Just as Emma Watson said at the London premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Daniel Radcliffe is “the perfect Harry and will be forever.” Here follows a great deal of gushing on Radcliffe as I pick out my favorite moments of his in the Harry Potter Series.
7) Freeing Dobby: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
After slaying the basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets, young Harry confronts Lucius Malfoy, accusing him of putting Tom Riddle’s diary in innocent Ginny Weasley’s cauldron. Malfoy spits back at Harry darring him to prove it and walks away abusing his house elf Dobby. A sly Harry returns the Riddle diary to Malfoy with a sock that frees the brave elf. After being knocked out by a liberated Dobby, Lucius collects himself saying, “Let us hope Mr. Potter will always be there to save the day.” Without missing a beat and standing his ground, Harry stares Lucius down and says, “Don’t worry I will be.”
- Early on Radcliffe shows strength and confidence in this scene, while hinting at one of Harry Potter’s key character traits: his hero complex. Radcliffe shows command in this scene against a much taller and older Jason Issacs.
6) Dementors Attack: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
From across the lake, Harry and Hermione watch hundreds of dementors descend on Sirus Black and Harry. Confident his father will come and conjure the patronus, Harry waits in anticipation and horror. Seeing the truth and believing in himself, Harry rushes out and with authority casts, “EXPECTO PATRONUM!!!” causing every dementor in sight to flee at the silvery bands of light.
- Radcliffe is able to convey the human element of wizardry here. In the character’s journey, its a key moment for Harry. He accepts that he must and he can take on evil. More importantly, with focus and belief in himself, he can win. Radcliffe brings that aspect to the magic and alongside dazzling visual effects, this scene remains one of my favorite use of spells in the Potter Series.
5) Harry’s Leadership: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Just as the centaurs drag away a frightened Dolores Umbridge she shrieks at Harry, “Please, tell them I mean no harm.” Harry returns with a cold stare, cutting her with these words, “I’m sorry Professor, but I must not tell lies.”
Later in the Department of Mysteries, Harry’s distracted from looking into the veil from noises of Death Eaters closing in on him and his friends from Dumbledore’s Army. Not seeing the danger quite yet, he thrusts his wand upward and calls his troops to,”Get behind me.”
- Dumbledore’s Army is my favorite plot from the books and gets a wonderful treatment in David Yates’ film. The students get to channel their desire to act and frustration from being told to step aside into learning advanced magic. Radcliffe proves to be a wise and firm presence in these scenes, giving rousing pep talks and one-to-one encouragement to his peers. In the scenes above Radcliffe proves cool under pressure and shows Harry taking an active role in the war. I also love how he throws Umbridge’s torture line in her face while being perfectly respectful saying,”Professor.” Very British.
4) Graveyard Duel: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
As Voldemort turns away for a second, Harry runs behind Elder Riddle’s grave for cover. The Dark Lord continues to taunt young Potter, imploring him to duel. Suddenly the fear of a young boy gives way to the courage of a young man. Harry bounces up quickly, but walks deliberately into the crowd of Death Eaters. With his eyes locked on Voldemort he says, “Have it your way” and casts Expelliarmus against the green flash of the killing curse.
- I love what Radcliffe does in this scene, wordlessly behind the headstone discarding his fear and confronting Ralph Fiennes’ Voldemort. In that moment for me, Harry becomes the hero not because he has the superior skill, but because he has the heart to face what lies ahead. I may be reading too much into it, but I think Radcliffe plays Harry’s readiness well here. He knows that with Voldemort back, he cannot delay his fate or be saved by others. In the confrontation his eyes show great focus despite fear and uncertainty.
3) Seven Potters: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Harry watches as Fred, George, Fleur, Mundungus, Ron and Hermione transform into 6 identical versions of himself. Each proceeds to strip and put on the same red shirt and jeans for the mission.
