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Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 07/10/2007

Daniel Radcliffe Conjures Up an Adult Image

By Liz Kelly

Emma Watson reacts to co-star Daniel Radcliffe's Details spread. (AP)

We spend a fair amount of time here handwringing about the overt sexuality of starlets. Today's Miley Cyrus is tomorrow's Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Fergie, Elizabeth Berkley, etc. One day it's all pigtails and formulaic TV capers and the next its bustiers, plaid minis and kissing Madonna on stage at the MTV awards. It's tough territory for a parent to negotiate. Kid-safe entertainment fare is -- in its best form -- a respite from a world of nine-year-olds with cell phones, 11-year-olds with boyfriends and 13-year-olds with midriff-baring Abercrombie ensembles. Much ink has been spilled pondering how to square on-air "G" ratings with young female stars quickly growing into PG-13 and even R-rated real lives.

But what about the boys? We don't usually worry about them. Like the Disney Channel's Zach and Cody, they live the sweet life. We needn't fret about them building their self-images around their looks. It is not the boys clamoring for pre-teen nose jobs and Paris Hilton hair extensions. In general, boys barrel through their teens complete with a solid sense of self and an age-appropriate wardrobe.

Leave it to the quintessential icon of male youth, then, to break the ice and gain a pretty secure foothold on the slippery slope of youth sexualization. Daniel Radcliffe, aka Harry Potter to a generation of fans who grew up on the books and movies (the next film in the installment, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," opens tomorrow), has been doing his best over the past year to perform the wizardry of a lifetime -- distancing himself from the grip of typecasting by forcing us to look at him in a different light. A racy, nude light.

As adult consumers, we're meant to react thusly: "Why, that kid isn't a kid anymore. He's a risk-taking serious actor not afraid to bare all in the name of art. Let's get him on the Oscar-track stat." (Or something like that, though the reality is closer to something like this well-written analysis from the San Francisco Chronicle.)

But we're not the only ones privy to this show. Inevitably, tweener boys and girls still guileless enough to dream of Hogwarts and Quidditch matches, are encountering the photos gracing the cover and a big spread in August's Details magazine and may even have heard about his naked turn earlier this year in the London production of "Equus."

Six years ago, when the first Potter film came out, this was standard Radcliffe interview fare:

"I don't think you should regard yourself as famous, because then it goes to your head."

Now, the updated Radcliffe from Details:

"All it takes is for me to be seen chatting up a girl for them to, you know, make up some crappy headline about me being a sex rat or whatever they call it."

No, not shocking or even unusual. After all, Radcliffe is no longer 12. He's an 18-year-old celebrity faced with building a post-Harry Potter life for himself. But, considering the Potter target audience, I have to wonder how parents are reacting to his abrupt shift into adulthood. Is a bare-chested leather-clad Harry Potter as big of a youthquake as Ashlee Simpson's plastic surgery or Lindsay Lohan's underage antics?

You tell me.

By Liz Kelly  | July 10, 2007; 10:43 AM ET
Categories:  Celebrities  
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Comments

Boys barrel through their teenage years with a solid sense of self? Seriously, you should never talk about something you obviously know absolutely nothing about again. While I don't claim teenage boys are as insecure as teenage girls, since they tend not to wear it on their sleeves, every teenage boy at some point is very insecure in terms of who they are and what they are doing. You don't know anything about the interior life of teenage guys, so don't go around pretending that you do.

Posted by: Chris | July 10, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I also wonder if this effort of his to distance himself from the HP image means that he's considering not finishing out the series through the 7th film. I would imagine they've got him contracted though - however maybe he's trying to Jessica Biel his way out of it?

Posted by: Ron W. | July 10, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Hey Chris, how can you speak for "every" teenage boy? You're doing the same thing you are accusing Liz of.

Posted by: Mina | July 10, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

It's not the same as Lohan et al...not because he is a male and they are female, but because he is trying to do it through his career and serious acting roles, not through drinking and partying.

It reminds me more of when Lisa Bonet took the movie role in Angel Heart and incurred the wrath of Bill Cosby (she starred as one of his daughters on the TV show).

