Daniel Radcliffe and Our Lady J: The Odd Couple
By Noah Michelson
When the Harry Potter franchise sends the eighth, and final, film adaptation of author J.K. Rowling's multibillion dollar publishing phenomenon to the big screen next summer, expect to hear the collective wail of heartbroken fans echoing throughout cineplexes as the young wizard rides off into the celluloid sunset on his Firebolt broomstick. But don't expect Daniel Radcliffe to join the chorus. Yes, the 21-year-old actor, who was just 12 in 2001 when he donned Harry Potter's trademark circular specs after beating out 40,000 hopefuls for the role, happily sacrificed his teenage years to bring the beloved character to life. But along with the fame, adoration, and monster paychecks came the exhaustion of struggling to maintain his own identity and the mounting pressure to ensure that once Potter was finished, his career wouldn't wither in the long, magical shadow of his fictional counterpart.
That, it seems, is not going to be a problem. Though Radcliffe is in many ways still relatively new to the industry (his first networking trip to Los Angeles took place earlier this year), he's no stranger to unorthodox career choices. He has already made two of the gutsiest moves a teenage screen actor can make: He starred on Broadway (in Peter Shaffer's Equus), and he did it completely naked. Next year, Radcliffe will push even further from his decade-long stint at Hogwarts with a return to the Great White Way in a revival of the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, a remake of the 1930 war classic All Quiet on the Western Front, and the lead role in The Woman in Black, a ghost story from the revered (and recently revived) film studio Hammer. These atypical projects suggest an actor who is growing into himself, more attracted to taking risks than playing it safe.
Radcliffe's personal interests are just as unexpected as his professional ones. He has become one of the queer community's most visible allies, speaking out against homophobia and filming public service announcements for the Trevor Project, the leading organization focusing on suicide prevention efforts among gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth. In 2009, when the British tabloids played a salacious guessing game about the nature of his friendship with American trans singer-songwriter Our Lady J, Radcliffe didn't jump to fire off a press release to refute the claims, as many straight young leading men would do. He's better than that. Instead, he simply gushed about how talented he thought she was and left the world to think whatever it wanted about their relationship.
Radcliffe and Our Lady J let Out sit in on a conversation about the upcoming penultimate Potter movie, the thrills and potential hazards of dating when you're one of the world's most recognizable bachelors, and why the actor is earning big points in tranny heaven.
Daniel Radcliffe: Hi, J, how are you?
Our Lady J: I'm very well and you?
DR: I'm very, very well. I've just finished Potter properly yesterday.
OLJ: Did they let you keep the glasses?
DR: Yes! I've got two pairs from the seventh film and the pair I wore in the very, very first movie -- which are really tiny on my head now! So what have you been up to?
OLJ: I've been in L.A., finishing up my album. There are too many distractions in New York. The only thing to distract me in L.A. is the beach.
DR: I was just in L.A. for the first time in my life. I went for the premiere of the fifth [Harry Potter] film, but other than that, I'd never really gone there before. So I went for five days and did my first round of meetings and going to studios. It was very exciting.
OLJ: You just made your first trip to Hollywood?
DR: People seem to have a very bizarre perception of me -- that I'm a Hollywood actor. I don't think of myself that way. And when I was out there and telling people it was pretty much my first trip, jaws just hit the floor. They were looking at me like I had two heads.
OLJ: So I wanted to clear up a couple of rumors, if we may. You are not actually Harry Potter, right?
DR: No, not really.
OLJ: And I'm not the transsexual incarnation of Narcissa Malfoy, right?
DR: [Laughs] No, you are not. I can confirm that neither of those things are true.
OLJ: [Laughs] OK, OK. Good. It's funny because with that little tabloid thing that happened a year ago with us, I actually got all these strange e-mails to my website asking 'What is Harry Potter like?' And I just thought, I have no idea, actually.
DR: It's strange. I think it's a mixture of people who actually do, in some way, think I am Harry Potter and a number of people who can't be bothered to know my name, which is fair enough. I mean, when you've been so identified with one character for so long, it's natural that it should almost become an alias. But I've been encouraged lately to find that people are using my real name more often.
OLJ: You're coming to New York for your second Broadway show, this time a musical, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. What is it that you love so much about New York?
DR: I love the city as a whole, absolutely, but I love Broadway. And the community on Broadway is something that you hear talked about and talked about by other English actors who've been over there. And you think, Well, OK. How could it be that different or that much better? Because they make it sound amazing. And then you come to New York, and you actually experience [Broadway], and it is like nothing else. We were across the road from Gypsy when we did Equus, and we were constantly hanging out with them after the show, and it was fantastic. And we went and met with the cast from The Seagull and Black Watch a couple of times. It's very, very hard to actually describe why New York is so brilliant. But the community is amazing, and if you get involved with all those events, and you show how much you love and appreciate being there, you really get nothing but generosity and kindness back.