Daniel Radcliffe looks scared.
Breathing deeply through his nose in laboured bouts, the camera records his frightened reaction as his saucer-round blue eyes go wide at the sight of something terrifying on the other side of the lens that's enough to make him dash out of the room.
After fighting so many formidable creatures in his 10-year-long adventure as Harry Potter, what could possibly have the world-famous boy wizard shaking in his Brogues?
That would be the woman in black, the haunting specter at the centre of his first post-Potter movie, a 19th century gothic thriller in which he plays Arthur Kipps, a 24-year-old lawyer and father, representing a leap forward after a decade as Hogwarts' most famous student. Though Radcliffe is eager to show he's got range, he's careful not to give the impression that Harry Potter has been anything but the role of a lifetime.
"I'm very proud of the films and I owe everything to them," he told Cineplex while on the London, England set of The Woman in Black. "But it's certainly about making people see that I want to move forward [and have] a career that is beyond one character and hopefully goes into the future."
"You know, it is weird but when it's become such a part of your life, it feels almost the same as saying goodbye to your teenage years and it is very sad but it is also an inevitability," he offered. "And yeah, while I had an amazing time, 10 years is enough to spend with one character. I loved every second of it but I'm excited about moving on more than scared or upset."
At 21, Radcliffe is seemingly ready to put away childish things and, showing some serious scruff on that boyish face, is starting to show his age. Or at least hint towards impending adulthood.
Standing at a compact 5'4", he's suited up in a high collared shirt and tie of the times, surrounded by ancient-looking furniture coated with cobwebs and thick dust, earnestly listening to director James Watkins' advice while confidently hitting his mark take after take. In fact, it was the prospect of working with Watkins, whose only other credit is the little-seen 2008 thriller Eden Lake, that added to Radcliffe's interest in making the film.
"The main reason was that it was the best script and I was very excited to work with James, our director, who is a very exciting young British filmmaker," he said. "It would start filming this year and I didn't want to just sit around as soon as Potter was finished and, you know, wait for something to come around. I wanted to get out there again immediately and do something that hopefully would help out that transitional phase of my career start."
The next phase of his career involves playing older and a father, a first for the Brit, who revealed that having his godson cast in the role of his son made the required intimacy a little easier. And he delighted in the cranked up speed of filmmaking, revealing that working at a more accelerated pace proved to be a welcome change.
"In terms of the whole experience, it's been amazing. It's proper filming, you know. With Potter we normally get five or six set-ups a day, and here we're doing five or six scenes generally speaking. But we have been racing through it, filming at a speed that I'm not exactly used to but I was totally ready for. I was always ready to film at a slightly faster pace. So yeah, it's been great."
And the demanding schedule seems not to matter to Radcliffe one lick, since after a 10-hour day, which continued even after this journalist called it a night, he continued to nail every take, amicably chatting with the crew and cast and showing the same amount of energy as when the director first yelled "Action!"
Maybe Radcliffe has some magic up his sleeve yet.
The Woman in Black opens in Cineplex theatres February 2, 2012.
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