Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Set Visit: Daniel Radcliffe

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Every time we’ve talked to Daniel Radcliffe, the young star is always more than willing to chat at great length about “Harry Potter” and this time on the set was no different. The charismatic actor was nothing but enthusiastic as he talked to ComingSoon.net about what’s in store for his character and what audiences can expect from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince:

Q: Someone said this movie was more comic, and it’s sort of sex, drugs, and rock n roll for the Harry Potter world? Is that true?
Daniel Radcliffe: Yeah. I think this one certainly has got a greater sense of comedy than any of the other ones have, and I suppose you could say that it’s more adult humor, but you know. It’s not all a light sort of romp in the park. In this film, when it’s light, it’s much more comic than it has been before, but when it’s dark, it’s as dark if not darker than we were in say five or three.

Q: And you have more romance in this film?
Radcliffe: Yes. Yes, I’ve got everything with Ginny, which is, has been fun. It’s good fun scenes, and hopefully that’ll come across on screen. We’re having quite a good time. It’s slightly odd though, with Bonnie, because when Katie [Leung] came into play Cho, on the fourth film, it was very much the case when she came in, we always knew she was going to be, as a love interest. Whereas of course when I first met Bonnie, she was just another character, she was, I think, 10, 9-10 years old when I first met her, and so it’s very strange. I’ve sort of grown up with Bonnie and now suddenly having to play love interest scenes is very, it’s kind of odd.

Q: Sort of like kissing your sister?
Radcliffe: Not kissing my sister, that I just wouldn’t do. Even if I did have a sister. But it’s just a little bit weird when you’ve watched someone grow up and it’s kind of, it is kind of strange, yeah.

Q: Which is similar to Harry’s situation.
Radcliffe: Yeah, I suppose so. And also, I think the main problem he has with everything is he can’t, you know, ever hope to be with her, well, or he thinks he can’t, because of obviously her being Ron’s sister. And above all else he would never jeopardize what he has with Ron, even for the sake of Ginny. I don’t think.

Q: Has that dynamic come into play between you and Rupert?
Radcliffe: Thank you very, very much. It has actually. There’s one great scene that we shot very early on, which was a scene where we’re both lying in bed–separate beds and Ron’s all talking about how much he hates the fact that Dean Thomas is going out with Ginny. And he’s really being incredibly angry at Dean, and he’s just, he’s just saying you got to hate these people when they go out with your sister just on principle, and Harry’s just sort of lying in the other bed going oh god. What am I going to do? And it’s actually, I think that’s a really, really fun scene, so I’m hoping there’ll be more like that as well.

Q: Where’s the realization moment when Harry realizes that he’s now attracted to Ginny?
Radcliffe: I think it’s from the first moment that he sees her again in this film and when he arrives back at the Burrow and he hugs Ginny. I think in the script there’s a stage note that says ‘there is something oddly charged about the moment.’ So I think that’s probably the first moment, certainly in the script where that’s implied, and you know, I think that’s absolutely right.

Q: Can you talk about Harry’s sort of journey in this film as opposed to the last one, which was very dark? What happens with Harry?
Radcliffe: In the past he’s sort of talked a lot about what he’s going to do to, defeat Voldemort and fight him. I don’t think he’s ever really done anything towards it. Whereas I think in this film you actually see him obviously, you know, all under Dumbledore’s instruction, but he starts to formulate plans, basically, he becomes Dumbledore’s foot soldier, very, very willingly in this film. And you know, [he] goes and tries to get information for Dumbledore out of Slughorn and things like that. I think he just becomes a lot more dynamic in his kind of quest to kill Voldemort.

Q: And how is that a new challenge for you playing him?
Radcliffe: I don’t know really. You just sort of do it. You approach it as you would approach any other scene. Whether or not the character’s doing something different than he ever has, than he has ever done before, it’s still the same character, so you still approach it with the same set of basic fundamental needs that your character has, and then you just look at the situation and apply what you know about the character to the situation to see what he would want out of it and how he would do it.

Q: In the previous film, Harry was really angry and you had to tap into that sort of rage and frustration and anger, and in this film it seems like he’s on a mission now and has a confidence about what he needs to do.
Radcliffe: This is something I’ve talked about lots and lots and lots, but the thing that always helps me to get into a scene or into a moment is music, and whether that’s for, you know, slightly angry or melancholic scenes for some reason, are very, very, you know, are helped by music more than a very happy or joyous scene is for me. I haven’t actually had to go to the music a huge amount so far. There’s only been one time in this film so far, which is very, very near the end and is one of the saddest scenes of the movie.

