Radcliffe also grew up faster than boys usually do. Blame Harry Potter. Attending school became difficult for him after the first movie came out. “Some people did get very aggressive,” he says. “People say it was just jealousy, but I don’t think it is jealousy. I think it’s just ‘We can have a crack at the kid that plays Harry Potter.’ As Eddie Izzard says, these people always hang about in fives, because these people have a fifth of a personality each.”

I tell him I heard a story about his being bullied at school.

“Does it involve a window?”

No, it doesn’t—it’s about something darker. I understood he had been locked in a closet and told to use his magic to escape.

“It’s not true, I’m afraid.”

He has decided not to go to college, partly because, he says, he already knows what he wants to do with his life—act and write—and partly because he’d find it impossible to have a conventional collegiate experience. “The paparazzi, they’d love it,” he says. “And also if there were any parties going on, they’d be tipped off as to where they were, and it would be all of that stuff.”

Predictably, “all of that stuff” has led to one serious problem in his life: He has no idea whom to trust. He has learned that those who tell him “I don’t want to be your friend just because you’re Harry Potter” are the ones who invariably do, the ones who will post reports of tiny indiscretions on MySpace. The result is curious: His best friend, Will Steggle, his dresser on the Harry Potter films, is in his forties.

I ask him if that isn’t a bit weird.

“No, because mentally he’s younger than me,” he says. “It’s not really [weird] for me, because I’ve grown up around adults.”

Radcliffe has been denied other youthful pleasures too. He has not yet been to a nightclub, again for fear of tabloid exposure: “All it takes is for me to be seen chatting up a girl for them to, you know, make up some crappy headline about me being a sex rat or whatever they call it.” He says that the way he meets girls is through work, but even that poses problems: “I think it would be very hard to go out with an actress, because they’re mad. Some actresses are just insane. I’ve never worked with a nasty actress—they’re all absolutely delightful. But completely barking.”

When I ask David Heyman, the producer of the Harry Potter franchise, how his star has changed in the seven years since he first cast him, he says that Radcliffe is basically still the same—full of enthusiasm and intense curiosity. But in other ways he is unrecognizable.

“He’s no longer interested in the World Wrestling Federation. He is astonishingly well-read,” Heyman says. “And he is unquestionably interested in the opposite sex.”