Daniel Radcliffe

Daniel Radcliffe Biography

Daniel Radcliffe is an English actor who rose to international stardom as Harry Potter in the series of films based on the hugely popular books by J.K. Rowling.


Daniel Radcliffe’s parents initially refused to let him audition for the role, but a chance meeting with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone director Chris Columbus led to an audition. Those involved with the film were in overwhelming agreement that Radcliffe would make the perfect Harry, and the books' legions of fans seemed to agree. He reprised his role in each of the first film’s sequels. He went on to perform on Broadway in plays such as How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (2011). Radcliffe also starred in the 2013 film Kill Your Darlings.

Early Life

The only child of a literary agent and a casting director, Daniel Radcliffe has achieved international stardom for his work in the Harry Potter films, adaptations of the beloved best-sellers by J. K. Rowling. With the series' end in 2011, the young actor now works to establish himself as more than just the bespectacled wizard in training.

Radcliffe made his acting debut in the 1999 television movie David Copperfield, playing the young version of the title character. He soon landed a role on the big screen in 2001's spy thriller The Tailor of Panama with Pierce Brosnan and Jamie Lee Curtis. But even before this film's release, Radcliffe made headlines when he was cast as the lead in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The 11-year-old actor joined fellow unknown performers, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson as Harry's friends Ron and Hermione, on one of the most highly anticipated movies of 2001.

Harry Potter Fame

Released in November 2001, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone proved to be a box-office smash. Audiences adored Radcliffe as the lead character, an orphaned boy who attends a special school for wizards in training. And the fever surrounding the series simply seemed to grow with each new film.

The eight-film series spanned more than a decade of Radcliffe's life. These movies actually show him growing up from a tween to a young man. And they provided him with the opportunity to work with many distinguished actors, including Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson and Helena Bonham Carter. Radcliffe finds Oldman's and Rickman's careers particularly inspiring, telling Back Stage that "They never, ever stop trying to get better and working with people they think are going to bring something new out of them."

While some may wonder whether he lost a part of his youth to the fame and success of Harry Potter, Radcliffe seems to have no regrets about the nearly all-consuming project. "They've been great. For the most part I've been happy every single day. And all the times I've been unhappy, it's never been anything to do with Potter," he told Details magazine. In later interviews, Radcliffe admitted that he had a drinking problem during his teens and occasionally went to film scenes as Harry Potter still drunk from the night before. He has been sober since 2010.

In 2011, the Harry Potter series ended its run with the then-record-breaking Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. The movie brought in roughly $168 million in its opening weekend. But with this final film came some sad good-byes. Radcliffe had to put his most famous character to rest and told Time Out New York what he would miss most about no longer playing Harry Potter. "It's very rare in your career that you get to play an action hero. I'm not the natural frame and stature of an action hero, so I may not get to play one again." He has also lamented that the film series did not receive more critical recognition, especially in terms of Academy Award nominations.

Other Projects

In his work outside of the Harry Potter films, Radcliffe has strived to break away from his best-known role. He poked fun at himself and his image in Ricky Gervais' comedy series Extras in a 2006 special spot. The following year, Radcliffe showed his dramatic acting chops and more than just a bit of skin on the Broadway stage in Equus, playing a disturbed teenager. In 2011, he took on a very different part—an ambitious young man—in the musical comedy How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

Radcliffe, in his first mature film role after Harry Potter, starred in the 2012 gothic horror thriller The Woman in Black. He played a widowed lawyer and father who gets mixed up in some disturbing supernatural trouble. Venturing into lighter fare, Radcliffe also hosted the popular comedy show Saturday Night Live that same year.

Radcliffe also began working an interesting project for British television in 2012. In A Young Doctor's Notebook, he plays the title character who is shadowed throughout each episode by an older version of himself portrayed by Jon Hamm. The series was such a success with audiences that it was renewed for a second season.

Back on the big screen, Radcliffe continued to shed his wizard boy image. He portrayed famed Beat poet Allen Ginsberg during his younger years in Kill Your Darlings (2013). The film also features Elizabeth Olsen, Michael C. Hall and Ben Foster. In 2014, he took on the role of Ignatius Perrish, the prime suspect in the rape and murder of his girlfriend, in the supernatural thriller Horns. The same year, in a lighter rom-com, he starred as Wallace opposite Zoe Kazan in What If. In 2015, Radcliffe played Igor, assistant to Dr. Frankenstein (played by James McAvoy), in the sci-fi horror film Victor Frankenstein, an adaptation of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein.

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