Daniel Radcliffe has used his success and recognition to star in lesser-known movies, including passion projects, and arthouse pieces.
For many moviegoers, Daniel Radcliffe is The Boy Who Lived but we want to celebrate seven films that you may not have seen starring the actor.
Spanning over eight films, and over a decade of movie-making magic, Radcliffe cemented himself as the young boy wizard but there are some cinematic gems that you may not be aware of.
From wacky farting zombie flicks to demonic ex-boyfriends out for justice, Radcliffe has undoubtedly detached himself from the magical world he grew up in, showing audiences, casting agencies, and producers that the once-young child actor has the range, talent and ability to commit to even the smallest of productions.
As such, ahead of the release of The Lost City starring Radcliffe and co-starring Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum and Brad Pitt, we wanted to share our favourite seven roles ever performed by the Boy Who Lived in homage to the seven former Horcruxes created in the franchise from Radcliffe’s earlier success.
7. The Woman in Black
Released in 2012 directed by James Watkins, this gothic supernatural horror was Daniel Radcliffe’s first major film after playing Harry Potter for ten years. It is also, to date one of the actor’s only major theatrical releases post-Potter.
Radcliffe certainly went very left field for this role, running in the complete opposite direction of Harry Potter to ensure he wouldn’t succumb to the typecast curse that child actors before him had fallen prey to.
Radcliffe’s portrayal of the grief-stricken widower for the horror formed a clear line in the sand that his acting ability goes beyond the Wizarding World, however, his portrayal of a father was lacking. Leaving audiences feeling as if Radcliffe’s emotional performance as a father was one-dimensional and misunderstood.
The film, though atmospherically spooky and beautifully composed, fails to achieve much more than the occasional jump scare and an eerie feeling throughout. However, like many of Radcliffe’s films, he is a shining star in the dusk, leading the way and carrying the film to success. Even earned itself a sequel back in 2014, though its sequel missed Radcliffe’s involvement.
Released in 2017 and directed by Greg McLean, Jungle is based on the true story of adventurer Yossi Ghinsberg’s journey into the Amazon Rainforest with Daniel Radcliffe starring Ghinsberg.
When a mysterious guide escorts Radcliffe’s Ghinsberg into the Amazon Jungle in the hopes to discover a hidden tribe, the party’s journey quickly turns into a nightmare as the darkest elements of human nature surface dividing the group, while the deadliest threats of the jungle push them to see how far they will go to survive.
Radcliffe’s portrayal of a man alone in the wild, lost and afraid is gut-punching and thoroughly convincing. Evermore convincing than the accent he dons for the role, which at times completely vanishes.
His dedication to the role can not be questioned, especially as it was reported Radcliffe lost around 14 pounds over the course of filming, which took place in the Colombian Rainforest and the Golden Coast of Australia. The physical transformation that unfolds on screen adds to the desperation of the character and elevates Radcliffe’s conviction and portrayal as Ghinsberg.
McLean delves into human desperation and pushes the age-old theme of man versus nature to the extreme. We witness Radcliffe pushed to the edge physically and psychologically as the tension on-screen pulls us deeper into the story, begging for release.
It is with this that McLean attaches us to the story, we feel discomfort in watching another human pushed to their limits and it makes us think about how we would act in that situation. That is the sign of an excellent film, and once you see Daniel Radcliffe in this role you won’t be able to shake the image of him frail and alone, fighting the elements to survive.
5. Guns Akimbo
In 2018, a meme of Radcliffe donning a bathrobe, fluffy paw slippers, with guns bolted to his hands looking confused circulated, but what a lot of people may not know is that the meme began from the film Guns Akimbo.
Written and directed by Jason Howden, Radcliffe stars as Miles, a programmer pining after his ex-girlfriend in a city overrun by a cyber-gang called Skizm. Miles finds himself abducted and forced into participating in the gang’s gun-crazed game where participants are made to fight one another. His only weapon and one of the biggest sources of comedy in the film are the guns bolted to his hands.
The film was released back in 2019 with a limited theatrical run, made available digitally only three weeks after. Though it may not have reached acclaim standards, it has all the ingredients to become a cult classic in the years to come. It allowed Radcliffe to show off his comedic chops in a number of scenes, a favourite being when he tries to navigate going to the bathroom with guns for hands.
It is a hyper exaggerated dark comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and if you watch it with the same approach, you’ll be able to appreciate it for what it is.
4. The Gamechangers
The Gamechangers centres around the ongoing debate on the psychological effects of violence in video games with the focus of the drama being Rockstar Games, the publisher and developer of the Grand Theft Auto series.
