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Daniel Radcliffe: Wizard, poet, doctor, actor

Daniel Radcliffe: Wizard, poet, doctor, actor

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Daniel Radcliffe could have been forever typecast as boy wizard Harry Potter. Instead, even before he put his broken eyeglasses away and lost the lightning-bolt scar, Radcliffe began making a series of career choices as smart as they are quirky.

Radcliffe, who just turned 25, got naked in “Equus” in London and on Broadway. He sang and danced in “How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” He did a horror movie (“The Woman in Black”) and played poet Allen Ginsberg (“Kill Your Darlings”). Next up, the new rom-com “What If” (see review on Page 17) and the film version of the Joe Hill thriller “Horns,” due out this fall.

Radcliffe also took a bath with Jon Hamm in “A Young Doctor’s Notebook,” an ultra-dark comedy about a morphine-addicted doctor in early 1900s Russia in which he and Hamm interacted as the same character at different ages.

“Notebook,” which aired in the United States on the arts channel Ovation, returns Tuesday with four new episodes, which pick up in 1935, then flash back to the Bolshevik Revolution. This time, Hamm and Radcliffe share a slow dance.

Last month, Radcliffe (minus Hamm) charmed TV critics meeting in Los Angeles even though he appeared by satellite from New York, where he was starring on Broadway in “The Cripple of Inishmaan.”

(Even remotely, Radcliffe felt at home, he said, because he made his first-ever press conference appearance in front of the same group in 1999, when he was 11 years old, for “David Copperfield” on PBS. “I remember having a great time,” he said.)

Asked how he’s planning his adult career, Radcliffe said, “The most exciting way of doing my job, I think, is to try and do as many different styles” as possible.

But to say he is making choices to get people to forget him as Harry Potter is oversimplifying, he suggested.

“I think it is connected to Potter, but maybe not in the way that everyone thinks,” he said. Not “Oh, he’s doing all of this to put that behind him and get away from it.”

Instead, he said, “What it is more is that I played one character for such a long time.”

Toward the end of the 10-year period in which he was tied up playing Harry, “I started seeing other British actors ... go off and do loads of different projects and try lots of different things. There’s a little bit of envy, and it sort of builds up inside you, that desire to try as many different things as possible.”

Today, “now that I’m in a position that I can do that, I’m just trying to, while the going is good.”

“A Young Doctor’s Notebook,” based on short stories by Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov, was a win-win for Radcliffe.

“This series is an incredibly fun one to film,” he said, and he also gets to play someone who ages into Jon Hamm. “It’s obviously incredibly flattering, and it was incredibly flattering that he suggested me to play the young him.”

But “Notebook,” in which Bulgakov wrote about his experiences as a new doctor in 1916-18, was also the kind of project that attracts actors because it requires only a short commitment, Radcliffe said.

He shot for four weeks, and “actually we condensed Jon’s stuff into just about 2½ weeks of the shoot,” he said. “Especially with all of his other commitments, it wouldn’t have been possible for us to do this if it was any longer than four episodes, really. It would have been impossible to do it if it filmed for any longer than four weeks.”

Before the satellite window closed, Radcliffe wanted to know “how did I do?” in that long-ago panel with TV critics. Told he did fine, he asked, “How did I do now, though?”

Told, again, that he did fine, he signed off with, “Cool. Thanks.”

What “A Young Doctor’s Notebook and Other Stories” • When 9 p.m. Tuesday • Where Ovation; in St. Louis on Charter (Channel 161), AT&T U-verse (385 and 1385 HD), Dish (245) and DirecTV (274) • More info ovationtv.com

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Gail Pennington is the television critic for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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