Radcliffe was born on 23 July 1989 in West London, England, the only child of Alan George Radcliffe, a literary agent, and Marcia Jeannine Gresham (née Marcia Gresham Jacobson), a casting agent who was involved in several films for the BBC, including The Inspector Lynley Mysteries and Walk Away And I Stumble. Radcliffe’s mother is Jewish and a native of Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex (her family’s surname was anglicised from “Gershon”), his father, originally from Northern Ireland, is Protestant.Radcliffe first expressed a desire to act at the age of five. In December 1999, aged ten, he made his acting debut in the BBC One’s televised two-part adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel David Copperfield, portraying the title character as a young boy. Radcliffe was educated at independent schools for boys, including Sussex House School, a day school in Cadogan Square in Chelsea, London.
Following the release of the first Harry Potter movie, attending school became hard, with some students becoming hostile. Radcliffe said it was people just trying to “have a crack at the kid that plays Harry Potter” rather than jealousy. As his acting career began to consume his schedule, Radcliffe continued his education through on-set tutors. The actor admitted he was not very good at school, considered it useless, and found the work to be “really, really difficult.” However, he did achieve A grades in the three Advanced levels he sat in 2006 but then decided to take a break from education and did not go to college or university. Part of the reason was he already knew he wanted to act and write. Another reason was it would be difficult to have a normal college experience. “The paparazzi, they’d love it,” he told Details magazine in 2007. “If there were any parties going on, they’d be tipped off as to where they were, and it would be all of that stuff.” In 2000, producer David Heyman asked Radcliffe to audition for the role of Harry Potter for the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the best-selling book by British author J.K. Rowling.The author had been searching for an unknown British actor to personify the character. However, Radcliffe’s parents did not want him to audition for the role as the contract required shooting all seven films in Los Angeles, California, so they did not tell him. Once the movie’s director Chris Columbus saw a video of the young actor in David Copperfield, he recalled thinking, “This is what I want. This is Harry Potter”. Eight months later, after several auditions, he was selected to play the part. Rowling also endorsed the selection, saying the filmmaker could not “have found a better Harry”.Warner Bros offered him a two-movie contract, with shooting in the UK, and assured his parents he would be protected.When signing up, Radcliffe was unsure if he would do any more pictures.The release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (released as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the United States) took place in 2001. The story follows Harry, a young boy who learns he is a wizard and is sent to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to begin his magical education. He got a seven figure salary for the lead role but asserted that the fee was not “that important” to him. His parents chose to invest the money for him. The film broke records for opening-day sales and opening-weekend takings and became the highest-grossing film of 2001. With a total of US$974 million in ticket sales, Philosopher’s Stone stands as the second most commercially successful in the series, behind the final installment. The adaptation met with strong reviews, and critics took notice of Radcliffe: “Radcliffe is the embodiment of every reader’s imagination. It is wonderful to see a young hero who is so scholarly looking and filled with curiosity and who connects with very real emotions, from solemn intelligence and the delight of discovery to deep family longing,” wrote Bob Graham of the San Francisco Chronicle. A year later, Radcliffe starred in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the second instalment of the series. Reviewers were positive about the lead actors’ performances but had polarised opinions on the movie as a whole. Stephen Hunter of the Washington Post labelled it “big, dull and empty”, whereas Desson Thomson of the same publication had more positive feelings. Observing that Radcliffe and his peers had matured, Los Angeles Times’s staff writer Kenneth Turan believed the novel’s magic could not be successfully duplicated in the film. Nonetheless, it still managed to earn US$878 million, taking the second spot of the highest-grossing 2002 films worldwide behind The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. The 2004 release Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban marked the third in the series. While garnering the highest critical acclaim of the series and grossing US$795.6 million worldwide, the film’s performance at the box office ranks the lowest in the series. Meanwhile, Radcliffe’s performance was panned by critics, who found him to be “wooden”, with New York Times journalist A. O. Scott writing that Watson had to carry him with her performance. Next was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in 2005. The film explored romantic elements, included more humor and saw Harry selected as a competitor in a dangerous multi-wizard school competition. Goblet of Fire set records for a Harry Potter opening weekend, as well as for a non-May opening weekend in the US and an opening weekend in the UK. In a 2005 interview, Radcliffe singled out the humor as being a reason for the movie’s creative success.