Daniel Radcliffe looks for grown-up fame in horror film
Published Saturday, January 28, 2012 2:54PM EST
Is there life in Hollywood after Harry Potter? Hogwarts alumnus Daniel Radcliffe has no crystal ball to answer that question. But as he walks into a suite in Toronto's Hazelton Hotel on Friday, smiling and talking a mile a minute, Radcliffe's hope for the future and for his creepy new horror flick, "The Woman in Black," is hard to miss.
"When I was a kid I was terrified of horror movies. I'm not good with blood and gore," the gregarious 22-year-old told CTVNews.ca.
Still, the chance to play Arthur Kipps, a man -- not a boy -- so unlike anything his Potter fans would expect, cured Radcliffe of his horror film phobia.
"I think this film is a very good first step," said Radcliffe, who appears in his first adult role in this movie.
"There's no blueprint to where I should be at this point in my career. I see myself as a young, good actor who still has a lot to learn. The only way I'm going to get better is by taking risks and working with people who are going to push me."
Based on Susan Hill's 1983 ghost story, Radcliffe plays a Victorian solicitor in this moody adaptation from director James Watkins. From start to finish, Radcliffe displays all the edginess and sweaty pallor of a haunted man.
Coping with depression after the death of his wife, the troubled Kipps leaves his young son behind in London to visit a remote little village in the north of England. There, the young lawyer tries to sort the affairs of the late Mrs. Drablow, the sole resident of Eel Marsh House, or so it would seem.
As the story unfolds, however, a belligerent spectre known as the Woman in Black appears. Each time she does a child in the village dies a violent death.
"One of the main reasons I did this movie was the story," said Radcliffe.
"It was just so good and so compelling. I knew that with a strong story like this, people would forget about looking for Harry Potter as they watched," he said.
"The Woman in Black" is the first horror film to come out of England's Hammer studio in 35 years.
The company churned out cult-loved horror flicks in the 1950s and 60s. Many of those films starred Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.
Radcliffe knew of these stars, as well as their work in the Hammer film "Dracula."
"My school teacher brought it in for us to see. Everybody in the class wanted to be Christopher Lee, except for me. I wanted to be Peter Cushing," said Radcliffe.
"In my mind there's just no doubt. If this film had been made 30 or 40 years ago, Cushing would have beaten me to the part," he said.
Radcliffe began his quest for new acting thrills as he worked on the final "Potter" films.
In 2007, Radcliffe starred in the theatrical production of "Equus" in London and New York, causing a sensation for one scene he performed in the nude.
Radcliffe joined the 2011 revival of the Broadway musical "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying."
The actor also made appearances in small indie films such as 2007's "December Boys" and the PBS World War I movie "My Boy Jack."
In all instances, critics have generally been kind to Radcliffe. But the star has no illusions. Radcliffe knows it will take more than magic to reinvent himself -- and his career.
"The other day somebody said to me, ‘Do you think your Potter fans will stick with you in this new movie?' I thought if they stuck with me through ‘Equus' they won't mind this," said Radcliffe.
"I have no illusions. There will be people who see this film and suddenly go ‘Oh Christ! He's not Harry Potter any more. He's completely transformed. But that's okay by me," he said.
"I might be an actor coming out of a film franchise. But I'm an actor. Any actor wants to show as much versatility as they possibly can. For me, that's what the next few years are going to be about."