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Thursday, 15 November, 2001, 08:13 GMT
Potter star's 'magic' movie
Radcliffe
Radcliffe: "I've always believed in magic"
In the run-up to the release of the Harry Potter movie on Friday, its star Daniel Radcliffe, who plays the boy wizard, reveals to Belinda Rhodes what it was like being heading the much-hyped film.

Daniel Radcliffe, the 12-year old British boy who looks set to achieve worldwide fame, has a quiet air of wonder about him.

He seems unfazed and unspoilt by the prospect of being scrutinised by millions of Harry Potter fans when the film of the much-loved book is released on 16 November.

"I've always believed in magic," Radcliffe says, with a gently surprised expression that suggests he still can't believe his luck.

Harry Potter cast
The young cast are working on a sequel film
Indeed, the last 16 months of his life have been something like enchanted - he was asked to audition for the part after eight months of casting calls had screened out tens of thousands of hopeful boys.

His reluctant and protective parents were gradually won over and he entered a world of "enormous fun".

He even denies that the 130-day shoot, in which he had to be there almost all the time, was hard work.

"It wasn't like a job for me," he says. "A lot of people say, 'Oh God, I have to go into work today,' but it's not like that because it's so exciting."

When he saw the finished film for the first time, he left the theatre with his knees trembling.

Radcliffe in David Copperfield
Radcliffe shot to fame in David Copperfield
"It was surreal," he says. "I thought I was going to be sitting there thinking 'oh yeah, that's the day when that happened". But I wasn't, I was totally caught up."

Of the three central child stars - Emma Watson plays Hermione Granger and Rupert Grint plays Ron Weasley - Radcliffe was the only one with any professional acting experience.

Nonetheless, conveying the complex emotions an orphan who lives with his nasty aunt and uncle until he finds out he's a wizard might have proved challenging, were it not for the fact that he had played Dickens' David Copperfield in a 1999 TV film.

"I'd done being an orphan before," Radcliffe smiles.

Rupert Grint and Emma Watson as Ron and Hermione
Fellow stars Ron and Hermione cast a spell
"Chris Columbus (the director) says I have a knack for looking haunted."

He was doubtless helped by Harry Potter's big, round spectacles.

Another challenge the role presented was keeping the looks of amazement fresh every time something magical happens to Harry.

Audiences may notice that Radcliffe's reactions to events - such as a baby dragon being born and ghosts appearing - seem somewhat delayed compared to those of the other children.

But this isn't accidental, Radcliffe explains.

Cardboard

"I think it's because Ron has grown up around all this and Hermione knows even more about wizards and stuff than Ron does, so they instantly realise what it is," he says.

"It just takes Harry more of a moment to realise what he sees."

Since the ghosts and outlandish creatures in the film are mainly computer-generated and were added in later, Radcliffe and the other children often had to react to something that wasn't there.

But they were helped by cardboard cut-outs and energetic coaching from Columbus.

"First he'd just let us do it how we thought," says Radcliffe, "then he'd help us improve on that. He is so amazing. He gets the balance just right."

Aspirations

Radcliffe, who has no siblings and goes to an all-boys school, believes he made lifelong friends during the making of the film and even got along well with his female co-star.

"I don't mind being around girls," he says. "Some boys my age just tease them and I just don't get that."

Like all the cast and crew of the first Harry Potter film, Radcliffe seems delighted that the second is already in production.

"It will be like coming back for a second year at Hogwarts," he smiles.

He hopes to continue his career as an actor and puts Jude Law and Joseph Fiennes amongst those he'd like to emulate.

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