Posted by: CJB | July 10, 2007 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Hey Chris, how can you speak for "every" teenage boy? You're doing the same thing you are accusing Liz of.

Posted by: Mina | July 10, 2007 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I think that Radcliffe wants to distance himself from the HP franchise. In the Details' article (what can I say, I was bored...) he said his interest was in writing and possibly directing in the future. It stands to reason, he just wants to branch out of this image he has had for the past 7-8 yrs, and move into adulthood. He doesn't seem the sort to haul off on an SUV with an umbrella...

Posted by: Mandy | July 10, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I personally don't find the pictures sexual. Maybe if they airbrushed more hair and a bigger chest or something I could see the comparison to the Simpsons and Lohans of the world. But I seriously doubt this spread in Details (isn't this a magazine for men?) was meant to sexualize the kid.

Posted by: Tdot | July 10, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I doubt if many pre-teens read Details. I also applaud Radcliffe for trying to have a career. He is, regardless of his age, a professional actor. The Equus role is one any actor worth his or her salt would fight to get (or a major role in any Schaffer play, for that matter). And check out IMDB.com or Wikipedia for a synopsis of "December Boys." He's going after some pretty ambitious stuff, and we should applaud him for it. It's only in Disney's various make-believe parks that actors are forbidden to reveal themselves from behind their masks. I would hope we're a little more sophisticated than that.

Posted by: John | July 10, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I'm all for Daniel Radcliff stepping up to make sure his career does not end with the final Harry Potter movie, but personally, the leather vest picture does nothing but creep me out. I don't find it sexy, just really creepy.

Posted by: hc | July 10, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I don't blame Daniel Radcliffe for wanting to distance himself from HP because that's who most of us have known him as, a cute little wizard boy w/a strange scar.

But, as w/many others who've been pidgeonholed into the characters they've made famous, The Beaver, Gilligan, Skipper, any & every Lord of the Rings character etc. he will forever be Harry Potter. It will be on his tombstone.

The sooner he learns that the better.

Though I do hope all of those kids can move on to bigger & better things because they're a pretty talented lot, unlike the BritPack & their ilk.

Posted by: Bored @ work | July 10, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I don't know about sweeping generalizations, but... the reason I'm disturbed by the Ashleys and Britneys is that they go from bubblegum popstar to a remarkable fascimile of pornstar in the blink of an eye. Daniel Radcliff appears to be trying his darndest to be a grownup, but he still looks like a a scrawny adolescent to me.

Put another way, grown women go to shocking lengths to look 18, or younger. No grown man would EVER want to look 18 again. Men tend to hit their physical prime much later, and it's much harder to fake.

Upshot, I won't take DR-- or any man-- seriously as a sex object until he's too old for that to be a problem.

Posted by: WDC | July 10, 2007 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I hope Daniel, Emma, Rupert all have amazing adult careers after the HP films. Unlike their American counter parts on the Disney Channel, these teenagers can act, and don't bore you to death with their sweetness.

Posted by: Lisa1 | July 10, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I don't know about HP, but I'm going to start referring to my husband as a "sex rat".

Posted by: Anony-mouse | July 10, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure I agree about the Details cover portraying a more adult, and therefore sexualized, image of Radcliffe.

For one thing, he doesn't look so much like an adult male as a women with eye-penciled faux beard and mustache...the way you might expect an actress to be costumed to play a theatrical role wherein it is meant to be patently obvious to the audience that He is actually a She, wink wink.

Perhaps the costuming of the Details spread suggests that Radcliffe is a child playing at being a grown-up? Just a thought...

Posted by: librarylady | July 10, 2007 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Chris, but you're not a man. Not yet. Not until you grow up and get some self esteem.

As for that Potter kid, he ain't right. He looks like Brad Pitt's drugged out younger cousin looking for a fix.

