ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF DANIEL RADCLIFFE
I spent the day of January 13 2009 with Dan making photos in New York as he was performing EQUUS on Broadway. We did it simply as an artistic way to capture a day in the life of a creative person working, and somewhere during the day decided to make a book of the images, the first book in the series was born! I share Dan's notes on the day below, and then all of the images which comprise the book following. Enjoy a day in the life of Daniel Radcliffe. - Tim Hailand July 2023 Los Angeles.
I always go to sleep at night with the television on. It helps me switch off. I must also have the remote control by my side at all times. During my time in NY I became totally hooked on all political programmes and loved coming back after a performance of EQUUS and watching The Colbert Report. Being in NY during the run up to the election was electrifying. I watched every single debate, every single analysis and loved how every moment was dissected and examined with forensic precision. The passion which leapt from the screen was contagious and I did find myself getting totally swept away on the tide of optimism which swept through America. On the actual Election Day I went to the voting station with a friend – it felt as if something significant was about to take place. I love bed! It is a place to rest, dream, hide, worry, digest, analyze and fantasize. I would always stay in it for as long as I could, if I wasn’t doing anything else during that day (which wasn’t often). Monday was always our day off from performing EQUUS, so going to bed after the Sunday performance knowing that there was nothing to get up for the next day was bliss. During the holiday performance schedule - which was gruelling – it was wonderful to throw myself in bed at the end of the day.
The view from my bedroom window was always extraordinary. I loved looking over at New Jersey and watching the river traffic on the Hudson. The picture never stayed the same – colour, light, traffic, weather – forever changing - you never knew what was going to appear next. In fact, on the extraordinary day when the U.S airways flight landed on the river, it floated right past the apartment. Fortunately no one was hurt, but it was a very eerie sight watching the events on television unfold in front of my bedroom window. I found the river magical, haunting and very beautiful, particularly when it partially iced over. I am a creature of habit – the same breakfast (my favourite meal of the day) every day. Toast and then a bowl of cereal piled high.
Midweek matinees are a peculiar beast because I knew that once I left the apartment, I would be in the theatre for almost twelve hours, without leaving the building. So I would also have a lunch that would get me through the matinee performance and I would spend the time gazing out of the window mentally preparing for the afternoon ahead. I can spend hours in the shower. I sing a lot in the shower – warming up the voice – getting everything moving in preparation for the performance. The bathroom always looks as if it has been hit by a bomb – which is quite an achievement when you think about it, as it really is usually only me and a couple of towels!!
Cricket is one of my passions and one of the greatest inventions has to be Slingbox, as I was always able to keep up to date with my cricket scores and watch the matches being played around the world. I would literally have to be dragged away from my laptop to leave for the theatre on time, especially if England was playing. Wherever I go, I must always have books with me. I travel with a library and keep adding to it wherever I am working. Being searched at airports is always an interesting experience as I resemble a mobile library. Working with Richard Griffiths was totally inspirational, and every evening before we went on stage we would chat about books and Richard would recommend books that I should read and he would quote long passages from some of his favourite novels. We would discuss poetry, plays, novels, musicals and always Richard would recount amazing tales about the authors we were discussing and to sit in his presence and listen to this incredible man was a huge privilege and one I will never forget.
During the run of EQUUS I inevitably did have a cold a couple of times and I would inhale an old fashioned remedy called Friars Balsam (recommended by my Aunt) to clear my head. This is an old fashioned Northern Irish remedy that my Aunt swears by. I arrived in NY with many bottles of this strange smelling potion and it got me through many a challenging afternoon or evening performance, if I was suffering. There is nothing quite so unpleasant as being on stage and not being able to breathe!! But I was determined not to miss a performance. Only hospitalization would have prevented me from going on and thankfully that didn’t happen.
Ah yes – the staple diet for a matinee day – cheesey tuna pasta – that really does get you through a midweek matinee! More books. As I said, I go everywhere with them. They become companions. Books that have been recommended, books for reference, for amusement, for inspiration. I never travel anywhere without a least a dozen books – poetry books, novels, trivia books, plays - they all come with me. The journey up the West Side Highway was never dull. I loved travelling into the theatre every day and I always thought of the great Cole Porter song; “ I happen to like New York, I happen to love this town I like the city air, I like to drink of it The more I see New York , the more I think of it I like the sight and the sound and even the stink of it I happen to like New York”
During the run of EQUUS I brought my voice coach, Barbara Houseman, out to NY to continue the process we had started eighteen months before I went into rehearsals in London for EQUUS. She is a truly inspirational lady and we continue to work together as new challenges present themselves. My security guard in NY was the wonderful Spase from Macedonia. Protective, highly efficient, thoughtful and very very funny! It always amused me because most people thought he was so intense and without humour. They were wrong. He is one of the kindest, most loyal people I have ever met. Not only did he look after me, but he looked after my many friends who travelled to NY from the UK. He is a big man who made a big impression on all my friends.
