One of the special things about my life is that I grew up with the world's most famous wizard. When Harry Potter was 11 years old and received his letter to Hogwarts, I was 11 years old pouring over his story. I, cherish Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger as my friends and heroes. Like many millennials, it's hard to wrap my mind around the fact that actor Daniel Radcliffe might have had a different relationship with his famous counterpart than so many of us reading about him and watching the movies based on the iconic magical story at home. Daniel Radcliffe's story about abusing alcohol as a teen is a stark juxtaposition from how his fans know him — as a scrappy broom-flying Gryffindor with a heart of gold. Listening to Radcliffe talk about the struggles of fame as a young person in Hollywood is emotional, but fans will be relieved to know he's doing so well today. His perspective on his childhood and role as Harry Potter is very wise.
Honestly, I don't know what, if anything, could ever prepare someone to take on the lead role in Harry Potter. Pair that with the fact that Radcliffe was only 11 years old when he booked the part, and you probably have a recipe for a disorienting childhood experience. Radcliffe sat down for an interview on Off Camera with Sam Jones and got candid about his experience growing up in the spotlight and his struggles with alcohol. As Radcliffe put it, "There is no blueprint for starting young and working stuff out."
As Radcliffe grew up, he became increasingly aware that everyone knew who he was. While he admits it could all have been in his head, he felt that, everywhere he turned, people were watching him. Jones refers to a comment Radcliffe once made about how if he were to go out to a nightclub, everyone would probably be watching to "see how Harry Potter dances." Honestly, it sounds exhausting. One way Radcliffe says he fought the paranoia of being looked at was by drinking.
"There is an awareness that I really struggled with particularly in my late teens when I was going out to places for the first time where you would feel — again, it could have largely been in my head but — you would feel watched when you went into a bar, when you went into a pub," he explained.
Then, in my case, the quickest way of forgetting about the fact that you were being watched was to get very drunk and then as you get very drunk, you become aware that, oh people are watching more now because now I'm getting very drunk, so I should probably drink more to ignore that more.
Radcliffe also talked about how tricky it is navigating fame at any point in your life, because there is an expectation that celebrities aren't "allowed" to be sad or have bad days. As he put it, "Part of the thing is the expectation that you should just be delighted all the time," adding, "You have a great job, you're wealthy, you don't have a right to ever feel sad or to not be excited about the whole thing all the time and I think that's a pressure as well."
Today, Radcliffe is sober and can look back on that period in his life with a new perspective. "It took a few years and it took a couple of attempts," he shared. "Ultimately, it was my own decision... I woke up one morning after a night going, 'This is probably not good.'"
One thing he's taken from his chaotic periods seems to be empathy towards other celebrities who have also experienced challenges growing up in the public eye. He used the example of Justin Bieber. Radcliffe said, "I'm always like, 'Yeah, but you know stuff could be super crazy for him right now.'"
Despite the chaos Radcliffe said he "invited into his life," he never once resented the opportunity to become Harry Potter. "Even at the lowest point, I still loved my job so much," he said. "There was never a point where I was like 'I wished this didn't happen to me. I wish I wasn't Harry Potter,' like that just didn't happen."
Catch his entire interview and conversation in the video below. Accio feels!