Posted by: Pompous Magnus | July 10, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

I am glad I have an appropriate forum to confess this...I saw a publicity photo of Harry Potter kissing Cho on NPR and I got all teenage-girly about it. I began scheming of ways to fly to London and accidentally bump into him at a pub. I would ask about his writing and his ideas and bask in the sound of his British accent. Maybe there would even be a chaste goodnight kiss...I am 27 years old and I thought I was past the "if I could just MEET him..." phase of my life. Realizing he is only 18 made me feel dirty, dirty, dirty. But not dirty enough to stop me from putting that NPR image up as my desktop.

Posted by: embarrassed | July 10, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

ps. I am not a huge Harry Potter fan, nor did I even envision myself a Radcliffe fan...and those quasi-S&M pictures skeeved me out. They will not be going up on my desktop. Thank you.

Posted by: embarrassed | July 10, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Liz, I always read your column for the popcorn factor, but this is a really thought provoking one - hear hear! I think part of the reason male actors avoid the "train wreck" trap that so many female actors fall into is that men tend to exhibit sexuality very differently than women. I mean, think about middle/high school...were the guys buying clothes that revealed increasingly more amounts of flesh as they grew older? No, because they were busy lifting weights, shoplifting Playboys, and staring in the mirror - willing their facial hair to grow. I'm sure there are plenty of male child stars who are doing a poor job of becoming mature adults...but they probably do it more subtle ways. They probably don't feel a need to parade the list of women they're sleeping with down the red carpet (at least, not all at once) whereas young women probably view every public appearance (including trips to Starbucks) as an opportunity to parade their new "mature" implants, extensions, and designer butt floss.

Posted by: boys growing up | July 10, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if it is because they are British or their parents kept them grounded through all of this, but they seem to be very level headed. I watched my first HP movie over the weekend and was impressed about how talented they were. Unlike some of their American counterparts, I don't think I've ever read or heard anything bad about them, but knowing the British press, I'm sure they've not been spared.

P.S. the leather vest is kinda of creepy.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 10, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, that leather vest has "rough trade" written aaaallllll over it.

I much preferred the Equus pix.

He does have very pretty blue eyes though.

**skeeves self out even more than I'm already skeeved for liking the Equus pix**

Posted by: Bored @ work | July 10, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Why Pompous Magnus, where did I ever claim to be a man? Attacking someone's obvious lack of knowledge about teenage boys has nothing to do with self-esteem or being a man. Seriously, where in the world would you even get the idea that you had an even remotely interesting or effective insult by claiming that I wasn't a man? That makes absolutely no sense at all.

Posted by: Chris | July 10, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Maybe parents should use it as a great lesson on growing up and sexuality? How people change as they grow up, even Harry Potter! And how they will encounter issues in the world and within themselves that will be confusing, but that they need to stay true to themselves and be proud of who they are and make the choices for themselves.

Naaa, that's way too empowering. Must keep sex bad!!

Posted by: Liz D | July 10, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Why, Chris, you naughty androgyne! As one who proudly proclaims manhood, I must agree with Liz. Given the chance to flaunt my body in my youth, I would have gladly. This, my dear nebulously-gendered friend, comes from first-hand interior knowledge of the life of a teenage boy.

I barreled through my teens complete with a solid sense of self and an age-appropriate wardrobe, as Liz stated, generally. It was not until after my college years that I adopted a wardrobe appropriate for my age: leather vests over bare skin, buttless chaps over a spiked leather baldric, and Crocs.

Posted by: Pompous Magnus | July 10, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Crocs? Ewwww.

Posted by: Liz D | July 10, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Anybody who has worn crocs has never had any any sense of self and is obviously hiding a long-held, deep sense of self-doubt. Don't lie to everyone about barreling through your teens with a solid sense of self, unless you are also lieing to yourself.

Posted by: Chris | July 10, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Sadly, my dear androgyne, you just do not see the humor forest for the joke trees. ...and to brand one a liar for ribaldry is just hurtful.

If you truly believe that my statement, "a wardrobe appropriate for my age: leather vests over bare skin, buttless chaps over a spiked leather baldric, and Crocs," was anything other than tongue-(firmly)in-cheek, then you must, for your own sake, lighten up a bit. A subscription to Reader's Digest might be a good start.

