Interview: Daniel Radcliffe On 'The Woman in Black' & Post-Harry Potter Work

As for whether or not Radcliffe based his portrayal on the book version of Arthur Kipps, he said:

"It was the same when I played Harry – I go off the script. Here’s the thing, if I go home and I read the book and I say, ‘Oh, that’s great, that’s really, really good, I like that a lot,’ and then I come in [on the set] the next day and I say to James [Watkins, the director], ‘Can we try and put this in somewhere?’ Then it will mean James will have call Jane [Goldman], the writer, and Jane will have to speak with Susan and [et cetera, et cetera]. So […] rather than cloud issues, it’s best to just go off the script, on a day-to-day level."

On the biggest scare, in his opinion, of The Woman in Black, Radcliffe said:

"I think it’s the hand going up to the window. When I touch the window and the face [of the Woman in Black] appears [in the reflection]. And that was one I knew was there, and it still got me. [...] Actually, when I was filming, I didn’t know – you know that shot in the trailer [where I’m looking out the window and she appears behind me]? That shot, which is brilliant -- I had no idea that that’s what was eventually going to happen […], so when I saw the trailer for the first time, I did go [lurches backward, makes indescribable frightened noise]."

Check out the image he's referring to below, per the trailer:

Daniel Radcliffe and the Woman in Black

On the status of his own belief in ghosts, Radcliffe said:

"[It’s] nonexistent. I don’t have any belief in ghosts or the supernatural or anything like that, unfortunately."

On why his character stays in the house of the Woman in Black to do, essentially, paper work, despite the fact that there is a terrible and ghastly ghost woman in black tormenting him:

"One of the first questions I asked James was, 'Why does [Arthur] stay there?' The moment you read the first page [of the script], you know it’s going to end badly. Get out of there, idiot. I had that question, too. And there’s that great line where I say to somebody, 'Oh, no, it’s fine, I’ll just work through the night.' [Laughter.] So I said to James, 'Why does he stay in the house, what’s that about?' And James said, 'Well, here’s a young man who has lost his wife and he goes to this house and he suddenly starts seeing the – what he thinks is – the ghost of a dead woman. To have any kind of confirmation that that is what he is seeing would mean that he would be able to confirm the fact that there is an afterlife which means he will perhaps one day see his wife again.' So he’s staying there for some kind of sense of conciliation, I suppose."

On Misha Handley, Daniel's real-life godson, playing Arthur Kipps' adorable young son, and whether or not he wants to be an actor as he gets older, Radcliffe said:

"I don’t think he [wants to be an actor] now. He's four. He wants to be everything [and that’s] changing every day. You know, he has no ambition whatsoever in this area, to my knowledge. I think he had a really good time on the film [and] I think he’d do it again, but not for any other reason than ‘that got me out of school for a few days.’ I mean, yeah, it was fantastic having him there. I became totally protective of him. And, like, just worried, because he was four when we filmed it. And I was hoping, the first time he stepped on set, it would be like a really nice day and he’d have a fun time – no, it was a night-shoot, it was freezing cold, we were on a train platform somewhere. He had a nice time for like the first two hours and then he was like, ‘It’s cold, can I go to bed now.’ […] I was so obsessed with [him having a nice time] at the time that I didn’t really notice that he actually gave a really nice performance and he’s really sweet and good in the film.

"What was really great about it was, he didn’t really know what we were doing there. It would get to the point where he’d have to say a line and he’d just not say anything. I’d give his hand a little squeeze and he’d look up at me, like, ‘What?’ And I said, ‘Say hello, Sam.’ [And he said], ‘Hello, Sam.’ And he’d look at me again, like, 'Happy now?' The way I kind of told it to him was, like, 'I’m playing a dad in this, so I need you to help me.' So he was just – helping Uncle Dan. And that was what he thought he was doing.'"

On the subtext of the film, Daniel Radcliffe said:

"That was one of the things I felt about it, was that [the subtext] felt unusual for the genre. [‘The Woman in Black’ is] unashamedly a horror film, but it’s character-driven and it does have some really strong themes. For me, the film was about what happens to us if we don’t move on from a loss. If we can’t move on. Arthur is somebody who has been devastated by his loss and has become devastated from the world, from his son, from his life. The Woman in Black has had a terrible wrong done to her during her life and has, of course, been unable to move on from that and [was] consumed by grief and rage and has carried that desire for revenge into the afterlife with her. Then there’s the fisher’s marriage, which has all gone wrong. [There’s] the fact that Ciaran [Hinds] is in denial [about his son’s death] and Janet [McTeer, who plays Ciaran’s wife], is having visions. Everybody is reacting to grief in a different way in this film.

"And if you like the kind – the ‘battle’ in the film, as it were, between Arthur and the Woman in Black, it’s kind of a fight for closure. A fight for who can move on first. […] They’re the two most extreme reactions to a death."

On whether or not he’s a fan of horror films, Radcliffe said:

"I would [consider myself a fan], but I wouldn’t consider myself an aficionado in any way. I’m not one of those guys that will just see a trailer and [say], ‘Oh, I’m going to go see that.’ […] I’m like that about some [genres], but not about horror, I’ve never had that [obsession] about this particular genre. Which comes, in part, from the fact that I could never cope with gore or anything like that."

On whether or not he’s more comfortable acting on stage or screen:

"The audience is really easy to forget about [on stage]. The camera is not. That’s what I find hard. I also find hard the broken up nature of filming, which is odd, because I’ve done it all my life, so it should be natural. And these, by the way, are conclusions I’ve come to very recently. […] On stage, I don’t have to think about [the intention of the scene] because the whole story’s being told in one go, and all I have to do is get on stage and listen, which is what I’m very good at. Listening, being engaged – I have no problems with. […] Whereas on film, because it’s so broken up, it can sometimes mean you come back to a scene [and be] slightly unsure of what exactly you should be doing."

Daniel Radcliffe to Play Allen Ginsberg in Kill Your Darlings

On what he’s looking most forward to with regard to playing Allen Ginsberg in the forthcoming Kill Your Darlings, a 2013 film about murder and the great poets and writers of the beat generation:

"What’s been wonderful so far is doing all the research. I’ve been looking into his childhood and his life and I’m reading the journals at the moment. I’m about to read the biography. It’s fantastic. He’s obviously an extremely interesting character. […] What’s interesting about him -- the more I learn about him, in his life, he was more or less the most placatory person you could ever have met. He was all about trying to keep peace and trying to keep any situation calm. His mother had a deep personality disorder, so he was at home a lot of times as a kid just watching – just trying to make sure everything was okay. […] Which is why it’s intriguing that he was so confrontational in his poetry. It was like that side could never come out in any kind of actual social interaction. [I’m] mainly [looking forward to] working with the director. It’s his first film. He’s a young guy called John Krokidas. I think he’s going to make a fantastic, fantastic movie. He’s co-written it as well. He’s just really super-smart."

On whether or not he has a dialect coach yet to get his non-British accent up to snuff, Radcliffe said:

"Oh, absolutely. I’m working on my New Jersey Jew at the moment."


The Woman in Black hits theaters February 3rd, 2012.

Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.

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