One of this year’s box office surprises was the thriller The Woman in Black. Starring Daniel Radcliffe in his first major role following Harry Potter, the Gothic horror tale was based off of a 1983 novel by Susan Hill and made over $125 million at the worldwide box office. In fact, the film was such a success that Hammer, Alliance Films, Cross Creek Pictures and author Hill are teaming up for a follow-up entitled The Woman in Black: Angels of Death. The film will be set 40 years after the events of the first film, and will follow a new couple’s experience in the same eerie house. For more on The Woman in Black, here’s all our previous coverage which includes trailers, images, featurettes and clips.
With the film hitting Blu-ray and DVD this week, I recently did an exclusive phone interview with Radcliffe. We talked about the success of the film and if he was relieved that he could open a film that didn’t have the words “Harry Potter” in the title, what he thought worked really well in the film and if there was something he wished he could redo, how many takes he likes to do, and more. In addition, we talked about his thoughts on Warner Bros. eventually re-releasing the entire Harry Potter series in 3D, the drama Kill Your Darlings (in which he plays poet Allen Ginsberg), his criteria for picking future roles, and whether there’s a comic book role he’d like to play (The Flash). Hit the jump to either read or listen to the interview.
As usual, I’m offering you two ways to get the interview: you can either click here for the audio or the full transcript is below.
Collider: When The Woman in Black opened and it did so exceptionally well at the box office, were you breathing a sigh of relief thinking “Thank god, I’m going to be able to do other movies besides Harry Potter, and have people come out”?
Daniel Radcliffe: Absolutely. Yeah, I’ve never known, really, what it’s like to have a film come out where you feel a lot of pressure around the release. And obviously in Potter it was always a question of how big the film was gonna be. So to have a film where you really don’t know how it’s going to do opening weekend and where you’re being released with a load of other films and you haven’t got that massively recognizable brand that obviously Potter had. So you’re gonna have to scrap from recognition among those other films. I think it’s a testament to the quality of the movie that people not only went and saw it the first weekend but, particularly in the UK, went back for weeks and weeks to see it. And it was great, and for me personally, to see that people will still come out to support a film that I’m in that is not Harry Potter in that they did was just amazing. And I feel I worked hard on the film, both in the actual filming and then in the promotion of it, so it was lovely to see all that work rewarded. It was very gratifying, actually.
Are you the type of person that likes going to the theater opening weekends, standing in the back and watching the crowd? Especially something like this that will have the crowd reacting strongly to it?
Radcliffe: By the time this film had come out I’d seen it three times, and two of those times had been in the back of fairly full screening rooms, so I didn’t feel I needed to go opening weekend. But this is a particularly good film to watch for audience reactions. I saw it one time we sat near the front of the screening and one time I sat near the back, and it’s interesting because when you sit near the front you don’t have a sense of how the film is playing, really. But when you sit at the back and you can actually see the reactions of the people and you can see everyone jumping and kind of jostling each other as they scream. It’s a very, very satisfying film to watch like that, because my favorite thing to do is to pick a person, normally a group of teenage girls, and just watch them until they freak out and scream and throw popcorn everywhere.
Hindsight is 20/20; when you look back on the film now, what do you think really worked, and is there something about the film that you wish you could have done another take on or explored more?
Radcliffe: The part of the film that I think is the best and is the most compelling section is the 15-20 minutes in the middle where there’s no dialogue and it’s just me being chased around the house. In terms of things I think we could have done differently, I mean I’m very happy with the film and there will always be things in my own performance that I feel I could have done better. That’s part of the process and that’s where I was as an actor at the time, it was a while ago we did it now— it was a year and half, which is a long time in terms of how much you develop in that time. But yeah, there are certainly things that now I watch the film and I look back, and I go “Oh I could definitely have done that better,” or this or that. But generally speaking I’m happy, and particularly with the middle section of the film where— that’s the section where . . . If I’m not doing my job in that section then it shouldn’t really work, because I’m all there is there. So I was pleased with that. That was the section of the film that I look at with a lot of pride.
Some actors prefer the Clint Eastwood method of 2 takes and some actors love the David Fincher method of 50 takes; where do you fall in that spectrum and what’s the most you’ve every done?
