Daniel Radcliffe Opens Up on How Harry Potter Mania Fed His Drinking Problem

Daniel Radcliffe. Photo: Maarten de Boer/Getty Images Portrait

Daniel Radcliffe has spoken about his teenage struggles with alcohol for years, but in a new interview with Playboy that you no longer have to feel weird about reading, the Harry Potter actor reveals how the pressure of being in the spotlight contributed to the problem. "Anytime I’d go out to dance, camera phones would come out," Radcliffe says. "That would make me very self-conscious, and what’s the easiest way to escape being self-conscious? Alcohol is a quick way of doing that." Still, he says, he's wary of talking too much about his drinking, recalling the way his earlier remarks got blown up in the British tabloids: "I’ve given way too much. It becomes painful to watch your personal issues that you’ve tried to be sincere about get turned into fodder for TV gossip shows ... I can say lots of well-meaning stuff — why it happened and how I stopped — for three hours, and the headline would be DRUNK ON THE SET OF HARRY POTTER."

Radcliffe also admits that he underestimated how much Potter would live on after the film series ended. Even now, he says he's still coming to terms with the fact that the character will follow him for the rest of his life. "If you were 14 when the first film came out," he reasons, "you'd now be almost in your 30s and could well have a child under 10 whom you’re now introducing to Harry Potter. We’re already getting the next generation. That’s just bizarre. It’s never going away."

But despite the onslaught of camera phones that still haunts his free time, the actor has a relatively sanguine view of human nature: "Getting recognized on the street teaches you that most people are polite and nice and just want a quick picture." The struggle, he says, is how to deal with the intermittent assholes; even now, Radcliffe says he still has to work on standing up to strangers. "But I’m better at saying no than Rupert Grint," he says. "He ended up going back to a fan’s house because he couldn’t say no to anything they asked. That’s when it’s gone too far."