It’s not often you have the privilege of watching a teenager lose his virginity twice in one week, but sometimes magic happens. Even Daniel Radcliffe can’t stay a boy forever, and to announce his wish to be known as more than Harry Potter, he recently decided to share his wand with two older blondes. The first performance was witnessed nightly this spring on a London stage, where Radcliffe played Alan Strang, the disturbed teenager in the acclaimed revival of Peter Shaffer’s play Equus. The second can be enjoyed this September in the film December Boys, in which Radcliffe stars as a lovesick Australian orphan with a strict Catholic haircut. When I meet Radcliffe in a London hotel room and mention that I have witnessed his twin deflowering in the space of a few days, he says “Excellent!” but is then afflicted with postcoital confusion.
“What film?” he asks. “Harry Potter?”
“You mean you lose it in Harry Potter too?”
“No! I thought that was a strange way of alluding to the kiss.”
Ah, the kiss. How quaint. How very innocent and old-school. Radcliffe recently turned 18, and his newfound desire to demonstrate his virility and bankability to the movie industry makes his first appearance as the knee-high conjurer seem as distant as the world of Shirley Temple. In both the play and the film, Radcliffe even smokes, something Harry Potter would never do.
This transition to manhood has not gone unnoticed by two of Britain’s leading satirists. Ricky Gervais and his colleague Stephen Merchant, the team behind the original version of The Office, cast Radcliffe in an epsiode of Extras, putting him in a Boy Scout uniform for a role in a film about elves and investing his backstage character with a desperate quest for adulthood. “I’ve done it with a girl, intercourse-wise,” he tells a fellow actor, before flapping a huge condom in the air and saying, “Let’s hope it’s big enough!”
In real life, Radcliffe looks like someone who’s never ventured past second base. He is not particularly tall. His most distinguishable facial featureshis eyebrowsare still growing wild. When we meet he is wearing jeans and a white T-shirt and a peaked cap with some kind of Asian script. He drinks Diet Coke in the middle of the morning. He is great to talk to, as eager as a puppy, but it is impossible to forget that you’re talking with a boy, albeit one to whom normal teenage experiences were denied by fame and fortune.
In truth, Daniel Radcliffe is like no other teenager we know. He has grown up as a personification of the superbrand that is Harry Potter: the specs, the floppy fringe, the dazzling flights from scorching scrapes. Yet there are no signs of a crack-up; not for Radcliffe the burnout or drug busts of a hundred child stars before him. And he is rich in a way that only hedge-fund managers and A-list actors are. Earlier this year, the [London] Sunday Times “Rich List,” an annual review of British wealth, valued him at £17 million ($33 million), even with Orlando Bloom and almost $6 million above Keira Knightley; this means he is half as rich as each of the Princes William and Harry; his net worth may one day surpass theirs.