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Friday 15 December 2017

What magic is in store for top trio after Potter?

As Radcliffe, Watson and Grint hang up their wizard hats, Evan Fanning wonders how they'll cope in life outside Hogwarts

Evan Fanning

THE end of days has arrived for Harry Potter and its trio of young stars. Eleven years after Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint were plucked from the tens of thousands of children who auditioned for the roles of the young wizard and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, the journey comes to an end when the final film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II is released this week.

Along the way, they've become wealthy, of course, they've become household names and international stars. They've become the quiet one, the intense one, the style icon. It hasn't been a big chunk of their lives. It has been their lives. They have literally grown up on the set of the films, with tutors and lessons being taken in between filming battle scenes and quidditch contests.

But what happens next to Radcliffe, Watson and Grint will either reaffirm or completely destroy the perceived wisdom of what life awaits child stars in their later years.

It hasn't all been rosy so far. In one of the few interviews he has done for this final movie, Radcliffe told GQ how he became "reliant" on alcohol over the final years of the Potter movies. "There were a few years there when I was just so enamoured with the idea of living some sort of famous person's lifestyle that really isn't suited to me," Radcliffe told the magazine.

He is now teetotal and seemed content with living a different kind of life post Potter. "There's no shame in enjoying a quiet life. And that's been the realisation of the past few years for me," Radcliffe continued. "I'm actually enjoying the fact that I can have a relationship with my girlfriend where I'm really pleasant and not f***ed up totally all the time."

David Yates, the director of the final four Harry Potter movies, sees Radcliffe's predicament as a symptom of the intense scrutiny he has been under since such a young age. "I think he's a young man, he's under heavy pressure," Yates says, as we sit in a London hotel room. "We have a heavy drinking culture in this country and any teenager who doesn't have the same pressure he's under probably tucks too much away. Because he's Daniel Radcliffe and because he's in this famous film, it becomes a bigger deal. He's a young man, he's learning about life and he's learning about himself.

"He drinks too much for a year or two, maybe? I don't know. It never affected his work in any way. What's wonderful about Daniel is that he'll be painfully honest about himself in the spirit of 'I'll just tell you what it was like and I'm not judging myself'. It's a real shame that then people judge that. He was just a teenager doing what teenagers do. We've all been there and he'll come through it and he'll be fine."

Watson's choices since finishing work on the films have been even further removed from the world of Hogwarts than the series of plays Radcliffe has undertaken. She moved to the US to take up a place at Brown University -- she has since left -- she has become the face of Burberry and an ambassador for Lancome, the latter a particularly exalted position in the Hollywood hierarchy. She has become the queen of tabloids and the broadsheets in equal measure, with every friend, co-worker and man she meets in the street pitched as her "new boyfriend".

She has previously spoken about how working on the films provided an almost ideal balance to her fractured home life (her parents split when she was five). "I didn't have much stability at home, but making the films has been a constant in my life, very stabilising, even if people think the opposite," she told The Times last year.

As for the Hollywood stardom that seems mapped out for her, she seems as yet to be undecided if that is the way she wants to go. "LA scares the crap out of me," she revealed in this month's Harper's Bazaar. "I feel if I have to work out four hours a day, and count the calories of everything I put in my mouth, and have Botox at 22, and obsess about how I look the whole time, I will go mad, I will absolutely lose it."

David Barron, one the producers of the films, sees no trouble in store for Watson. "Emma designs clothes, she's a model, she just finished a film in Pittsburgh, she got the top mark in her English language A-level of anyone in the country," he says. "She can do what she likes."

As he sat in London to promote the film on Wednesday, Grint -- at 22, a year older

than Radcliffe and Watson -- seems remarkably laid-back for someone who has been one of the key components of a movie franchise that has been worth more than €5bn.

It's only when he alludes to some of his more reckless spending (an ice-cream van, a hovercraft, miniature donkeys) that you realise that you are dealing with something outside the norm. Grint, it is claimed, has made approximately €31m from his years in the franchise.

"This week, it has really hit me," he says of the impending end. "I think I've been in denial. I keep thinking this can't be the end. It's a weird mixture of feelings. It has been a big adjustment to go from every day, every month, every year for 10 years to just nothing."

In his own laid-back way, Grint seems to be aware that, so far, they have remained remarkably well adjusted. "People are constantly surprised that we're not this mess that the stereotype says," he reveals. "I think maybe if we filmed it in America, but where we film is just Watford. It's not exactly the most glamorous place in the world."

Yates feels the post-Potter process has already begun for the trio. "I've got more and more confident in them as the years have progressed," he says. "Dan's on Broadway now and having a great time. He was in Equus a couple of years ago. He's made a couple of movies. He's ambitious and he's astute and he'll make interesting choices. Emma's just made a movie in America, a really interesting independent film with a great script, and Rupert's just made a film in Norway.

"They have these opportunities coming in and what's perhaps healthy is not to aim to be in big blockbuster, tentpole things. Not to chase the big movies that are seen at the multiplex. There'll be integrity in their choices and that will sustain them. They'll make interesting choices, hopefully, and they'll stay around. They might be in big movies, but at this stage having made eight of them they're probably more interested in doing more niche, interesting pieces."

It is not just the cast whose world has changed because of Harry Potter. David Heyman has produced all eight films after securing the rights to a then unpublished manuscript after his secretary had picked it off a shelf in his office, read it over a weekend, and insisted he gave it a look.

Understandably, Heyman feels the need to put a protective arm around his friends, but knows they are now in a position where they need to make their own way. "I think I felt most responsibility on the first few films when they were 11, 12, 13 years old. As they've gotten older, they've become more individual and independent. I don't think it's my responsibility to be their father -- they've got parents, they've got really good friends -- however, I will always be there for them. I think they all know that if they needed me, I'd be there.

"But it's hard for me. If Dan goes out and parties, I can't be the one standing outside wagging my finger. If Emma's got a boyfriend who I don't like, I can't object. [Even] Parents can't do that and I'm not a parent.

"What's the safety net for them? The safety net is that they have a group of people around them of which I am one, who care for them and look out for them. We don't think of them as movie stars, it's just Dan and Emma and Rupert. I've seen them have their first kiss; I've seen them nervous and excited. I saw them on their first day. I was the one who told them they have the part."

As they go their separate ways, it may be as much a journey into the unknown for Radcliffe, Watson and Grint as it was when they signed up 11 years ago. Before he shuffles out of one of his final Harry Potter duties, Grint reveals that he hopes they all keep in contact and remember that they shared this -- extremely bizarre -- experience. "I would like if we all stayed in touch," he says. "I think we will. It has been this unique experience. Only the three of us really know what it has been like."

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II is in cinemas from Friday

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