Posted by: Pompous Magnus | July 10, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

WDC: "Put another way, grown women go to shocking lengths to look 18, or younger. No grown man would EVER want to look 18 again. Men tend to hit their physical prime much later, and it's much harder to fake."

We may hit it later, but (man!) it does go by quickly... One minute you're cute, the next you're balding with a potbelly hanging out over yr belt. As a result, many men are too embarassed for the tummy-baring thing: first too scrawny, then not scrawny enough.

Thank goodness it's not gender-appropriate outside some bars near Dupont Circle.

Posted by: Bogota | July 10, 2007 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I thought I was playing along with the joke, I guess I'm just not as clever and funny as you, either that or your sarcasm detector is broken.

Posted by: Chris | July 10, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Chris, is your significant other named Pat by any chance?

**Please let me not be the only one who has seen It's Pat!It'll just ruin this post**

Posted by: Bored @ work | July 10, 2007 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Sarcasm is just too hard to detect in print. Let us bury this hatchet, dear Chris, and move on to happier topics. ...like Emma Watson. ...or the "Tootsie" musical.

Posted by: Pompous Magnus | July 10, 2007 4:04 PM | Report abuse

There is going to be a Tootsie musical?

Posted by: Chris | July 10, 2007 4:09 PM | Report abuse

You guys should be a comedy duo a la Fraiser and Niles.

Posted by: Mina | July 10, 2007 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Radcliffe's next movie is decidedly adult in content:

Harry Potter and the One-Eyed Viper.

Posted by: Mister Methane | July 10, 2007 4:25 PM | Report abuse

My my... you folks are on fire today. On fire. A special shout out for Pompous Magnus for sensible use of "baldric."

Posted by: Liz | July 10, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Emma Watson pulling a Britney Spears transformation - now THAT would be a sight to behold. If the picture in the blog post is anything to go by, she's working the Classy Young Lady thing...let it last! Please, gods of all that is holy, let her not be a Lohan!

Posted by: h3 | July 10, 2007 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Love this blog!

He seems to be making good choices career wise (The leather vest being the only bad idea thus far. Who knew those were still in production.) others making the leap from child to adult actor may want to look at his example (excluding the leather vest and any horrid acting choices).

While I hope all of their careers will grow it's going to be forever and a day before I stop referring to them as Hermoine, Harry and Ron.

Posted by: petal | July 10, 2007 5:12 PM | Report abuse

hmmm. the photos arent that bad... hell, the cover shot makes him rather rakish in a 'not as sexy as dave grohl but wishes he were' sorta way.

He's just looking for his trainspotting. If he spends some time off - studying acting perhaps (like jennifer connolly did... mmmm... jennifer connolly... sorry) then hey - maybe just maybe he'll make that child star transition (without resorting to any oddball latin phrasing).

Posted by: Quintilus Varus | July 10, 2007 6:05 PM | Report abuse

"Harry Potter and the One-Eyed Viper."

This made me laugh out loud....too freakin' funny!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 10, 2007 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Oh, good heavens. Daniel is wearing an outfit for a photo shoot. (Like everyone else dresses in street clothes for trendy mags.) Then he has the audacity of and acting in different roles with complex characters. That is far cry from an intoxicated Lindsay Lohan weaving in and out of detox. Good heavens.

Posted by: Chris | July 10, 2007 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Hollywood gossip is that Harry Potter and the One-Eyed Viper will be followed by a movie where Harry uses a special trick to defeat Lord Voldemort. The running title is rumored to be

Harry Potter and the Flaming Sphincter.

Posted by: Mister Methane | July 10, 2007 10:40 PM | Report abuse

personally, i dont know a single person who cares that dan was in a play naked. Hes hott. so what? He's almost 18 so he is grown up and I don't think people honestly care whether or not he's in a play that requires him to strip down, because guess what? it's called acting. it's not like he was walking down the street naked: it was his charater. And I don't think that makes him a dirty teenage boy. Sorry! He wasn't partying up the night-life and the quotes you used to show how he's changed meant the exact same thing. the first he's saying that you shouldn't let it get to you head, and the second he's saying that he wants to keep a basic, normal life which can be hard because the poparatzi can make it so hard. You just happened to choose a quote that sort of made him look a tinsy bit bad, but even then it didn't work for you.

