Daniel Radcliffe, star of the Harry Potter movies, is starring in his first ever romantic comedy. The movie titled, What If, is another chance for the Harry Potter star to remove himself from the childhood role that most identify him with. Radcliffe knew that he wanted to be an actor at the age of five and began acting in school productions. He caught his break in film when he was 10 years old and his parents, Alan Radcliffe, a literary agent and Marcia Gresham, a casting director, were very supportive of the young actor.
The Harry Potter star debuted as David Copperfield in his first film, David Copperfield, in 1999. In 2001, he played the part of Mark Pendel, the son of Harry (Geoffery Rush) and Louisa Pendel (Jamie Lee Curtis) in the 2001 film, The Tailor of Panama. While they were filming, Curtis told Gresham how much she thought the young actor looked like Harry Potter.
While The Tailor of Panama was being filmed, the child actor and his father attended a play that David Heyman, the producer of the Harry Potter films, was at as well. Heyman recognized Alan Radcliffe and when the two men stopped to talk to each other, Heyman realized that Daniel Radcliffe looked just like Harry Potter.
Heyman asked the 12-year-old to audition for the part. After seeing his audition, Heyman and the film’s director, Chris Columbus, agreed the boy would be perfect and cast him in the role. They started filming shortly after the audition. The film was completed and released in November of 2001 and made the young actor a global icon overnight. The actor played the lead role for the entire Harry Potter series, from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 2 (2011), a total of eight movies that spanned 10 years.
Since completing the magical films, the now 25-year-old actor has tried fervently to separate himself from the role that made him the superstar he is today. In 2008, he took to the stage, debuting as Alan Strang (the lead role) in his first Broadway play Equus. In the play, a psychiatrist by the name of Martin Dysart tries to figure out why Strang, a stable boy, has blinded six horses. Radcliffe’s role in Equus was completely different from his previous role when he starred as the kindhearted Harry Potter.
The actor has expressed that he enjoys playing more “normal” roles. He is passionate about the characters he plays and Broadway has proven to be a good outlet for his creative energy. The actor performed in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, his second Broadway play in 2011 , when he played J. Pierrepont Finch, and his third in 2014, as a young crippled boy named Billy in The Crippled Irishman, which ended its Broadway run in June.
Daniel Radcliffe’s most recent movie What If is the star’s first romantic comedy, and possibly his most “real” role, as none of the magical or mythical creatures from Harry Potter will be present. The film opened this weekend on August 8, 2014, as the Broadway actor switches back to film to play a burnt-out millennial with a broken heart.
The actor is new to the genre, but his views about romantic comedy seem to be right on point with what moviegoers say they want. In an interview, with Alex Abad-Santos of Vox, when asked what the film brings to the genre, the actor said, “I think the thing about romantic comedies is that people get lazy. People forget that you have to write characters that you’re really invested in…The plot of our film is very traditional and very orthodox in some ways. What makes it good and what makes it really fun to watch for people is that the characters are really entertaining, and they’re characters you really like and root for…I hope that it is very fun and you’re laughing the whole way through, but in the end, you have an emotional impact.”
The actor’s statement is a good representation of the way fans feel about the romantic comedy genre. One fan commented on the new movie saying it not only had her cheering for the actor and his love interest, but also wanting to see more of the actor in similar movies. The movie has been well received by fans and critics alike.
Daniel Radcliffe has expressed his desire to separate himself from his role as Harry Potter and from the looks of things he may be doing just that as he stars in his first romantic comedy. He is enthusiastic about the opportunity to show the audience a side of him they have never seen before. With Radcliffe’s role in What If, the actor hopes to do more than entertain; he wants to move the viewers and set a new standard for romantic comedy films.
By Amy Gilmore