February 12, 2007 10:40 AM

In case you missed the racy pictures, Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe is growing up – and his female fans have noticed.

“Somebody said to me the other day, ‘Do you ever worry that girls are just giving you attention because of who you are?’ ” Radcliffe tells Britain’s The Observer magazine. “I was like, ‘I’m 17, I don’t care! It’s wonderful!’ ”

When he turns 18 in July, he’ll have access to a fortune estimated by the magazine at around $35 million – so he knows he has to be wary of fair-weather friends. “Obviously you have to watch a bit,” he says, “and I’m sure there will be a lot of girls – well, I hope there will be a lot of girls who are just trying to get stories!”

But the single star (“I’ve not got a girlfriend at the moment,” he says. “I have had probably two I suppose what you call serious girlfriends”) has learned to trust his gut when it comes to dating: “I’d rather take the chance if I really like someone. I think I’d generally be able to tell. I’ve got quite a good instinct for people.”

And female fans have been pursuing him since before he hit puberty: When he was promoting the first Potter film in America, one girl surprised him wearing nothing but a towel. “I was about 11 when that happened. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was just discovering what everything was!” he says. “That was really cool actually. I wish that would happen again. As I remember, she was very attractive. I’d be up for something now!”

Fans will get a very different look at him on Feb. 27, when his four-month run in the sex-and-violence-filled play Equus starts in London. What does Harry Potter creator JK Rowling think? “She’s coming to see it!” Radcliffe says. “She’s very excited about it, which is great! … I look forward to hearing what she thinks.”

Of course, on July 21, just two days before Radcliffe’s 18th birthday, the final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, will hit bookstores.

Does he think his character will die in that final chapter? “I think I will,” he says. “I sort of hope I will, really. I think that’s really the only way Jo can end it, if Harry and Voldemort … Maybe one can only die if the other one dies. I don’t know that for sure. But I’m quite looking forward to doing a death scene, if I get that opportunity.”

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