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 RobinsonIann Robinson