Seven could be the most magically powerful number in the “Harry Potter” series. Think about it: There are seven books, seven Horcruxes (possibly), and now, for Daniel Radcliffe, seven years of playing the Boy Who Lived.
Though the rest of the wizarding world has been eagerly awaiting this seventh month because it brings the fifth movie in the “Potter” saga (see ” ’Harry Potter’ Set Visit: Go Inside The Ministry Of Magic In This Peek Behind The Scenes” ), as well as the final book of the series (see ” ’Harry Potter’ Roundtable: Experts Battle Over Theories On How Series Will End” ), Radcliffe has another magical date marked on his calendar — his 18th birthday on July 23. As the world’s most famous boy wizard becomes a man — and a more accomplished actor, too, branching out from the “Potter” films to Muggle roles onstage in “Equus” and in the forthcoming movie “December Boys” — he’s shepherding his signature character into manhood as well.
Here, Daniel talks about how Harry has evolved in the new film, “Order of the Phoenix” — from bashful wizard to first kiss — and what the tea leaves say is next.
MTV: Just as Harry is a little older in each film, his world becomes a little larger — and darker.
Daniel Radcliffe: At first, everything was so amazing and cool: “I’m a wizard, I can do magic.” But gradually, he learns there are shades of gray. He’s becoming aware that there are bad people in the wizard world that aren’t Voldemort, in a less obvious, more insidious way, like [Minister of Magic] Cornelius Fudge and [Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Delores] Umbridge. That’s what the films are about for me: a loss of innocence, going from being a young kid in awe of the world around him, to someone who is more battle-hardened by the end of it.
MTV: But his battle is a more political one.
Radcliffe: Toward the end of the film, there is a massive fight sequence, but his fight is a more silent, underground fight this time. He forms Dumbledore’s Army, after being persuaded by Ron and Hermione, and this film is about Harry being more aware that a war is about to happen between Voldemort and the Death Eaters and people like the Order of the Phoenix, and it’s about him trying to prepare as many people as possible. It’s like the French Resistance or any revolutionary group of people in any war that are being oppressed. He’s setting up a group of people to fight against Umbridge, who is oppressing them — she’s trying to stop them from learning any real magic — and that provides more of the uplifting moments. It’s quite a dark film. I mean, we say that every time, but this one is much darker, and I think Dumbledore’s Army really lifts the film in tone, where you see Harry go from this quite reluctant leader to this Henry V character who is stirring up the troops. That should be a joyous thing to watch.
MTV: And his battle is a more internal one as well.
Radcliffe: It’s immense loneliness, a feeling that there’s no one he can talk to about anything, and on top of his previous frustrations, a death. His parents’ death is quite abstract in his mind — he can’t remember the last words they said to him or the last kind look his mum gave him. It’s just something that happened that he was there for. But with Cedric [who dies at the end of “Goblet of Fire”], he’s encountered that happening, and he’s got a terrible survivor’s guilt. He’s thinking, “I should have been the one to die.” So yeah, he’s got something extra that he’s suffering with, and he hasn’t been talked to by his friends all summer. He feels abandoned after finding out Voldemort’s back. He feels cast aside.
MTV: You prepared for this by talking to a bereavement counselor.
Radcliffe: It was really interesting. We talked a lot about survivor’s guilt, which is very real and very common, especially in car crashes, particularly if someone was driving and someone else died. And Harry feels like he was the driver and Cedric was taken along with him, so there’s a huge amount of pain and guilt. Harry has two unhealthy relationships, both forged by death. I mean, he fancied Cho [Chang, Cedric’s girlfriend] before Cedric died, but Cedric’s death meant he was taken out of the picture, and she was vulnerable, and Harry’s a shoulder to lean on and it’s all messed up. There’s a picture of Cedric on the wall, on the mirror, when I kiss her. And Sirius — Harry’s his last link to James Potter just as Sirius is his only link to his dad. I often wonder, if Harry hadn’t been related to James, would Sirius actually give Harry the time of day? And I don’t think he would have, which shows how sad this has the potential to be as a story.
MTV: As it is with Cho. I mean, she’s crying when you kiss her (see ” ’Phoenix’ Trailer Reveals A Harry Potter Who’s Ready To Fight — And Kiss” ). How awkward was it to shoot that?
Radcliffe: [To publicist sitting nearby] Vanessa, timing?
Vanessa Davies: Twelve minutes.
Radcliffe: We’ve been timing how long it took for people to ask about the kiss.
MTV: You brought it up!
Radcliffe: No, I didn’t bring it up, I said it in passing! [He laughs.] You can’t pin that one on me! Most people, it’s first or second question. Well done. You deserve a prize.
MTV: I didn’t realize people were making it the focal point. I just meant in terms of the more complicated emotions that take place here!
