He’s helped make the mega-budgeted Harry Potter movies the highest-grossing franchise in history. But two years ago, Daniel Radcliffe took a stab at shaking up his screen image by accepting a role in a teeny-tiny Australian indie movie, December Boys (which just opened in New York and L.A.).
Radcliffe plays Maps, an orphaned lad from the Outback sent with three fellow orphans to have a summer holiday in a seaside town, circa the early 1960s. Maps is the responsible eldest kid in the quartet, but away from the nuns, he lets loose. He learns to drink and smoke, and catches the eye of a local lass (Teresa Palmer), leading to a deflowering scene way beyond that chaste kiss with Cho Chang in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. (It’s semi-explicit PG-13 stuff, which prompted Variety to dub December Boys, ”Harry Potter Gets Laid.”) EW.com caught up with Radcliffe to talk about Boys, just as he began filming on a TV movie, My Boy Jack, in Ireland last month.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This character, Maps, is nothing like Harry Potter!
DANIEL RADCLIFFE: I needed just to prove to myself that I could absolutely go off and do something else. The question I get asked a lot is about being stereotyped as Harry, or rather typecast. I never thought of that as being an option for myself, but I totally understood why people would ask it. So thought it would make a lot more sense to start doing different things before [the] Harry Potter [films] ended, sort of in conjunction with them, rather than waiting till they’re all done and then trying to break away.
That’s what made you take that flashy stage role in Equus last winter in London as well, right? You got a lot of attention for doing good work — but also for being stark naked onstage.
If you can do something like Equus, that has a much different, more grown-up audience, I think that shows people you really want to try out different things. It makes them take you more seriously.
And yet, way before Equus, you did December Boys — even though we’re only seeing it now.
I don’t think I would’ve been able to give the performance I gave in Equus or in Harry Potter 5 had I not been in December Boys. It really helped my confidence. Because suddenly I was working with a different crew. There was nobody in the crew or cast who was connected to Harry Potter.
Was that daunting at first?
Pretty nerve-wracking. I’d been doing the Harry Potter films for about four or five years uninterrupted at that stage. And, obviously, people make assumptions. The child-star label is brought up. And so I was worried that people [on December Boys] would be thinking, Oh God, what’s he going to be like? when I was walking onto the set the first day. I was quite nervous about going up against that stereotype. But, luckily, I’m not that person, so they were very, very accepting of me. Because I wasn’t being horrible and throwing things.
Is the character you play in December Boys English or Australian?
Australian. I had accent lessons with a woman called Kate Godfrey, who’s fantastic. It’s a very easy accent to caricature, but not to do accurately. We filmed in Adelaide, Australia, and a lot of people have said to me, ”Oh, it’s a very Adelaide accent.” Personally, I can’t tell the difference between an accent from Adelaide and an accent from Sydney or Melbourne or Brisbane. But in Australia they can. So, hopefully it’ll go down fairly well.
And you shot it back in 2005?
In between Potters 4 and 5. But I’m losing track of the time in my own life at the moment. I now sometimes have to work to remember exactly when I did Equus. Because so many journalists came up to me and asked, ”Do you think Equus helped you in making Harry Potter 5?” I found myself eventually saying, ”Yes.” And then I’d catch myself — Wait, I did Equus after Harry Potter 5. But yes, December Boys was directly after Harry Potter 4 finished.
NEXT PAGE: ”I did get very, very giggly. There were points where I was laughing because it seemed so surreal.”