Issues about the blurry line between love and friendship aren’t the only important questions that the trailer for the "friend zone" rom-com What If brings to the forefront. More relevant than the question of whether or not you should tell your friend that you love them, more vital than who decided to have Daniel Radcliffe and Adam Driver stand next to each other, and more intriguing than the origin of everyone’s weird names is the question: Could Daniel Radcliffe be the rom com leading man we’ve been waiting for all along?
Let’s look at the evidence:
He’s Charming Charisma is a vital part of the rom-com hero formula – after all, he’s not just winning over his leading lady, but the entire audience as well. It’s a good thing, then, that Radcliffe has charm in spades, no doubt thanks to spending his formative years in the public eye. Whether he’s rambling a mile a minute about cricket or giving his fantasy football team a terribly funny name (Barkevious Mingo’s Mum) or campaigning for him and Dane DeHaan to win an award for Best Kiss, it’s hard not to fall under Radcliffe’s spell.
He’s Awkward Every leading man needs some kind of flaw to humanize them and makes them more approachable, and if the success of Jude Law and Hugh Grant’s movies prove anything, it’s that nobody does the “bumbling charmer” better than an Englishman. Radcliffe’s natural manic energy is the perfect basis for plenty of uncomfortable misunderstandings, physical comedy (like, say, someone getting knocked out of a window) and long-winded, heartfelt apologies that make everyone in the theater swoon.
He Seems Like a Regular Guy Though the most common rom-com hero has a strong jawline and a six pack, the most enduring ones seem like real people. Think Seth Rogen in Knocked Up or Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate or the most iconic of all, Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally. Despite being famous since he was a little kid, Radcliffe has that same Everyman appeal that makes those other guys so charming: good-looking but not intimidatingly so, confident but not cocky, intelligent but not insufferable. In short, Radcliffe seems like a guy you could actually be friends with, and that makes him more appealing.
He’s a Good Dancer Even if your rom-com doesn’t feature a scene where the hero sweeps his lady off her feet by being surprisingly light on his feet, it’s a necessary part of the whole “dream guy” package that Hollywood has been selling for years. And after starring in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Radcliffe’s got all the moves he needs to be the guy of your dreams, even if you can hear him counting out the steps under his breath.
He’s Comfortable With Goofy Sidekicks Just as the rom-com heroine has a sassy, less inhibited best friend (almost always played by Judy Greer), the hero has a sidekick of his own. As Harry Potter, Radcliffe spent 10 years with a best friend by his side at all times, which means he has plenty of experience talking about his relationship over a few beers or a game of cricket. Based on the trailer, it seems that Radcliffe’s put that to good use, and his chemistry with Driver gives the trailer some much needed goofiness. That height difference alone...
He’s Harry Potter It doesn’t matter whether you actually preferred Ron or Draco or even Cedric Diggory, every girl wants to date the Boy Who Lived. Well, every girl except Cho Chang, but to be fair, there were other factors at play there.
Now that our era is coming to a close, we Harry Potter fans are reflecting on the last seven films as we prepare to say goodbye. For me, there's one little pretty significant bit that stands out in my mind: the day we were introduced to Robert Pattinson as Cedric Diggory. Twilight fans are going to hate me a little bit for the next 800 or so words, and for that I’m only marginally sorry. It’s true, Pattison was just better as Cedric Diggory than he is as Edward Cullen. That’s just a fact you’re going to have to make peace with – at least for this week because for Potter fans, it’s our last hurrah and you'll just have to let us have this one for now. We could have remembered Pattinson forever as Cedric – our beloved Cedric, may he rest in peace – but now, those memories are clouded with images of a pale-faced moper in a leather jacket.
Since I know those on the other side of the fence will want to know where the evidence for my “preposterous” claim stems from, let’s start with the easiest part: the superficial evaluation. Since they’re both portrayed by Pattinson, they’ve obviously got that signature modelesque smolder going for them, except that one of them looks like he’s actually a member of the living. Yeah, sure, vampires are “sexy” in a forbidden fruit, taboo sort of way, but let’s be real. Given the real-life choice between an adorable young man with flushed cheeks and a courageous heart or a pale, sparkling, sickly-looking undead guy who seems to have a greater affinity for Lancome lipstains than you do (oh, and when he gets frisky he may just try to suck your blood, NBD) how many of you would actually choose Cullen? In real life? Be honest. (Even if you’re emphatically saying “Me, me, ME!” in your head right now, I don’t believe you.)
Okay, so maybe you’re into the sparkle-goth-sickly look. Fine. But let’s talk about the sheer difficulty of spending time with a vampire versus spending time with a talented wizard. Vampires’ special powers: they can turn you into a vampire, they’re allergic to sunlight, they live forever, some possess the ability to read minds, they don’t breath, they can’t eat human food and it’s harder for them to go “vegetarian” than it is for a heroin addict to give up junk. Now before we get to Cedric, let’s just unpack this little suitcase. This all means no beach days spent sunning yourself on the sand FOREVER. No keeping secrets (even tiny little ones) to yourself FOREVER. No romantic dinner parties FOREVER.
On the other hand, wizards aren’t so complicated. What’s their special talent? They can do MAGIC. That’s it – no other complications. They can create light out of nothing. They can send letters that talk. They can fly through the air on broomsticks. They can fight DRAGONS. They drive flying cars. They can defend themselves with nothing more than a little wooden stick. And they don’t have to run from the sun or fight their own instincts or endure living forever to do it.
Finally, Cedric is just infinitely more irresistible. He’s uncommonly good. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, while the rest of Hogwarts is vilifying Harry for being chosen as a champion for the TriWizard Tournament, Cedric stands up for his rival, asking his friends not to terrorize the younger student. He helps Harry to decode a clue for the tournament; hec defends Harry when his father accosts Harry for some bad press coverage; and finally, when he and Harry both reach the TriWizard cup, he insists that Harry be the winner as a thank-you for Harry saving him twice in the maze. Of course on top of all that, he’s an excellent student, top of his class and beloved by lots of ladies. Basically, he’s a certifiable babe.
Edward on the other hand, does good deeds and protects his ladylove, for sure. But he’s such a mopey brooder. He stays up all night listening to indie music because he literally can’t sleep. He drives his collection of cars like a speed demon, which is only cool in Fast and Furious movies. He speaks like he’s still stuck in a former century and retains those difficult qualities of other literary characters like Edward Rochester from Jane Eyre, who’s romantic in theory, but not practice. Edward is self-loathing, sees himself as a monster, and is incredibly stubborn. Sure, he’s a romantic at heart, but you have to get past this thick, dark, emo exterior to get there. No thank you.
I can acknowledge that this is a matter of opinion (but mine is right) and it comes down to a certain distinction. Whether you’re the type of girl who prefers old James Dean movies to old Paul Newman movies (well, actually that’s kind of a difficult choice). Or whether you’re the girl who always dated dude with motorcycles and tattoos (hello, heartbreak) or the girl who dated nice guys with ambitions and tons of friends (okay, most of us have done both). Or whether you’re the girl who reads Vampire books or the girl who reads the best, most wonderful, magical series of books written in the last 20 years. Well, sorry Twi-hards, that last one’s the clincher. I’m going to have to call this one for the Potter kids.