LONDON (Reuters) - For Daniel Radcliffe, it’s time to forget Harry Potter. The 22-year-old actor, inextricably linked to the boy wizard he played throughout the movie franchise, takes on his first adult role in Victorian-era horror film “The Woman in Black.”
Hitting theatres in Britain on February 10 and a week earlier in the United States, the movie is a step into the unknown for an actor who grew up on the set of one of Hollywood’s most successful series.
Instead of production budgets of $250 million or more, The Woman in Black cost an estimated $17 million to make. And however big Radcliffe’s fan base around the world, another billion-dollar box office looks out of the question.
James Watkins, who directed The Woman In Black, called it a “reinvention” for Radcliffe.
“I think it’s the start of that, absolutely,” Radcliffe told Reuters in an interview ahead of Tuesday’s red carpet world premiere of the new movie.
One of the attractions of playing Arthur Kipps, a young lawyer and father mourning the death of his wife, was the obvious break with what went before.
“People haven’t seen me looking like this before. People haven’t seen me playing a father — all those things are going to help separate it in their mind,” Radcliffe said.
“But I think ultimately the thing that will help that reinvention is the fact that the story is so good. I think people will very quickly forget that they’re watching Harry Potter.”
In The Woman in Black, Kipps is forced to leave his three-year-old son and travel to a remote village on the east coast of England to look into the legal affairs of the recently deceased owner of Eel Marsh House, a creepy mansion cut off from the mainland when the tide rises.
He discovers a dark family secret that helps explain the appearance of a mysterious, ghost-like woman dressed in black who beckons children to an early grave.
The film is based on a novel by Susan Hill that was adapted into a successful West End play, still running in London.
Jane Goldman, who co-wrote the scripts for “Kick-Ass” and “The Debt,” was brought in to translate the page to the big screen, and horror specialist Watkins directed.
Radcliffe said he did not think too hard about trying to be different from his Harry Potter character when he worked on the set of The Woman in Black and was pleased with the results.
“I think my work in this is certainly on a par with the work I did on the last Potter which I was very, very proud of.”
He will soon discover if critics agree. Throughout the Harry Potter series Radcliffe earned mixed reviews, although any negative comments did nothing to deter record audiences.
And his two main stage roles — “Equus” in 2007 and “How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying” in 2011 were generally well-received, particularly Equus.
Looking ahead, Radcliffe said proving he was not a one-part wonder would take time.
“It’s a long road. It’s not going to be one film and suddenly you’re off. It’s going to be a combination.”
That combination will involve both stage and screen.
“In an ideal world I would like to mix them as much as possible. In March I’m filming a movie called ‘Kill Your Darlings’ in which I’ll be playing a 19-year-old Allen Ginsberg.
“That’s the next thing on the plate and after that we’ll see.”
Reporting by Mike Collett-White