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Daniel Radcliffe, the boy wizard from Harry Potter movies, will perform nude during one scene in Equus on Tuesday night. ((Peter Thompson Associates, Uli Weber/Associate Press))

Teen British actor Daniel Radcliffe cast off his squeaky clean Harry Potter image — and his clothes — in London's West End Tuesday, opening night of the psychological stage drama Equus.

Radcliffe, known around the globe for his starring role as the boy wizard in the Harry Potter film franchise, stars as a mentally disturbed young stable boy in the eagerly awaited revival of Peter Shaffer's play.

The actor, 17,has claimed to have accepted the role of the obsessed young man Alan Strang "to shake up people's perception of me."

In Equus, which explores the themes of faith, passionand adolescent sexuality, Radcliffe's character smokes, hassex and is driven by a religious obsession to blind horses with a metal spike.

The production requires Radcliffe to appear nude during a climactic scene and, as such, carefully cropped images of his naked torso have been featured prominently in advertising for the revival.

However, Radcliffe's appearance in the play has also drawn criticism, including from anti-smoking groups who are worried his high profile could encourage other youngsters to smoke.

Fans pack theatre for Radcliffe

His starring role has definitely had an effect at the box office, with the play'spreview audiences packed with mobs of young, female fans.

The over zealousness of these young patrons bubbled over last weekend, when police were called in to disperse a crowd of hundreds seeking a glimpse of Radcliffe.

The mob forced acclaimed stage veteran Richard Griffith and actress Jenny Agutter to escape London's Gielgud Theatre through a side window by the box office following Saturday's preview show.

Griffith, who won much acclaim for his role in The History Boys, portrays the psychiatrist who interviews Radcliffe's troubled stable boy in Equus. He also co-stars in the Harry Potter films as the teen wizard's dastardly uncle.

Equus debuted at London's Old Vic Theatrein 1973 before going on to a successful Broadway run and a 1977 film adaptation.

Radcliffe, who was named Monday to Forbes magazine's list of top-earning Hollywood stars under 21, will next appear in theatres as Harry Potter when Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix hits theatres in July.

Filming for the penultimate installment of the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, is scheduled to begin this summer following Equus finishing its run in June.

With files from the Associated Press