After playing teenage wizard Harry Potter for close to 10 years, Daniel Radcliffe is set to star in another high-profile movie. MTV.com reports that Radcliffe will play the lead role of Paul Baumer in a new adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s novel All Quiet on the Western Front. Remarque’s World War I tale is more about the devastating psychological effects of battle than heroism and bravery.
Radcliffe has been distancing himself from Harry Potter for some time
Though he has lived in Harry Potter’s skin for nearly a decade, Daniel Radcliffe already has put some distance between himself and J.K. Rowling’s literary creation. Before picking up his wand for the first time, Radcliffe appeared in The Tailor of Panama, the story of a humble tailor who becomes a reluctant spy.
Radcliffe also raised some eyebrows with his performance in the 2007 London West End revival Equus. In this story of a young man who is obsessed with horses, Radcliffe shed his wizarding robes-and the rest of his clothes-and appeared on stage completely naked. That definitely was a bold move on Radcliffe’s part, but it worked.
All Quiet on the Western Front is a good career choice for Daniel Radcliffe
Arguably, Radcliffe’s choice of All Quiet on the Western Front is a good move on the actor’s part. Throughout the Harry Potter movies, Radcliffe’s character masters his magical powers for an inevitable, final battle with the Dark Lord Voldemort. Facing death in every book and movie, Harry Potter follows the hero’s path from start to finish.
Radcliffe’s role in All Quiet on the Western Front is about as far away from Harry Potter as one can get, however. The day-to-day rigors of life in a World War I trench take a psychological toll on young Paul Baumer. The German soldier takes his own journey in the story, but it leads to a different destination than Potter’s.
Daniel Radcliffe versus Richard Thomas
Thirty years ago, Richard Thomas put some distance between himself and his Waltons character by starring in a Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation of All Quiet on the Western Front. Thomas also took the Paul Baumer role as a way to show audiences that he was capable of playing more than John-Boy Walton.
Radcliffe has a bit of an edge over Thomas in the latest adaptation of All Quiet on the Western Front. Audiences these days are a bit more accepting of an actor abandoning an iconic character for a new role. Additionally, since Radcliffe’s version is intended for the big screen, the actor will have all the benefits that a major motion picture can bring.
MTV.com, “Daniel Radcliffe To Star in ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’,” Adam Rosenberg