Radcliffe in 2015
Daniel Jacob Radcliffe
23 July 1989
|Known for||Harry Potter|
Born and raised in London, Radcliffe made his acting debut at age 10 in BBC One's television film David Copperfield (1999), followed by his cinematic debut in The Tailor of Panama (2001). The same year, he starred in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Over the next 10 years, he played the lead role in seven sequels, culminating with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011). During this period, Radcliffe became one of the highest-paid actors in the world, gained worldwide fame, popularity, and critical acclaim, and received many accolades for his performances in the series.
Following the success of the Harry Potter films, Radcliffe portrayed lawyer Arthur Kipps in the horror film The Woman in Black (2012); the poet Allen Ginsberg in the film Kill Your Darlings (2013); Victor Frankenstein's assistant, Igor, in the science fiction fantasy Victor Frankenstein (2015); Manny, a sentient corpse in the comedy-drama Swiss Army Man (2016); technological prodigy Walter Mabry in the heist thriller film Now You See Me 2 (2016); and FBI agent Nate Foster in the critically acclaimed thriller Imperium (2016). Radcliffe began to branch out to stage acting in 2007, starring in the London and New York productions of Equus and in the 2011 Broadway revival of the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Since 2018, Radcliffe has starred in the TBS anthology television series Miracle Workers.
Early life, family, and education
Radcliffe was born in Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital, London, England. He is the only child of Alan George Radcliffe and his wife, Marcia Jeannine Gresham (née Jacobson). His mother is Jewish, and was born in South Africa and raised in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex. His father was raised in Banbridge, County Down, Northern Ireland, in a "very working-class" Protestant family. Radcliffe's maternal ancestors were Jewish immigrants from Lithuania, Germany, Poland and Russia. In 2019, Radcliffe explored both sides of his family history in series 16 of BBC's Who Do You Think You Are?[note 1] Radcliffe's parents had both acted as children. His father is a literary agent. His mother is a casting agent and was involved in several films for the BBC, including The Inspector Lynley Mysteries and Walk Away and I Stumble.
Radcliffe was educated at three independent schools for boys: Redcliffe School, a day school in Chelsea's Redcliffe Square; Sussex House School, a day school in Chelsea's Cadogan Square; and the City of London School, a day school on the North Bank of the River Thames in London's financial district (known as the City of London). Attending school became difficult for Radcliffe after the release of the first Harry Potter film. Some fellow pupils became hostile, though he says they were just trying to "have a crack at the kid that plays Harry Potter" rather than acting out of jealousy.
As his acting career began to consume his schedule, Radcliffe continued his education through on-set tutors. He admitted he was not a very good student, considering school useless and finding the work "really difficult". He achieved A grades in the three AS-level exams that he took in 2006, but decided to take a break from education and did not go to college or university. Part of his reasoning was that he already knew he wanted to act and write, and that it would be difficult to have a normal college experience. "The paparazzi, they'd love it", he told Details magazine in 2007. "If there were any parties going on, they'd be tipped off as to where they were."
Radcliffe first expressed a desire to act at the age of five, and, aged 10, he made his acting debut in BBC One's televised two-part adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel David Copperfield (1999), portraying the title character as a young boy. Radcliffe made his film debut in The Tailor of Panama (2001), an American film based on John le Carré's 1996 spy novel, and a moderate commercial success.
Harry Potter film series
In 2000, producer David Heyman asked Radcliffe to audition for the role of Harry Potter for the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the best-selling book by British author J. K. Rowling. Rowling had been searching for an unknown British actor to personify the character, and the movie's director Chris Columbus recalled thinking, "This is what I want. This is Harry Potter" after he saw a video of the young actor in David Copperfield. Eight months later, following several auditions, Radcliffe was selected to play the part. Rowling endorsed the selection, saying: "I don't think Chris Columbus could have found a better Harry." Radcliffe's parents originally turned down the offer, as they had been told that it would involve six films shot in Los Angeles. Warner Bros. instead offered Radcliffe a two-movie contract with shooting in the UK; Radcliffe was unsure at the time if he would act in more than two Harry Potter films.
