The story of Daniel Radcliffe |


The story of Daniel Radcliffe

How an 11-year-old kid became The Boy Who Lived

(Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)

The first scene Daniel Radcliffe ever shot as Harry Potter was the very last scene in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It was Oct. 2, 2000, in Goathland, England, a tiny village whose quaint railway stop doubled as Hogsmeade Station. For his first day wearing the boy wizard’s glasses and lightning-bolt scar, the 11-year-old Londoner had to board the Hogwarts Express alongside Rupert Grint and Emma Watson. Radcliffe was no stranger to movie sets; he had just made David Copperfield and The Tailor of Panama. And yet his previous experience could not prepare him for the moment when he saw a mob of extras — 150 kids, all dressed in Hogwarts robes — staring in their direction. In that instant, Radcliffe says he felt most unmagical. ”I remember everyone looking at us and going, ‘Oh my God. That’s him,”’ recalls the actor, who turns 22 this month. ”I was a kid, among other kids. To be ‘special’ just because I had been picked for this part was just…bizarre.”

Radcliffe is still very much a humble lad, though he’s earned the right to feel distinguished. Emphasis on the word earned. The Harry Potter films brought Radcliffe fame and riches. But what’s remarkable is how he used his decade of playing Harry to stretch as a person and as an actor. His defining memories of the franchise aren’t about filming Quidditch scenes or kissing Bonnie Wright. Instead, he remembers how Alfonso Cuarón instilled in him a passion for cinema, or the time Gary Oldman taught him the bass line to the Beatles’ ”Come Together.” In 2007, Radcliffe spent his break between Potter films laying himself bare — emotionally and physically — in an acclaimed London stage revival of Equus. (He brought the play to Broadway in 2008.) ”We were so proud of Dan,” says Potter producer David Barron. ”He has such a huge appetite to learn and grow. It was the same kind of pride as watching your own children flourish.”