Can ‘Harry Potter’ Stars Avoid Child Actor Doom?

Young wizards look to avoid future typecasting.

So many young stars have grown up to become tabloid fodder that the very
phrase “child actor” has become a cliché — one that brings to mind
robbery, drug busts, and celebrity boxing. So with the imminent release of
“Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” kicking junior wizard-mania back
into high gear, are the kids of the “Harry Potter” series doomed to suffer
the same fate as many of their predecessors?

“I think it’s going to develop into years of therapy,” Daniel Radcliffe joked
about growing up in front of the world, playing Harry Potter over the course
of the first film and its inevitable sequels. “But I think it’s great because
it’s never really been seen before, when somebody kinda grows up [on screen].” (Click to see photos from the film. )

“My voice has changed a lot, it’s gotten lower,” said Rupert Grint, who
portrays Harry’s buddy Ron Weasley. “I’ve gotten a bit taller. I’ve changed
quite a lot since the first one.”

“Who knows how many films I will do, but still to see somebody grow up over a
period of two years is kind of rare,” Radcliffe observed. “But I think it’s
unique and that’s what I like about playing it.”

“Luckily, in the books they grow as well and so we’ve basically grown with
the books,” Grint said. “So it hasn’t really been a problem.”

The “Harry Potter” kids admitted that they may yet become serial killers or
drug addicts — but only in the movies. Though they’ve all signed on for
2004’s “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” based on author JK
Rowling’s third novel in the series, they’re all itching to grow beyond their
kid wizard roles.

“I’m gonna go straight out and be a villain or something,” co-star Emma
Watson said half-jokingly, before adding more seriously, “I [do] want to do
something completely different. I kinda want to do everything. I think I’ve
had it with the goody-two-shoes look. I want to get into theater or do
something completely different.”

“I saw a film last night called ’Punch Drunk Love’ with Adam Sandler,”
Radcliffe said, beaming. “I’d like to do something like Adam Sandler’s
character. I think it’s just a great character to play — somebody with
a serious rage problem.”

For his part, Grint doesn’t seem too concerned with artsy-fartsy Paul Thomas
Anderson films. Well, at least not the “artsy” part.

“In between ’Harry Potter’ one and ’Harry Potter’ two I did another film in
England called ’Thunderpants,’ about this boy who farts,” he said. “I played
this guy who was a complete dork who invented these pants, so that was a
different character from Ron. I want to carry on doing films because I really
enjoy them.”

When all three kids and the rest of the “Potter” regulars reunite to begin
work on “Prisoner,” it will be minus one important adult presence —
director Christopher Columbus is handing over the reigns to Alfonso
Cuarón.

“It’s really simple,” Columbus explained. “I want to see my own kids for
dinner. In two and a half years I haven’t had dinner with my kids [during]
the week.

“I am acting as producer,” he promised. “I’m going to try to smooth things
over [with] the transition. So these kids — Rupert, Dan and Emma,
primarily — and the other kids come on to the set and they have the
same kind of experience. You know, you don’t want Oliver Stone directing a
’Harry Potter’ movie, [coming] in [and] screaming at the kids.”

“It’s going to be OK because it’s not like Chris is going forever,” Watson
said. “He’s going to hang around and kind of bring (Cuarón) into it. And
he’ll still be there, just not as much.”

“Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” hits theaters November 15.

— Ryan J. Downey, with additional reporting by Iann Robinson