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Originally published Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 5:08 AM

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Daniel Radcliffe finds ‘a way of working that I’ve never had’

An interview with Daniel Radcliffe, who plays a young Allen Ginsberg in the upcoming film “Kill Your Darlings.”

Seattle Times movie critic

Coming up

‘Kill Your Darlings’

Opening Friday at the Regal Meridian, Sundance Cinemas and Lincoln Square Cinemas. Rated R for sexual content, language, drug use and brief violence.

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It’s been three years, four movies, one TV series, a Broadway musical and a West End play since Daniel Radcliffe last donned those Harry Potter glasses. And yet, the boy wizard still follows him around; just look at the screaming crowds at the Toronto Film Festival.

“The amount of fans who are still there to support these films three years later — it’s amazing,” he said in Toronto on a September afternoon. “It’s a wonderful thing to have.”

But Radcliffe, now 24, is working hard to show audiences — old and new — that there’s more to him than one role. He came to Toronto with three varied films: the romantic comedy “The F Word,” the horror fantasy “Horns,” and the drama “Kill Your Darlings” (opening in Seattle-area theaters Friday), in which Radcliffe plays the young Allen Ginsberg. “I’m really proud that they’re all so different — they show such different sides of what I can do,” he said.

Fast-talking, friendly and enthusiastic despite being clearly tired after multiple interviews and red-carpet appearances, Radcliffe said that he was excited to take on the challenge of playing a 1940s teenager from New Jersey who would become the legendary Beat poet. While performing on Broadway in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” Radcliffe began meetings with director John Krokidas, a process that started a year before filming.

“We worked on accent stuff, physicality, his backstory and his life in general. John also taught me things I’d never been taught before, like how to break down a script. I think everyone else just assumed that I knew how to do that! He gave me a way of working that I’ve never had before, so I’m very grateful.”

The film, based on true events, focuses on Ginsberg’s early college years at New York’s Columbia University. That’s an experience Radcliffe hasn’t had in his own life, but one of the pleasures of “Kill Your Darlings” is watching how he conveys young Allen’s wonder and joy in his new life. “Regardless of whether you went to college or not, everyone has some version of that kind of ‘I have arrived’ moment,” he said.

He also spent time discussing with his father what Allen, from Paterson, N.J., might have felt upon arriving in the big city. “My dad grew up in Banbridge, Northern Ireland, desperate to get to London. I grew up in London, so I don’t know what it’s like to yearn for the big city from a small town. I think that’s a huge motivating factor ... [For Ginsberg] New York represented not just everything that his home wasn’t, but everything he wanted his life to be. He quite possibly had never been happier up to that moment.”

Radcliffe arrived in Toronto fresh from a busy working summer, performing in the play “The Cripple of Inishmaan” by night and filming the second season of the TV miniseries “A Young Doctor’s Notebook” by day. The show, which aired in the U.S. last month on the Ovation channel, is set in 1917 in a hospital in Russia, with Radcliffe and Jon Hamm playing the same doctor at different ages. “There’s nothing else like it on television. It’s very gory, and very funny,” said Radcliffe, who acknowledges that the casting may raise a few eyebrows. “It’s not obvious, but when you see us next to each other it kind of works.”

Next up: playing Igor in Paul McGuigan’s “Frankenstein” opposite James McAvoy later this year (he’s “pleasantly nervous” about working with McAvoy, an actor Radcliffe has long admired). He’d love to do another musical someday — “a fantastically fun thing to do; it’s the only job I’m not doing anymore that I still miss” — and more stage work, and is in talks for several film projects that can’t yet be named. It’s a busy schedule for a young actor excited about the possibilities of his craft, far beyond Hogwarts.

“I want to prove to people that I’m an actor and not just a character,” he said. “I think I’m starting on my way to doing that.”

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or

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