Daniel Radcliffe, 23, spent 10 years as Harry Potter until the franchise’s final chapter in summer 2011. He has also appeared in The Woman in Black, TV's My Boy Jack and the forthcoming Kill Your Darlings. He tells Tom Seymour how to smash an audition, and admits to still suffering from nerves…
You’ve described yourself as very competitive. How crucial is that to your success as an actor?
It’s important, certainly. You do need to be competitive because there are so many of us, and we’re all good and we all want to work, and there are a finite number of films being made; less now than there were. So it’s about being competitive, but it’s also about loving it so much the competition comes naturally.
Most jobs you get as an actor, and the last two films I’ve done, you have to really scrap for parts. You have to show the director you’re the most enthusiastic and the most driven and you’ll work the hardest for him.
What are your strengths in an audition?
I’m really good with scripts. I can find a way into a script and break it down really well. I can find what my relationship to the material is very quickly, and that’s what I always love to talk to directors about.
Do you still get nervous?
Yes absolutely. I originally auditioned for Kill Your Darlings three years ago. I was playing Allen Ginsberg and had a meeting with the director John Krokidas. I was very, very nervous.
But you’ve got to trust you’ve got a take on the character. The one thing that will screw you up totally is if you start thinking: “I wonder what that actor would do with this, I wonder what this person would bring to it.” You can’t start thinking like that.
How do you make sure a director remembers you?
From occasionally being on the other side of the audition thing – so reading with other people – if you can go first, go first. Because if you can go first and put in a good performance, you’ll really spoil everyone else’s day.
What’s your advice to young actors trying to break into the film industry?
I’m the wrong person to ask about getting into the industry, because my experience has been so atypical. But once you’re in, treat everyone with the same respect. As an actor you should think of yourself as part of the crew. If you start thinking of a divide between cast and crew, then that’s when film sets start to become unhappy and fall apart. You’ve got to muck in.
When I did my first film without my dad there to chaperone me, his last piece of advice was: “On any film set, there will always be something that will make everyone wait. Just make sure you’re never that something.” If you can do that, it will go a long way, because a film set is always just on the point of everything going wrong.
What’s the best part of your job?
I’ve always known I’ve had a cool job, but sometimes it shines through. I was filming in New York a couple of weeks back, and the shoot was opposite an elementary school. It was a nightmare. The kids would come out every recess, see us and go absolutely mental.
On our first take, our first assistant director who, to them, is just some guy with a radio, turned round and said, “OK everyone, we’re going for a take. Be quiet,” and 30 kids between the ages of four and 11 completely shut up to watch the scene. You could have heard a pin drop, and I thought to myself, “You wouldn’t go quiet to watch a bloke sell a house.”
The Woman in Black is out on DVD and Blu Ray on 18 June. Kill Your Darlings is slated for release early 2013.
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