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Radcliffe takes turn as gay beat poet Allen Ginsberg

The time is coming – maybe sooner than you expect – when you look at Daniel Radcliffe and don’t think “Harry Potter.”

The 23-year-old actor has gone from boy wizard to Broadway hoofer to gay Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, whom he plays in the new film “Kill Your Darlings.” He has several wildly different films lined up, and is soon to take to the London stage as star of Martin McDonagh’s barbed comedy “The Cripple of Inishmaan.”

The play gives audiences the chance to see Radcliffe in yet another new light, as Billy, a disabled orphan in 1930s Ireland who harbors an unlikely dream of Hollywood stardom.

“I think one of the hilarious things about this play is, by our standards today, how politically incorrect it is,” said the actor, looking lean if a tad tired – he’s been at the gym, working out ahead of rehearsals for the play – in the troupe’s office atop a West End playhouse. “So much of the comedy is just people being relentlessly cruel to Billy.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the one-time boy wizard is a fan of the edgier end of comedy. His entire post-Potter career feels designed to wrong-foot anyone seeking to pigeonhole him.

The play is Radcliffe’s first time on the West End stage since his 2007 run in “Equus,” Peter Shaffer’s play about a troubled stable boy who blinds horses. It featured the then-teenage actor in a nude scene, which triggered a deluge of “Harry Potter’s Wand” headlines. But critics praised the young actor’s brave and committed performance.

Radcliffe said “Equus” was “a signal of intent as to what I wanted to do.”

“I didn’t just want to take an easy way out of this. I wanted to really try and take risks and make a career for myself.”

Since then, he’s mixed movies and theater work, including a 2011 Broadway run as a scheming businessman in “How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”

He’s shot three films due to come out in the next year. “Kill Your Darlings,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, stars Radcliffe as Ginsberg – Beat poetry, gay sex scenes and all. Radcliffe says he’s never been prouder of a piece of work.

He’s also filmed “The F Word,” which he calls a “very funny, very sweet but also very smart” romantic comedy from Canadian director Michael Dowse.

“I don’t want to say (I’m) playing myself, exactly,” Radcliffe said, “but (I’m) playing a character that’s fairly high-anxiety, slightly hyperactive guy.”

He’s especially excited about “Horns,” a film by French horror auteur Alexandre Aja (“The Hills Have Eyes,” “Piranha”). It’s about a bereaved man who grows devilish horns that allow him access to the thoughts and feelings of others.

“It’s a love story, it’s a revenge movie, it’s a horror movie in parts – it’s going to be crazy,” said Radcliffe, who made an earlier foray into horror movies with “The Woman in Black.”

Next up, he will star as mad-scientist’s assistant Igor in Max Landis’ pop-culture spin on the “Frankenstein” story.

All in all, it’s an eclectic list of projects. Radcliffe says there is a philosophy guiding his career choices, but “it’s very basic. It’s just what excites me.”

“Hopefully later on this year people will start to see some very different performances from me. And hopefully some really good movies,” he said. “It’s about the movie as a whole, not just people studying my performance and seeing how I’m getting different and how I’m growing up.”

Radcliffe accepts that fascination with how he’s growing up is unlikely to fade altogether. But he seems comfortable with the Harry Potter legacy, happy to have made the transition from child star to adult actor.

The “Harry Potter” moviemakers have been praised for creating a stable, creative home for their young stars, who went from preteens to adults over the course of eight films released between 2001 and 2011.

“I feel like everyone wanted Potter to be more of a handcuff than it actually was,” said the resolutely well-adjusted Radcliffe.

“I think Harry Potter is going to be around for a while – a long while – but as long as it doesn’t inhibit me getting parts in the present time, then it’s fine. It’s a lovely association to have, because it’s something I’m incredibly proud of.

“People always say, ‘Don’t you just want to forget about it?’ No! That was my entire adolescence.”

Radcliffe conjures brave new role as gay poet Ginsberg

Daniel Radcliffe doesn’t mind hearing that schoolgirls were staking him out at the Sundance Film Festival, hoping for a Harry Potter sighting.

In fact, Radcliffe is happy if his Potter fame conjures up interest for what he wants to do with the rest of his career, such as his bold turn as young gay poet Allen Ginsberg in the Sundance premiere “Kill Your Darlings.”

Radcliffe goes nude for an explicit sex scene with another man, makes out with co-star Dane DeHaan and also appears in another sex scene with a clerk in a library while DeHaan’s character looks on.

As with his Broadway debut in “Equus,” which also featured a nude scene, Radcliffe said his celebrity from the boy wizard franchise might draw in fans who would not have seen a film such as “Kill Your Darlings.”

“I don’t care why people come and see films. If they come and see a film about the beat poets because they saw me in ‘Harry Potter,’ fantastic. That’s a wonderful thing,” Radcliffe said in an interview alongside DeHaan. “I feel like I have an opportunity to capitalize on ‘Potter’ by doing work that might not otherwise get attention. If I can help get a film like this attention, that’s without doubt, that’s a great thing.”

“Kill Your Darlings” recounts a little-known chapter in the life of Ginsberg, who met Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and William S. Burroughs (Ben Foster) at Columbia University during World War II.

DeHaan plays Ginsberg’s early idol and infatuation Lucien Carr, whose relationship with an obsessive older man (Michael C. Hall) involves the future beat-generation icons in a seamy murder case.

In the course of the film, Ginsberg comes to embrace his homosexuality. Hall said he hopes “Harry Potter” fans can come to embrace Radcliffe in the role and “expand their definition of what a magic wand might be.”

“Kill Your Darlings” director John Krokidas said Radcliffe hurled himself into the role and treated the nudity and gay love scenes as another part of the job, with no qualms or anxiety.

“None! None! None!” said Krokidas, who is gay and so became Radcliffe’s coach in same-sex love-making.

“Radcliffe simply asked, ‘John, you’re gay. How does this work?’” Krokidas said. “I’m not kidding. And so perhaps there was a little dry run-through – oh, she’s going to kill me – with me and the director of photography Reed Morano.

“I might have done it on purpose to make everyone laugh, too, but I also wanted to make sure that we got it right. And other films that have depicted certain moments of sexuality like this, it doesn’t happen that way. And at least for cinematic history, I wanted to get that moment right. But Dan watched, observed, found his own connection like he did any other scene and dove right into it.”

“Kill Your Darlings” premiered last week at Sundance’s main theater, which is adjacent to a high school where classes were just letting out for the day. A group of teenage girls rushed from the school to the back of the theater, trying to determine where Radcliffe and his co-stars would be coming in and out.

Some stars grow to resent that sort of fan attention resulting from past roles, feeling it overshadows the work they’re doing now. So far, Radcliffe seems to see nothing but good things coming out of “Harry Potter.”

“There was a generation of people who maybe wouldn’t have gone to see a production of ‘Equus,’ had I not been in it, that came to see ‘Equus,”” Radcliffe said. “Even if they came for the wrong reasons, you know, we got them there, and they stayed, and they watched. And they stayed for the right reasons.”