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daniel-radcliffe-thewomaninblackAt the Canadian premier of The Woman in Black a young woman yelled, “I love you!” as Daniel Radcliffe took the stage to introduce the film.

“I love you too,” he replied with a smirk. “But I think we should see other people.”

The audience laughed but probably missed the double meaning of his comment. For ten years Radcliffe has been the face of Harry Potter, one of the biggest grossing movie franchises ever. Now that Potter has ended the twenty-two year old actor has moved on, and hopes his audience will follow along.

In his first major non-wizard role Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a widowed lawyer who travels to a remote English village to settle the affairs of Alice Drablow. Ms. Drablow may have shuffled off this mortal coil but the locals are convinced she still haunts her old house. Worse, because she still mourns her son Nathaniel, a toddler who drowned on her estate, whenever she is seen, a village child dies. His presence on her at her home, the dilapidated Eel Marsh House, stirs up her spirit, and soon the local children start dropping like flies.

“I wanted to be a part of telling this story,” he says. “One of the things that made it really stand out was that it was a genre movie but also that it was unusual for its genre. Nowadays we’re saturated with gory, gratuitous, visually upsetting films. But this is all about suspense and what you don’t see and James (Watkins), our director, really lets the tension build. That’s very important. The main thing about it was the story. It is very classic and very chilling.”

It isn’t surprising Radcliffe would be drawn to a story with a timeless feel. In conversation he reveals that his favorite movie is a David Niven wartime fantasy made forty-three years before he was born.

“I love A Matter of Life and Death because it achieves so much visually and is one of the most impressive visually and imaginative films ever,” he says, “and they didn’t have visual effects. What I love is when the frame freezes and you can still see the actors moving slightly. But it doesn’t matter because you suspend your disbelief and you don’t care.”

He’s hoping audiences will respond similarly to The Woman in Black’s focus on character over special effects.

“I like classic films and great storytelling. Ultimately if it is not on the page it will not be in the film. The first port of call in any script is a strong story. However good the characters or the parts might be, no one is going to care unless they are invested in a very good story and that is what I thought this was.”

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