When I am away from home I keep in touch with my friends by text – travelling to the theatre was a great way to read what they were up to and for me to bring them up to date with the fun I was having in NY. Arriving at the stage door- work begins! I was always in the theatre very early. It was part of my preparation – that I would go around and see as many of the actors in the theatre, before we went on stage. During the rehearsal period you get to see everyone in the company all the time and you hear all the gossip, but as soon as a play opens, the chances are, you may not see them until you walk on stage. I don’t like this, so once I had put on my knee protectors and jeans, I went to see everyone to catch up with all the company news. I loved going around every evening to catch up with what everyone had been up to during the day. I am wearing a Giants t-shirt, which was given to me by all the stage-hands. I was converted to the Giants as soon as I got into the theatre, by the rabid football fans working there. Ronnie is the only long suffering Jets fan of the Broadhurst Theatre crew and he never stopped trying to win me over to the white and green jersey of the Jets.
My dressing room table was always littered with books, silly toys and did I mention, books? At the beginning of the run my table was quite an ordered place to put things, but by the end, when I had accumulated so many little trinkets that had been given to me by fans, particularly plastic cowboys, it was a treasure trove of the weird and wonderful!!
One of the best things about being on Broadway was feeling part of the community. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before. An actor who works on Harry Potter and had been on Broadway, did tell me before I left, that I would be embraced by the community in a way I had never experienced before – and he was right. I made so many amazing friends during my time there. It was impossible not to throw myself into life on Broadway with gusto! During the run of EQUUS – we helped to raise money for the amazing organisation Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS. For six weeks after each performance we would auction off something from the show, to help raise more money for this incredible organisation – everything from my sweaty t- shirt to an even sweatier pair of jeans. I am happy to report that EQUUS raised the most money this year – so, ‘thank you to everyone who contributed, when you came to see the show’. We also took part in the ‘Gypsy of The Year” competition where each show performs a skit – this was my first time singing and dancing on stage, so I was completely terrified – it was amazing fun and we came second to The Lion King’s wonderful dance piece.
On my opening night this little note from Patti Lupone – Queen of Broadway arrived – I was incredibly excited and flattered.
The horses’ masks that have haunted me on stage for almost a year! When I first saw these heads in London – I thought they were quite beautiful but once they are placed on the actors’ head they became completely menacing and disturbing. Every Tuesday we would always gather and rehearse the blinding at the end of the play as the slightest error would have meant disaster! There were certainly a number of occasions when a hoof came just a bit too close for comfort – fortunately the wonderful actor/ dancers who played the horses were always completely aware of what was happening and would react with lightning speed.
People often ask me, if I prefer theatre or film and it really is an impossible question to answer. What I discovered working in the theatre both in London and NY was the sense of community which I absolutely loved. It was incredibly exciting every night, to feel that as one, we were facing an audience together. I loved the fact that when you are on stage there is no place to hide – it doesn’t matter how you feel, or what an awful day you have had, you have to go out there and perform. Your performance can’t be changed in an edit suite, or a line that isn’t clear be enhanced with re-recording. You, with the rest of the cast, are on the front line and there is nothing quite like the thrill of walking out on that stage to begin the assault. After two and a half hours – the curtain call comes. The first time I took a curtain call was in London after the first preview. Nothing had prepared me! I was so completely overwhelmed by the response from the audience that I could hardly walk across the stage. Fortunately, Richard was there to hold on to me and get me through it!
The amazing response we had night after night in New York was always exhilarating. EQUUS is an intense theatrical experience for an audience and for many people it was their first experience of theatre and a marvellous way to start a journey, on which I hope they continue.This was one of the occasions that Barbara was with me during the run and here we are analyzing the evening’s performance Ignore the crutches in this photograph – it was a First Night present from a good friend who has a rather black sense of humour! You know the old phrase in theatre land about breaking a leg – well this was just in case I did. It always takes several minutes for me to let the dust settle after a performance, just quietly thinking about it and mulling over the events on stage during that evening. I always had to wait until the barriers were erected, before I left the theatre, so there was always a little time to play with my cricket ball!
It was my intention, every night, to sign at the stage door. This was always an interesting experience. Sometimes things got a little out of hand and the situation sometimes became unsafe because of the pushing and shoving that took place and I would have to be removed, usually because security were concerned about safety in the crowd. This was always disappointing, as people had been told not to push but they didn’t seem to realise that the safer the crowd, the longer I could have stayed out there. I was, however, always impressed by the fact that many people faced all sorts of extreme weather conditions to wait to get a signature. I always did as many as was possible and was always staggered to hear that so many people had already seen the production in London and had come to see it again in New York. On the day Tim was taking these photos we passed a poster in the garage, close to the theatre and thought that it would make a fun photo, juxtaposing naked me with fully clothed me. As we were heading home through Times Square, Tim suggested that we simply jump out and take a few quick shots, as it was pretty deserted (it was after all absolutely freezing). It really is an extraordinary place, especially when it is empty and the glow of the red TKTS stairs gave an other- worldly quality to the picture. This is one of my favourites.
Heading home. After two shows it was always bliss to travel home – I used to love looking out the car window, thinking about what had happened during the day and looking forward to getting into bed again for more rest and sleep before I did it all again tomorrow. Back where I started!More Colbert Report! More cricket scores! Watching the traffic on the Hudson and the lights of New Jersey. Good night!
- Daniel Radcliffe New York March 2009