It must be terrifying for parents across the world to suddenly find their children’s bedrooms adorned with posters of Harry Potter in the buff. For millions, Daniel Radcliffe, the 17-year-old actor in the Harry Potter movies, is the physical manifestation of J.K. Rowling’s boy-hero. Unfortunately, like any teenager with ambitions of becoming a respected adult, Daniel wants to do more than just muggle around with a lightning bolt on his forehead. Alas, the time for him to project his young manhood (“the state or period of being a man rather than a child” according to the Oxford English Dictionary, in case you misunderstand us) has come and a lot of minds are being boggled.
Daniel is playing the role of a stable-hand in the London revival of Peter Schaffer’s play Equus. For those not familiar with Schaffer’s play that premiered in 1973 and went on to run for more than a thousand shows on Broadway and subsequently win major drama awards, it is a dramatic story centred around the encounters of the 17-year-old Alan Strang and the middle-aged psychiatrist Martin Dysart. Strang has conducted serious acts of senseless violence, including blinding horses (‘equus’ being the high Latin for horse) and Dysart is there to talk to him and find out why. But it is not the creation of a new generation of anti-PETA activists going around harming horses that parents are so worked up about. On stage, Daniel as Alan is buck naked with an actress playing his girlfriend. For grown-ups who could have been pretty confident that their wards would not line up to buy tickets of a highbrow play even if it has ‘Harry’ in it, matters became more serious when publicity photos of a naked Daniel with a naked woman and a (naked) horse became more widely available.
Considering that this year will see the final chapter of the Harry Potter series from J.K. Rowling, it is perhaps apt that Daniel Radcliffe prepares himself for a life-after-Harry. Although, as far as subliminal messages go, people — and children are people too — will probably see Harry Potter (in the books and in the movies) in a slightly different light. But the question is: after Daniel Radcliffe has shed his clothes for the sake of becoming a serious actor, will we be shocked to find Paris Hilton play, say, Wendy in a remake of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz?