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September 2007
Press Conference Interview with
Daniel Radcliffe and Director Rod Hardy

Press Conference Interview with Daniel Radcliffe and Director Rod Hardy

September 10, 2007

With the Harry Potter almost complete, and with only 2 more films to shoot, star Daniel Radcliffe is quickly trying to reinvent himself as an actor. Having received praise and controversey over his theater performance in 'Equus', Radcliffe now has his first film outside of the Potter franchise. Hard to believe that the film was shot over two years and is only being released in the States now, but nevertheless, Radcliffe is all grown as his character Maps and other young lads spend a summer in outskirts of Australia vying for the affections of those who can adopt either one or all of them. At a recent press conference in New York City to promote the film, both Radcliff and 'December Boys' director Rod Hardy spoke about the making the film and address other issues withing the film such as love and family.

Daniel, the parts that you've played so far outside of the Harry Potter universe, kind of see you exploring your sexuality in some aspect, or characters who are discovering their sexuality. I'm curious if you've ever thought about playing a gay character or have discussed that and, if not, what would you think about playing a gay character? How might that affect you as an actor and as a person?

Daniel: As a person? I don't know. I don't think it would particularly affect me, as long as it - I mean, I'd never play a gay character just for the sake of playing a gay character, you know, if the script was good and it was a good gay character, then that wouldn't bother me, I don't think, at all really. I think the point you're making about, you know, playing characters exploring sexuality I think that simply...arises - if you'll excuse that word [chuckles from audience] from the fact that, you know, I'm 18 and so the parts I'm going to be given will be for around that age range, and around that age range that's when people are exploring sexuality, so those are the parts I suppose ... it's often going to be involved.

What do you consider you learn about your character?

Daniel: What Maps taught me about myself? Um, I don't know. I mean, the thing we talked about a lot very early on what that [turns to Mr. Hardy] - and you'll probably be able to address this better me really, but the fact that - I've got quite an enthusiasm for life and sort of in some ways I'm quite excitable in conversation, and Maps really is not that. He's totally the opposite, really.

Mr. Hardy: Somebody asked me today if I could remember the note I can remember I gave to Daniel, and it was really only one, and I gave it to him about 6 months before we filmed the piece and that was that Daniel was a person in a way - and say this as a compliment completely - he's heart's on his sleeve. He's got an honesty and a truthfulness and an enthusiasm for everything, and the character of Maps is like some poor little dog that's been kicked a few too many times and responds accordingly, so Daniel took that away with him, and I think he listened to some of the darkest music you could ever imagine to listen to it.

(Daniel: Yeah)

Mr. Hardy: The lyrics - and sent me, actually, a CD of this dark lyrical music.

(Daniel: Of course!)

Mr. Hardy: And I realized we were on the right path because I wanted to slash my wrists after listening to it

What was the CD?

Daniel: It was the Love of Elliot Smith and William Mason

Mr. Hardy: Cheery, cheery stuff.

Daniel: It was a lot of quite dark, Radiohead, Nine Black Alps, a lot of quite heavy stuff.

Was this a pursuit for you to get Daniel in the movie when - you said 6 months before - or was it because the Harry Potter shooting schedule determines when you can do anything else?

Mr. Hardy: The planets lined up completely. At the end of the day, the thought of Daniel - you know, you're doing an Australian film; the budgets aren't always the biggest thing in the world. And for somebody to say, 'Do you - How would you feel about having Daniel Radcliffe in your film?' - which were exactly the words that his agent said to me - I immediately jumped at it and said, 'Yes!' And it just so happened that, at that time, Daniel was looking for material, a Potter picture was coming to a close, and there was some gap between the next one being made, so I was very fortunate. And as I said, the planets lined up and that we had the opportunity to anything together.

Daniel: Exactly.

Daniel, having worked in British theater and whole acting community, did you feel the opportunity to nurture the inexperienced cast of December Boys?

Daniel: Um, not really. They were - I did feel slightly, I suppose, parental, certainly older brother-type...

