After saying goodbye to a decade of Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe says he’s ready to show that, behind the boy wizard, he is a real actor willing to play a wide variety of roles. First, he acted in the well-received Broadway revival of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” Now, we have the Gothic period horror film “The Woman in Black,” in which he plays a widower and lawyer in a town haunted by secrets.
What motivated you to accept the challenge here — a horror film that’s certainly not for children?
[It was] Jane Goldman’s script, and the meeting with the director, James Watkins. [My character] Arthur is so complex, but there is a real calm in him. It was an interesting character to play.
How would you describe him?
As a man so destroyed by the death of his wife who has been almost impossible to live in the human world for four years. Arthur could not connect with people, especially his son. He loves him, but he has not been there for him as he should have been, could not give him a happy childhood until now, because he has not the capacity for happiness.
What did you struggle with the most in playing Arthur?
[His] apparent calm. There are times when we are not sure what Arthur thinks. We know that they might not be happy thoughts, but we are not sure exactly why, or what passes at certain times. This allows the public to have more space to connect, because they can insert whatever emotion they assume he must be feeling. Ambiguity plays a crucial role for the existence of a connection.
Any worries that the audience will still see you as Harry Potter?
I’m very proud of Potter, but now I have to show people I’m serious about acting, and I think the way is to start by selecting interesting material.
Are you really into ghosts on film? First “Harry,” now this.
Yes, when I met James the first time, he mentioned a quote from Kubrick about how all movies with a supernatural element are intrinsically linked because they involve life after death. Here’s this guy who lost his wife, goes to this house and starts seeing the ghost of a dead woman. The reason for staying there to find it almost comes as hidden desire, or instinct, to get an assurance that his wife is in a better place.