The release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone took place in 2001. Radcliffe received a seven-figure salary for the lead role, but asserted that the fee was "not that important" to him; his parents chose to invest the money for him. The film was highly popular and was met with positive reviews, and critics took notice of Radcliffe: "Radcliffe is the embodiment of every reader's imagination. It is wonderful to see a young hero who is so scholarly looking and filled with curiosity and who connects with very real emotions, from solemn intelligence and the delight of discovery to deep family longing," wrote Bob Graham of the San Francisco Chronicle.
A year later, Radcliffe starred in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the second installment of the series. Reviewers were positive about the lead actors' performances but had polarized opinions on the movie as a whole. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) was the third film in the series. Radcliffe's performance was panned by New York Times film critic A. O. Scott, who wrote that co-star Emma Watson had to carry him with her performance. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) was the second-highest grossing Harry Potter film at that point, and Radcliffe singled out the humor as a reason for the movie's creative success.
The future of the franchise was put into question when Radcliffe, Watson, and co-star Rupert Grint hesitated to sign on to continue their roles. By March 2007, however, Radcliffe had signed for the final Harry Potter films; his signing put an end to weeks of press "speculation that he would be denied the role due to his involvement in Equus", in which he had performed nude on stage. Radcliffe reprised the role of Harry for the fourth time in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007). Radcliffe stated that director David Yates and actress Imelda Staunton made Order of the Phoenix the "most fun" film to work on in the series. His performance earned him several award nominations, and he received the 2008 National Movie Award for "Best Male Performance." Radcliffe, Grint, and Watson left imprints of their hands, feet, and wands in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the series' sixth installment, was released in July 2009. Radcliffe received nominations for "Best Male Performance" and "Global Superstar" at the 2010 MTV Movie Awards.
For financial and scripting reasons, the last Harry Potter book (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) was divided into two films that were shot back-to-back. This decision drew criticism from the series' fans. Radcliffe defended the split, stating that it would have been impossible to properly adapt the final novel into a single film. Filming lasted for a year, concluding in June 2010.
The two-film finale, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and Part 2, was released in November 2010 and July 2011, respectively. While Deathly Hallows - Part 1 grossed $960 million, Deathly Hallows - Part 2 grossed more than $1.3 billion worldwide; as of May 2019, it was the 11th-highest-grossing film of all time. Deathly Hallows - Part 2 was critically acclaimed, as was Radcliffe's performance; Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post asked, "Who could have predicted that Radcliffe, Grint and Watson would turn out to be good actors"? Critic Rex Reed remarked, "Frankly, I’m sorry to see [Radcliffe] go"; Roger Ebert gave the film a highly positive review, but felt that Radcliffe, Grint and Watson were "upstaged by the supporting [actors]."
Radcliffe admitted that some people would never be able to separate him from the character of Harry Potter; however, he has said that he is "proud to be associated with this film series forever." Despite positive feelings about the movies, he has no interest in doing more Harry Potter films. After Rowling hinted about writing an eighth book, Radcliffe was asked if he would do another Harry Potter film. He replied: "[It is] very doubtful. I think 10 years is a long time to spend with one character". Despite devoting so much time to the series, Radcliffe has asserted that he did not miss out on a childhood like other child actors: "I’ve been given a much better perspective on life by doing Potter."
Other work while portraying Harry Potter (2002–2011)
In 2002, Radcliffe made his stage debut as a celebrity guest in a West End theatre production of The Play What I Wrote, directed by Kenneth Branagh – who also appeared with him in the second Harry Potter film. He appeared in the film December Boys, an Australian family drama about four orphans that was shot in 2005 and released to theaters in mid-September 2007. Also in 2007, Radcliffe co-starred with Carey Mulligan in My Boy Jack, a television drama film shown on ITV on Remembrance Day. The film received mostly positive reviews, with several critics praising Radcliffe's performance as an 18-year-old who goes missing in action during a battle. Radcliffe stated, "For many people my age, the First World War is just a topic in a history book. But I've always been fascinated by the subject and think it's as relevant today as it ever was."
