It's a brilliant June day in Manhattan's Bryant Park. Small white clouds dot the wide arc of midtown sky. Children's voices mingle with music from a gilded carousel. And, sitting on a green folding chair, as moms pass with strollers and idlers sip iced tea, the world's most famous English schoolboy is talking dirty.
"Stepping out the motherfucking carr, they in awe," says Daniel Radcliffe. "I'm looking like a starrr, bitch."
He looks up. "How was that?"
Bright-eyed and bushy-browed, the British actor is gamely reciting some phrases we've come up with to test his American accent, in preparation for becoming a full-time New Yorker when he moves here this fall to star in the Peter Shaffer play Equus. We started with some conversational basics softened t's ("Can I get a bottle of water?"), smashed syllables ("Look at the size of that squirrel") and are now in the extra-credit section: Lil Wayne lyrics. Radcliffe tries again.
"Stepping out the motherfucking carrr, they in awe, I'm looking like a starr, bitch. When you see me make a wish."
Britain's richest teenager, who will turn 19 in a few weeks, sure does look like a star: knockabout-natty with a choppy brown coif, olive designer tee, navy blazer, and dark skinny jeans these last are made by Absolut Joy, he says, looking down to check the button on his fly. "And I would like to say that that's what lurks beneath."
Ah, yes, this would be the virile Dan Radcliffe, he of the bare-torso cover shots and professions of girl-craziness, the young man who appeared at last night's Tony Awards still trailing tabloid buzz over his harrowing, occasionally naked performance in Equus, which was originally staged in London. Radcliffe plays Alan Strang, a self-flagellating, stable-boy mental case, a role that fans of him as a certain bespectacled boy wizard whose presence looms over us even now in a sunny New York City park might find unsettling.
"Whenever I can I want to leave Harry there on the screen," Radcliffe says. "I don't want to bring him into my normal life."
Even without the signature glasses and inky hair, Radcliffe retains a slightly otherworldly aura, as if he wandered out of some early-seventies Disney musical costarring Angela Lansbury. A slight five feet five, he has fine features and large blue eyes that appear designed to widen in amazement.
The trailer for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Radcliffe is a little manic. He leans forward as he talks, arms tightly folded, eyes darting about, speaking quickly through a clenched jaw that's lightly dusted with stubble. It's likely that Radcliffe is a bit jumpy about being in public since we left his Manhattan hotel against his handlers' wishes, a bodyguard trailing by a discreet half-block, our stroll has attained the frisson of a Compton roll with Snoop Dogg.