For Daniel Radcliffe, finding fame at a young age meant having to grapple with the enormous pressure of the spotlight — which he once coped with by turning to alcohol.
On an episode of Off Camera with Sam Jones released this week, the 29-year-old actor got candid about his alcohol use in his later teenage years, explaining that he would get drunk in order to numb the fact that he was being watched at the height of his Harry Potter fame.
“The quickest way to forget about the fact that you were being watched was to get very drunk,” Radcliffe said. “Then as you get very drunk, you become aware, ‘Oh, people are watching more now because now I’m getting very drunk, so I should probably drink more to ignore that more.’ “
Added Radcliffe, “It can affect your psyche.”
“Part of the thing is the expectation that you should just be delighted all the time,” Radcliffe added. “You have a great job, you’re wealthy, you don’t have a right to not be excited about the thing all the time. I think that’s a pressure as well. You suddenly start to feel, ‘Man, if I am just feeling some human emotion of sadness, does that mean I’m doing this wrong? Am I not good at being famous?’ “
There was also a part of Radcliffe who felt that “actors have to be crazy cool drunks,” he admitted. “I had to live up to this weird image that I had in my head of what it means to be a famous actor.”
Getting out of that habit “took a few years and it took a couple of attempts,” Radcliffe told Jones.
Though friends helped him get there, Radcliffe had to ultimately make that change himself.
“I have been unbelievably lucky with the people I had around me at certain times in my life. I met some really key people, some actors some of them not, who just gave me great advice and really cared for me,” Radcliffe recalled. “Ultimately it was just my own decision. I woke up one morning after a night, going, ‘This is probably not good.’ “
Radcliffe has been candid about his former struggle with alcohol since announcing his sobriety in 2012, even referring to himself as “a really annoying, loud, inappropriate, messy drunk” in a 2014 interview.
He said on Off Camera with Sam Jones that he doesn’t feel nostalgic for his drinking days. “I don’t miss it generally now at all,” Radcliffe confessed. “I know that varies for some people.”
The experience has left Radcliffe empathizing with other child stars who have had some of their struggles publicized.
“There is no blueprint for starting young and working stuff out,” Radcliffe said. “That’s why whenever people are having a go at Justin Bieber drag racing cars or whatever, I’m always like, ‘Yeah, but you never know. Stuff could be super crazy for him right now.’ “
And no matter how bad it was, Radcliffe stressed that he never wished he was doing another job.
“[I] love the work and that’s the thing I always will go back to,” Radcliffe on Off Camera with Sam Jones.
“Even at the lowest point, I still loved my job so much and I still loved going to set,” Radcliffe continued. “There was never a day where my own s— would affect how I was on the set. There was never a point where I was like, ‘Oh, I wish this hadn’t happened to me. I wish I wasn’t Harry Potter.’ That just didn’t happen.”
If you or someone you know is in need of help, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.
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