I’m Off to See the Wizard, Daniel Radcliffe

Daniel Radcliffe and Jenna Bensoussan

What do you do when you are standing in a room preparing to interview Daniel Radcliffe? Nothing – there’s no time… at least there wasn’t for me, as he rushed in the room and immediately came over to give me a warm, welcoming hug. And of course you know what happens after that… it’s time for tea. Ok, Ok… I admit it – I had the tea. He had the Diet Coke.

We did things a little different for this interview to make it a bit more fun. I printed out the Facts page from DanRadcliffe.com for him to sort through and mark up as we chatted about various other things. This proved to have quite an interesting effect on our overall conversation!

Where to begin… ah yes, well – might as well start with the Facts page since it has already been aforementioned. While Dan and I were sorting out all of the entries for this, Dan checked to make sure that I had taken wrestling and Pokemon off of his list of interests as he out grew them a while back… (I actually took those down about 2 years ago…). He is still into the Simpsons though, so that is a keeper.
What else, ah yes – the bands… There are a few that have since dropped off his radar: the Thrills, Jet, and Darkness. Jet has dwindled due to his new reverence for the Rolling Stones (applause), although the other two bands… who can say really… I took them off my list a while ago as well.

On to the “favorite hockey team.” Yes – we’ve always known he picked a random name from a video game, but never the reasoning behind it. Dan explains, ” I had this video game and I literally picked one that I liked the name of. I’ve always liked the animal coyote in all the wildlife programs we used to watch. I always used to watch the ones about wolves and coyotes and that sort of thing so I picked them!”

Now, here is where Dan and I devised a plan to confuse all of you… NO! Only joking!! It wasn’t REALLY on purpose… I swear… Basically though, while we were talking about the Facts page we also went on with a second conversation and then had something like three conversations all about different things going on all at once… (Hence the reason for not posting up the full audio… you’d be lost). I will try to break this up and make this as painless as possible for all of you. First – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire…

Dan talked a little about one of the scenes shot in the maze, describing Mike Newell’s very enthusiastic directorial approach. “There was one scene where Mike wanted to show me how to do this bit… it was very physical, but it was something where I’m on the ground and I’m trying to keep out of the way of spells that are flying over me and so he, Mike, gets on the ground and flails around a bit trying to show me what to do. So he did that, and there’s this scene where the Phelps twins have to fight each other and Mike got down with one of the Phelps twins and sort of wrestled him. He’s a hands-on director, definitely.”

Another thing we discussed about GOF was the Prefect’s Bath scene. Dan recalls how things went on set, “I haven’t actually seen the bit… because basically I sort of come in with this dressing gown on and in theory I’m naked underneath. I actually had a pair of flesh-colored underwear on which was just like really something you’d never want to wear! I won’t say who made them, but a really sort of popular fashion label was making these flesh-colored underwear.”

Dan was asked if the scene’s costume-wear was boxers, and he replied, “No no, not boxers, they look like these kind of swimming trunks type thing, underwear, and it’s the sort of thing that… I really can’t see anyone wanting to wear them! And I sort of just get in, and I’ve not actually seen the bit where you see me with my top half undressed… but I’ve seen the bit after that where I’m just in the bath. It is very funny with Moaning Myrtle. It’s a really good scene, but I’m sort of a bit nervous about seeing that in the cinema.” (Listen to audio clip).

After putting Dan in the hot seat about the ever-popular Prefect Bath scene from the Goblet of Fire, I decided to give him a little break and we made our way back to the Facts page. Books- a few new ones to add to his favorites: Germinal by Emile Zola and The War of Don Emmanuels Nether Parts by Louis De Bernieres.

Dan tells us a bit about Germinal, “It’s fantastic, it’s about a mining community in Northern France and it’s just about the struggle between the workers and the owners of the land. What’s great about it is that it’s not saying that the workers are right and the management’s wrong or the management’s right and the workers are wrong. It’s the nature of the tragedy that it’s two rights that are doing battle and that’s what it is because neither of them are wrong. It’s just a situation where no one can do anything to help the situation and it’s a really moving book. It’s after the French Revolution and… and this as well I loved (Dan was writing The War of Don Emmanuels Nether Parts on the Facts page at that point)…”

Dan turned sixteen over the summer, which means he could in fact work more hours on set, but instead has decided against it, “While I am doing the Harry Potter films, because I am there pretty much every day, I think I’m going to keep to the same hours which is really really good.”

