12 Jul 2011

Daniel Radcliffe's world is a stage apart from Harry Potter

Harry Potter star tries and succeeds on Broadway

NEW YORK - The Broadway show must go on for Daniel Radcliffe.

In recent interviews with the British media, Radcliffe offered his farewells to the Harry Potter franchise and praised co-star Alan Rickman as an Oscar contender for his role as Severus Snape in the final film. But Radcliffe was missing in action during weekend interviews promoting Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, which opens to a great deal of anticipation on July 15.

While mates Emma Watson and Rupert Grint were getting nostalgic over the David Yates-directed Potter finale at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Radcliffe was singing, dancing and emoting 15 blocks away at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

The Tony-nominated musical, which Watson and Grint caught on Saturday night, has been playing to sold-out shows since opening on Broadway in March with Harry Potter's alter ego playing the ambitious J. Pierrepont Finch.

"Dan is so ballsy, just amazing," said Watson, who plays Hermione opposite Radcliffe's Harry and Grint's Ron in the Potter films.

Would Watson like to give it a try? "I would love to do something on Broadway," she said. "I love to sing, but I think I would need to pluck up some more courage."

Grint was impressed with his buddy's abilities on stage, as well. But he's sure that he will stick to film work.

In an earlier video conference with British newspapers, Radcliffe had high praise for his longtime friends performances in Deathly Hallows: Part 2, but singled out Rickman's turn as the tormented Professor Severus Snape.

"I think he (Rickman) should get nominations for best supporting actor because it's so touching and beautiful what he does," said Radcliffe. "I'm really thrilled to share the screen with him."

Potter also called the final instalment of the series "light years" ahead of the rest and said he'd miss certain perks of playing the famous boy wizard.

"I will miss getting to do some of the stuff I get to do as Harry," he said. "I'm not naturally an action hero so it's kind of a gift for a young actor. I got to do a 40 foot free-fall when I was 14! I got to burst out of the water surrounded by a ring of fire! I will never get to do that again."

Meanwhile, the five-foot-six actor is resigned to the fact that he's not the sex symbol Twilight's Robert Pattinson has become (since his cameo as Cedric Diggory in the fourth film, Goblet of Fire).

"There's more of a sexual energy behind Twilight fans," Radcliffe told the British edition of GQ. "Because people have mostly grown up with me, they tend to think of me as an older brother kind of figure."

Sexy or not, he does confess in the magazine that he's dating (Potter Producer David Heyman's stepdaughter Olive Uniacke). "She's just really, really cool and lovely and sane, which is what I'm after."

The 21-year-old Radcliffe was just nine when he was selected from thousands of other hopefuls to star as the boy wizard in 2001's The Philosopher's Stone.

He matured with millions of other fans in the eight films, based on the seven best-selling books by J.K. Rowling. The franchise will likely set worldwide box-office records, potentially earning an estimated $7.5 billion US theatrically.

Promoting Deathly Hallows: Part 1 in London last November, Radcliffe had already moved on, focusing his energies on the How to Succeed musical.

At the time, he said he was confident that his singing would be adequate enough for the Broadway production but he had concerns about his ability to dance.

"Dancing is something that I've never done before," said Radcliffe. "Generally, I've been doing about nine hours a week of (dance) training, so if I screw up it's not through lack of trying."

Based on most reviews of the musical, he hasn't. The Potter cast and crew, who know him intimately, aren't surprised.

Potter director Yates said that his headliner is as single-minded as he is earnest to challenge himself.

"Dan wants to prove he can go beyond the world of Potter," said Yates. "He's desperate to prove there is so much more to him and he has the workaholic appetite, and the ambition, to do just that."

Wisely, Radcliffe had been preparing himself, and fans, for his post-Potter phase long before the Deathly Hallows finale.

He was at his cheeky best playing an over-sexed version of himself in a well-received 2006 episode of the Ricky Gervais' series Extras.

The next year he managed the demanding portrayal of a dysfunctional orphan in the independent feature December Boys, and he starred in My Boy Jack, a TV biopic about Rudyard Kipling's son.

Bravely, he took a huge risk with his occasionally nude role in the 2007 West End revival of the play, Equus, earning the tabloid moniker of "Dirty Harry."

Ironically, that performance led to his gig in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

"It was bizarre," said Radcliffe. "It came about because Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, the producers of How To Succeed, came backstage after Equus one night, They said, 'You can sing.' I said, 'Well, I can sing the Milky Bar theme to you,'" Radcliffe told them, referring to a funny moment in Equus.

Still, Radcliffe wasn't convinced he could handle the lead in such a demanding musical, especially on Broadway.

"It's a testament to their persistence," he said of the producers. "Gradually, I started falling in love with it and now I can't imagine myself doing any other thing as my first musical."


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