No. 1

10.24.14 12:25 AM ET

Daniel Radcliffe: I’m Richer Than One Direction

The Harry Potter star jokingly slapped down the suggestion that One Direction was wealthier than him by pointing out there are five of them. He’s also rich in spirit.

Am I really No. 2, Daniel Radcliffe playfully queried, after Britain’s Heat magazine placed him after the band One Direction (at No. 1) in its richest celebrities under 30 list.

“There’s five of them! That doesn’t count! Not that I care but I am definitely first!” Radcliffe said, at the London premiere of Horns.

And he is right, however much it was said with a smile.

One Direction finds itself at No. 1 with a $124.99 million fortune, with Radcliffe at No. 2 with $102.48 million. If you split the value of One Direction five ways, it comes to $24.998 million each, which means that each member of One Direction (although presumably you’d probably lob a little extra cash Harry Styles’ way) would be at No. 10 on the list.

This means not only that Radcliffe would be No. 1, but also everyone in positions three to nine would rise a place: Robert Pattinson (third place, $82.89 million), Keira Knightley (fourth place, $64.41 million), Adele (fifth, $58.45 million), Emma Watson (sixth, $51.03 million), DJ Calvin Harris (seventh, $46.74 million), Rupert Grint (eighth, $44.07 million), and pop singer and former British X Factor winner Leona Lewis (ninth, $24.99 million).

Observe the continued power of Harry Potter, with its three young stars in the top 10—and in Radcliffe a better, more impressive richest celeb under 30 one couldn’t wish for. Intelligent, funny, handsome, a bundle of energy and views, he is a young heartthrob who I think eyes any attempt to make him into cookie-cutter leading man material with innate, welcome disquiet. Radcliffe remains one of the most intriguing young stars around.

When he stripped naked to perform in Peter Shaffer’s Equus on the West End and Broadway in 2007/8—this just over midway through the Potter cycle—the assumption was this was Radcliffe trying to cast the mantle of Harry off. But Radcliffe realized this would be impossible and has instead found that Potter provides the best kind of camouflage, or perception-based decoy, for an actor. Potter is such a memorable role, it means Radcliffe can consistently surprise us with whatever he does subsequent to it.

The innocent, world-conquering goodliness of Potter, rather than restricting Radcliffe, provides the actor with a tabula rasa, to—for example—play Beat poet Allen Ginsberg in Kill Your Darlings, or a man with paranormal abilities in Horns, or Igor in the forthcoming Victor Frankenstein.

I’ve been lucky enough to experience Radcliffe’s intelligence, charm, and wit close-up, having interviewed him in 2012 for Attitude magazine. On the fashion shoot beforehand, he was puppyish energy and charm—no diva-ishness, just fast, funny, and co-operative. During our interview, he was intense, fast, generous with his time, and thoughtful and expansive with his answers. He is rare among celebrities for not just speaking up for a cause—in his case, gay equality—but doing so with passion, dedication, and application. A supporter of the Trevor Project (he was deservedly awarded that organization’s Hero Award in 2011), Radcliffe eloquently linked marriage equality with issues of anti-gay bullying: “The ultimate reason gay marriage should be legalized everywhere is because, as a kid, you look to your mum and dad and they’re married, then you look at the gay couple who’ve been together for the same amount of time, but because they can’t get married their relationship doesn’t seem the same,” Radcliffe told me.

“Gay people should have equality in law everywhere. If you grow up as a young gay man knowing you don’t have the same opportunities as everyone else, you’re going to feel victimized and massive prejudice towards you.”

He’s also very funny. When I asked if he was gay or had ever had any gay experiences, Radcliffe racked his brain, hemmed, hawwed, genuinely looked as if he wished he could say yes, finally said no, but added, “This year I have a talent crush on Ryan Gosling. I think he’s fantastic and you know he’d be nice afterward. He seems smart. If I was gay, I would go for a smart man.”

Radcliffe was candid about other things, too: growing up, sex, politics, and—most movingly—recognizing his over-dependence on alcohol. “I’ve stopped now. It started when I was 17 when I moved out. It was like ‘Wow, I can do whatever I like,’ and I did, and it became routine. It was three or four years of annihilation, and by the end my stomach was in bits. I was drinking daily, every night. It got me into many dangerous situations.

“I’m the type of person who has two drinks and is great fun, but have six more and I become a nuisance and have to be taken home, and friends have to look after me.

“After a while I got sick of being that person. Every day I would go into work and laugh about the behavior I indulged in the night before, but after a while humor no longer works in terms of processing what is actually shame. You have a moment when you go, ‘I don’t need this, I’m better than this.’ My parents could see what was happening to me, didn’t know what to do and were terrified. Now I’m their son again, and I’ve found my parents again.”

So let’s be clear: Daniel Radcliffe is not only richer than One Direction, he is not only the richest celebrity under 30 in Britain, he is also one of the richest famous people, young or old, in heart and mind. He is enquiring, passionate, funny, eager, and charming. Among celebrities—a tier of people known for their vanity, venality, and self-consumption—he looks out into the world, engages with it, and tries to do good within it. Far beyond his well-earned lucre, this is the reason to applaud Radcliffe the most.