Why Daniel Radcliffe Says He'll Never Rewatch One Particular "Harry Potter" Movie

The former child star has a clear best and worst when it comes to his performances.

Daniel Radcliffe took on the heavy task of bringing bespectacled literary wizard Harry Potter to life before he had even turned 12. Now, while the 34-year-old actor has said he's proud of the eight-part film series that made him a global icon, there's one particular Harry Potter movie that makes him cringe even 15 years after its release. Read on to find out which installment of the series he says he hates and the sad backstory behind why he won't watch it.

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He hates watching himself on film.

Daniel Radcliffe in 2002
Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage

Although Radcliffe recognized the "incredible blessing" of being handpicked to be Harry Potter at age 11, he said there were downsides to taking on the iconic part at such a young age. "[T]he moments I'm not as proud of, mistakes other actors get to make in rehearsal rooms or at drama school, are all on film for everyone to see," he told the Daily Mail in 2014. He said that, as a result of this, rewatching the Potter series can be a cringeworthy experience.

"I never liked watching myself on film, but I do make myself sit through it," the actor admitted.

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He thinks he sometimes gets undue praise for his work.

Daniel Radcliffe in 2023
Bruce Glikas/WireImage

When you're the star of an enormously successful franchise, it's easy to stay insulated in praise and yes men, which is why Radcliffe told the Daily Mail it's so important for him to push through the awkward experience of critiquing his own performances.

"I've grown up in an atmosphere where everyone is always wanting to be nice to me and say what I'm doing is great," he said. "And so you don't trust that. Ultimately you have to look to yourself or a handful of people to get a proper opinion." As a result, he says he holds himself to a high standard. "I'm seriously critical of myself—if I wasn't I would be worried. You don't want to be the one people say: 'Great, great, great' to and then turn round and think: '[Expletive], [expletive], [expletive]!'"

He was "complacent" by the sixth Harry Potter film.

That sharp sense of self-appraisal has led the former child star to avoid one particular film in the franchise: Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince, released in 2009, when Radcliffe was 20.

"I'm just not very good in it," he said of the sixth film in the series in the same 2014 interview. "I hate it." Radcliffe added, "My acting is very one-note and I can see I got complacent and what I was trying to do just didn't come across."

"In every movie up to the sixth one, you can see a big step forward in my acting, Radcliffe later expounded to Playboy (as quoted by People). "And then it stopped, or went backward maybe, in the sixth film."

He went on to discuss what he felt was his lackluster effort to convey Potter's emotional state in that installment. "I had the idea that Harry was like a soldier traumatized by war, and as a result of that, he shuts down emotionally," the actor explained. "That's not a bad idea, but it's not the most interesting thing to watch for two and a half hours."

Nightly drinking left him "dead behind the eyes."

Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, and Daniel Radcliffe in 2009
Ian West – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

There was more behind the wanting performance than just a dramatic miscalculation, however. By the time Radcliffe filmed Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, he had veered into "nightly" drinking sessions to deal with the pressures of fame.

"I went into work still drunk, but I never drank at work," he told Heat in 2012, adding that he can see the effects the over-indulgence in his acting. "I can point to many scenes where I'm just gone. Dead behind the eyes."

Radcliffe has been sober since 2010.

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He says his best work was in the prior film.

Assessing his performances, Radcliffe told the Daily Mail that the fifth installment of the series, which finds a more mature and conflicted Harry battling the Ministry of Magic, was the highlight of his adolescent career.

"My best film is the fifth one, because I can see a progression," he said.

He also told Playboy that working with seasoned castmates brought out his best: "I really enjoyed my performance in the fifth—part of it was how much I worked with people like Gary Oldman and David Thewlis."

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Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller is a pop culture writer living in New York. Read more
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