In anticipation of the wonderful and charming romantic comedy "What If," HuffPost Entertainment spoke to Daniel Radcliffe about the way he chooses roles, how he survived child stardom and the few times he's disguised himself as a superhero in order to get away from everyone being so nice to him all the time.
You've chosen a lot of unconventional roles in recent years. What led you to the romantic male lead in "What If"?
I was first drawn to Wallace on the second page of the script. There's this scene where he corrects somebody on their pronunciation of a word, something that's horribly annoying to do and something that I immediately recognized in myself as something I would do. So, I kind of liked him from that moment.
Is that usually how you're drawn to parts, based on a personal connection to the character?
With "What If," a lot of it is the way it's written. The dialogue is incredibly natural. A lot of people have asked me how much of the film is improvised, and honestly, we did do a bit of improv. Although, in terms of the film overall a very small percentage was improvised by us. I think that's a testament to the writing. It feels improvised because it's easy to say. My dad was a literary agent, so I was brought up with the idea that if it isn't in the script it won't be in the movie. You can chalk up a good script, but you can't make a bad one good. So, the starting point is always the script and always the starting point for me.
"What If" does have something invigorating about it, even though it is rather traditional for the genre. What do you think that is?
If you have to pick the moment, if you have to write the story of your life and your relationship, if you have to go back and find one scene that showed you and demonstrated why you fell in love with a person, why you want to be with that person, that's a very hard thing to pinpoint. There's always a montage in romantic comedies of them getting to know each other. It's always done in a montage, because it's hard to actually to, so they skim over it. I think this film is like the expanded montage, getting you into this relationship and delving into why these people fell in love.
"What If" is an indie as is your next film, "Horns." Are you deliberately avoiding big studio films? It seems like you're aiming for a more comfortable level of fame.
Yeah. I haven't gotten there quite yet. There is still that quirkiness. Not everywhere you go, but it varies. But honestly I think that the best scripts around are, generally speaking, in the independent film sector. With bigger studios, every decision is made by about 10 or 20 people. And when you have to get 10 or 20 people to agree on one thing, that obviously becomes a homogenized version of something, and less individual obviously.
Indies allow much more freedom.
When you're trying to get people to put money into an idea, you're more likely to get one person who is willing to put a comparatively smaller amount of money into a daring idea then to get 20 people to agree on an idea they're going to spend a lot more on. That will always be the case, I think. Of course, it depends on the director, who is at the the helm. I did a studio film earlier this year ["Frankenstein"], and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It's a very clever and imaginative script. You know, I've worked with other studios since "Harry Potter." But, generally on the whole, with the position I'm in right now, I only have to do things that I am interested in and passionate about. I don't have to do things just for the money. So, while I'm in that situation, that's all I want to do.
Coming from that child star background and still being driven by what interests you is almost an unexpected move.
Well, thank you!
What do you think made your experience different? How did you avoid the Curse of the Child Star, despite being the most famous child star pretty much ever?
It's so hard to say what goes right or doesn't about every child. You know, every young person who goes into the entertainment industry at any level will have probably a different experience. It depends massively on the way you grow up. You know, I was very lucky to have an incredibly stable parental background, which a lot of child stars do not have. But also, I think, honestly more than any of that, the biggest factor in how my experience turned out and how I did was that I always loved being on set. I love to work, I love being on set, I love that atmosphere, that community. It's just a great place to work.
All of the child star debacles loved acting less, you think?
Not everyone loves it as much as I do! If I had to point to a thing, that would be it. People always point to drugs or booze. I actually think it is something subtler than that. For a lot of people, they get into an industry where they have this job at a young age, they become the main breadwinner for their family at 9 or 10 years old, and it puts immense pressure on them to keep doing a job they hate. That's what I feel -- without having spoken to any of the people that I'm thinking of about this -- that's the only thing that I can put it down to. That they sort of get into something and everyone assumes that you must love it, because there are tons of people around the world who would kill to do that job. And actually you don't love it and face a pressure from friends to people in the industry to your family. That must be an incredibly hard thing to go through.
That makes sense. That sounds miserable.
Yeah, your identity becomes wrapped up in fame at a very young age and I was always surrounded by people who could give me perspective on that. Fame will always go away eventually. It might be 15 minutes or 50 years, but it will go, and after it goes, you have to have a good foundation of who you are in yourself, otherwise you are going to struggle.
Speaking of that community feel on set, it sounds like you are awesome to work with. I know that Zoe Kazan is always very prepared, but while working on "What If" you had her beat.
Oh, she is awesome! You know, I definitely come to set prepared. The first person who ever directed me said, "Learn all of your lines before you come in the door." People don't always do that in films, but I think it's the least you can do. As an an actor, to me, that's the minimum requirement. Know your lines, at least! Oh, I've got time for one more question.
You went to Comic-Con dressed/disguised as Spider-Man. Have you ever done that before and gone unnoticed?
Yes, I was a version of Batman last year during Halloween in New York. The year before I went to Halloween in New York, and I hadn't gotten a costume together, so I just wore a mask. It was nothing special. But yeah, it is great! It's the one time of year you can do that and not look like an insane person. Halloween and Comic-Con. It's very nice to meet people, albeit briefly, without who I am affecting the situation. Not that I mind the general reaction of "that." People tend to be very nice to famous people in a way that they might not be to someone else. It's not that I'm complaining about how people treat me, but it's nice to feel normal for an hour to not have "that," without having myself getting in the way.
Well, you'll have to plan your costume for next year.
I'll start working on it right now.