At age 17, in a bid to show people he was prepared for adult roles, Radcliffe performed onstage in Peter Shaffer's play Equus at the Gielgud Theatre. The play had not been revived since its first run in 1973. Radcliffe took on the lead role as Alan Strang, a stable boy who has an obsession with horses. Advance sales topped £1.7 million, and the role generated significant pre-opening media interest, as Radcliffe appeared in a nude scene. Equus opened on 27 February 2007 and ran until 9 June 2007. Radcliffe's performance received positive reviews as critics were impressed by the nuance and depth of his against-type role. Charles Spencer of The Daily Telegraph wrote that he "displays a dramatic power and an electrifying stage presence that marks a tremendous leap forward." He added: "I never thought I would find the diminutive (but perfectly formed) Radcliffe a sinister figure, but as Alan Strang ... there are moments when he seems genuinely scary in his rage and confusion." The production transferred to Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre in September 2008. Radcliffe continued in the lead role, starring alongside Kate Mulgrew, Anna Camp, and his Harry Potter co-star Richard Griffiths. Radcliffe stated that he was nervous about repeating the role on Broadway because he considered American audiences more discerning than those in London. Radcliffe's performance was nominated for a Drama Desk Award.
After voicing a character in an episode of the animated television series The Simpsons in late 2010, Radcliffe debuted as J. Pierrepont Finch in the 2011 Broadway revival How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. The role has previously been performed by Robert Morse and Matthew Broderick. Other cast members included John Larroquette, Rose Hemingway and Mary Faber. Both the actor and production received favorable reviews, with USA Today commenting: "Radcliffe ultimately succeeds not by overshadowing his fellow cast members, but by working in conscientious harmony with them – and having a blast in the process." Radcliffe's performance in the show earned him Drama Desk Award, Drama League Award and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations. The production itself later received nine Tony Award nominations. Radcliffe left the show on 1 January 2012.
Post-Harry Potter career (2012–present)
Radcliffe's first post-Harry Potter project was the 2012 horror film The Woman in Black, adapted from the 1983 novel by Susan Hill. The film was released on 3 February 2012 in the United States and Canada, and was released on 10 February in the UK. Radcliffe portrays a man sent to deal with the legal matters of a mysterious woman who has just died, and soon after he begins to experience strange events and hauntings from the ghost of a woman dressed in black. He has said he was "incredibly excited" to be part of the film and described the script as "beautifully written".
In 2013, he portrayed American beat poet Allen Ginsberg in the thriller drama Kill Your Darlings, directed by John Krokidas. He also starred in an Irish-Canadian romantic comedy film The F Word (2013) directed by Michael Dowseand written by Elan Mastai, based on TJ Dawe and Michael Rinaldi's play Toothpaste and Cigars and then he starred in an American dark fantasy horror film directed by Alexandre Aja Horns. Both of the films premiered at the 38th Toronto International Film Festival. In May 2013 it was reported that he would star as American reporter Jake Adelstein in Tokyo Vice.
Also in 2013, Radcliffe performed at the Noël Coward Theatre in the stage play revival of Martin McDonagh's dark comedy The Cripple of Inishmaan as the lead, Billy Claven, for which he won the WhatsOnStage Award for Best Actor in a Play.
Radcliffe starred as Igor in a science fiction horror film Victor Frankenstein (2015), directed by Paul McGuigan and written by Max Landis. The film was based on contemporary adaptations of Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein. He also starred as Sam Houser, one of the founders of Rockstar Games, in the biographical drama film The Gamechangers.
In November 2015, he joined the ensemble cast of Shane Carruth's third film, The Modern Ocean alongside Anne Hathaway, Keanu Reeves, Tom Holland, Chloë Grace Moretz, Asa Butterfield, Jeff Goldblum and Abraham Attah.
