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Shy Daniel brings Harry Potter to life

Daniel Radcliffe
The new Harry meets the world's media  

The boy chosen from thousands of hopefuls to play the role of Harry Potter faced the world's media for the first time on Wednesday and admitted to being a "tiny bit" like the young wizard he will portray.

A shy Daniel Radcliffe said he was delighted to get the magical part despite only reading two of J.K. Rowling's books and was the envy of his classmates who he said were obsessed with the series.

Listen to Jim Dale read from 'Harry Potter'

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"I cried when I got the part and was really excited," he said at a news conference in London on Wednesday, adding that the prospect of being famous was "cool."

"A long time ago I read the first two books and have forgotten everything about it," said 11-year-old Daniel. He added, quickly, though that he was now reading the other two.

"A lot of the other boys in my class knew I had only read the first two books and they are fanatics... they have read all the U.S. versions and everything and I think they were angry."

Daniel took on the role of the young David in the BBC's David Copperfield and recently returned from Panama where he was filming John Boorman's The Tailor of Panama.

Asked whether he felt he was suited to the role, Daniel said he thought he was a "tiny bit like Harry because I would like to have an owl."

And if he had Harry's magical powers, Daniel said he would "turn my dog into a wolf."

Daniel was joined by his co-stars Rupert Grint and Emma Watson who play Harry's schoolfriends Ron and Hermoine.

Pressures facing children

A confident Emma handled the waiting media like a professional despite previously only acting in school plays and said she was overjoyed at getting the part.

Rupert Grint and Emma Watson
Rupert and Emma: Delighted at wininng roles  

"I don't have a word for itů pretty excited and I am really looking forward to making the film," said the 10-year-old.

"From when I was about three I have always wanted to be an actress -- so the audition was quite scary because I really wanted to get the part."

The other newcomer, red-headed Rupert, admitted that he was "scarily like my character."

"I live in a family of seven and have a red-headed sister."

"I was very nervous at the audition," he said, adding, "but not as nervous as before this press conference,"

Director Chris Columbus, who was behind the blockbusters Home Alone and Mrs Doubtfire, said he was aware of the pressures facing child actors.

"When I got involved in the first two Home Alone movies I was less experienced and didn't know what I was getting myself into with child actors and I learned a big lesson," he said.

"We need to protect these kids against the onslaught of publicity, against what eventually can go wrong," he said, adding that he hoped the children would be allowed to get on with their lives. Media requests for more detailed information on the children's backgrounds were repeatedly turned down.

J.K. Rowling was not present as the world was introduced to the film's leading actors, but she said in a statement: "Chris's choice of three wonderful British actors for the leading roles shows how well he understands the spirit of these books."

Columbus plans to shoot parallel versions of the first film -- one for the U.S. market and one for Britain. His plan is to shoot two or three alternate sequences for each film and to give the British film the first novel's original British title, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone." The American film will be called, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."

Filming is due to begin later this year, Columbus said.

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