After the book closes on Harry Potter this month, what’s next for Daniel Radcliffe? For starters, proving to audiences — and to himself — that it’s more than just luck (and a little magic) that got him this far.
Daniel Radcliffe sits in the world’s loneliest room on one of the world’s busiest streets in one of the world’s craziest cities. It’s bright outside, clear and chilly following a late-night thunderstorm that has scrubbed clean the New York City skies. But the room, barely larger than a janitor’s closet, is a sad shade of beige. The only pieces of furniture are a desk, a small table and smaller chairs not fit for a grown man.
“They fit me fine,” says Radcliffe, who, of course, is no grown man at all but the world’s most famous 21-year-old, who has spent a good half of his life as a certain boy wizard bedeviled by a cloud of black smoke that occasionally resembles Ralph Fiennes.
This room is tucked away between a nook and a cranny in the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on West 45th Street in Manhattan. You would have to be deader than Voldemort — oh, please — not to know that the former Harry Potter is, at this very moment, singing and dancing in the latest iteration of the Tony- and Pulitzer-winning musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. He returns to the stage two years after his turn as the troubled and occasionally very naked stable boy in Equus. And though each night is a workout — all that dancing and singing! — better this than that again.
“I get sick of hearing these people who talk about getting naked onstage being a really liberating experience,” says Radcliffe, tucked into that narrow chair. “Maybe it is if you’re doing Hair, where the whole vibe of the show is kind of liberating. But Equus was in no way a liberating experience. Equus was about getting naked, failing to perform sexually and blinding six horses, and that’s a lot of fun.” He takes a sip of his bottled water to wash down the sarcasm, then grins: “But don’t get me wrong. It was a fantastic experience.”
Radcliffe, like Robert Morse and Matthew Broderick before him, can now be seen eight performances a week as J. Pierrepont Finch, that most American of creations — the slick, affable and adorable schemer who ascends the workplace ladder by doing little more than being the right fellow in the right place at the right time.
Radcliffe gets the joke, of course. He’s succeeded like few before him in the long history of cinema. And he didn’t have to try. Not really.