Radcliffe is ‘partly South African’

Johannesburg - He’s lived most of the past decade in the public eye – but few people know young British actor Daniel Radcliffe can claim some South African ties.

The 22-year-old, whose new movie The Woman in Black opened in South Africa this weekend, describes himself as “a complete mutt. I have South African, Polish, Russian, Jewish and Northern Irish Protestant in me.”

Radcliffe’s maternal grandfather was South African, and his own mother was born here – although her story is not something he’s keen to tell in detail.

“He wasn’t the most pleasant man in the world. We very rarely talk about it. My mum, with her mum, at the time – at the age of two weeks old – was the youngest baby to fly out of South Africa on South African Airways.

“It’s a very long story, but my grandfather basically didn’t treat my grandmother well, and that led to them fleeing from him and the country.” The Woman in Black shows he has a lot more to him than just playing a boy wizard.

After a successful year-long run on Broadway in the musical How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Radcliffe has been looking to show audiences what else he can do.

He recently signed on for the supernatural thriller Horns, and is also set to do a romantic comedy alongside Zoe Kazan.

“The next two years are particularly important,” said the actor. “This is the time when everything is going to be judged. If you make it through two years, you’re kinda good. Then you’re just another actor doing his thing, and that’s what I want to become.”

While recent headlines have criticised Radcliffe over his sex life and apparent excessive drinking, he says he has a “tremendous work ethic” that was instilled in him by his showbiz parents.

And far from wanting to entirely escape the Harry Potter legacy, Radcliffe is grateful for the opportunities the role granted him.

“I don’t want to disassociate myself with Harry Potter. It was the best thing of my life – it gave me everything.”

His passion for cricket may bring him to South African shores. He says he wants to watch a match between South Africa and England in Durban.

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