You can have you opinion, but I don't think Dan has turned into a out-of-control child

Posted by: Ashleyyy | July 12, 2007 4:28 AM | Report abuse

personally, i dont know a single person who cares that dan was in a play naked. Hes hott. so what? He's almost 18 so he is grown up and I don't think people honestly care whether or not he's in a play that requires him to strip down, because guess what? it's called acting. it's not like he was walking down the street naked: it was his charater. And I don't think that makes him a dirty teenage boy. Sorry! He wasn't partying up the night-life and the quotes you used to show how he's changed meant the exact same thing. the first he's saying that you shouldn't let it get to you head, and the second he's saying that he wants to keep a basic, normal life which can be hard because the poparatzi can make it so hard. You just happened to choose a quote that sort of made him look a tinsy bit bad, but even then it didn't work for you.

You can have you opinion, but I don't think Dan has turned into a out-of-control child

Posted by: Ashleyyy | July 12, 2007 4:28 AM | Report abuse

personally, i dont know a single person who cares that dan was in a play naked. Hes hott. so what? He's almost 18 so he is grown up and I don't think people honestly care whether or not he's in a play that requires him to strip down, because guess what? it's called acting. it's not like he was walking down the street naked: it was his charater. And I don't think that makes him a dirty teenage boy. Sorry! He wasn't partying up the night-life and the quotes you used to show how he's changed meant the exact same thing. the first he's saying that you shouldn't let it get to you head, and the second he's saying that he wants to keep a basic, normal life which can be hard because the poparatzi can make it so hard. You just happened to choose a quote that sort of made him look a tinsy bit bad, but even then it didn't work for you.

You can have you opinion, but I don't think Dan has turned into a out-of-control child

Posted by: Ashleyyy | July 12, 2007 4:28 AM | Report abuse

personally, i dont know a single person who cares that dan was in a play naked. Hes hott. so what? He's almost 18 so he is grown up and I don't think people honestly care whether or not he's in a play that requires him to strip down, because guess what? it's called acting. it's not like he was walking down the street naked: it was his charater. And I don't think that makes him a dirty teenage boy. Sorry! He wasn't partying up the night-life and the quotes you used to show how he's changed meant the exact same thing. the first he's saying that you shouldn't let it get to you head, and the second he's saying that he wants to keep a basic, normal life which can be hard because the poparatzi can make it so hard. You just happened to choose a quote that sort of made him look a tinsy bit bad, but even then it didn't work for you.

You can have you opinion, but I don't think Dan has turned into a out-of-control child

Posted by: Ashleyyy | July 12, 2007 4:28 AM | Report abuse

I think he is being selective. He wants directors to see him with range but none of these things have played to massive audiences. And that is strategic.

You don't want to bite the hand that feeds you by rivalry the Harry Potter films, but you want to ensure that you have work.

He is also trying to be well-rounded with applying to Harvard and other well named universities.

Posted by: 411 | July 13, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

There's quite a difference between going to rehab and baring all for a play, don't you think?

Posted by: Amanda | July 23, 2007 4:22 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: datindwhr | August 23, 2007 7:46 PM | Report abuse

D.R. seems like a great guy not really any kids know about his nude scenes so I don't see why this is such a big deal. He is 18 and only has 2 more Harry Potter movies left. I f he realy is serious about his acting career,and I'm pretty sure he is, this was just an extremely strategic career move on his part. Everyone is complaining because he is a teen idol, but he can't be a teen forever. Everyone grows up,and now it's his turn.He just chose one of the many paths in front of him; so what if it wasn't the one you would have picked. It's not your choice and I think you should just shove off and let him get back to his job.

Posted by: Just 16 | September 4, 2007 10:24 PM | Report abuse

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