ST. LOUIS - As the boy wizard in a billion-dollar movie franchise, Daniel Radcliffe grew up before our eyes. But a decade after entering Hogwarts, the actor, now 22, has graduated from Harry Potter to adult roles.
Most notably, he starred in a stage production of "Equus" in his native London and New York for which he flashed his physique. Soon he'll begin work on "Kill Your Darlings," a true-life murder story in which he co-stars as poet Allen Ginsberg. And he's promoting the Gothic horror movie "The Woman in Black," which opens Friday.
Recently we spoke to Radcliffe by phone from New York, where he was completing a successful run on Broadway in the musical "How to Succeed in Business (Without Really Trying)."
Q: Although this movie is your first adult role, it isn't the first time you've worn Victorian garb. When are you going to do a whole movie in blue jeans?
A: I know! I hope that at some point in my life, I'll do something contemporary. But I'm not complaining, because I love that steampunk aesthetic and those old costumes. If I could wear them every day without getting beat up, I would.
Q: And you must enjoy exploring haunted mansions.
A: Indeed. The new movie is a supernatural thriller about a young lawyer whose wife died in childbirth and left him to care for their young son. He is sent to a foggy estate to handle the affairs of a recently deceased woman and is made the target of a very angry ghost. It's pretty frightening, but it was great fun to make, actually.
Q: There are a lot of old dolls in this mansion. Did they give you the creeps?
A: I'm not afraid of old dolls individually, but antique dolls en masse are very creepy. Especially when they move about.
Q: You've been making movies since you were a child, so when you watch movies as a consumer, can you still be scared by them, or do you notice all the tricks?
A: When I first start making films, I was obsessed with how special effects were achieved. I remember watching the brilliant opening battle sequence of "Gladiator" and thinking: That must have taken ages to make, and a lot of money. But now I can just sit back and enjoy things like everyone else.
Q: Now that the Potter series is over, do you have more time for your own amusements?
A: Not really. After the last Potter film, I had about a month and a half break, but I spent it preparing for this film and for my role (on Broadway) in "How to Succeed in Business." I've always found time to go to the cinema, but I literally cannot remember the last time I was able to go to a club and see a band, although I've been to the Reading music festival several times.
Q: Have you gotten to travel much?
A: Last year for my birthday I spent a week in Russia, which is a country I always wanted to visit. But I'm not interested in going to hot countries and just laying on the beach. I don't know how to relax, and I don't particularly enjoy it when people try to make me. If I'm going to travel, I'd rather do it for work. My favorite claim to fame is that I was the first Western actor to attend a film premiere in communist China, for the second Potter movie.
Q: When you're out in public, does it still astonish you to see your own image on billboards or magazine covers?
A: I'm used to it by now, but I do enjoy the effect that it has on other people. A fellow from "How to Succeed" went on holiday in the Caribbean and he said that the first thing he saw when he got to the hotel was a cardboard cut-out of me. And I thought: Welcome to my world.