On a build up to his newest project, A Young Doctor’s Notebook, Dan Radcliffe spoke with The Independent. In the interview, he discussed some of the downs and the ups of being a celebrity, some of his past problems with drinking, his love of author Mikhail Bulgakov, his own poetry writing, and more.
Here are a few excerpts:
He’s asked about his favorite book, The Master and Margarita, which is also written by Bulgakov.
“I read it,” says Radcliffe, and his clear, blue eyes look even bluer as he says it, “and immediately loved it, and read it again immediately afterwards, and then, for my 21st birthday I went to Russia to visit his apartment, as my present to myself.”
“The first time,” says Radcliffe, “I went there alone. And then, when I did The Woman in Black press, they took me around, and I kind of seemed more knowledgeable about it than the interviewer. But my friends have always called me Mr Thorough, in that when I get into something I become obsessed with it.” From the way he’s talking, you can see he might. From the way he’s talking, you can see he might do quite a lot of things with the kind of energy that has other people running to catch up. After reading the book, he saw The White Guard at the National Theatre, and then read A Country Doctor’s Notebook. Two years later, he was approached to play the young doctor in the TV adaptation. “They had no idea,” he says, “that I was this obsessive fan.”
He spoke of how he enjoyed being part of such a huge phenomenon like Harry Potter.
“I’m always pleased,” says Radcliffe, and he sounds as though he means it, “to be associated with something that was so important. And it’s not just a franchise. It’s only really in the past few years that that word has been bandied around, and it makes everything seem very cold and business-like. We were always wanting to prove ourselves and get better with every film.”
He discusses his poetry that he wrote under a pseudonym.
“I used to write a lot of poetry, I would always use form and metre and rhyme. I love all that stuff.” He wrote his poetry, for fairly obvious reasons, under a pseudonym. He sent it off to Stephen Fry, and Tony Harrison, and got “great responses” from both.
He also talked a bit about his insecurities when he was young, what he feels are his weaknesses, and whether he felt he has grown into a man now.
Radcliffe smiles his sweet, polite smile. “I said to my mum, when I was seven or eight, I was in the bath, ‘I’m not good at anything, I’m not good at sports, I’m not good at school, and I remember my mum saying ‘but you’ve got social skills’, and I remember turning round to her and saying ‘that doesn’t count’. When I say I wasn’t good at school, I do mean that.” I fight an urge to hug him. He’s so clever, and eager, and polite, and nice, and he wants to tell me how bad he was at school.
He didn’t, he explains, do well in class, because he couldn’t shut up. “I’ve always,” he says, “loved talking to people. I’ve always been very curious about everything. I think it’s the most important quality anyone can have.” So do I, but he still hasn’t exactly answered the question. “I am getting an impression,” he says, when I remind him what it was, “that I’m starting to be seen as a young man, which is lovely. I thought that would take longer, to be honest, but it hasn’t.”
He spoke a bit about how the pressure of being a celebrity caused him to drink excessively and if he felt this caused him to have a misspent youth. He also talked about the upside to being a celebrity.
For a moment, Radcliffe’s smile fades. This, it’s clear, isn’t his favourite subject. “There are,” he says, “other ways of having youthful excesses! I don’t want to give the impression I’m a boring bastard that never goes out. I still have a really good time. It’s about going ‘if I continue like this, I will jeopardise my career, and the thing I love’. I’ve been working every day since I was 11. I don’t know how to not work, it’s what I love doing. In fact my identity is so wrapped up in who I am when I’m on set that I kind of need to work on that.”
“There is,” he says carefully, “an upside to fame, in that hopefully next year a shitload of people are going to be introduced to Allen Ginsburg. A lot of people would not have gone to see Equus, and have been introduced to that play. They can come in for the wrong reasons, I don’t care. As long as they stay for the right reasons, because the material is good.”
A Young Doctor’s Notebook will being on Sky on December 6th at 9pm.
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