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Daniel Radcliffe: Alcohol Was 'the Easiest Way to Escape Being Self-Conscious'

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Daniel Radcliffe is coming clean about the root of his past struggles with alcohol.

The Harry Potter star has been forthright about his former addiction since announcing his sobriety in 2012, but in an interview with Playboy published on Tuesday, the 26-year-old opened up about the reasons behind his drinking.

“Anytime I’d go out to dance, camera phones would come out,” Radcliffe says of his post-Potter fame. “That would make me very self-conscious, and what’s the easiest way to escape being self-conscious? Alcohol is a quick way of doing that.”

Radcliffe referred to himself as “a really annoying, loud, inappropriate, messy drunk” in a candid 2014 interview, but the actor says he doesn’t want his former behavior to be fuel for gossip.

“It becomes painful to watch your personal issues that you’ve tried to be sincere about get turned into fodder for TV gossip shows,” he says. “I was forthright about it, as you said, but once you start talking about this, that’s all you talk about.”

He’s also become wary of having his comments misinterpreted. “I can say lots of well-meaning stuff – why it happened and how I stopped – for three hours, and the headline would be ‘DRUNK ON THE SET OF HARRY POTTER.’ So I don’t talk about it as much now.”

Reflecting on his insecurities at the time, Radcliffe says he’s amazed he had the guts to perform in the play Equus on Broadway, in a part that required ample nudity.

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“I was s—-scared and 17 when I did Equus, which is the age when you’re most self-conscious,” he explains. “And I was very aware that a certain percentage of that audience was coming to look at my d— every night. Looking back, that was mental. I have a lot of respect for myself for having the balls to do it, so to speak.”

While his self-consciousness is now subsiding, Radcliffe says his popularity among fans is only increasing. “It feels like I get recognized more now. Here s what’s scary: If you were 14 when the first film came out, you’d now be almost in your 30s and could well have a child under 10 whom you’re now introducing to Harry Potter. We’re already getting the next generation. That’s just bizarre. It’s never going away.”

Despite his slip-ups with drinking, Radcliffe knows he’s lucky to have avoided the potentially career-ending pitfalls that can go hand in hand with child stardom. He attributes that success to his passion for acting.

“I loved it from the word go,” he says. “I loved being on set. I loved the hours. I loved the people. I loved the crazy, weird s— I got to do every day. Acting was the focus for me, and I wasn’t going to do anything to jeopardize being an actor.”