Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
(©  Warner Bros. Pictures)
Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
(© Warner Bros. Pictures)
In 1997, one could barely imagine that The Harry Potter books would launch a multi-billion dollar industry, inspire some of the most successful films of all time, and create a star out of young Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who plays Harry. A lot has changed since then! The sixth film in the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, opens on July 15, and the anticipation is extremely high. Nevertheless, Radcliffe (who turns 20 on July 23) says he still has doubts as to whether he was the right choice for the role.

"I remember being on the set of the fourth film asking 'why on earth did they cast me?'" says Radcliffe, who recently starred in the Broadway revival of Equus to great acclaim. "And I heard the director, Mike Newell, bellow from the other side of the set 'Because you were absolutely bloody charming!'"

In the latest film, Harry and his friends, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emily Watson), battle arch-nemesis Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) while also suffering the first throes of sexual tension and teen angst. "I think it's quite true with all teenagers that they have an inability to control hormones or desire," says Radcliffe. "It's completely normal and no different with wizard children."

So, in addition to his regular wand waving and broomstick flying, Harry shares his first passionate kiss with love interest Ginny Weasley (played by Bonnie Wright). Yet, when he watched the film for the first time at the London premiere, Radcliffe was taken aback by his romantic technique. "My lips are like the lips of a horse!" Radcliffe says of the pair's onscreen lip lock. "They distended independently away from my face, trying to encompass the lower half of hers."

The film also sees Harry experience his first medicinal mood alteration, when he drinks a rather potent potion. "I just let loose the manic side of myself, which I suppress for 23 hours every day," he says. "I just became an uncontrollable, vaguely irritating but vaguely amusing person for a few days."

Radcliffe is remarkably good-natured about being so closely identified with the role he's played most of his life, even taking seemingly silly questions in stride. "I get asked, 'Does being Harry Potter help get you girls?" he laughs. "I was 9 years old before I did the first film, so I don't know what it's like to get girls without having the aid of Harry Potter!"

Although his commitment to playing Potter will keep him occupied through the latter part of 2010 -- with the final film in the series scheduled for a 2011 release -- a return to the theater is definitely in his plans. "I would like to be back on the stage in the next two or three years, if they would have me back," he says. "That would be amazing, because I had a great time doing Equus."

Nonetheless, does Radcliffe feel sadness as this chapter of his life is coming to a close? He smiles a wide smile, and answers emphatically, "I was getting along quite nicely until people started telling me 'your dream is over!'"