Radcliffe starred in the action-adventure film Now You See Me 2 (2016) alongside Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, and Woody Harrelson. playing a technological prodigy, entrepreneur, criminal mastermind and a main leading antagonist all along with Michael Caine's character named Arthur Tressler (of whom Radcliffe's character is revealed to be the son), who whilst in turn resents magic. In 2016, Radcliffe portrayed Manny, a talkative corpse, in the indie film Swiss Army Man with Paul Dano. That same year, He also starred in critically acclaimed independent film Imperium (2016) with Toni Collette, and Tracy Letts. He played Nate Foster, an idealistic FBI agent who goes undercover to take down a radical white supremacy group. The film received an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus reading, "The unsettling Imperium boasts troublingly timely themes and a talented cast led by Daniel Radcliffe as an undercover FBI agent infiltrating a ring of white supremacists".
In 2017, he starred as Yossi Ghinsberg in the thriller Jungle, which was based on an internationally bestselling memoir of the same name by Yossi Ghinsberg. In 2018, Radcliffe portrayed a pilot smuggling drugs across borders in the independent action-thriller Beast of Burden directed by Jesper Ganslandt.
Radcliffe returned to Broadway in the 90-minute comedy play The Lifespan of a Fact at Studio 54 Theatre with Bobby Cannavale and Cherry Jones. The play revolves around a determined young fact checker who goes up against his demanding editor and an unorthodox author.
In 2019, Radcliffe starred as Craig in the TBS comedy limited series Miracle Workers based on the book by Simon Rich. The show's second season premiered on 28 January 2020. He voiced starred as Rex Dasher, a secret agent who helps Marla, in the animated film Playmobil: The Movie directed by Lino DiSalvo.
In 2020, Radcliffe starred as Miles in the action comedy film Guns Akimbo directed by Jason Lei Howden and co-starring Samara Weaving and Natasha Liu Bordizzo. He also starred as Tim Jenkin in the thriller film Escape from Pretoria, based on the real-life prison escape by three young political prisoners from jail in South Africa in 1979. He also played the role of Prince Frederick in the Netflix special Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt opposite Ellie Kemper.
In March 2020, Radcliffe appeared as the guest on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, in which he discussed his teenage alcohol misuse and his decision to become teetotal, and how his parents' support and staying in the United Kingdom helped him cope with fame. Among his choices of music were "Bring Me Sunshine" by Morecambe and Wise and "Into My Arms" by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. His book choice was The Norton Anthology of Poetry and his luxury item was a pencil and paper.
In 2008, Radcliffe revealed that he has a mild form of the neurological disorder developmental coordination disorder (dyspraxia). The motor skill disorder sometimes prevents him from doing simple activities, such as writing or tying his own shoelaces. "I was having a hard time at school, in terms of being crap at everything, with no discernible talent", Radcliffe commented.
In November 2007, Radcliffe published several poems under the pen name Jacob Gershon – a combination of his middle name and the Jewish version of his mother's maiden name Gresham – in Rubbish, an underground fashion magazine. He has had close friendships with his Harry Potter co-stars Tom Felton, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, and is close to his family, whom he credits for keeping him grounded.
In August 2010, Radcliffe stopped drinking alcohol after finding himself becoming too reliant on it.
Sources disagree about Radcliffe's personal wealth; he was reported to have earned £1 million for the first Harry Potter film and around £15 million for the sixth. Radcliffe appeared on the Sunday Times Rich List in 2006, which estimated his personal fortune to be £14 million, making him one of the richest young people in the UK. In March 2009, he was ranked number one on the Forbes "Most Valuable Young Stars" list, and by April The Daily Telegraph measured his net worth at £30m, making him the 12th richest young person in the UK. Radcliffe was considered to be the richest teenager in England later that year. In February 2010, he was named the sixth highest paid Hollywood male star and placed at number five on Forbes's December list of Hollywood's highest-grossing actors[note 2] with a film revenue of US$780 million, mainly due to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows being released that year.
Radcliffe maintains a home in the West Village of Lower Manhattan in New York City. He splits his time between New York and Fulham, London. Radcliffe has been dating Erin Darke, whom he met on the set of Kill Your Darlings, since 2013. There were rumours and stories of a possible engagement in mid-2014, but Darke's father, Ian Darke, denied there were any such plans in December 2014.
