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Daniel Radcliffe Deserves Props For Effectively Separating Himself As A Performer From ‘Harry Potter’

In The Lost City, Daniel Radcliffe plays the billionaire Abigail Fairfax. When his men bring him Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock) against her will to a large warehouse with long tables covered in charcuterie, he says, “oh, no, did this feel creepy? I told you guys, ‘don’t make it creepy.’” Fairfax is a terrible person, the exact kind of person entitled rich people are believed to be, but Radcliffe plays him as if the character genuinely believes he’s a good person, and that all of his illegal activities are just a means to a great goal. It’s one of the best performances of his career and captures the actor he’s become since his role as Harry Potter ended in 2011.

Radcliffe has grown into The Millennial Character, like a younger Richard Jenkins or Walton Goggins (Radcliffe could do Uncle Baby Billy and Goggins could do Harry Potter). Radcliffe’s charming quality and big personality in a tiny body also allow him to carry projects as the lead. Everything he’s done post-Potter has led him to the role of Weird Al in Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, which debuted on Roku over the weekend. Radcliffe’s casting as Yankovic seemed weird at first, but given his idiosyncratic post-Potter filmography, it was inevitable.

Radcliffe was never terrible as Harry Potter, but he wasn’t great either. He adjusted to being a movie star well, but even Radcliffe admits that his acting chops did not really develop until around the fifth Potter film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. In an interview with GQ, Radcliffe credits director David Yates for helping him understand what acting really is. Although Radcliffe’s performance improved with every Potter film, something always felt strained. The emotional beats felt askew, and it never really looked like Radcliffe was having fun, especially when compared to the work he does now like the TBS anthology series Miracle Workers in which Radcliffe gleefully acts opposite Steve Buscemi.

In the same interview with GQ, Radcliffe gushes about the actors he worked with on Potter who had the uncanny ability to turn their characters on and off. One second, they’d be laughing with the cast and crew, and the next, they’re performing their most emotional scene. Radcliffe specifically mentions Imelda Staunton, Michael Gambon, and David Thewlis. Over the years, Radcliffe has carefully curated a career that’s separated himself from the role that the world (fairly) assumed would define him for his entire life, and has built a career inspired by the actors that inspired him on the Potter set. Now, the Radcliffe who played Potter feels like a different person, a doppelgänger or an impostor.

Radcliffe’s path to eccentric actor who is always having a good time solidified with his role as the corpse Manny opposite Paul Dano in 2016’s Swiss Army Man. In the 2010s, Radcliffe differentiated himself from Harry Potter by picking weird, small projects that were all incredibly different from one another, besides being weird, of course. In the 2013 dark comedy Horns, Radcliffe played a man whose newly developed horns help him solve the murder of his girlfriend, of which he has been falsely accused. He played a young Allen Ginsberg in 2013’s Kill Your Darlings, and in 2019, he played a man with guns for hands in Guns Akimbo. Radcliffe has also made guest appearances on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Simpsons, and Bojack Horseman.

Radcliffe hasn’t hesitated to burn any bridges with the Wizarding World while actively separating himself from it creatively. The actor fought against Potter author J.K. Rowling’s transphobia with an open letter in 2020. Earlier this week, Radcliffe explained his response to IndieWire, saying, “The reason I felt very, very much as though I needed to say something when I did was because, particularly since finishing ‘Potter,’ I’ve met so many queer and trans kids and young people who had a huge amount of identification with Potter on that. And so seeing them hurt on that day I was like, I wanted them to know that not everybody in the franchise felt that way. And that was really important.”

Daniel Radcliffe has worked tirelessly to move on from playing the most famous character in the world, although he makes it seem effortless. In doing so, he has built a reputation as that guy who will pretty much do anything, and he will have the best time, too, so long as he doesn’t have to, say, spend forty-one hours and thirty-eight minutes underwater for an action sequence.