The Evolution of Daniel Radcliffe


I am a huge Harry Potter fan complete with a tattoo of the Hufflepuff house crest (Hufflepuff and proud!). I am currently listening to the entire series on audiobook again. I am halfway through The Half Blood Prince. When I had some time to kill looking for a movie to watch, I thought I would throw on the 2015 release, Victor Frankenstein. I had relatively low expectations, which allowed me to enjoy this movie. As I was watching, I thought to myself how difficult it must be to be to make a name for yourself outside of playing one of the most iconic characters of all time.

In doing my research of Daniel Radcliffe’s filmography, I was actually surprised to see Harry Potter was NOT his first role. He played a young David Copperfield in a TV movie for BBC and was in a film called The Tailor of Panama with Pierce Brosnan, Geoffrey Rush, Jamie Lee Curtis and his future Harry Potter co-star Brendan Gleeson. Naturally, at the tender age of 11 I was not watching BBC TV movies or spy films starring Pierce Brosnan (Yes, I saw Goldeneye…).

Daniel Radcliffe made his name playing Harry Potter from 2001 to 2011. 10 years of bringing a character like Harry to life makes it difficult to see him as anything else. Emma Watson and Rupert Grint are breaking the mold with the former having a bit more success. Daniel Radcliffe has made some very interesting role choices FORCING fans to see him as something other than his most famous role. I cannot claim to have seen every movie he has ever made, but I feel as though I have seen enough to get a firm grasp on his ability as an actor beyond Harry Potter

His first leading role AFTER finishing the Harry Potter series was a period piece horror film called The Woman in Black. It is a mid-level horror film. I have seen far worse but would not say it is a “must see”. Daniel’s performance is as mediocre as the writing was, but it was not BAD. So often, we see someone in role like the one that made him famous, unable to break free and expand his or her horizons.

One of his next leading roles is one of my favorite roles he has ever done, which includes his performance as Harry Potter. Horns was a 2013 release that firmly cemented me in Daniel’s Fan club. He continued to push the boundaries taking a risk with an indie, horror-mystery about a young man sprouting horns and gaining powers in the wake of his girlfriend’s mysterious death. The audience goes along a twisting ride with Daniel as he discovers the truth of what happened to his girlfriend. It was a powerful performance with a broad range of emotions. His character was a big jump from The Boy Who Lived.

Daniel played the main lead in a movie about one of the creators of Grand Theft Auto and their fight against an American lawyer in a BBC TV movie. He also made an appearance in Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck, showing off some more comedic chops. All of these in addition to a few appearances on a few late night shows, most memorable of which when he raps Blackalicious’ Alphabet Aerobics. Expanding his range and pulling out from under the shadow of his Harry Potter fame.

Radcliffe played a familiar character alongside James McAvoy in Victor Frankenstein. Despite the name of the film, he was certainly the lead. This being a period piece romance with a bit of classic horror (sounds redundant) he again has expanded his range and shown what he is capable of as an actor.

His most bizarre and my favorite role of Daniel’s was that of Manny in Swiss Army Man. A beautiful story of friendship. Daniel pulls off playing a corpse, with powers, who has to learn what it means to be alive while helping the lead character find his way home after being lost in the wilderness. His performance with Paul Dano made me well up from tears of joy and sadness in the same film.

Daniel has a few more films I am very anxious to see, but has clearly outshined his Harry Potter fame. It is very difficult to break from a role like that but he has successfully managed to do so. Although he will always be Harry Potter, and I hope he will someday return if we get a follow up HP movie, he is more than one role. He has evolved into something more and I am excited to see him in his future projects.


By: Joshua Buckmaster

Joshua Buckmaster