He could have opted to sit on his millions but the magic lives on for Daniel Radcliffe, as Alison Jones discovers.
After 10 years as the boy who lived, the question was what would the boy do next?
The triumph of being the face of one of the most successful British movie franchises ever could not be repeated but could Daniel Radcliffe carve out for himself a meaningful career in film?
He at least knew what he didn’t want to do.
“I was once offered to play in a remake of the Wizard of Oz and they were after Rupert (Grint) and Emma (Watson) as well for two of the other parts.
“I would play the Cowardly Lion. But this was a karate-kicking Cowardly Lion. Presumably, Emma was going to play Dorothy and Rupert was, I guess, Scarecrow.”
To no-one’s shock he politely declined.
“What was I thinking!” he says, laughing. “So anything crap I suppose isn’t what I was looking for.”
With an estimated fortune in the tens of millions it would have been quite easy for him to indulge in a kind of mid-youth crisis and start frittering it away on wild parties and hedonism as his acting star waned.
But anyone who thought that clearly hasn’t met a 22-year-old with a work ethic like his.
Even as the final spells were being incanted, the last wands waved and the broomsticks put back in the cupboard, Dan was a man with a plan.
First, he was going to reinvent himself as a song and dance star with a run on Broadway in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
But even as he was practising his jazz hands, he managed to squeeze in another movie, starring in Victorian-set spine chiller, The Woman In Black.
Originally a book, now hailed as one of the classic ghost stories, by Susan Hill, it has already been adapted into a stage production that has been running in the West End since he was a baby.
“On the last day of filming of Potter I read the script for the first time and was just blown away by it,” he recalls.
“I have never leaned towards horror in my own life in terms of what I am interested in, so the fact I was so into it made it even more exciting.”
Scripted by Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class), and directed by Eden Lake’s James Watkins, there have been some significant changes to the story.
The main one is that Daniel’s character, Arthur Kipps, is a grieving widower (albeit one in his 20s) with a young son.
“The energy level of the character being very different from my own. Harry is somebody where my own natural energy and attack is very useful.
“But Arthur is somebody who had been stripped of his vitality and zeal by the tragic circumstances of his wife’s death. Playing someone who’d become completely detached from life and the world was a challenge.”
He was also wary of the responsibility of having to help coax a performance out of the boy who would play his son, and persuaded James to audition his godson, Misha Handley.
“People having seen me in a schoolboy outfit for 10 years, I was sort of wondering if they would buy into me as a father.
“I thought it would be useful – rather than trying to form a relationship and a chemistry with a child I have just met – if that chemistry already existed because he’s known me all his life.” After convincing Misha that he and the crew were playing a big game of make-believe, everything went well until the first day of filming.
“It was a night shoot and it was cold and horrible. We were on these train tracks and suddenly 9.30pm rolls round and he’s thinking ‘This is later than I have ever been up’.
“He just started hating it.
“There is a point where it doesn’t matter how many sweets or iPad apps you offer him, nothing can be done. But he was a trouper.”
Thankfully, Misha escaped having to participate in one of the film’s more gruesome scenes, which called for Dan to submerge himself in a swamp, which he tackled despite having a phobia about being buried alive.
“If I wasn’t having so much fun I probably would have thought (about) that but it was a case of short man syndrome,” says 5ft 5in Dan. “I was like ‘I am going to prove how tough I am. I am going to be in here for two days and, dammit, I am not going to complain once’.
“It wasn’t exactly mud. It was equivalent to the type of gunge you get on a Sunday morning kid’s show.
“I was getting all psyched up because I thought it was going to be really cool, that I was going to be able to break the water like it was Apocalypse Now.
“As soon as I put my head up I was informed I looked more like Al Jolson,” he laughs.
Working on a ghost story didn’t do anything to help his slightly nervous disposition, which left him scared of the dark as a child. Even now he has to have some kind of light on or noise before he can sleep.
“When I was in New York I had one of the American teaser posters for the film in my house. Just a sepia photo of two kids with their eyes scratched out.
“In the middle of the night I got up to get a drink of water and jumped two foot into the air because I suddenly thought there were two eyeless children staring at me.”
A solid performance at the American box office seems to indicate that Daniel has chosen well for his first post-Potter screen appearance.
He is already prepping for his next project after being cast as the beat poet, Allen Ginsberg.
“It is a true story based on a murder, committed by Allen’s best friend at the time and how the Beats kind of coalesced around that murder,
“I think of Allen in his life as one of the most placatory people. His mother had a completely debilitating personality disorder, which we might now put down to bipolarism or paranoid schizophrenia or something. His whole childhood was spent just trying to mollify, which I think is the reason why there was so much confrontation in his poetry.”
Dan is a published poet himself and he claims that rather than indulge in expensive boys’ toys, he prefers to buy books.
Yet while his former Hogwarts’ classmate Emma Watson is trying to balance university with occasional appearances in movies, he says he loves acting too much to take a career break himself.
“I want to keep reading and educating myself as much as I can but I don’t want to stop working. I have been on film sets since I was 10 and I can’t imagine what my life is without them.
“David Yates (director of the final four Potter films) says he thinks I have been conditioned to work but if that is the flaw I have that is fine.”
While he says he is still in regular touch with Emma, he has drifted apart from screen pal Rupert Grint.
“Me and Rupert don’t text each other. I won’t lie to you and tell you that we do but, you know, we will just see each other in six months and it’ll be ‘Hey Dan’, ‘Hey Rup’ ‘How you doing?’ Like no time will have passed.”
Dan himself is a mixture of affability and intensity. Despite being feted by fans since the age of 10, he is also polite and courteous, even when confronted by hysterical teenagers.
“It is just about being a nice human being. It is not really an effort to go ‘Don’t worry. It’s fine’.”
And though he will go out of his way to sign autographs or pose for pictures, he says he does get irritated by bad manners.
“The only thing that p****s me off is if people take pictures without asking because if they ask me the chances are I would say yes.
“I remember once I was in a restaurant in New York and this girl didn’t even look, she carried on talking to her friend, held her camera phone and just clicked. There was this huge flash from two tables away.
“I was in such disbelief. I just went up to them and said ‘If you had asked it would have been fine. What you did was rude. Just for future reference’.”
Even without the trademark glasses and scar he remains instantly recognisable, which can cause amusing scenes when he is out with his girlfriend Rosie Coker.
“It does look like she is my carer because I basically keep my head to the ground and just follow her feet.
“You will get recognised every time if you make eye contact and I have got fairly distinctive eyes I am told. So keep your head down and follow the feet of the person with you is my advice.”