- One Harry and Seven Daniel Radcliffes make this scene as hilarious and wondrous as it appears in the novel. Radcliffe nails each actor’s mannerism, posture, and quirks. For instance, with the Hermione “Harry,” Radcliffe captures Watson’s posture and deliberate movements. With the twins, there’s a lot of style and fluidity that Radcliffe employs to mirror the Phelps Twins. Radcliffe sells the comedy of the scene. The digital effects make the scene possible, but Radcliffe makes it real.
6) Last Walk: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2
Reaching into his pocket, Harry pulls out the snitch Dumbledore left him. It flashes with, “I open at the close” and holding it to his lips once again saying, “I’m ready to die” it finally opens. A small stone floats toward him: The Resurrection Stone. Suddenly his parents, Sirius, and Lupin stood around him. Harry walks toward his mother Lily’s outstretched arm, knowing she was only a shadow. Realizing his loved ones would be with him in these last moments he said, “Stay close to me.” Lily replied, “Always.” Harry dropped the stone and walked toward the clearing where Voldemort and a swarm of Death Eaters stood waiting for him. Without a wand, he stood squarely in front of The Dark Lord. Before the flash of green light struck him, he closed his eyes.
- Reading this scene in the final book, I was truly nervous for Radcliffe. Only a great actor would be able to bring the right amount of fear, determination, and sorrow to this pivotal scene. With all the pressure I brought to the cinema, when the scene came up I completely forgot I even read this scene because what Radcliffe brings to it is entirely his own and completely Harry Potter. Talking to the ghosts of loved ones, you can see the child who wants out and the man who knows this is the only way. He simply nails it and had me weeping the whole time.
7) Felix Felicis: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Taking down the potion in one gulp, suddenly Harry’s eyes widened along with a bright smile. Not a care in the world appeared on his usually stoic face. Contrary to Hermione’s plan Harry announces he’s going to Hagrid’s declaring, “I’ve just got this feeling that Hagrid’s is THE PLACE to be tonight, do you know what I mean!” Leaving his confused friends, he shouts “Hi” to a fellow Gryffindor probably shocked by this jovial greeting from Harry. Passing furtive Professor Slughorn in the greenhouse Harry apologizes for startling him, “I should have announced myself, cleared my throat, coughed” he piped.
At Hagrid’s, Slughorn refuses again to give Harry his memory of Young Riddle after telling a sweet story of his mother. Harry responded, ”Do you know why I survived Professor? The night I got this. It was because of her. Because she sacrificed herself, she refused to step aside, because her love was more powerful than Voldemort.” “Don’t say his name” Slughorn interrupted out of reflex. “I’m not afraid of the name professor.” Harry continued, “I going to tell you something, something others have only guessed at. It’s true, I am the Chosen One. Only I can destroy him, but in order to do so I need to know what Tom Riddle asked you in your office all those years ago and I need to know what you told him.” Slughorn begins shaking with fear.
Harry moves closer saying, Be brave Professor. Be brave like my mother. Otherwise, you disgrace her. Otherwise, she died for nothing. Otherwise, the bowl will remain empty… forever.” Accepting Harry Slughorn begged, “Please don’t think badly when you see it. You have no idea what he was like, even then.” Harry steadies the weary professor’s hand as he places the memory into a vial.
- This is Daniel Radcliffe’s best scene in the Potter Series. He perfectly balances slapstick comedy elements, like impersonating the giant spider, with a direct, powerful, and emotional monologue. The normally burdened Harry is free of his cares under the spell of liquid luck. Radcliffe takes full advantage and transforms his usually morose Harry. His speech is quicker and higher pitched. His face showcases an array of smiles and grins. Radcliffe even changes Harry’s gait, practically galloping down the hill to Hagrid’s hut. Once Slughorn, played brilliantly by Jim Broadbent, brings up the memory Harry needs to defeat Voldemort, Radcliffe turns serious and delivers a speech that both agitates Slughorn to act and gives him the courage to trust Harry. Radcliffe perfectly articulates the urgency of his mission using Slughorn’s story (mad props to Steve Kloves for writing this scene). Seeing Radcliffe take Broadbent’s hand at the end, helping him through this difficult moment I realized Radcliffe was more than a kid getting to act with Britain’s greatest talent, but an actor able to hold any scene.