Daniel Radcliffe

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"I'm just going to enjoy it. After all, I might do this film and then disappear. Or something might go horribly wrong and I'll never act again". So spoke 12-year-old Daniel Radcliffe before the release of Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone.

He needn't have worried, of course; within eight years he was one of Britain's wealthiest teenagers and the spell-binding star of the Harry Potter movie franchise. Although he owes much to the boy wizard character created by author JK Rowling, Daniel once admitted that when as a child he read her first two books, he found them hard to get into..

Born on July 23 1989 in Fulham, London, to literary agent father Alan and casting director mother Marcia, Daniel Jacob Radcliffe was the opposite of the typical extrovert child star. After an unhappy stint at Sussex House prep school in Chelsea, he was put up for the role of the young David Copperfield in a 1999 version of the Dickens classic by his mum, in an effort to boost his confidence.

Daniel landed the part and made an impressive debut opposite Bob Hoskins. It was while filming his second acting job in August 2000, Pierce Brosnan flick The Tailor Of Panama, that he heard he'd won the role that would change his life for ever. "I thought it would be really cool just to be able to say I auditioned for the part - I never thought I would get it," he said at the time.

Between lensing the four Harry Potter movies he continued to study at the private City of London School, but had little in common with boys his age and found academia held little appeal. Growing up on screen meant he mingled mainly with adults and in a 2007 interview he admitted his best friend was 40-something Will Steggle, his dresser on set.

At 16 his influence in the world of showbiz was undisputable. He became the youngest non-royal ever to have an individual portrait hung in the National Portrait Gallery. And by 2007 he, along with cast-mates Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, had been recognised on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

As the success of the Harry Potter films snowballed, so did Daniel's pay packet, with him reportedly earning £8 million for the fifth film. The down-to-earth actor insists money has not changed him, though, and he's certainly not tempted by the shopping sprees young Tinseltown stars indulge in. "Even when I was very young and before any of this had happened, I remember being repulsed by ostentatious displays of wealth," he told one glossy magazine.

His decision at 17 to appear as the lead in Peter Shaffer's Equus, before the fifth Potter film was released, was a chance to show the world what he was capable of beyond Hogwarts. "To some people, I will only ever be Harry," he said in an interview with The Sunday Times in February 2007. "I know that, I don't fight it. I don't want to distance myself from him. I'm proud of that work. But I do want to show them that I am not Harry Potter. I am an actor."

Daniel earned rave reviews for his first major stage work, although he admitted the nudity it calls for was terrifying to begin with and that he'd asked his friend and idol Gary Oldman, who taught him to play bass guitar, for advice. What the production did make clear was that Daniel was all-grown up

His first non-Potter movie, meanwhile, was Australian film December Boys - about four orphans competing for a family. He also won the role of Rudyard Kipling's tragic son in 2007 ITV drama My Boy Jack. Well-read, with a passion for poetry and Keats he achieved good AS results but decided not to finish school, choosing instead to focus on his acting.

Recognising that he owes his start to the wizarding series, Daniel also acknowledges Hogwarts school of magic has become an integral part of who he is. "When I've shot the last scene of the last movie, I will be devastated," he says. "Harry Potter has provided my friends, seen me though my exams. I've had my first girlfriend, my first kiss. It's been my life."
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