The M Interview: Daniel Radcliffe back in magic world
Daniel Radcliffe brushes off admiration from co-stars for nailing six-page monologue in one take
It's hard to believe that Daniel Radcliffe, once possibly the most famous child actor in the world, is now 27.
He could easily have faded away after the success of the Harry Potter films, content to rest on his laurels (and the pile of money he has made).
But the English actor, who was 11 in the first Potter film, was determined to make a career after Potter.
Even before the franchise ended, he shot a few independent movies and performed on the London and New York stages.
His latest movie is Now You See Me 2, a sequel to the 2013 original that did not get great notices but was very successful at the worldwide box office, earning US$351.7 million (S$477m) on a US$75 million budget.
In this heist thriller, which opens here tomorrow, Radcliffe joins returning cast members Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson and Dave Franco (magicians known as the Four Horsemen, with Lizzy Caplan replacing Isla Fisher).
Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine also reprise their roles, with Caine playing Radcliffe's dad.
Radcliffe is the psychotic baddie Walter Mabry, a tech wizard who forces the Horsemen to pull off another heist involving a computer chip that will help him rule the world.
At our interview at the Mandarin Oriental in New York City, Radcliffe said he did not make the connection between the magic in Now You See Me 2 and the magic in the Harry Potter flicks.
"No one is going to believe that when I say that, but I really didn't when I read the script," he said.
"Because the magic is so different from anything that is in Potter, and the world is so different and the character is so different."
Radcliffe, who got into playing baccarat in a big way while shooting the movie in Macau, takes pride in being a professional.
With the very British attitude of just getting on with it, he refused to accept any of the admiration his cast members heaped on him for nailing a six-page monologue in one take.
"I don't think I should get that much credit for learning my lines," he said, laughing.
And he has no patience with divas who scream at crew members if they get in their eye line during a take.
"I get really annoyed, honestly.
"I saw an actor once single out a crew member. He stopped the scene and went, 'You just moved and it ruined the take'.
"Everyone turned around and looked at this crew member.
"And the whole time I was thinking, 'This guy is an actor who works on stage like most of us do. And if a phone goes off in the audience or something else happens, you carry on and you concentrate and you act around it.'"
"I always feel that when somebody is blaming someone that way, it's because they were ready to be put off anyway and wanted an excuse to lash out at someone," Radcliffe said.
Working with English acting legend Caine, 83, was one of the reasons Radcliffe signed up for Now You See Me 2, as he was "everything that I want to be".
Several of the Potter crew members had worked with Caine and talked with Radcliffe about him with utter respect.
"It just made you go as a young actor, 'God, I want to be somebody who is talked about like that'.
"Watching Michael act at 4am in cold and dark England... So many other actors would have been complaining and moaning.
"But he is there, unflappable and still having a good time and telling stories, joking and laughing. And he knows everyone's name.
"Just go on Michael Caine's IMDB page and see how busy that man has been. And he doesn't need to.
"He just works all the time. And there is no other reason for that except that he loves it."
Radcliffe himself has tackled mainly horror and drama post-Potter, but has not done much romantic comedy.
So is being a sex symbol something he is staying away from?
"No, I am totally ready to have that thrust upon me, that's fine," he said with a laugh.
"I just do what I am interested in and what I like. If a romantic comedy comes along, I would be 100 per cent into it. It's just about finding the right one."