The intense gaze of Daniel Radcliffe’s wide blue eyes is as haunting as the moody English landscape that provides the setting for the actor’s most recent film, The Woman in Black. The 22-year-old actor chuckles when this is mentioned. “I’ve been told several times I have a thousand-yard stare,” he offers. “When I’m not in a bright and cheerful mood I tend to look like I’ve just run across no-man’s-land.”
Based on the famed 1982 novel and stunningly directed by James Watkins, the gothic ghost story (now available on DVD and Blu-ray) marks both Radcliffe’s first film since leaving Hogwarts and an unexpected return to the supernatural genre of the Harry Potter films, which made him a marquee name. Having already proven his versatility in hit stage revivals of the psychological drama Equus and the classic musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Radcliffe will soon portray his first gay character.
The 22-year-old actor will star in Kill Your Darlings, a true-crime drama from out director John Krokidas, in which he’ll depict legendary Beat poet Allen Ginsberg years before Howl made him a literary icon. Radcliffe belongs to a committed generation of young entertainers intent on using their fame as a platform to speak out for equality. For his efforts on behalf of the Trevor Project, which works to prevent LGBT teen suicides, Radcliffe received the organization’s Hero Award. “Young people deserve to live in a world that accepts them for who they are, regardless of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity,” Radcliffe said upon learning of the honor. Radcliffe tells The Advocate about his return to the supernatural with The Woman in Black, what drew him to play Ginsberg, and why he’s tirelessly committed to speaking out for equality.
The Advocate: The Woman in Blackis the first film you made since the Potter franchise ended. Did you have any hesitation about making another movie within the horror-fantasy genre?
Daniel Radcliffe: I said to myself, if I rule out any script that had remotely any fantasy element, I’d be cutting myself off from a huge amount of amazing work. If you’re talking about films made years ago, it would exclude me from films like The Shining or A Matter of Life and Death or who knows what else. There are so many films that could be deemed as having heightened paranormal elements to them, which could just be magical realism or a ghost story, which isn’t really the same feeling as Potter. I decided not to let that impinge on my decision-making.
What specifically appealed to you about the film?
For me it was a chance to do something that’s genuinely different and that I thought people wouldn’t be expecting and that I wasn’t expecting. If you’d said to me that the first film I’d do after finishing the last Potter would be a horror film, I wouldn’t have believed you. It’s never been something I’ve particularly gravitated towards. But one of the only horror films that made an impression on me while I was growing up was The Others. I saw it when I was about 13 and absolutely loved it.