Harry Potter and the Daunting Career Choices: life beyond Hogwarts

Daniel Radcliffe's scored a hit with The Woman in Black - but what else have the stars been up to outside the franchise?

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Daniel Radcliffe must be over the moon, what with The Woman in Black having become the highest-grossing British horror movie released in the past 20 years. The film’s taken a reported $73m at the box office and, with his first post-Potter gig having gone so well, the prospect of Radcliffe leaving Hogwarts behind and forging a fulfilling career of his own seems much more likely.

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Thanks to TV programmes like Justin Lee Collins’s Bring Back… series, it’s become increasingly apparent just how much of a millstone around the neck a role in a mega-hit movie can be for an actor – Mark Hamill, for instance, never managed to break away from the character Luke Skywalker, and Robert Englund’s forever destined to be known as the guy who played Freddy Krueger.

Thankfully though, the stars of Harry Potter have made efforts to ensure that they won’t easily become typecast, having involved themselves in all manner of non-Potter work during the ten years in which the series was unfolding.

Every actor wants to be respected for their talent instead of being identified with one particular role, and after having starred in the highest-grossing movie franchise of all time, it’ll be interesting to see how Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint choose to try and make their own names in the future. But here’s what the magical trio have turned their hands to thus far…

Daniel Radcliffe – Having made his TV acting debut in a BBC adaptation of David Copperfield in 1999, Radcliffe was cast in The Tailor of Panama in 2001, a spy film in which he played the son of Geoffrey Rush and Jamie Lee Curtis’s characters. After this, he landed the role of the schoolboy wizard Harry Potter, a character he would play for a decade.

While making the Potter films, Radcliffe broadened his range by appearing in theatrical productions and other films. He made his stage debut in 2002, shortly after the release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the west end production of The Play What I Wrote, and in 2007 appeared in December Boys, an Australian family drama about four orphans. In the same year, he starred in My Boy, a wartime TV drama that was shown on ITV for Remembrance Day and earned the actor critical acclaim.

Aged 17, Radcliffe made headlines when he was encouraged by JK Rowling to appear in the play Equus at the Gielgud Theatre in a role which saw him performing stark naked on stage. The play proved so successful that it transferred to Broadway in 2008, where Radcliffe’s performance won him a Drama Desk Award.

After voicing a Simpsons episode in 2010, Radcliffe landed a role in the Broadway musical How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying in 2011 which won him a string of stage awards.

His first post-Harry Potter movie, The Woman in Black, was released in 2012 and did stormingly well at the box office. Building on this success, Radcliffe has a part in an indie comedy called The Amateur Photographer, which he will appear in after playing the beat poet Allen Ginsberg in the film Kill Your Darlings, which is due out in 2013.

Emma Watson – Having only ever acted in school plays before being cast in the Potter movies, Watson waited until 2007 to try her hand outside the Potter franchise and star in the BBC film Ballet Shoes as an aspiring actress. 

Having been described as ‘perfect’ by Ballet Shoes’s director, Watson lent her voice to the character Princess Pea in The Tales of Desperaux, an animated film that starred Matthew Broderick and Robbie Coltrane.

The erstwhile Hermione Granger famously marked the end of the Potter series by cutting off her long mane of ‘Hermione hair’ and becoming a fashion model, and after a stint as the face of Burberry, Watson was chosen as Lancôme’s premier model in 2011.

She has also continued to act while modelling, having appeared as a wardrobe assistant in My Week with Mariyln, and has landed parts in Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower and David Yates’s film Your Voice in My Head, both of which are due out in 2013.

Rupert Grint – Like Watson, Grint had no professional acting experience before being cast as Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter movies, but made his first foray into the world outside Hogwarts in 2002 with a co-starring role in Thunderpants, a film about a flatulent superhero.

While that project was savaged by those critics who deigned to pay it any attention, Grint’s next film project outside the Potter series, Driving Lessons, in which he starred opposite Julie Walters, was much better received. In the film, Grint plays an obsessed teenager, and his portrayal of the character was singled out for praise.

He starred in a thriller called Cherrybomb in 2008 that only saw the light of day in 2010 after Harry Potter fans were able to raise enough money among themselves to pay for the film’s distribution. In the same year, Grint appeared opposite Emily Blunt and Bill Nighy in Wild Target, which was a critical success but a financial flop, only earning back half of its production costs. 

In January 2011, he appeared in Matt Lucas and David Walliams’s comedy series Come Fly with Me before being cast as the lead role in Into the White, a low-budget Norwegian movie that will be released later this year.

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And looking to the future, Grint’s voice will be featured alongside David Tennant’s in the upcoming Postman Pat movie adaptation. In addition to that, he’ll be playing Eddie ‘The Eage’ Edwards on the big screen in 2013 and he’s also set to follow Radcliffe into the world of horror with a role in Cross Country, a thriller in which a group of friends are menaced in woodland, that’s also due out in cinemas next year.