Q: What do you listen to?
Radcliffe: At the moment generally? Or just for that scene? For that scene…?

Q: When SPOILER dies?
Radcliffe: It’s not actually that moment. I won’t say which one it is, but it’s a moment near the end of the film. It’s kind of more nostalgic than it is anything else and he’s actually sad. I was listening to a piece of music by –it’s actually a piece of music from the “Atonement” soundtrack, and it was by, I think the composer’s name is Dario Marianelli. And it was the Elegy for Dunkirk, because there’s a hymn that comes up part of the way through which is really quite a rousing and–there is something kind of beautiful about the whole piece of music as a whole. And so I was listening to that before. And so that was a really nice, that was a really helpful thing to listen to.

Q: There’s a lot more comedy going on on top of the dark stuff. Which do you enjoy more?
Radcliffe: Well, I enjoy doing the dark stuff a lot more than I do doing the comic stuff. I have quite a laugh doing the comic scenes I suppose. It’s hard to define, but I’m a lot more comfortable doing the dark things. I sort of know where I am more with them, whereas I think I get very nervous when I’m doing comedic, because I get nervous I’ll be going over the top. I haven’t, ’cause I haven’t done a lot of it, I’m still sort of finding out how to do it. And I’ve still got a lot to learn about how that stuff works. I’ve got a lot to learn generally, but thinking about the funnier side of the film certainly.

Q: Which film did you find the best to shoot so far?
Radcliffe: I had an amazing time on the fifth. I thought the fifth was probably one of my, certainly my favorite of the films to watch, and probably it has been my favorite to shoot. Along with the sixth actually, because it ultimately comes down to working with David Yates, and that’s what makes or breaks the shooting I think for any actor, is who you’re working with, and because I’ve been working with David, he’s an amazing director and a good friend, it’s been, you know, delightful. So no, it’s been all around great these last two in particular.

Q: The revelation that Dumbledore is gay came out before you started shooting this film. Has that informed your performance at all on set or off set?
Radcliffe: Off set, yes. We’d been shooting for a few weeks when that came out actually, but we’d been shooting entirely almost with Michael [Gambon] and myself, and so when that came out he loved it. He thought it was hilarious. And you know, I know it didn’t go down well everywhere by any stretch of the imagination, which I kind of find even funnier. I think Michael started camping it up around set. I don’t think it’s come out on screen at all, but he certainly was camping it up around set when he was talking to people.

Q: How so?
Radcliffe: Just generally. He was just making lots of jokes. None of which I can really say or repeat, so I’m not going to try and do them in a softer way, because it wouldn’t be funny.

Q: But as far as informing the performance or relationship?
Radcliffe: Nothing. I can ensure all the fans of straight Dumbledore that they will not see gay Dumbledore in this film. Now there’s one line that was always written in the script which we all found very funny afterwards because there was one line in this script where Dumbledore turns around to Slughorn and asks him if he can borrow a magazine. He says “I do love knitting patterns.” And it’s just one of those things where you think did [Steve] Kloves know something? Did they actually tell him to put that in? Or maybe she put it in the book, I don’t know, I haven’t seen that in the book, but it may very well be there.

Q: There’s a scene where you’re actually running through fire?
Radcliffe: Well, yes, but don’t make me out to be some kind of, [action star]. There’s a big gap in the fire where I’m running. I do as much of my own stunts as I possibly can. There was a thing on TV a while ago where someone was saying–I didn’t actually see this but somebody told me about it–someone went up to Daniel Craig, and said “apparently it’s you and Daniel Radcliffe, both do all your own stunts.” Now, I’m sorry. I do as many of stunts as I can possibly do. I’m sure I’ve introduced someone and, by one of the stunt boys, and they said “this is Daniel Craig’s stunt double,” so he can’t do all of them. It’s like everyone always makes a big deal out of actors doing their own stunts, and the truth is, we do as much as we can, but there are some things we just never can be allowed to do because of insurance and all of that. But if you want to tell people that I’m an action star, you’re more than welcome to. You have my total blessing.

