Has Daniel Radcliffe killed Harry Potter?

Xan Brooks on the suggestions that the boy wizard will now have to be re-cast for the final two Potter pictures.

Not quite, not yet - but then murder can be a messy and protracted business. The trouble began last year when the impeccably well-mannered Radcliffe played "himself" as a chain-smoking skirt-chaser in an episode of Extras. It steps up a gear this week when the 17-year-old sheds his pants, smokes more fags and simulates sex with a stable-girl in a London production of Equus.

In Hollywood, Warner Bros executives are reported to be "utterly dismayed". There are even suggestions that the boy wizard will now have to be re-cast for the final two Potter pictures. "I guess we always knew that Harry and Daniel would have to grow up," spluttered one indignant source. "But we hadn't bargained on full-frontal sex scenes."

Let's put aside the obvious point that Harry has been growing up already - both in JK Rowling's novels and in the slavish adaptations that lumber in their wake. What the current row highlights is a growing rift between a studio that regards Harry Potter as an ongoing franchise to be protected and a writer and actor who want to quit while the going is good. Because if Radcliffe is indeed attempting to be rid of the wizard, the evidence suggests that he has a powerful partner in crime. It was Rowling who steered him towards the role in Equus, and it is Rowling who is rumoured to be poised to kill off her creation in the last book of the series, set for publication in July.

Looking at the latest pictures of Radcliffe - cigarette in fist, bum-fluff on face - one is reminded of Gore Vidal's acid response to the death of Truman Capote: "Good career move." Whatever form the ending takes, Harry Potter's days are clearly numbered. Daniel Radcliffe is simply helping him on his way.


Xan Brooks

The GuardianTramp

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