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Monday, 12 November, 2001, 13:50 GMT
Actor Harris tamed by Potter
Richard Harris as Dumbledore
Richard Harris plays Hogwarts' headmaster
By BBC News Online's Rebecca Thomas

Legendary Irish actor Richard Harris - once notorious for his hell-raising lifestyle - is again in the spotlight but this time as a star of the Harry Potter film.

Yet, admits Harris, 71 - who plays Harry's wise old wizard headmaster Dumbledore - his wayward nature almost made him miss out on the role.

"I loved the material and thought the script was wonderful but the thing that worried me was that I hate commitment - that's why I have two ex-wives," he joked.

Harris, and the rest of the British cast, were asked to sign up for a seven-movie deal - the number of Potter books JK Rowling has always said she intends to write.

And, although most actors would jump at such stability, Harris said the thought filled him with dread.


The idea of doing seven films was intimidating: I would have to get permission to do something else and I'm rebellious by nature

Richard Harris

"The idea of doing seven films was intimidating: I would have to get permission to do something else and I'm rebellious by nature. I felt it could be rather difficult to handle."

Still, "handle it" Harris did and - even without having ever read a page of a Harry Potter book - the actor fell in love with his part.

"I loved the material in the script and it was so well written that all the hard work was done for me," he said.

Dumbledore sports a magnificent long white beard and mane and speaks in deep, treacle- thick tones.

And Harris adds: "The only difficulty I had was the voice. I may be 71 but Dumbledore is 2000 years old and I thought the energy and rhythm of my voice would not suit this image."

Overwhelmed

That a seasoned professional like Harris should express such respect for the movie is a measure of the worldwide interest in Harry Potter.

And, at the other of end of his acting career, 12-year-old Daniel Radcliffe's excitement is no less impressive.

Daniel Radcliffe
Daniel Radcliffe: Still excited by his role

After months of work on the movie, followed by weeks of interviews, Radcliffe - who stars as the boy wizard Harry - still seems overwhelmed at winning the part.

"It makes me feel very privileged to be playing him. It's really exciting because he's got such an interesting life. It's really cool," says the young actor.

Radcliffe spends most of the movie open-mouthed and amazed at the magic performed at Hogwarts school.

Back in real life, he says he would love Harry's "invisibility cloak" to get him out of trouble at school.

He would also find use for a giant three-headed dog, like "Fluffy" in the movie, "because then nobody would argue with me".

Enjoyment

Work on the second Harry Potter film will get under way just days after the release of the first on 16 November.


There are a lot of worse things to worry about in this world than being recognised

Daniel Radcliffe

Inevitably, it will mean more of the movie-star lifestyle for Radcliffe, who even receives schooling on set.

But for all attention lavished on him, the child actor maintains an earthy attitude to fame.

He concludes: "I don't read press articles and my mum and dad have just told me to enjoy it - I think that is the best thing. There are a lot of worse things to worry about than being recognised."

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