Q: Rupert gets his first Quidditch in this film so did you have some fun telling him, now you know what it’s really like to do this.
Radcliffe: Yeah, but the thing is, he’s kind of a natural. He’s brilliant. I mean, to be fair, he never had to deal–we’ve got new seats. We’ve had new seats for the past couple of years which are much more comfortable, which is great. But we had, before, he never had to deal with the old school seats, which are just like, horrible. But he’s brilliant at it. I’ve not actually seen him, but I’ve been talking to loads of the guys who’ve been working on it and they say he’s really just taken to the movements and he’s totally comfortable up there, so that’s great. So I’m pleased. And I’m like, which is sort of ironic, because Ron’s supposed to be terrible at Quidditch. But no, he’s going very, very well.

Q: Can you talk about working with some of the new cast members that you have during this film?
Radcliffe: It’s amazing. We obviously have people like Jim Broadbent coming in, who’s fantastic to work with. It’s been a pleasure to work with him ’cause he’s such a good actor. You learn from being around these people. But the thing that’s been really amazing to me this year is the quality of the people who have come in to play smaller parts. Like, I mean, Georgina [Leonidas], who’s playing Katie Bell in this one, and Freddie [Stroma], who’s playing Cormac McLaggen. They’re brilliant and it’s often very hard to cast those parts because you want people who can be very good but equally if they’re very, very good they might not want to do those kind. I think Freddie’s about 21, Georgina’s 17, and the whole larger cast has sort of come of age in this film, and they’ve all been excellent. They’ve all been totally focused, really professional, and just a pleasure to work with. So this time around it’s been a real, it’s been great to be honest. And we’re doing a big Great Hall scene at the moment, and they can be a nightmare. They always used to be a total one when you have 400 extras in there and 30 cast, only about four people in all of them paying any attention to what they’re supposed to be doing, and I’m not counting myself in that, so it used to be a nightmare. But this year, everyone’s really focused, and it’s kind of incredible.

Q: And do you have any scenes with Jessie Cave?
Radcliffe: Jessie’s another person along these lines. I don’t know how old she is, but Jessie’s remarkable. She’s just brilliant. Those lines that she has said as Lavender Brown could, if you did anything less than absolutely commit yourself to them 100%, they would be awful. And, just because they would sound false. Whereas the way that Jessie’s doing it, she’s absolutely throwing herself at these lines, and she’s brilliant. So I think people will love what she’s doing with Lavender in this film.

Q: And how have you seen Evanna Lynch sort of mature as an actress?
Radcliffe: It’s funny, I haven’t, to be honest–Evanna’s only been back on for the last maybe two days or so. She’s been back on a while, but in terms of scenes that I’ve been working with her quite closely–I think we only have our first bit of dialogue together in this film today. So I haven’t really had time to access how she might have changed since the last film.

Q: Was there a day on the set that you were looking forward to or are looking forward to filming?
Radcliffe: I’ve been told at some point I get to do this thing called, a cumbrian slide I think it’s called. I may have got that wrong. Which is where, during an action sequence, you go down this slide, but what it is, it’s a piece of material with lots of people underneath it who are sort of pushing their hands up and pushing you up and pushing you down and stuff like that, and I’m quite looking forward to doing that, ’cause that sounds like really good fun. So that should be interesting. But other than that I can’t really think of anything. And to be honest, my favorite scenes this time around have all been working with Michael as Dumbledore. We just have such a good time and we’ve had a real laugh and I think we’ve done some good stuff as well, so, in terms of the end of the film–I was talking to David the other day, ’cause he’s seen bits of it cut together very, very roughly, and he just said it looks very, very strong the end of the film, in the cave and the cave sequence, so that should be great hopefully.

Q: What can you tell us about the seventh film?
Radcliffe: Can you tell me anything?

Q: Have they told you anything? Are there two films?
Radcliffe: I have no idea. I mean, I know all of this is being discussed, but I can kind of assure you it’s being discussed almost as much by everyone that’s working here as it is by you guys. We don’t actually know that much at the moment.

Q: What would you like to see happen?
Radcliffe: I think it would be hard–very hard–to do it in one. I think it’s possible, but it would mean very, very heavy cuts in the book. And to me, the book’s not like the fourth book. In the seventh film there’s no obvious sub-plot that you can take out to save time. Like in the fourth film you could kind of get away with taking out, and I know everyone wasn’t presumed to be happy with this, but you can get away with taking out you know, the house elf thing. There’s things you can edit. In the seventh book I really don’t see that much that they can edit, so I don’t know how they’re going to do it in one if they do, but I think it would certainly–but then again the problem with doing it with two films is where do you find the cut point in the middle of it. The story charges on, there’s so much, that it’s hard to find a place. I don’t know if Steve Kloves is writing it, I think he is, but if anyone’s going to do be able to do it then it’s him.