Mr. Hardy: He's being far too nice. When you stick these three young boys with the discipline of a gnat - you know, the concentration span of a flea - and ask them to concentrate for the 10, 12, 14 hours a day we have to work, it's not an easy thing to have happen, and there was an unspoken thing in a way from Daniel and I: If the boys were getting out of hand, Daniel would see that I'd rub my brow probably a number of times too many, and then he'd walked past and say, 'Do you want me to talk to the boys?' and I'd just nod my head, and eventually there'd be a discussion and then they would listen. And I had personally chosen those boys because I knew they weren't going to suddenly be in awe of just Daniel Radcliffe and Harry Potter-

Daniel: No, they were totally unphased.

Mr. Hardy: Totally unphased by it all. So, there was a knowledge, there was a knowledge that was passed on because I could only hear Daniel mention, occasionally, certain things that he had done when he was 12 years old on the set of Harry Potter, and that's just experience.

Daniel: And also it comes from that thing - when I was 12 and on a film set, I was having such a great time, and I wanted these kids to have a great time, and one of the ways of doing that - in order to have a really fun time on the set you have to work hard, because if you don't work hard and you're just, you know, messing around then the atmosphere on the set becomes incredibly tense. I mean, I always think it's a bad time when you look around the corner and see your director by the monitor like this [buries face in his hands], as I did [starts giggling] happened to caught Rod on one day, one particularly long, tense day, and so, you know, just by talking to them... But the great thing about them is there are some people and some kids at 12, you could talk and talk and talk to them it wouldn't go through, whereas, with these 3 kids, they did actually listen. So, if did you said them, 'Look, guys. You know, it's one a.m. We need to go home in a bit. We really need to concentrate now.' They would just do it.

Mr. Hardy: And we are elongated on the answer to that question. The feeling on the set was really important to me - that it became like a family. We used the crew and everybody else around to create that sense, that, hopefully, then an audience would feel that family on the screen because that's what the story's about. It's about a search for self and a search for family. And everybody, everybody, wants to be needed some way.

Was there any difficulty in directing the children versus directing the adults?

Mr. Hardy: In this particular instance, it is more challenging, certainly. The sound department hated me because if there was anything longer than a 3 second pause between a line, I would find the time to remind the other kids of where they were within that scene, and emotion, so they got used to very quickly without - suddenly turning toward where I was- they got used to , 'Oh that's where I am'. So it was a different way for me to direct, but it worked.

Daniel: When I was starting out on Harry Potter that was exactly what Chris Columbus would do as well. It is one way of doing it - you sort of do need those constant reminders about - you'll sort of be standing there, and you drift off slightly, and it's like, 'Oh, walk forward', and it's just stuff like that.

What did you think of Australia?

Daniel: Well, I've been to Australia about 5 or 6 times, and I just - I love it there. It looked amazing, because I remember - we arrived at the remarkable rocks on Kangaroo Island, and they are amazing - they're these incredible formations. We got on there, and we were all saying, 'God, why don't they use these for films? Why haven't we ever seen these in films before? Because they're amazing. They're cinematic. They're incredible. And we very, very quickly realized it was because every half an hour a tourist bus would pull up, and about 50 tourists would pile out and sort of wander around the set. [laughter] And so you'd sort of have to break for a bit and wait for them to leave before you could carry on, but, no, I mean there were - we did get some amazing sets on that.

Mr. Hardy: Yeah, absolutely.

You said you've been there 5 or 6 times. Is it because you have family down there?

Daniel: No, we've got friends there. We went once, and we just loved it, so we go whenever we can.

Dan, between Equus and December Boys, these films are more esoteric and a lot less minimalist in comparison to Potter. Is that your goal: to get away from the green screen and big sets and get a little simpler?

Daniel: I can't pretend I miss the green screen, because that's not the best thing about Potter to do. But it's - to be honest it's not a - that's just the way it's happened so far. It's not that I'm - you know, I want to just do things with no visual effect, or I just want to do indie movies or I just want to do blockbusters. I'm not limiting myself to what I can do. It's, in a way, it's quite a welcome break, because that's the weird thing - that Potter is a an epic story told within huge proportions, and December Boys is an epic story told in the smallest way possible, because there's nothing bigger or more important in life, really, than that growing up stage. There's nothing more sort of tempestuous and wild than that period of your life, but it's told very, very simply, so it's nice to be able to do that.

