Since Harry Potter ‘s run came to an end eleven years ago, Daniel Radcliffe has continued to amaze us by touching on all sorts of genres, playing with opposite extremes that have ranged from the bizarre and wacky to the intense biographical drama. And even if he goes unnoticed at the box office most of the time (or his movies jump directly online), the simple truth is that he hasn’t stopped putting his talent to the test. After all, at 33 years old, he can afford it, being one of the few actors his age who enjoys a fortune that allows him to take risks without worrying about losing status or recognition (no less than 107 million euros according to Celebrity Net Worth).
However, we rarely acknowledge the great professional risk he took when he was enshrined as a teen idol. Because just when the world revered his Harry Potter films and there were still several to finish the saga, Daniel Radcliffe chose to get on the most prestigious stages in the world and strip completely naked. As God brought him into the world.
Radcliffe was 17 years old when he agreed to star in a ‘ revival ‘ of Equus, Peter Shaffer’s 1973 play. and morality around the relationship between a psychiatrist and a young man sexually obsessed with horses. From its original conception, the protagonist played by Radcliffe exposes his body with a frontal nude in one of the scenes while Richard Griffiths, who played Harry Potter’s Uncle Vernon, accompanied him as the story’s psychiatrist.
That a mass idol like Daniel Radcliffe stripped completely naked on the stages of London, and later New York, caused an international stir. On the one hand because it was a minor exposing his genitals for work, sparking all kinds of debates about what is permissible or not for love of art. And, on the other, because the massive magnet for the work was unquestionable. Between the morbidly curious who wanted to see the young actor giving it his all on stage (in the greatest possible sense), and the Harry Potter fans who dreamed of seeing his idol in the flesh, Equus had a guaranteed impact.
However, that was not an artistic outburst from a young man who wanted to make a statement. But the first hint of a deep professional desire to break away from Harry Potter, shouting from the rooftops that he wasn’t going to be pigeonholed. That he had so much more to offer and, if need be, he would prove it with the most extreme production he could. Over time he continued to do so through a filmography filled with such fun and crazy works as Horns, Swiss Man Army, Guns Akimbo or the Miracle Workers series. But, back then, the jump into the void deserved much more recognition.
Basically because it was 2007 and Warner Bros. had yet to release the sixth part of the magical saga, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. While there were still two more to shoot: the grand finale that was divided into two parts. And Daniel Radcliffe chose to sign up for a work with great media interest, undressing as God brought him into the world when he was an idol of family cinema. The risk of angering his agents, the studio, the most conservative fans and putting himself at the mercy of criticism on a plane as global as the one that Harry Potter moves is, in my opinion, of a courage rarely seen in the industry.
Imagine if the criticism had been ruthless. If it hadn’t been commercially successful. If only her body had been talked about and nothing else. He had not yet concluded a saga where he was the most essential protagonist in history. One wrong move and it could shake the ideal youth franchise image that Warner Bros. enjoyed at the time (at least until author JK Rowling waded into shaky ground against the transgender community years later).
However, he did it conscientiously and completely following what his instincts were asking him to do. He wanted to break the mold he was pigeonholing himself into and knew there couldn’t be a regular play or Shakespearean play in his theatrical debut, because people wouldn’t see any difference. He wanted to prove himself, to prove to the industry and the public that he had so much more to offer. And prove it to yourself. And Equus was the work that allowed him to take his talent to the greatest possible extent. And so he did. Naked and all.
When Equus opened in theaters in London in 2017 and then in New York the following year, a rumor emerged that executives at Warner Bros. might fear the impact the play might have on the young wizard saga. And it is that despite having the film finished, the studio decided to postpone the premiere of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, moving it from November 21, 2008 to July 17 of the following year. The official reason they gave was that, in this way, they could take advantage of the huge summer box office. However, the decision made fans very angry who suddenly found that they had to wait longer than expected. And in the process came this rumor published byHuff Post which basically explained that Warner Bros. didn’t want to associate the image of their virginal Harry Potter with that of Equus. However, the studio issued a statement expressing its support for Daniel Radcliffe in his new professional project.
At the time not everyone took it as seriously as it should. Daniel recounted in interviews that on several occasions wolf hisses were heard when he appeared naked on stage, when it was an intensely dramatic work and a moment of pure intimacy with the audience (The Off Camera Show). On other occasions, as Harry Potter fans went to see him, he would find 12-year-old boys constantly hanging on his cell phone while he performed or groups of girls who spoke to him from the first seats trying to get his attention, making him lose concentration. (EW).
If we reflect with the distance granted by the passage of time, we can recognize the great risk that Daniel ran with Equus. A true leap into the void, exposing himself as a mass idol with a difficult work but, also, with the first nude of his career attracting media interest that had nothing to do with the image of Harry Potter. He took the risk and, in return, planted the seeds of the career he wanted to blossom when he was done with the wizard boy.
Since then we have seen him unleashing his creativity. And although he is seen in blockbusters from time to time, he always does it with secondary roles, as was the case with Now You See Me 2 or more recently The Lost City. He leaves the rest for works that bring out the most comic facet of him, that make him dare to the fullest playing a corpse or aa reverend in a musical scene. His latest attempt is the biography of the humorist Al Yankovic, for which he put on a curly wig and, as the trailer shows us, brings out his most comic facet with a radical change included.