Q: Is there a director from the previous films that you would like to see come back or somebody…?
Radcliffe: Ideally, David Yates. To be honest. He’s the person I would like most to be directed by in it. Hopefully that will happen. To my knowledge that’s not even being discussed yet. I don’t think David really wants to enter into a discussion–I don’t know, ’cause he’s just got this one to be done first, and there’s a lot of work to be done on this one.

Q: Can you talk about reading the book, and when you read the book did you flip completely to the end?
Radcliffe: No, absolutely not. No. No, no, no, no. I don’t do that. My grandmother does that, I think it’s disgusting.

Q: Rupert said he did it.
Radcliffe: Rupert did it, well. I saw Rupert do a brilliant thing the other day. I’ve got to share this with you actually. He did the single laziest thing I’ve ever see a human being do. I’m just saying this ’cause I was so impressed by it. He sat on the sofa in his room, and I was just hanging around in his dressing room and he got a pool cue that was sort of sat behind him, and he opened the DVD player, like that, got a DVD out of the case, put it on the pool cue, up ended the pool cue, and the DVD slid into the DVD tray and closed it, and then went through the menu like that, which I thought was great. So no, I didn’t flip to the back of the book. I didn’t just because I wanted to read it as a whole, and I think, and I wanted to be moved by it. I don’t think you give yourself a chance to be if you go straight to the back. Not that I particularly would have learned that much, because that’s the brilliant thing about that, the epilogue, which I think is why she puts it in there, which is that if you could go to the back of that, you’ll think you know the ending but you don’t. That’s the thing, ’cause you see that certain characters are still alive, and then, when you actually read it, it will still confuse you I think, at least. I was kind of very moved by it and I was, you know, yeah, I thought it was a wonderful book and brilliantly written. And how she ever sat down and started writing these books with that ending in mind is just phenomenal. The grasp of story, of the sum of books, is amazing.

Q: Can you talk about the moment where she told you, where J.K. Rowling said that you had a death scene?
Radcliffe: I’m going to make myself sound like I have a very glamorous life now. We were in the Ivy, and she’d just come to see Equus and she took me out to dinner afterwards, and it was her and her husband and me and my parents. And so we all sat down. At one point a very, very drunk former labor politician came over to me and started chatting to me, and then went away again. That’s why I remember that. And then we just got talking and eventually it was one of those quite fortuitous moments when the conversation teams were my mom and my dad and Neil, and then it was just me and Jo. And I said, “ah, now’s my chance.” And so I just said, “please tell me, you know, do I die?” I said it more delicately than that, I think, but does Harry die. And she just said to me–she paused for a very long time, and then she said “you will have a death scene.” And I was all, “ah, you’re being tricky.” Okay, I’ll try and figure that out. And then of course it all made sense, and I sort of guessed at what that might mean. And I guessed pretty accurately, but I could never quite have expected obviously what happens in the book.

Q: Was it satisfying to you?
Radcliffe: Yes, definitely. Totally.

Q: What is it that you like about the theater?
Radcliffe: I think it’s the immediacy of it. That fact, and it’s also the huge amount of adrenaline rush. The absolute fear that pulses through your veins before you go on stage is incredible. But once you’re on there, and, if, the best thing is if you get a sense that the audience is really listening and really with you, there’s no, there’s no feeling like it really. Particularly a play like Equus. This is a really tough play and they are absolutely following it and going with it, because of what we’re doing here. That’s a really great feeling.

Q: Do you have any apprehension about American audiences versus…
Radcliffe: I think they’re more generous, but they’re also much cannier in some ways, because I think there are people in American audiences that when they go to see a show I know they do things which kind of–like people sometimes get entrance rounds of applause when they go on. All stuff which I really I kind of think it might happen, but I don’t want it to, because my Englishness is sort of making me go “oh, I haven’t done the thing yet, I might be rubbish, don’t clap yet.” So also, so I think they’re very generous in that way, and, but also I think they’re much cannier because some of the people that would come see Equus would see maybe 50 shows a year, or something terrifying like that, so that’s more than most people. Most people in London who call themselves theater goers I don’t think would see 50 shows a year. I think it’s going to be quite tough audiences.

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