20/12/2011 11:58 GMT | Updated 19/02/2012 10:12 GMT

Daniel Radcliffe On Acting Doubts, Leaving Harry Potter Behind, And What Lights His Fire

Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe says he's most motivated by the doubt of others.

In an exclusive interview with this month's EMPIRE Magazine, Radcliffe who has spent most of 2011 in the Big Apple, starring in the Broadway revival of comedic musical How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, says: "I'm very motivated by the doubt of others. Whenever I hear people talk about the Potter kids as if we're not going to be able to make it out of the series... That really lights a fire under me."

Radcliffe also says he doesn't think the acting profession comes naturally to him - something that has sometimes been evident, particularly in the early Potter pictures.

"It's only recently that I have become more aware of the problems people had with me in the films," he says, tentatively.

"And, you know, people are obviously entitled to their opinions. The way I come at everything is a place of subtlety and underplaying. In fact, if I'm guilty of certain things particularly - and I am in the sixth Potter movie, definitely! - it's of underplaying almost the entire film!"

He laughs. "But we learn from our mistakes. You know, I'm at the age most actors would be when they've learned from their mistakes in private and done drama school for three years. It's a double-edged sword - I had the amazing privilege of working with these fantastic actors for ten years and learning from them, but I also had - we all did - the slight curse of somebody seeing, basically, our acting exercises!"

He added: "Sometimes I really feel like I'm getting the hang of it, because I never really had a process. My process was mainly that I hit my marks and I said my lines. So I'm kind of trying to find a process that allows me to find a surefire way into a character, if it doesn't come easily. I'm working on that. And there are some days when I feel like, 'Yeah, God, I'm actually learning something! This is great!' and there are some days when I go, 'Oh my God, I'm never going to feel good at this. I'm never going to feel like I'm not a fraud."

Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps in the eagerly anticipated film adaptaion of Susan Hill's unsettling novel The Woman In Black.

Speaking about the film's central theme - that of death, Radcliffe reveals it's a topic he has long had a curious interest in.

"I'm going to make myself sound very odd now," he says. "But when I was younger, about 14 or 15, there was a period of about six months where the last thing I did every night before I went to bed was read through the entire 'Last Words' section of the Book Of Quotations.

"I had a kind of fascination with death... I've lost a couple of friends and one relative - my grandmother, on my dad's side."

He pauses.

"Nothing that I've felt comes close to what it feels like, I imagine, for a young man to lose his wife. But I have a pretty active imagination..."

The hardest sequence of the film for Radcliffe was not the physical endurance test but the emotional one, when Kipps is left alone in the haunted house, facing one very malevolent Missus.

"The emotional stuff is the trickiest, absolutely," he says. "And that's why I feel I made some strides in this film because actually, for the first time, I felt able to really allow my own emotions to come out through the character. I know it sounds bizarre to say this now, but it was a fairly new experience for me, for whatever reason. I think I had a sense of it on the last Potter, but not before then."

Radcliffe is looking forward, hopefully, to playing a contemporary, non-fantastical character in 2012 and has "two very, very exciting films possibly happening... but it's 'welcome to the world of independent movies' now for me, so it's that thing of they may all happen and none of them may. I just want to keep working with interesting people and hopefully build up as diverse and varied a body of work as I can.

"When I look at Gary Oldman's career, that's what I look at and go, 'Oh my God! That's amazing!' The versatility and range shown there... And, you know, I believe I'm capable of that."

The February issue of EMPIRE magazine is on sale now.

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