Mr. Hardy: And that was, from the very beginning, working when with Marc Rosenberg, the writer, we would talk about the scenes and talk about the simplicity. The simplicity was it's power. You know, we didn't have an antagonist that we could cut to who was going to suddenly create havoc on the set in any way. It was really just a tale about real people, and I think that's what's attracted everybody to the project - that when Jay Sanders, the producer, who's at the back of the room now, found the project and, I think, related to it from his childhood. When the book came to me, and I read the book, I immediately started to remember days of growing up myself, and then Marc Rosenberg, and so on. So, there's a whole sense of family and friendship that I think this story sort of brings to you.

Dan, did you do any research by going into any of the orphanages?

Daniel: We didn't. I actually missed because Rod and - was it Christian?

Mr. Hardy: Yeah.

Daniel: I was actually, unfortunately, not around to actually meet this guy who was consulted. But I did, you know, obviously, read up on the orphanages and things like that. And also, there was a lot of stuff about - I wrote an essay on Maps' back story - just stuff for myself really rather than - because ultimately they're characters.

Mr. Hardy: The gentleman that came to the rehearsal time with the boys - I found I was doing a radio interview in Australia - and there was a caller who called in and said he had grown up in orphanages in Australia in the 50's and 60's, so we met up. He was able to deliver to me some personal stuff that gives a sense of what it's like to be lying in a bed surrounded by other people who you thought you knew but really couldn't reach out to and that feeling of hearing the boy in the next bed sobbing - and when you get that true story from somebody directly, the 3 boys who were there part of the rehearsal period, understood it, and, in fact on more than one occasion I saw two of them and they had tears in their own eyes because they could suddenly feel that heartbeat that this film was going to take place.

Daniel, Fearless is sort of a role model for Maps, but this is your first major meltdown in front of everyone. How far did you have to dig deep to do that?

Daniel: I don't think Fearless is a role model for Maps. I think he's more - he's actually - he's a role model for the boys and so Maps, because he cares so much about the boys, he doesn't want to dispel the myth, but, of course, ultimately Fearless dispels it himself. But, to be honest, the actual scene where me and Fearless talk in the cave, which is part of the meltdown process, was filmed - was the last day of filming, and it was in our 16th consecutive hour of filming that day, and it was quarter past four in the morning on Christmas Eve, and so I was sort of having a meltdown, as was most of the crew, so- [laughs] That was sort of an amazing day, actually. But, no, of course, I mean for all of those scenes you do have to dig in deep, quite deep, and find things and remember things that people have told you, because I've never had that experience in my own life. It comes from listening - and that's the thing. I think, as an actor, in terms of your resources, the most valuable thing you can do is just listen to people. Talk to as many people as you can and find out what their stories are, and if you find enough of them, then eventually it will fit the situation, and that's what happened in this one. I was able to think of things people have told me in the past about what certain experiences were like in their lives. And, also, it was again, it's always music is a big help with things like that for me. I don't know why, but it helped me just get into the moment.

Mr. Hardy: I think if you watch Daniel in whatever he does, you'll see him doing that thing called listening. Any great actor will tell you the same thing, and it gives a director a great chance to really mold the scene in many different ways if the actor is listening to the other person, and Daniel seems to be able to have a great talent at doing that.

You've just done a movie set in World War I?

Daniel: Yes.

Reporter: Based on a real life situation - Rudyard Kipling's son, you're playing?

Daniel: Yes.

Reporter: Can you talk about that period and what it was that made you interested to do that?

Daniel: Yes, certainly. It was a number of things. It was, first and foremost, I've always had an interest in World War I. I don't know why. Ever since learning about it in school I've been fascinated by it. And it was an amazing script, and that's the only thing you need really. So that was - I finished doing that about 3 weeks ago, and that's very exciting. And I think it will air - it will air in England, in Britain, I think, in November sometime later this year, and I don't know when it will, if it will come to the states.

So, it's a made for t.v. movie?

