His folks never saw him as a profit center, he said, and he always looked forward to his work on the "Harry Potter" movies.
"I was always lucky, because I loved the work," he said. "The only thing I've struggled with is the other stuff, the fact that people suddenly want to know the trivia of your life. I've always been uncomfortable with that."
So, who are you dating?
Just kidding. But it's actress Erin Darke, a co-star from his beat poet bio movie, "Kill Your Darlings," who's been spotted with Radcliffe near his West Village apartment.
He prefers New York and London to Los Angeles, where pressures lurk for actors of any age.
"I also think it's very different becoming a child actor in England," he said. "That's very different than growing up in L.A. If I add up all the time in my entire life spent in Los Angeles, it comes to just under six weeks. It's not that I don't like it, it's just that I've never had a reason to be there.
"And even the brief time I've spent there gives you an idea of how competitive it is. Before I get to L.A., I have this sense of myself as an actor who's doing pretty well. I like my roles, and I'm working regularly. But you're there for two days, and you start getting insecure. You see what other people are doing and you think: Gee, I'm not working hard enough. Everyone there is in the industry, and it fills everyone with this sense of competition. Every time you meet someone your age and gender, they've all been offered the same roles."
Living in New York and London also has allowed Radcliffe to pursue work on stage. He was naked in "Equus," singing in "How to Succeed in Business" and he's just finished Broadway and London runs of Martin McDonagh's "The Cripple of Inishmaan," for which he was widely praised.
"It's not so much about being taken seriously as an actor by the public, but by yourself," he said. "On stage, there's no place to hide, no second takes. If you're [crap], you're [crap], and everyone knows you're [crap]. I like that challenge. You walk into rehearsal, and there may be people thinking, oh, he's only here because he's Harry Potter and everything's been handed to him. But once you've done a play in London's West End, and you've proved you're not [crap], it gives you an enormous sense of confidence."
Radcliffe's movie roles have been varied - Allen Ginsberg in "Kill Your Darlings," a classy horror movie ("Woman in Black") and now a romantic comedy. In "What If," he plays a young man in love with his best friend (Zoe Kazan), who's living with another man.
Was it time for a rom-com?
"You know, I was talking to an actor the other day and we agreed that the only time we really talk about genre is when we do press. When you're an actor, and you get a script, you're looking at the dialogue and the character and the story. You're not really thinking, 'What type of movie is this?' And, in this case, I liked the character, and it was funny, and I wanted to do it."
Seems like a judicious young man. So much so that you wonder why Radcliffe, who's fallen in love with American football, has also fallen in love with the Giants.
"It's true," he said. "I'm a Giants fan. But I think everybody knows the Eagles are going to win the division."