Radcliffe: The most I’ve ever done? The most takes I’ve ever done . . . it was not a shot I was in. I’ve been on set for getting to 36 takes. That was on the second [Harry Potter] film, I think. Where do I fall in? It’s interesting, it’s amazing to me that Fincher has time to do 50 takes, I’ve just done a film where we’ve shot it in 26 days, and there’s some things where you get one take, but it’s not because of Clint Eastwood’s “so you get 1 take” method, that’s [just] all you have time for. So I dunno. To be honest, as long as I feel the director’s got what he wants, I don’t care if you do 1 take or 100. My energy level is such that I can keep going for as long as you need me to. I’m there until the director feels he’s got it, and when he does then I want to move on, but until I feel that he’s happy, then I really don’t feel comfortable moving on to another shot. I think also there’s this thing sometimes where if it’s a big scene it would be great to do a lot of takes, and just feel that you give every option, every way of playing it that you can. But if it’s a small scene and you feel you’re getting hung up on something and you get to take 10 on a tiny scene, then as an actor you start thinking, “Well Jesus, what do I have to do here, what is the right version of this?” But it’s not something you get too wrapped up on, I tend to just go by what the director wants.
Radcliffe: I have no idea . . . Yeah, they probably will, won’t they, I suppose? Maybe the 3D fad will have passed by the time we get around to it, who knows? I don’t know, I’m sure there is going to be many box sets and 3D releases of everything. In terms of how it affects my life, it doesn’t really other then there’s different things for me to sign. It will be a new box set to slap a signature on. The thing I always say about 3D is it’s not for me, I don’t love it. If you like 3D, and you like Harry Potter, then I have no doubt that you’ll love Harry Potter in 3D. But if you don’t like 3D, then it probably won’t add much for you. The one thing that terrifies me is that the idea that in 20 years or so they’ll probably remake the films. Just with the world’s generally shrinking attention span, it will probably only be 10 years before people are ready to remake them again. So you know, I could come back and play Lupin or whoever I want in 20 years maybe.
I’m really excited for Kill Your Darlings, which you mentioned you just wrapped on. You play a very famous person; can you talk a little about the research that went in, what excited you about that project, and what people can be looking forward to?
Radcliffe: I think people can be looking forward to one of the best ensemble casts and filming one of the best scripts that I think, as a cast, we were all talking about on set how it’d been a long time since we read anything as good as this. It’s a fantastic script. To give you a rundown of the cast; it is Ben Foster, Michael C. Hall, Dane DeHaan, Jack Huston, Kyra Sedgwick, Jennifer Jason Leigh, David Cross, Elizabeth Olsen . . . It’s a really great cast. In terms of the research for playing Allen, it was really about working on my American accent, and just making sure that it was right and felt like my voice and had a kind of subtle New Jersey element to it, but he really didn’t have much of an accent, [Allen] Ginsberg, so it wasn’t too focused on that. And it was about watching a lot of YouTube clips really, because even though there’s no footage of Allen at the age of 19, it’s interesting to watch people talk about him and the person he was and see what he then turned into. Really the thing that I always see when I watch Allen is he really is the most—although he can seem slightly introverted at moments—he’s actually the most expressive, enthusiastic, kind of excitable member of that group. And was really a very—at the time they met him—sweet, completely conformist just desperate to be liberated. Absolutely longing for the excitement that he dreamed of in New York to be in his life. And it’s about him meeting both all the right and all the wrong people at the same moment.
I’m sure you have your pick of a lot of different projects: What’s your criteria moving forward in terms of your film roles and have you all ready lined up something that you’re going to be starting in the neat future.
Radcliffe: I think my criteria is just . . . I read some thrillers recently, some thriller scripts, and it all kind of felt the same, there was an interesting part in some of them, but none of it felt like it was new. So I think the first thing that I look at when I read a new script is has this story been told before? Originality is really . . . it goes a long way to beat that in my book.
So have you figured out what you’re going to do next?
Radcliffe: I don’t have any immediate plans. There are lots of offers around, but I want to do something that I’m really— I’ve never been on a set of something that I’m not very passionate about, and I can’t imagine being on a set without being very passionate about something, so I’ve got to wait until I find something that I know really want to do.
The comic book genre is more popular then ever, is that a genre that excites you? And could you ever see yourself wanting to play another one of these iconic, title roles?
Radcliffe: Yeah, absolutely. I dunno who’s left, I mean a lot of comic books have . . . they’ve all been done. I don’t think anyone’s done The Flash yet, and that’s one I’d probably have a go at. Other then that, I’m not sure which comic book heroes are left.