Daniel: It's a t.v. movie - yeah, yeah, yeah. Absolutely.

Okay, so it doesn't matter to you whether it's theater or independent film or something for television, which you're doing now?

Daniel: No, not at all. No, not in the slightest. I don't know why it would. You hear things about people not wanting to do anything other than film, which I think is ridiculous, because what if you shut yourself off to a great script? It's bizarre.

And are you doing Equus on Broadway?

Daniel: Hopefully, yeah. I mean, it will be later in the next year, and um... yeah. If it happens, I'll be there, obviously. I'm very, very excited. And terrified, obviously, but very, very excited. [laughs]

Daniel, what did you learn from doing Equus that you were able to bring back into film?

Daniel: I think it's about - I think the main thing I took from it was the ability to sustain concentration for a long period of time, because when you're doing films you'll do a take and then have 2 minutes and then do another take, so it's sort of chopped up like that, whereas, in Equus, particularly in Equus for me and Richard because we were on the stage for the whole play. We didn't get off at all- so you learn to keep up that level of concentration for two and quarter hours. And, actually, it's exhausting mentally. I never expected it to be, but it is, and it's - I suppose - that level of concentration I'll be able to take away, hopefully, and use it in films.

Daniel, question. A big part of the story has to do with friends. Now, can you say that friends are - you have a close-knit group of friends in your life as well? Is that an important thing to you? Or, because you're always on set, do your friends kind of change based on who you're around?

Daniel: No, not at all. I've got some great friends, and some of them are on the set, but, also, one of my best friends is a guy called Robin who I've known since I was 5-years-old, and so I've got some - I'm very lucky in that respect because I've got some very, very good, loyal friends.

What do they think about the trajectory of your career?

Daniel: Oh, they don't care! It just doesn't make any difference to them I don't think, which is great.

As someone who's played two prominent orphans that - [Dan raises three fingers] Three!

Daniel: Yeah!

Sorry. Would you say you would agree with Misty's decision at the end of the movie?

Daniel: Um... I don't know. It's very hard to say. I mean, I think ... probably yes, actually, because that's the family that he's known for a long time, and that's the family that he knows he can absolutely rely on to be there for him whenever. And, so, yeah, I think I probably would.

Mr. Hardy: And at the end of the day, family doesn't just have to be blood brothers and sisters and people like that. It should really be about trust and respect, and I think that's what the young character of Misty discovered that all of those things were suddenly welling up in him at this very young age - that he could trust and respect these people that he already knew, so his family was really there.

Daniel: Yeah, absolutely.

Mr. Hardy: And I think that's really a good thing for the audiences today, because, really, it - people don't know their next door neighbor let alone knowing who their mother or father is. People are left in nursing homes, and they hardly ever see their kids, so if anything in this film can touch - and again, I'm not trying to make this sound like it's all love, peace and brown rice, but at least a bit of old-fashioned thinking that really we should remember that we've been forgetting. You know, somebody said about the film in Australia: 'How could they, I mean, those kids were just running all over the beach on their own. How could you let your kids do that?' Which is quite an interesting comment, because you can't do that today.

(Daniel: No)

Mr. Hardy: But of course, we used to. So, if we can remind ourselves of it, maybe one day we can find a way of bringing it back into our lives.

Have you ever had your heart broken like your character?

Daniel: Oh, I think everybody has at some point, has had similar experiences like that, yeah.

Many times?

Daniel: I'm not going to go into that!

In a cave?

Daniel: [laughing] .... everyone has a cave...

Well, somewhat along those lines, there was so much made about your kiss in the last Harry Potter.

Daniel: Yeah, I know!

I guess, first of all, what do you think of that, and, second of all, in this film, it's a little bit more of sex scene, and how did you approach that, and how was that for you?

Daniel: It was - in terms of the Harry Potter kiss, it really sorted out the journalists last time. You could tell who'd done their research, because the ones that said this is your first screen kiss in Harry Potter 5, to which I said, 'No, I'd done a film two years ago in which I kissed Theresa Palmer.' And that was - I was actually very pleased that it was Theresa because she's - in a way, the dynamic of the characters in the film reflect how we were as actors on that day, because, you know, she's - the character in the film is, shall we say, worldly [laughter], and Maps is sort of very nervous and fumbly and clumsy. And Theresa having done a few of those scenes in the past and me never having done any of them, she was sort of guiding me through it as Lucy does Maps.