Why not work more hours? Well, because Dan started his AS Levels this year after doing quite well on his GCSE exams. Dan will be focusing on English Literature, History, and Religion and Philosophy this term. Why Religion and Philosophy?

“It’s just because I’ve always liked subjects that are thinking subjects. When you do math, it’s like “two and two is four”, “three and two is five” and they tell you the answers whereas in philosophy, the question is not “what is two plus two?” but the question is “what is two?” It’s all about what things actually are and mean and reality and it’s interesting to me because you can form your own opinions on it.”

Of course once you listen to the clip you’ll see we started going off on a philosophical tangent since I am taking that this year in school as well… I went on and he went on… and then we ended up somewhere around the point of the Philosophical Kings and Dan’s description of what AS Levels are… really…

“Yes! Because of the Philosopher Kings and stuff, I’m learning about that as well and it’s really fascinating, it’s great, because from where we are now, I can sit there and absolutely encourage you to completely dissect and really be critical of all these philosophers, which is a great position to be in, to actually have… because when you do ‘AS’ Levels, it’s more like when you do your GCSEs it’s much more like you’re doing these subjects, you need to pass them and you need to get into the next year’s school; whereas in this level, in ‘AS’ Level, it’s much more… you can just sit around and really think about it and form your own opinions. It’s not the same, it’s a completely sort of different way of working where you’ve got a lot more responsibility, the teacher says “Right, we’ll give you this work, go off and do it your own way” and so there’s a lot more responsibility which I’m actually sort of enjoying. I always thought I’d be really bad at the responsibility thing but I’m actually… Candy, Mars Bar, yeah that’s never gonna change…!”

Yea – at the end there we had sort of shifted back to the facts page… Mars Bars will now and forever be his favorite chocolate bar!!! After adding a couple more countries to those he had visited he went on to tell me about his experience in Turkey when he was five years old. “It was great, actually, it was really cool… A kid tried to drown me! I was young, about five. And this other boy was about five. He held my head under the water and I was going “No, this isn’t fun any more!” and I had to sort of struggle to get up again. But I was fine afterwards.” Ok, just to clarify – we weren’t really laughing at him, we were laughing with him…

Moving right along… Actresses- He added Natalie Portman to his extensive list of female talent he admires. He said, “What’s great about them is that they are all really beautiful, but they are all actually really fantastic actresses.”

While talking about the enormous talents of Kirsten Dunst, Nicole Kidman and Scarlett Johansson, to name a few, I asked him how much thought he put into the expectations fans and others placed on him. He said,” I don’t really concentrate that much on people’s expectations. I just think you have to sort of… well, I just carry on doing my own thing whether that matches people’s expectations or not. If it does, that’s fantastic and if it doesn’t… as long as I have fulfilled what I wanted to do then I’m really happy and hopefully that will be ok.”

As always we drifted over to the dark side and started talking about music, which incidentally seems to be a happy excuse for both of us to get off topic. We got on the subject of music being used in adverts and as pop culture’s symbolic spew. See… about this time his publicist started rolling her eyes… knowing that once we both got going, according to her, we’d need 16 hours to say everything we both needed to say. So… let’s start the clock and see how far we get…

Dan said, “Johnny Borrell out of Razorlight said a great thing once. He was talking about a band that had given their song to be on an advert or something and he said that he had been offered that same deal to put one of his songs on an advert or something and he said that there’s a chance that someone will.. that that song will be playing when someone falls in love with someone else or at a pivotal moment in their life and he didn’t want to ruin that for them by having it on ringtones and having it everywhere. I think it’s a shame that people hear music and sort of decide if they like a band or song from just hearing it on an advert or something like that. It’s not the way music should be heard. Pop music now is completely different from what it was in the seventies because you had Blondie and the Beatles that were pop bands and now when I think of pop I think of sort of manufactured things. Here (in Britain) I think anyone with big, real star quality and talent wants to sort of make it on their own really. Which is great. I haven’t really thought deeply enough about this to form an opinion at this point. I think this is arguably the hardest question I’ve ever been asked.”

Time passed through a ping-pong of clever analysis and thought about music in society, which then brought us into a lengthy discussion about pop idol shows like X Factor. To make a long story short, after much debate, we both agreed that it was so much nicer to hear someone on these types of shows that actually comes out and performs when they are really passionate about their craft, rather than someone who is just there to become “famous.”