In a 2012 interview, Radcliffe stated: "There was never [religious] faith in the house. I think of myself as being Jewish and Irish, despite the fact that I'm English." He has stated: "We were Christmas tree Jews", and that he is "very proud of being Jewish". In 2012, Radcliffe was quoted as saying: "I'm an atheist, and a militant atheist when religion starts impacting on legislation", though in a 2009 interview, he stated, "I'm very relaxed about [being an atheist]. I don't preach my atheism, but I have a huge amount of respect for people like Richard Dawkins who do. Anything he does on television, I will watch". In a 2019 interview, Radcliffe described himself as "agnostic leaning toward atheism".
Political views and activism
Radcliffe is a supporter of the Labour Party. Until 2012, Radcliffe had publicly supported the Liberal Democrats, and before the 2010 general election he endorsed Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats. In 2012, however, Radcliffe switched his allegiance to the Labour Party, citing disappointment with the performance of Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats in government, and approving of the Labour leader, Ed Miliband. In August 2015, Radcliffe endorsed Jeremy Corbyn's campaign in the Labour Party leadership election. He told The Big Issue: "I feel like this show of sincerity by a man who has been around long enough and stuck to his beliefs long enough that he knows them and doesn't have to be scripted is what is making people sit up and get excited. It is great."
He is a supporter of a British republic. He is also a supporter of British unionism. When asked about the Scottish independence referendum, he said he hoped the UK would "stay as it is now".
Speaking out against homophobia, Radcliffe began filming public service announcements in 2009 for The Trevor Project, promoting awareness of gay teen suicide prevention. He first learned of the organisation while working on Equus on Broadway in 2008 and has contributed financially to it. "I have always hated anybody who is not tolerant of gay men or lesbians or bisexuals. Now I am in the very fortunate position where I can actually help or do something about it," he said in a 2010 interview. In the same interview, he spoke of the importance of public figures advocating for equal rights. Radcliffe received The Trevor Project's Hero Award in 2011 for his contributions. In response to a series of tweets by J. K. Rowling criticizing the phrase "people who menstruate" in June 2020, Radcliffe made a statement through The Trevor Project. He wrote: "Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people...I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments [by Rowling] have caused you".
Radcliffe has supported various charities. He designed the Cu-Bed for Habitat's VIP Kids range (a cube made of eight smaller ones which can be made into a bed, chaise-longue or chair) with all the royalties from the sale of the bed going directly to his favourite charity, Demelza House Children's Hospice in Sittingbourne, Kent. Radcliffe has urged his fans to make donations to the charity's Candle for Care programme in lieu of giving him Christmas presents. In 2008, he was among several celebrities who donated their old glasses to an exhibit honouring victims of the Holocaust. During the Broadway run of Equus he auctioned off a pair of jeans and other items worn in the show, for New-York-based Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and was a presenter at the 2011 Gypsy of the Year competition. He has also donated money to Get Connected UK, a London-based free confidential national helpline for troubled youth.
Film and live theatre
Awards and nominations
- Radcliffe's maternal great-grandfather, Samuel Gershon, had been a Hatton Garden jeweller who had taken his own life after a robbery at the business that he ran with his brother. The crime was not fully investigated as the police believed it might have been fraud. As a result of the suicide, Samuel's wife had changed her name from Gershon to Gresham. The outstanding insurance claim from the robbery, however, was eventually settled in the family's favour. On his father's side, Radcliffe investigated his great-great uncles – four brothers – who had all fought in the Great War; great-great uncle Ernie, in particular, was examined through a large number of letters he had written home over a two year period. Sent home to recuperate twice, once from frostbite and once from a gunshot wound, Ernie was the only brother to be killed in the conflict, when his trench was shelled.
- This refers to the amount of money taken by films in which they have appeared, not their personal income.
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Daniel Radcliffe: "My dad is Northern Irish and my mum is Jewish. That's working blood. Though I am not religious in the least, I am very proud to be Jewish."
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