So that was good.

Daniel: That was great! Yeah, as it's Theresa, I mean, you've seen her.

Is this the extent of that scene though? I mean, there aren't going to be any DVD extras?

Daniel: What?


Mr. Hardy: I don't think it needs to be. I mean, let's just leave that to the imagination.

Daniel: Yeah, absolutely.

Mr. Hardy: And, by the way, that scene was shot about 3 o'clock in the morning, too.

Daniel: Yeah, that was the last day. All of the - we did all the cave stuff in one day.

Mr. Hardy: Yes, we did.

Daniel: And so, that was - we started the cave stuff at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon and we finished it at 4 a.m.

You mentioned you're 18 now, and you grew up doing the Harry Potter things. It seems like all 3 of you were very, sort of, protected from the media and held back, and not sort of exploited or something. Now that you're 18-

Daniel: I'm exploited all of the time.


Is there more media interest in your private life or do you find that it's not - nothing has changed?

Daniel: I mean, to be honest, I've not been 18 for long, so I think we need to give it more time before we can properly gauge that situation. I mean, I don't know to be perfectly honest if anything will change. I hope not, but I expect it probably will a bit. Um, I don't know to be honest. We'll see, I guess.

Do you think anything will change, if you do Equus on Broadway, from the way you perform the character, or any aspect of it in any way from the West End?

Daniel: That's a question I can't answer yet, because I haven't - my mind hasn't been on Alan Strang for, you know, a good few months now, so I'll probably ... in the time I'm revisiting the play. I'm sure there will differences but when we were doing it on the West End, it changed almost every night.

And how do you feel about Harry Potter now that you can see that this is going to be the last two?

Daniel: Weird. It's going to be very strange, I think, finishing them. But it's exciting. I just don't know how it will feel when we finally stop them, and yeah - But it will be sad, but it will be good.

Despite your relationship with Maps' consummate relationship with Theresa... Theresa?

Daniel: Theresa Palmer, yeah.

He's still sort of a boy at heart. Has Daniel Radcliffe grown up now, or are there still boyish pursuits that you enjoy?

Daniel: Well, I think, um, Monopoly.


Are you very computer-oriented?

Daniel: I think, to be honest, I don't think I'll ever properly grow up. I don't think anybody does really. Everyone's sort of very, still very young and immature. I certainly am. Yeah, I don't think I've changed that much. It wasn't like I suddenly hit 18 and I started buying the Financial Times and things. [Laughter]

Mr. Hardy: He's got a deck of cards somewhere in his hands.

Daniel: Yeah! Absolutely!

Mr. Hardy: That'll be the next thing - whether he becomes the gambler or just the magician, but he loves to be the magician.

Daniel: Yeah, do do a lot of card tricks as well, which is probably a sign of youth, I hope.

Asks about the balance between the lighter and darker moments in the film and the focus on Maps versus the other (more playful) boys]

Mr. Hardy: You know, I wanted the audience - this was a film like Stand By Me, you know, that had a quality about teenagers growing up from an adult perspective in a way, so in one way, it's the character of Maps - and I suppose in a funny sort of way, although I wasn't adopted, I related to Maps more. I mean, that love that was unrequited during summer, um, oh god it was good. [Laughter] So, you know that's probably why Maps' character the way it keeps the real pieces of the film together.

Daniel: I mean, I'd just like to add to that that I think one of the things that's great about this film is that, in an age when almost every film that's made is - from either the way it's made or possibly earlier from the script - from the beginning it's targeting a demographic, you know, because that's the way things work a lot, whereas, this film it really isn't. We're just telling a story, and there are bits in it that young kids will enjoy and there are bits in there that people my age and older will relate to and love. We've told all aspects of the story, and just balanced it out, and we haven't tried to angle it toward any particular way of telling it.


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