As the Harry Potter movies land on Netflix, we look back at the franchise’s best and worst moments. The movies have helped to bring comfort to millions of children across the world, and while the films are routinely recognised as fantastic, there is one that Daniel Radcliffe would rather forget.
Few literary or cinematic franchises have shaken the world as violently as J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. The unprecedented underworld of witchcraft and wizardry based around an enchanted school clicked with a wide audience of children and adults around the world in the late 1990s as the initial books hit the shelves. Starting with 2001’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the franchise’s impact and scope were fortified by a star-studded film series with an 11-year-old Daniel Radcliffe taking the central role, flanked by pals Emma Watson and Rupert Grint.
Good actors will have traits from birth that earmark them for success, but it’s a room that becomes better furnished with experience. Actors learn a great deal from quotidian interactions and emulating other actors and intriguing subjects. For this reason, casting for child roles can feel like a blindfolded step into the unknown.
The strong cast introduced in the first Harry Potter film included Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Richard Griffiths, Robbie Coltrane and John Hurt, actors who had all previously established their talents on the big screen. But with the focus falling on a group of schoolchildren, certain gambles were necessary.
For the most part, the child acting in the Harry Potter films was seamless and only occasionally toed the realms of cringe-town. On the whole, the films told the story of Harry Potter extremely well and proved to be just as lucrative and awe-inspiring as the books.
Over the eight original films, Radcliffe’s acting performances were marginally inconsistent, and it seems that a grapple with fame and fortune in his personal life might have played a role. Reflecting on his inconsistency in a 2014 interview with The Daily Mail, Radcliffe revealed that he doesn’t like to watch himself on the big screen generally, but one film leaves a particularly bitter taste.
“I’m just not very good in [The Half-Blood Prince],” he said. “I hate it. My acting is very one-note, and I can see I got complacent, and what I was trying to do just didn’t come across. My best film is the fifth one [Order of the Phoenix] because I can see a progression.”
Following his role in 2011’s final film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, Radcliffe struggled for some time with the wizardry typecast. Speaking to The Daily Mail, he explained the difficulty he encountered escaping his career-defining role and becoming a “real actor.”
An initial answer, damaging as it was, was casual sex and whiskey, the young star revealed. He even admitted to turning up to the set of The Deathly Hallows – Part 2 under the influence. “I don’t think I was consciously trying to rebel or sabotage everything,” he pondered while also admitting he was “a really annoying, loud, inappropriate, messy drunk.”
“It felt more like there isn’t any blueprint for how to get through this. And the reason I spoke out about it was because I felt someone else would and I should take control…which is exactly what I did,” he added of his revelation.
With the help of seasoned mentors, including Gary Oldman and Alan Rickman, Radcliffe eventually managed to attract attention from filmmakers outside of the fantasy genre after rebuilding his acting and personal lives.
Watch Harry Potter on Netflix now.