As we were talking, one of the things Dan wanted to share with the fans is his desire to become a writer alongside acting. More specifically, he wants to write books. Dan doesn’t like to talk about current writing projects because he says, “I’ve worked it out that as soon as I tell anyone anything about it, I go back and I read it and I hate it and I just stop it.” With this in mind, I asked him to tell us about something he has already written instead and Dan happily obliged with a very animated description.

“Something I’ve already written… Well basically I didn’t write outside things, I always wrote them for school. I just loved, absolutely loved doing stuff for school. I liked doing things that were just about characters. Did you ever see the Talking Heads? Which is basically just characters explaining, sort of telling you about their lives and things in their lives. I used to do stuff like that a lot. I did one that was about the relationship between a kid and a parent. So yeah, just stuff about characters, nothing big, because a lot my friends were always writing big stuff at school about war and about how (adopts pompous WWII Army officer accent) “I went into the trenches and I killed EIGHT HUNDRED Germans with a penknife!” or “I was playing in a football match and I scored TWENTY goals for my team” and stuff so I never really liked doing big stuff like that but just small stuff about characters and families I enjoy doing.”

I mentioned to him he should write screenplays since he likes to write about characters so much as I had just taken a class on it. This sparked his interest and he then started talking to me about a scriptwriting software… but we are drifting off topic again… back to the um – conversation… interview… yea.

We are always talking about Dan’s incredible sense of humor… so I decided to ask him to tell me a joke. So here goes:

Dan: How does Bob Marley like his doughnuts?
Jenna: *shrugs* Dunno
Dan: Wi’ jam in!

Dan really loves that joke, he says it’s “really bad and it’s just good.” Bless him. After the laughter cleared we touched base on the latest Mike Leigh play he attended, 2000 Years. “It was very interesting. I sort of wanted to see the greatest epic piece of theatre that I’ve ever been to… that’s what I was expecting, but I didn’t get that. The main character in it was absolutely amazing though. I did really like it. It’s about a secular Jewish family and their history, and about politics… it’s really interesting,” Dan explained.

Switching gears yet again, I threw out an odd question, asking him what was the most ridiculous question or thing he had ever said to impress a girl. He immediately replied, “Hi, I’m Harry Potter… NO!!!!! (laughs) I don’t know.. what have I said. I am generally just sort of quite ridiculous and never know what to say. I never use those awful pickup lines ever because they’re just terrible, I don’t see how you… Have you ever had one used on you? I don’t see how any girl would go ‘Oh, obviously you’re a very clever man for using that line on me, I must go out with you.’ I don’t see how it works so I’d never use that. I’ve gotten better now but I used to be really awkward and just not know what to say.”

Let’s not stop with the madness that is this interview yet… just one more insane piece left to fit into this menagerie of cluttered thought – yes – it is – the dreaded Word Associations… Only this time the tables were turned on me as well!!!

Daniel Radcliffe and Jenna BensoussanJenna: Magic.
Dan: Spell
Jenna: Music
Dan: Notes
Jenna: Tragic
Dan: Happy
Jenna: 16
Dan: 20
Jenna: Fame.
Dan: Success?
Jenna: Chocolate.
Dan: Fruit
Jenna: Jenna
Dan: Co
Jenna: Huh?
Dan: I don’t know. That was the first thing that came into my head! I have no idea what that means! Fruit, fruit and chocolate.. (He doesn’t eat fruit. Also, somewhere in Dan’s subconscious I must have become incorporated – I am now my own franchise… woohoo!)
Dan: So can I do that on you now?
Jenna: Huh?
Dan: Can I do that on you now?
Jenna: On ME?? Wait, I have to turn the book around… Oh God…
Dan: Magic
Jenna: Wand
Dan: Music
Jenna: Notes
Dan: You’re copying me!
Jenna: No I’m not!!
Dan: Tragic
Jenna: Death.
Dan: 16
Jenna: 17
Dan: Fame
Jenna: Bad
Dan: Chocolate
Jenna: Candy bar
Dan: Jenna
Jenna: Crazy

Finally the bell had tolled and it was time for Dan to go back to class… but not before he graciously agreed to shoot a few photos with me for the fans… Of course you can see we were having a hard time not giggling during each snap of the camera.

Jenna is an entertainment, lifestyle, and wellness writer and editor. When she isn't writing she is managing and developing multiple websites, studying Chinese, creating a visual novel game for Steam, and traveling whenever possible.