ll Get Over It’ by Virginia Ironside. Obviously I could never imagine myself in that person’s head, but it’s all about furnishing yourself with as much information that you can, in the hope that when you’re on set, it will inform the choices you make.
The Guardian dissected the trailer and criticised the typical horror clichés, do you feel there were any?
Er, well yeah I guess…who critiques a trailer?! What sad arse critiques a trailer? Um, ok. Fair enough. I suppose if you just take the trailer, there are going to be archetypal horror things in there, because we’re showing people it’s a horror film – idiot! [laughs] I guess they would have said the dolls, the music? Horror films by their nature tap into fundamental stuff that scares everybody; the dark, the unknown. There are quite a few jumps in the film, but generally speaking it isn’t really your standard horror. It’s slower paced. If you’re making a horror movie for a studio they say, “Right, we need a scare at minute seven, and then at minute sixteen.” Whereas this film just allows the story to be told and, as it unfolds, scary stuff happens. James’s great skill as a director, and one of the things he’s done brilliantly in this film, is to keep the audience in just a slight state of tension for the whole film, so when the jump-scare moments do pop up, they’re even more heightened.
Your godson plays your son in the film, so being a child star yourself doesn’t mean you’d advise against it?
Yes, that’s absolutely right. Obviously I’ve had a great experience of it. I was very nervous when he was on set though, because I was so keen for him to have a good time. And actually not just with Misha, but going right back to December Boys, when I did that little movie. I’m very protective of young kids on set because I had such a good experience and feel there’s no reason that they shouldn’t. I assume a double role of cheerleader and slapper-of-wrists because I’m also there to teach them what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour on a film set. I didn’t know that stuff as a kid, I needed someone to tell me. The kids in this film were great. They were in an adult film and they knew that. Knowing they wouldn’t be [legally old enough] to see it gave them a bit of a thrill.
Recently, Corey Feldman said that paedophilia is Hollywood’s biggest problem, were you ever aware of this issue?
‘No!’ is the very short answer. No, I haven’t at all. That has not been a problem in any of our lives. It’s also fair to say, that this is a different time. There was quite a rigorous screening process for the Harry Potter films.
There were lots of articles about you in the newspapers when you were growing up, putting the pressure on. Why did you decide to speak about your problems with drinking last year?
I spoke about it then because I thought, if I didn’t, someone else would eventually. There were enough people out there that knew what I’d been like and had seen me like that. Also, because I was moving out of it I could talk about it more comfortably, and be proud of myself for moving on. There is a certain amount of pressure to not screw up. It’s hard…there were obviously a lot of ‘child star’ articles. You try not to pay attention.
The thing that frustrates me about the child star argument, is that people only bring up Macaulay Culkin or Lindsay Lohan. No-one ever says Elijah Wood, or Jodie Foster, or Christian Bale, or Tobey Maguire. The list goes on but it’s just not as interesting to people.
I think it was always a pressure for us. Particularly for me because unfortunately that kind of behaviour is in my personality. I don’t want to be that person. I think I’m a fairly nice, well-mannered person. And drinking just turns me into a monster, a nightmare! I feel very relieved that I’m hopefully not going to let people down and screw up.
Were you worried about being typecast?
To a point. But I’ve done Equus, How to Succeed, this, and I’m about to play Allen Ginsberg so, so far, I haven’t been. Of course you worry, but I think the way of showing people that you’re not going to let that happen is by choosing interesting projects, taking risks, and showing people you’re serious about it.
You also frequently appear on rich lists – is it awkward with everyone discussing your finances?
It’s very strange. Because they wouldn’t ask anyone else. I think it’s because I’m young. There’s a fascination of, “Wow, what would I have done if I had the money at that age?” And, the truth is, I don’t really do anything with it! My mum looks after it, my mum and my accountant in Lee [South London]. They’re invested it very wisely, in properties and things that I don’t understand. Occasionally get a message saying, “Stamps! You’ve got to invest in stamps, that’s the new thing.” And I’m like, “OK, we’ll buy some stamps!”. I’ve invested most of it. It is an odd thing that people are fascinated by it, but I understand. I’m very grateful for the money, I feel amazingly lucky to have it. It’s something that I can’t quite comprehend. But it’s not the motivating factor in my life and it’s not the thing that drives me – probably because I have it, I realise – but I’m in a fortunate position where I don’t now have to work for the money and I can pick things I’m interested in. Gary Oldman says it’s called, “Fuck it money”!
You’ve already got your kit off once. Is it no-holds-barred now?
Yeah, I’m probably doing it again in Ginsburg too! I think there is some sort of gay love scene in there. The script’s already online so hopefully I’m not saying too much! But I’ve done it on stage now. I’ve been naked more in front of Richard Griffiths than I was with my ex-girlfriend!
Tagged in: Arthur Kipps, Daniel Radcliffe, film, harry potter, horror, James Watkins, Jane Goldman, Susan Hill, Woman in Black
Recent Posts on Arts
- Crowds at Lahore Lit Fest ignore bomb risks and raise hopes for Pakistan’s future
- Rolo Tomassi Interview: “It's comforting to know that we've not been treated as a novelty”
- Goblin's Claudio Simonetti on Profondo Rosso reaching the big 4-0
- Friday Book Design Blog: The Ecliptic, by Benjamin Wood
- Ask the Author: Vivian French
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter