The Two Faces of Harry Potter

harry potterAs an actor, Daniel Radcliffe has almost become synonymous with Harry Potter, the character he plays on film. Almost. In truth, the young British actor Daniel Radcliffe is not an easy man to define. While some actors stick to a single character persona, Mr. Radcliffe has done just the opposite. It is a bold choice, but one that is paying off.

Although Mr. Radcliffe’s claim to fame is playing the famous Harry Potter in the movie franchise of the same name, his recent role choice seems to be an exact reversal in type. Mr. Radcliffe is soon to appear in the Broadway version of Equus as seventeen year-old Alan Strang, a severely psychologically disturbed young man.In the play, Strang is under psychological investigation for violently blinding his horses. The play is mature, emotional, and deeply disturbing; it is in so many ways radically different from Harry Potter. Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the production is the fact that Mr. Radcliffe must appear completely nude in the play, which caused some difficulties with his clean “family friendly” image when the play was staged last year in London.

As an actor, Mr. Radcliffe earned high praise for his interpretation of the role last year in London’s West End. However not all fans were pleased with his direct departure from the Potter persona.

So who exactly is Daniel Radcliffe? As an actor, on paper Daniel is relatively inexperienced prior to becoming Harry Potter.Although he had a few roles before his famous film debut, he was basically an unknown before being accidentally and fortunately discovered.

Chris Columbus, the director of the first film, references Mr. Radcliffe’s “charm and simplicity” as being reasons why he cast Daniel as Harry Potter.These qualities carry over into the five films; Harry is a heroic character whose main redeeming features are his immense heart and eternal goodness.The film is mostly for children, with very little vulgarity or sexuality.Mr. Radcliffe’s acting of the role portrays him as vulnerable, sweet, and brave.

Radcliffe knows that his Broadway role could not be more different from Harry Potter. Daniel has said that although he loves Harry, he wanted to gain experience in a more adult role. Equus is definitely a more mature play and his role in the production requires a violence and edge not immediately associated with the boy wizard.In reality,this is not Mr. Radcliffe’s first appearance on stage. He appeared in “The Play What I Wrote”, directed by Kenneth Branagh, in 2002. He received a great deal of positive praise then as well.

So is Mr. Radcliffe a good, sweet, wizard, or a psychotic teenager? The fact that Mr. Radcliffe can so easily step into either type suggests that what he truly is…is an extremely versatile actor. The ability to delve into such opposite roles may indicate that Mr. Radcliffe will have a celebrated career, long after both Harry Potter and Equus are gone. So what character will he portray next? No doubt it will be worth watching.

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