The Transformation Of Daniel Radcliffe From 11 To 31 Years Old

To many of us, Daniel Radcliffe is like a favorite cousin who has grown up alongside us the past couple of decades. The London native took the world's (arguably) most famous and beloved wizard off the pages and gave him a body. From that point on, millions of kids and adults alike have watched the on-screen version of Harry Potter evolve from sweet, neglected boy to savior of the wizarding world. That is no small feat — as Radcliffe is well aware of.

Being in the limelight is difficult for many actors. But for a small child, it can define his whole career — and even his whole life. After all, Radcliffe played the main character in one of the world's most popular franchises, whose films alone have put more than $7.7 billion in creator J.K. Rowling's pocket, according to Screen Rant.

Radcliffe understands the responsibilities — and limitations — that come with forever being associated with the Boy Who Lived. In fact, if you've ever caught yourself wondering why Radcliffe isn't active on social media, that's why. "I considered getting a Twitter and I 100% know that if I did, you all would be waking up to stories like, 'Dan Radcliffe gets into fight with random person on Twitter,'" he said to Sean Evans on "Hot Ones" (via People). Although many might only remember him from "Harry Potter," Radcliffe has grown up to be a mature actor with a good head on his shoulders. Keep reading to see his transformation over the years.

Daniel Radcliffe's parents didn't want him to be an actor

Daniel Radcliffe wasn't a complete outsider to the industry when he landed his life-defining role as Harry Potter in 2000, the year he turned 11 years old. Both of his parents, Marcia Gresham and Alan Radcliffe, briefly acted during childhood, though their experiences were far from great, Daniel told Parade in a 2012 interview. Alan went on to become a literary agent and Gresham a casting director, meaning that they remained in the entertainment industry, per the report.

At age 5, Daniel shared with his mom that he wanted to be an actor when he grew up. Her response was a big, fat "nope," he told Parade. However, it was a friend of the couple, producer David Heyman, who urged Daniel to audition for the role of Harry Potter, according to the publication. Director Chris Columbus became interested in the young actor after seeing him in "David Copperfield," according to Hollywood Reporter.

But his parents almost didn't allow him to. As Daniel told "Hollywood Reporter," they told Columbus that shooting six films in Los Angeles would be too disruptive. "[T]hen, maybe three, four months down the line, the deal had changed, and it was gonna be to shoot two films, and they'd both be done in England, and so they said, 'Okay, we'll let him audition,'" Daniel said in the 2011 interview. In August 2000, Warner Bros. announced Radcliffe would bring Harry Potter to life, per CNN.

Daniel Radcliffe isn't always proud of his acting

Director Chris Columbus was set on Daniel Radcliffe from the get-go, and after receiving the seal of approval from J.K. Rowling, they all set off to film the massively popular ordeal that would introduce us not only to Radcliffe, but also to Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, who played Harry's best friends, Hermione Granger and Ron Wesley. In a February 2021 interview with Elijah Wood for Empire magazine (via Digital Spy), Radcliffe expressed gratitude for landing the role of Harry Potter early on, reflecting that he feels "lucky" to have discovered his passion early in life. "It's hard to separate my relationship with Harry from my relationship with the films as a whole," he shared. "I'm incredibly grateful for the experience."

But in addition to gratitude, Radcliffe also feels a bit of embarrassment over some of his early acting, according to the publication. However, he noted that anything one does as a teenager has the potential to become a source of embarrassment later on, adding that one's teenage years are usually a bag of mixed feelings. 

"I'm intensely embarrassed by some of my acting, obviously," he said, as quoted by Digital Spy. "It's like asking, 'How do you feel about your teenage years?' There's so much in there that it's almost impossible to single out one feeling."

Daniel Radcliffe came of age rather abruptly

Throughout his work on "Harry Potter," Daniel Radcliffe continuously appeared in other projects, starting in 2002 when he starred in Kenneth Branagh's play "The Play What I Wrote." In 2007, he was in "December Boys" and "My Boy Jack," a performance that was deemed "the heart of the film" by SF Gate's David Wiegand.

That same year, at age 17, Radcliffe dropped our collective jaws when he took the stage to play the lead role in Peter Shaffer's play "Equus." As a stable boy, Radcliffe undressed right in front of a live audience. As The New York Times reported at the time, he went on to pose for some rather revealing promotional materials, which caused a bit of an uproar. And just like that, he showed the world that he wasn't a kid anymore.

Following the release of "Equus" in February 2007, rumors began to circulate that Warner Bros. Pictures was not at all happy with Radcliffe's decision to take on an adult role shortly before the release of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that summer" — speculations that the studio was quick to deny, according to the Chicago Tribune. "Daniel Radcliffe is an extremely talented actor, as well as a great collaborator and friend to Warner Bros. Pictures," the studio said in a statement. "We've had great experiences working with him on our films and fully support him in the artistic choices he makes as an actor."

Daniel Radcliffe followed a career in independent films and found his acting decisions liberating

With the release of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2" in early July 2011, Daniel Radcliffe closed this giant chapter of his life just days before he turned 22. In an interview with Empire in February 2021 (via the Independent), Radcliffe said, "I've actually found it's an incredibly liberating thing, to do the biggest thing you're ever gonna do really f***ing early."

"Harry Potter" set him free because it made him financially stable at a young age, and that, he said, opened the path for him to "just do things that make [him] happy." He added that "for every director out there that was like, 'I can only see him as Harry Potter,' there was at least one that said, 'I wonder if he'll do this really f***ing weird thing?' And I did!"

Throughout his 20s, Radcliffe decided to take part in independent projects, including plays, films, and TV roles. He has starred in the horror films "The Woman in Black" (2012) and "Horns" (2013), romantic comedy "What If" (2013), and portrayed Allen Ginsberg in "Kill Your Darlings" (2013), which earned him "some of the best reviews of his career," per MTV. "For all the people who've followed my career, I want to give them something to be interested in, rather than just make loads of money on c**p films for the rest of my life," he said, per Mirror.

Daniel Radcliffe found his longtime love on a movie set

Daniel Radcliffe's role in "Kill Your Darlings" didn't just earn him rave reviews — it also brought him his longtime partner. American actor Erin Darke, who is best known for her role in the TV series "Good Girls Revolt," played a woman Ginsberg (Radcliffe) becomes briefly involved with, as Bustle noted. "It'll be a hell of a story to tell our kids one day because of what our characters do with each other," he said to People (via Elle) in reference to their sex scene.

The couple has been going strong ever since, even surviving strict lockdown measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic together in their New York City apartment, according to Elle. Radcliffe prefers to keep his relationship away from the spotlight, but he has praised Darke in interviews. In 2020, he noted that being a "nerdy" kid, he thought some of his interests were meant to be kept to himself, he explained to Metro.

But that was until he met Darke. "'I grew up doing lots of things where I thought, 'This is super nerdy. I'll never be able to do this around a girl,'" Radcliffe said to Metro. "But that's the wonderful thing about the moment you find the relationship you're meant to be in. 'It's like, 'Oh, I can do all of that stuff and you don't mind. And you actually think it's fun, too. This is fantastic!'" From child star to a millennial in love, Radcliffe has come a long way.