Directed by Owen Harris, this docudrama produced by the BBC depicts the story of the company developing their third instalment Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
The film follows the turbulent development of San Andreas and the fallout that transpired upon the game’s release when a piece of hidden code is found and made public whilst navigating the constant outcry from the wider society that a violent video game will breed violence in real life.
Daniel Radcliffe stars as Sam Houser, the president of Rockstar Games, alongside the late Bill Paxton as Jack Thompson, a solicitor who campaigned the company for its supposed obscene violent content.
Though the straight-to-TV docudrama flew under the radar for most audiences, with little marketing or promotion, it was one of Radcliffe’s top performances of his career, carrying the under-praised film on the weight of his shoulders.
3. Swiss Army Man
Released in 2016 written and directed by duo Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan, Swiss Army Man follows Hank Thompson played by Paul Dano stranded on a deserted island as he prepares to end his life.
His plans are halted when he sees the body of Manny (Daniel Radcliffe) wash ashore, who, despite being dead, has severe flatulence issues, and his body is the usefulness of a titular swiss army knife.
The film was well-received by critics due to its originality and ingenious approach to the theme of survival, while audience reviews slated it for being too indulgent and overly pretentious.
Admittedly the film at its core is about a decomposing gassy corpse, with an underlying theme of lying and pretending, highlighting how as we become deluded in our lives, we drift further away from our true selves, and our reality.
So it can be understood easily why audiences perceived it to be pretentious.
Something that can’t be faulted though is Radcliffe’s performance as Manny. This was such a unique and weirdly enticing character for the aptly weird film. It fits Radcliffe’s role selection style to the letter, and he capitalises on every line of dialogue, and every gaseous exchange, to steal this film and make it stand out in his filmography.
A film devoted to the bowel movements of a corpse has never been so meaningful.
Written and directed by Daniel Ragussis, this American crime thriller released to an underwhelming box office was oddly positively received by audiences and critics and is considered a stand out in Radcliffe’s list of credits.
Imperium follows empathetic FBI agent Nate Foster (Radcliffe) recruited by Agent Angela Zamparo played by Toni Collette, to infiltrate a white supremacist group suspected of importing stolen goods and planning a terrorist attack.
Both politically relevant then and now, Imperium is an unnerving accurate depiction of uneasy times that holds a magnifying glass up to injustice and racism.
Slated for burning itself out at the end and not bringing anything new to the table with its plot, Imperium holds its own as a well-paced, nuanced thriller and deserves praise for its character depiction and politically charged tension building, with a gripping narrative and a stand out performance by Radcliffe.
Radcliffe was an unexpected choice as Nate Foster. Not your typical stature and style, he surprises with his intense performance and again proves his choice in roles may not always seem right, but when you watch him in each of these films he undoubtedly wins you over, with Imperium proving no different.
Think of your deepest secret or darkest desire, now imagine that someone just by touching you could see this secret or desire play out vividly in their brain. Such is the premise of Horns, as directed by Alexandre Aja, first debuted in 2013 at the Toronto International Film Festival, and is based on the Joe Hill novel of the same name.
Revolving around Ig Perish (Radcliffe) who stands accused of the rape and murder of his girlfriend played by Juno Temple, he awakens after a drunken night to find horns protruding from his forehead, discovering they allow him to see people’s darkest desires and awards him the power to make them act upon these desires using his ability to solve the crime and clear his name.
This film’s use of contemporary fantasy and crime fiction elements makes this a must-see for anyone, but for Radcliffe fans, you would struggle to find a better performance in our opinion.
The combination of religious symbolism and gothic cinematography pair beautifully to make a visually stunning film. It is unconventional, dark and devilishly funny.
Radcliffe’s acting range is on full display in this feature, taking us through the grief of death, to the anger that fuels revenge, with an emotional and vulnerable performance. Unlike anything he had done prior, this film was a standout role for Radcliffe that really cemented his potential outside of Harry Potter.
Though at times it strayed from the source material and has been slated as a tonal jumble in parts, it offers a thoughtful and provoking approach to religious satire and the lengths a person would go for those they love.
We also have to shout out the incredible make-up department for their work on Radcliffe’s descent into demonic acceptance.
We hoped that from this we have been able to prove the star power of Radcliffe, how his involvement can assist draw in audience appeal for smaller productions, and how his acting ability improves mediocre or average films.
A common theme I saw when researching for this article, even in films that were poorly received by critics or audiences, a majority of those bad reviews made a point to highlight Daniel Radcliffe’s great performance.
He becomes a shining beacon for a production’s success, and with The Lost City set for release soon, we wonder whether Daniel Radcliffe will prove himself again to be a triumph.
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