Daniel Radcliffe stars in Weird: The Al Yankovic Story that begins steaming next week. It’s been well received so far. I didn’t know Evan Rachel Wood plays the “villain” in the film: Madonna – Ha! She and Daniel spoke to Newsweek to promote the project and veered into a discussion on being child stars. Evan started acting at age seven, earning a Golden Globe nomination at the age of 13. Daniel’s career, of course, went meteoric in the Harry Potter franchise at the age of 10. Daniel told Newsweek that if and when he has kids, he hopes they stay out of the spotlight. He’d be thrilled if they find another career in film, but he hopes fame passes them by.
Radcliffe started acting professionally at the age of ten before going on to international stardom when he was cast as Harry Potter. While he wouldn’t recommend young actors take the same path to stardom as he did, there were some perks to his upbringing.
“I want my kids, if and when they exist…I would love them to be around film sets,” he told Newsweek. “A dream would be for them to come onto a film set and be like ‘God, you know, I’d love to be in the art department. I’d love to be something in the crew.’ Some part of this, but not from that.”
“And also I think we’re saying this as people who have alright,” Radcliffe continued, referring to himself and Wood sat beside him, “and we’re still acting so clearly, we enjoyed it. But still, I wouldn’t want fame for my kid.”
This isn’t exactly shocking coming from Daniel. We know that he struggled as a child actor. His experiences of feeling isolated within his fame sound bleak. I can understand not wanting to see his kids navigate that. Plenty of celebrity parents have said similar for their kids and they didn’t hit it big until they were at least legally adults. It’s nice, though, to see Daniel say he hopes his hypothetical children find appreciation for filmmaking. He still loves his job, he just doesn’t think it’s a place for kids.
Evan agreed with everything Daniel said. She went on to say that while she felt acting teaches kids empathy, how to be present and how to express themselves, she didn’t think “children should have ‘careers.'” I’ve had a job since I was 10 years-old by choice. If I had to go back and do it again, I would. But they were jobs, like cleaning, retail, waitressing until I got my ‘career’ jobs in my 20s. I think the distinction Daniel and Evan are making is important. A kid can pursue interests and even make some money, but they shouldn’t have to start managing their whole future with all its obstacles and pressures at such a young age.
Photo credit: Cover Images
Child actors often become screwed up because they’re pushed into acting by parents who use them as a meal ticket or claim to fame. It’s not so much the job as it is the parents that’s the problem.
I honestly think the whole way kids are integrated into the system needs to change.
First, I think casting directors should do what the Harry Potter franchise did and cast parents along with the children.
Second, if you look at some of the things to come out of Jeanette McCurdy’s book: on the one hand you don’t want a kid being a meal ticket. On the other hand wealthy child actors like Ariana Grande then have an advantage if you refuse to cast lower class kids because they will inevitably HAVE TO become part of the family finances.
So I feel like a studio should have a contract with child actors, that would be of a set length, and during that length, the family is given housing and a stipend, while the rest of the money is held in trust for the actor.
I also think there should be third-party child advocates on all sets with children, who are well versed in trauma and who are aware of the kinds of pitfalls to look out for on set. Instructors should be third party and not beholden to the set as well. There should be an network that works directly with the children who have no incentives to downplay or avoid addressing potential problems.
I think parents should be allowed to be paid as assistants for the child advocate, or should be given pathways to earning money on the set, as production assistants or whatever, so that they aren’t relying on their children to generate all the money the family can earn. This could open up career opportunities for parents that would also make them less likely to lean on their child as a source of income.
Let’s not forget, one of the advantages of the HP set was that there were tons of kids there. That helps. And a school! Kids had school time while they were filming. It brings a routine and normalcy and access to education so that you can resume a normal kid life once shooting is done. Being tutored in between makeup and your scenes isn’t the same as having classes.
Any film with children should have schedules accommodating school time or an onset school
It’s so complicated for child actors, it’s like the best and the worst simultaneously. I worked from age 10 because I had to. I needed to earn money to eat and help keep a roof. I know Dan had addiction issues but so do poor people. I’d still rather be rich than starving day to day, which was my experience
I agree with him. Is there anyone who has dealt with fame on its terms successfully?
The limelight is too hot, to be a longlasting presence in one’s life.
Jeanette, is that you?? JK Really good points!