Daniel Radcliffe Interview

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Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe returns to his conjuring roots in Now You See Me 2, but this time he plays the villain.

Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe makes a return to his conjuring roots in Now You See Me 2, but this time he plays a villain. We caught up with him and chatted about theatre, character acting and playing Michael Caine's son.

"I felt like I was fulfilling a rite of passage by playing a British bad guy,” explains actor Daniel Radcliffe in his role as duplicitous tech entrepreneur Walter Mabry in Now You See Me 2. A follow up to 2013’s Now You See Me, the film is a thrilling crime heist which sees Mark Ruffalo and Jesse Eisenberg reprise their roles as the sensational magicians who appear to take money from the rich and give it to the poor, and Michael Caine as the insurance magnate intent on stopping them.

Having spent the best part of his adult career trying to get away from playing a wide-eyed teenage wizard it may come as a surprise to see him star in a film about magic, but Radcliffe delights as the spoilt Mabry whose magician prowess leaves a lot to be desired, and besides, the opportunity to play Michael Caine’s onscreen son was simply one he couldn’t refuse.

“Michael was someone who, having grown up in the British film industry, you hear so much about from people who have worked with him. There's a tremendous amount of respect for his work ethic and how he is on set. At a young age that makes an impression and you say, ‘I want to be like that!’” explains the 26-year-old. “He was constantly telling us stories and joking with us and it's inspiring to work with someone who is such a legend and still enjoys his work so much.”

Born in Fulham, it’s not surprising that Radcliffe cites fellow Londoner Caine as one of his greatest heroes, but unlike Caine, who got his big break aged 30, Radcliffe was only 11 when he was thrust into the worlds gaze in the blockbuster Harry Potter franchise. Playing such an iconic character it was hard to fathom if he would be able to make the leap to serious actor, but through his bold and often quirky choices the star has successfully carved his own path away from Hogwarts.

“It's much easier now,” he explains. “At the beginning the attention seems wonderful and in my case I was very young and it took me time to adjust to everything. I'm glad that I was living in England and not in Los Angeles during that time because it's such a competitive environment and the pressure can have a very negative effect.”

One of his boldest decisions was to appear naked in Peter Shaffer’s play Equus at the height of Potter mania. Staged in the West End’s Gielgud Theatre, Radcliffe wooed audiences as lead protagonist Alan Strang, a young man with an unhealthy obsession with horses. For the young star the opportunity to act on stage is less about silencing his critics and more about sating his hunger for live performance, a platform he said he’ll ‘always keep coming back to.’

This July will see him appear in off-Broadway play Privacy at New York’s Public Theatre which explores the implications of technology for personal information. Inspired by Edward Snowden’s government surveillance revelations, the play is a collaboration with London’s legendary Donmar theatre and hopes are high that it will eventually make its way to the West End. This year will also see the release of Swiss Army Man, a surreal daydream of a film that co-stars Paul Dano and is already garnering a reputation as Daniel Radcliffe’s ‘flatulent corpse film.’ Radcliffe is keen to dismiss the idea that his choosing of diverse roles is a strategy to prove himself as a serious actor, saying:

“I like playing different kinds of characters but I mainly choose my films on the basis of what I think is going to make me happy and whether a role is going to satisfy me from a creative point of view. This is a business where actors can only control the work they do and define the characters we play.”

The greatest magic trick of all appears to have been his ability to rise from the fever of Harry Potter and remain so level headed both in his private life and in his career, but Radcliffe remains typically unfazed by the furore, saying: “I never saw it as a contradiction or a problem for me to be proud of the work on the films that gave me my start in this business and which have opened up so many opportunities for me afterwards.”

Now You See Me 2 is out in cinemas now.