September 25, 2008

Radcliffe Puts the Spurs to His Role in ‘Equus’

By Elysa Gardner

Daniel Radcliffe doesn't understand "the fuss over the difference between stage acting and screen acting."

The Harry Potter star, who makes his Broadway debut in a revival of Peter Shaffer's Equus opening tonight at the Broadhurst Theatre, says the stage makes certain technical demands.

But Radcliffe, 19, dismisses the notion that live performance need be larger in scale or that doing eight shows a week requires more energy than a movie, "where there can be really long hours, and you might do 20 takes on any given shot."

His work in the Potter series helped Radcliffe develop the stamina required for the sexually and spiritually charged Equus, in which he plays Alan Strang, a teenager who undergoes intense psychoanalysis after committing a bizarre and brutal crime.

"There's a lot of sweat on me by the end," Radcliffe says. "I'm a physically repellent thing. At least it's good exercise. I don't have to go to the gym."

His rehearsal and performance schedule allows him "to lie in bed much later than I do in London, which is great."

Though Radcliffe's stage experience had been limited to the role of a monkey in a school play, London critics embraced him when Equus opened on the West End in February 2007. Potter buffs know Radcliffe has worked with co-star Richard Griffiths, who is Alan's psychiatrist: Griffiths played Harry's Uncle Vernon.

Radcliffe also is at ease with Anna Camp as Jill, with whom Alan shares an interest in horses, among other things. "When you have to get naked on stage with someone, you want to feel relaxed with them," Radcliffe says. "And (Camp) and I have a good relationship."

He's referring, of course, to the scene that has received the most attention: "I'm only naked for about seven minutes in a show that runs about 2 1/4 hours."

Still, New York Drama Critics' Circle president Adam Feldman says that factor "can't be overlooked" in assessing interest. "There's a bit more frisson because (Radcliffe) was recently a child star. There's a certain naughty, vaguely prurient excitement."

New York critics won't officially weigh in until Friday, but Radcliffe has been encouraged by audience response during previews. The fans that wait for him at the stage door "are really supportive. Someone said to me the other day, 'I'll never see Harry Potter the same way.'

"I wanted to say, 'See him the way you should always see him, as a character -- just like Alan.' I hope to play as many characters as I can. I'll keep coming back to the stage and film for as long as they'll have me." (c) Copyright 2008 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc. <>