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Daniel Radcliffe: What I've Learned

The man they once called Potter talks fame, mistakes and listening to Gary Oldman

Daniel Radcliffe Interview

Trying to be cool is bollocks. It leads to unhappiness. When I was 17/18 I worked really hard at being enigmatic, but now I’ve accepted I’m not that guy. I’m chatty and hyper.


Talking about drinking on the set of Potter was a mistake. I thought if I could narrow the gap between the perception of me and the reality, the better things would be. Actually it just gave the media more to speculate with.


Gary Oldman gave me some advice. He said: ‘Your name is your brand. Protect it’. I didn’t understand what that meant until recently.


I didn’t just grow up on screen, I learned my trade on it too. I was surrounded by fantastic actors getting the best drama training anyone could have, but it was all caught on film. I’m very critical, even of the early stuff. The last year or so is the first time I’ve been proud of the work I’ve produced.


I learn a lot from athletes. Someone said Mike Atherton’s greatest skill as a batsman was the ability to concentrate intently for a few seconds at a time, then totally relax. That’s a useful skill - conserving energy.


Making the wrong choices is my bigger fear. But there’s no master plan. I just try and do what interests me.


If I quit acting tomorrow, I’d become an archaeologist  I love history and I love physical work. I think I could lead a very happy life digging things out of the ground.


Every day I try and remind myself: work isn’t a given. You have to earn your right to be there every day. It’s very easy to get a few weeks into a play and go on autopilot, but the people in the audience at the end of the run have paid just as much as the people on the first night. They deserve just as much commitment and energy.


Going to the gym is how I switch off. It’s not relaxing, exactly, but it makes me feel so much better. I like being in pain and sweating and working hard.


The big embarrassment of my life is that my Dad is fitter than me. He’s 54 but in crazy shape. He’s a runner. I’m catching up with him though.


Every day is a chance to improve. No matter what you’re doing.


Hard work trumps everything, event talent. Look at Tom Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback. He was picked 199th in the sixth round of the NFL draft, and went on to become one of the all time greats. You can have all the god-given ability on earth but if you don’t work at it, you won’t reach your potential.


Success is living up to the goals you set yourself. Other people have said I’ll never do anything as successful as Harry Potter, and in a commercial sense they’re right. But how you feel about your own work is the real way to measure it.


I was at Richard Griffiths’s funeral earlier this year. Everyone there talked about how happy and content he was, which was absolutely true. Someone saying the same thing about me at my funeral: that’s what real success would look like.


Daniel Radcliffe stars in Kill Your Darlings, out 6 December 2013

 

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MORE WHAT I'VE LEARNED:

Forest Whitaker
Keith Richards
Ron Burgundy 
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