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'December Boys' : fall sneaks | the list

For Daniel Radcliffe, there's no magic to it this time

September 09, 2007|Susan King

Talking to Daniel Radcliffe on the phone from Ireland where he's playing Rudyard Kipling's son, Jack, in the World War I TV movie "My Boy Jack," you'd never guess the "Harry Potter" star is England's wealthiest teen. Despite the heady $50-million deal he's just signed to make the final two boy-wizard films, he talks like a young actor still honing his craft, still rather wide-eyed and engaged at this whole filmmaking idea.

Although he's finished school, the 18-year-old lives at home with his parents in London, and on this late afternoon, he is lamenting that his two border terriers aren't with him. "They're brilliant," he says. "I miss my dogs."

Radcliffe has steadily been increasing his non-wizard roles -- he played an obnoxious version of himself on HBO's "Extras," he bared all on the London stage in the acclaimed revival of "Equus," and now he's starring as a Catholic orphan in Australia in the film "December Boys," which opens Friday.

"It's not the money that motivates me," Radcliffe says. "It's working. You try to gain as much knowledge as you possibly can and you get to meet loads of different people and different crews. It's incredibly exciting."

Radcliffe made "December Boys" in late 2005, just after the release of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." He was immediately drawn to the script. "It was a character that wasn't in any way like Harry. This would be a good way to challenge myself and show myself I could do something different, let alone anyone else. And the idea of filming in a different country. . . . It was a totally new experience."

Directed by Rod Hardy, "December Boys" is a nostalgic coming-of-age drama set in the 1960s. Radcliffe's Maps is the oldest of four boys with December birthdays who have lived in a rural, Catholic-run orphanage for years, and as they grow older, their chances of finding a family lessen. When the opportunity arises for one to be adopted after they are sent for a summer vacation to a small village by the sea, their friendship turns into a rivalry, even as Maps falls in love with a girl (Teresa Palmer).

Much was made of Harry's first kiss in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," but the actor has explored more mature sexual themes in "Equus" and "December Boys." "I don't think I consciously search for love scenes, but I think it's slightly disingenuous if I went through my teen years doing things that didn't reflect anything to do with teenagers. I don't think people would believe it."

-- Susan King

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