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Former ‘Harry Potter’ star Daniel Radcliffe wants to take his career in a different dramatic direction

By Amy Kaufman

Los Angeles Times (MCT)

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 6 2014 7:57 a.m. MDT

“But,” he continues hesitantly, “there was something incredibly lovely about being able to interact with people without that other thing getting in the way.”

That other thing — his fame — often leaves him feeling marooned. A Brit who has spent no more than a month in Hollywood since he became world famous 14 years ago, Radcliffe spends most of the year in New York. There, he says, he keeps his eyes directly on the sidewalk, but people still approach him during meals to ask for photos. He’s used to it, and he doesn’t want to seem like a jerk, so he obliges.

“I don’t have a sense of which parts of my life are just for me,” he admits, “and which parts are kind of owned by everybody.”

In a way, it’s an attitude that probably makes things easier, says Dane DeHaan, who acted with Radcliffe in “Kill Your Darlings” and has since become one of his best friends. Sometimes the two of them go out to play pingpong — Radcliffe sporting a baseball cap to avoid recognition. And if “someone wants a picture or an autograph, he’ll do it and move on and keep playing pingpong,” DeHaan says. “It’s not an obstacle in his life. I’ve seen it the other way around, when people act like it’s this burden — but Dan just accepts it and doesn’t try to change it.”

Others close to Radcliffe, meanwhile, have had a harder time reconciling Radcliffe’s self-sacrificing nature. After a news conference at the Toronto International Film Festival last year, the actor’s “What If” costar Adam Driver was so incensed by how reporters treated Radcliffe that he began to shake.

“Adam was like, ‘They were really rude to you. All they asked you were Harry Potter questions. How can you stand that?’” Radcliffe recalls. “And I was like, ‘I don’t know.’ I don’t have any standard by which I think I should be treated.”

Sometimes, of course, flashes of anger show. At least in the U.S., he says, fans are usually excited to meet him. In his native England — where he spends a few months a year for tax purposes — he often feels like he’s the butt of a joke.

“If I meet someone in a bar there, it’s like, ‘Who is gonna make a joke first? Who wants to come up to me in front of all their mates and make some ... ‘Harry Potter’ joke to win points in front of all their mates? And then I look at them, like, ‘Do you actually think I’m going to laugh?’”

Make no mistake — as respectful as Radcliffe may be toward the Potter franchise and its fans, he’s trying to distance himself from it. He turned down a part playing himself in the spoof “This Is the End” because the jokes all had to do with his most famous role. (Emma Watson turned up in the film instead, poking fun at her image as Hermione.) He also declined to make appearances at Universal’s Potter theme park and has said he will not make a cameo in the film spinoff “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”

“I had to have a conversation with Warner Brothers because I kept saying ‘no,’ and in America people think saying ‘no’ means ‘I want more money,’” he says. “And I was like, ‘No, really, you don’t understand. I just feel uncomfortable putting the robes on and pretending to be this character I played when I was a child.’”

Instead, he’s been working consistently to get fans to see him as someone else. His next two films involve intense physical transformation: In the dark fantasy “Horns,” his diabolical character spouts a pair of gnarly horns, and he walks with a hunched back as Igor in a new remake of “Frankenstein.”

“I have to be in this for the long game now,” Radcliffe says, “because I’m probably not going to be in something for some time — if ever — that is seen as widely as Harry Potter. I have to make enough movies that eventually, whether you like it or not, you’ll see me in a different role.”

©2014 Los Angeles Times. Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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