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Daniel Radcliffe (right) plays a college-age Alan Ginsburg, with Dane DeHaan as his roommate Lucian Carr, in the drama "Kill Your Darlings." Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics
Daniel Radcliffe, from boy wizard to young poet in new film
Movies » Radcliffe moves farther away from Potter past with the role as Ginsberg.
First Published Nov 16 2013 01:01 am • Last Updated Nov 21 2013 06:29 pm

At some point soon, we writers will stop making hay of the fact that Daniel Radcliffe, one of the most known young actors on the planet, is growing up in front of us — and taking on demanding roles while doing it.

Just not today.

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We remember when he was but a sweet, beleaguered lad saddled with useless Muggle caretakers like it was yesterday. Or 2001 and then 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011, the release years of the massive film franchise based on J.K. Rowling’s best-selling books.

"Daniel Radcliffe’s Next Trick Is To Make Harry Potter Disappear" was the clever headline on a recent profile published ahead of one of Radcliffe’s new onscreen undertakings, "Kill Your Darlings," which had a big red-carpet gala at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The September fest seemed to mark Radcliffe’s graduation from Hogwarts (OK, I’ll stop). In addition to "Kill Your Darlings," Radcliffe had starring roles in the indie fantasy thriller "Horns" opposite Juno Temple and the romantic comedy "The F Word" with Zoe Kazan.

"This may never happen again," said the actor one bright morning, sitting at a table in a Toronto hotel restaurant. "It’s quite a fortuitous thing. Three films in one festival — that doesn’t happen every time."

In writer-director John Krokidas’ "Kill Your Darlings," Radcliffe portrays poet Allen Ginsberg as a young man just discovering his possibilities: writerly, romantic, sexual. It’s 1944 and he’s crossed the Hudson River from New Jersey to attend Columbia University. There he’ll meet and fall for charismatic classmate Lucien Carr (Gotham Award nominee Dane DeHaan). He’ll also fall in with writer William Burroughs and a guy by the name of Jack Kerouac.

"The one thing we wanted was for the movie not to be a dusty old biopic," said Radcliffe.

John took away the curse of playing the icon Allen Ginsberg by simply saying ‘You’re not playing Allen Ginsberg, the author of ‘Howl,’ you’re playing Allen Ginsberg, the kid from Paterson, New Jersey, who’s kind of terrified about going to Columbia University, though he was desperate to get in there."

Ginsberg’s story is, Radcliffe said, "one of self-discovery — discovering himself as an artist, a poet, and sexual discovery and his loss of virginity, which we show in the film."

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The R-rated drama has sex, violence and in spite of its period, some ambient rock ‘n’ roll ( TV on the Radio and Bloc Party) mixed in.

So, people have asked, if he’s concerned that the choices he’s making will have an effect on what has been a powerhouse if mostly one-character, film career.

To that, he has an answer that suggests the bond between actor and ardent fans goes both ways.

"In my experience the fans of Potter are an incredibly smart bunch," said Radcliffe. "If you offer them challenging material — because the Potter books are challenging, if you treat an audience and fanbase with respect for their intelligence they will reward you with interest in what you’re doing."

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