Debuting in cinemas across Dubai this week, the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 signals the beginning of the end of an era. Whether or not it also means the end of the merchandising juggernaut that began with a single book and has since spawned everything from a Harry Potter reading light to a theme park remains to be seen.
Though we’ll have to wait until next summer for the second half of Deathly Hallows, part one kicks off (spoiler alert!) with Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) fleeing Hogwarts after it has been taken over by Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). The three need to destroy all of the remaining horcruxes – items containing a portion of Voldemort’s soul – while fighting their enemies. Then it’s back to Hogwarts for part two and a showdown with the Dark Lord. And finally, as if at the shake of a magic wand, Harry Potter will be no more. No more books, no more movies. But not no more Radcliffe. He has two other films in the works, both set for release in 2011. The first is an adaptation of Susan Hill’s best-selling novel, Victorian thriller The Woman in Black, and the other is The Journey is the Destination, playing the late photographer Dan Eldon, whose work brought global attention to the Somalian Civil War.
You’ve spent nearly half of your life with Harry Potter. Do you think you’ll miss him?
I’ll miss the character obviously, but I’ll also miss the process of making these films and the friends I’ve made.
Do you think you’ll be called Harry Potter for the rest of your life?
No, not particularly. People have cast me in other things so far, and I don’t see why that should stop just because Harry Potter does. There are some who will probably see me as Harry forever, and there are some who will be willing to keep an open mind.
So how straightforward is your life? You’re the star of the biggest film franchise ever...
Well yes, that’s the reality of it in terms of gross and stuff. I can lead a pretty normal life. It’ actually really straightforward, particularly when I’m filming – I wake up at 6am every morning, just because I’m terrified of oversleeping. I get to work by 9am and leave by 7pm. It’s that simple. I still work on Saturday – I either do an acting or voice coaching lesson, the gym or something like that, just to keep everything going. Sunday is very much a day of rest for me.
What’s the weirdest thing a fan has ever done?
So many to choose from! I’ve had very strange presents sent. I had a fake hand sent – well, I hope it was fake.
How do you approach playing Harry Potter each time? Is it difficult to bring something new?
For the past couple of years I’ve done other things in between the films. I go off and learn stuff, and then want to implement those things and come back to Potter, so that excites me. And it’s also the chance to go back and work with my best friends. Working with [director] David Yates, for example. There are a tonne of reasons and things that get me excited about going back to Potter each time.
Do you think it was inevitable that the last book would always become two films?
I think it was. I know there were a few people fighting against it. I never thought we could do it in one, because it would be a risk. You just couldn’t. In the fourth film you can cut out the house elves and still have the same story, but I don’t think there’s anything in the last book that is surplus to requirements. There are no subplots; it’s just one driven-through line, and that means you’ve got to put it all in. So it became two films. We’ve come so far and done so well, we don’t want to fall at the final hurdle.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is in cinemas on November 18.