Radcliffe: The kiss, a lot of people want to know about the kiss, which is understandable. It’s Harry’s first kiss. Harry is this iconic figure of sorts of his generation, and people want to know how that’s gone. [He grimaces.] I know you don’t care, but I’ll tell you anyway. [He smiles.] It went very well. We did it a number of times, and Katie [Leung, who plays Cho] and I were very nervous at first, but we quickly got over that and started to enjoy it by the fifth take. People imagine, when you watch these sex scenes or kissing scenes, they always look sexy and romantic and passionate, and it isn’t. It’s actually quite clinical. You’re standing there like that, and her head’s right there, and they say, “Can you move to the right, no, the left, and tilt your head a bit,” and it becomes like walking up the stairs or doing any other action. It’s drained of all the passion by the filming process. I know it’s sad and I hate to break the illusion, but it’ll look great on film, and that’s all that matters.
MTV: But isn’t Katie rather shy? Doesn’t that make it harder?
Radcliffe: Once you talk to her, Katie’s not that shy. When you kiss someone in real life, you both want to do the kiss. But here, it’s an odd thing. We weren’t particularly sure, like, “Well, OK.” But I know what you mean. [He grins mischeviously.] It must have been terrible for her.
MTV: It’s strange in a way that people fixate so much on this one kiss, when you’re about to have massive make-out sessions with Ginny Weasley in “Half-Blood Prince.”
Radcliffe: I know! I knew Bonnie [Wright, who plays Ginny] since she was 10, so that’s going to be very odd! She’s 16 now. It’s going to be fine. It’s going to be funny, I hope. It’s a very unusual set of circumstances, because when you sign on to do the films you don’t know what exactly you’re agreeing to. But I don’t look at the books as to-do lists, nothing that boring. But I did get nervous when I read that kissing scene. I’m less inhibited now, so I can look at it with more excitement than trepidation.
MTV: Do you have theories about what will happen in “Deathly Hallows”?
Radcliffe: I do have theories, but one of my theories is stolen from someone else, who the other day made the very good point that he thought Snape is going to turn out to be the tragic hero. And it’s possible J.K. Rowling would have gone down that route, possibly not — possibly he is pure evil — which we’ll find out in less than a month, actually.
MTV: There was a point where you said you wanted Harry to die.
Radcliffe: But I don’t want the headline “Dan Radcliffe Wants Potter Dead.” I don’t want him dead as a character, but I don’t know. Because I’m not writing these novels, I can’t imagine any other way they can be concluded, but you know what? J.K. Rowling’s got a much better grip on these stories than anybody else in the world, so my only prediction is that she’s going to come up with something nobody could have predicted.
MTV: Like Harry is a Horcrux?
Radcliffe: Possibly his scar is. There’s loads of theories, but to be honest, I have no idea whether any of them have any validity. Some of them are obviously ridiculous, and some are possibly in with a chance of being right. I was recently told people are placing bets on whether Harry lives or dies, which I find really funny.
MTV: It’s leaning more toward Harry dying.
Radcliffe: Really? Wow.
MTV: There’s one thing that obsessive fans are going to notice is missing in the film version of “Phoenix” — a clue that they think is important for “Hallows” — an amulet they find in Grimmauld Place, a possible Horcrux.
Radcliffe: The thing is, J.K. Rowling would read all the scripts, and if she said that you have to have something in, that it’s vital, well, she would tell us. So I’m presuming that it’s not of vital importance in the future.
MTV: Except David [Yates, the director for “Phoenix” and “Half-Blood Prince”] said it is. He’s going to pop it in later.
Radcliffe: Da-vid! How does he know? Has he been told stuff? Well, that changes everything! I’m going to tie that man down and beat him until he tells me what happens in the end!
MTV: Didn’t you say before you wanted to beat him up already?
Radcliffe: No, I said I would break his legs, that’s totally different. So he has to stay and direct the rest of the movies. I should have probably used a less graphic and grotesque phrase. But I don’t take it back.
MTV: It just shows how affectionate you are about him.
Radcliffe: It’s a kind of “Misery”/ Kathy Bates affection. [He laughs.] I would love for him to do film seven. For me, personally, working with him has been a landmark time in my life in terms of my acting. He was the catalyst for a lot of improvement on my part.
MTV: More than working in the theater?
Radcliffe: That happened since film five. But it’ll hold me in stead for the next movie. David is just so willing, in his quiet way, to push you further. You’re waiting to hear, “Action!” and you have to really listen. He’s a lovely man, and he’s very unassuming. He has a fantastic imagination, and a great vision for this film. It was exciting to be around him and to be working with him, and it made this my favorite film to do so far. I’ve been with Harry for seven years, and he has as good of a grasp on Harry as me, which is incredibly amazing. How has he done that?
MTV: So I take it you’re looking forward to starting to shoot “Half-Blood Prince” in September with him.
Radcliffe: It’s major. There’s such an incredible range of things that happen in “Prince,” and that last 100 pages, the cave chapter onwards, it’s just epic. I’m going to have a field day with some of those things.
Check out everything we’ve got on “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.”
Visit Movies on MTV.com for more from Hollywood, including news, reviews, interviews and more.
For breaking news, celebrity columns, humor and more — updated around the clock — visit MTVMoviesBlog.com.
Want trailers? Visit the Trailer Park for the newest, scariest and funniest coming attractions anywhere.