On My Screen: Daniel Radcliffe On ‘Weird: The Al Yankovic Story’, His Directing Dreams, The Most Fun He’s Had On Set & What Makes Him Cry

Daniel Radcliffe
Roku Channel/Courtesy Everett Collection

In Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, Daniel Radcliffe steps into a surrealist, fictionalized take on the rise to fame of the quirky accordion player and singer. “Being British, I think the first time I ever heard him referenced was in The Simpsons,” Radcliffe says. Featuring a cast of cameos so unexpected and rich that even the Harry Potter star was constantly taken aback, the film led him to attempt the accordion for real, in this latest of a series of roles in which he has leaned into his comedic and musical chops. He recalls the films that make him cry and his early life on set, and quietly admits to a penchant for The Bachelor franchise.

Daniel Radcliffe
Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection

My First Film Lesson

A lot of the crew of the first Potter film had come from a film with a very notoriously hard to work with lead actor. And then we also had a very legendary assistant director from the British film industry called Michael Stevenson who had worked with and knew Michael Caine really well. The difference between how the crew talked about a bad actor and how the crew talked about Michael Caine taught me a lot about how you want to be on a set and how actors have a huge amount of responsibility for the general tone and mood of the set.

The Best Advice I Ever Received

My dad always told me when I was young that when you meet people, try and get your hand out first to shake theirs. Just show that kind of eagerness. And I think particularly because of what people expect child stars to be like, and the desire to dispel that as quickly as possible, that was something that was useful. The other thing he said to me, early on, was there’ll always be somebody being waited for on a film set and all you can do is try and make sure it’s not you. I know it’s really simple advice, but really underrated qualities in actors are being there on time and knowing your lines, and knowing how to operate on a film set.

My Dream Project

I would love to direct, so I have written something which I’m in the process of trying to get made. It could be a film, absolutely. I love film sets and I feel like I’ve hopefully learned enough in the time I’ve had on sets so far to have a sense of how to lead one and I think I’d love to move into directing.

The Most Fun I’ve Had On Set

Weird was incredibly fun. The diner fight scene on Weird was just awesome. We only had four hours to shoot the whole thing and the stunt team were absolutely incredible. I got to jump in and do bits, and when you’re doing that kind of stuff and it’s chaos and you’re against the clock but it’s going really well, that’s really, really exciting.

I would also say Swiss Army Man was incredibly fun, because of the Daniels [Scheinert and Kwan] and how they make films; the feeling on their set. But also, Harry Potter was incredibly fun. I was a kid getting to play around on some of the craziest, amazing sets. So, I’ve gotten to do a lot of fun stuff in my career. I’m very lucky.

Daniel Radcliffe
Daniel Radcliffe and the cast of How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying perform at Tony Awards. Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

My Toughest Role

I did a musical 10 years ago [How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying], which required a lot of dancing, and I’m not naturally great at that. But I went from being abjectly terrible to, “OK, I’m doing a Broadway show and not sucking.” I was very proud of that. I remember the part I was panicked the most about beforehand was Swiss Army Man. I was playing this magical corpse who was coming to life but was not a zombie. So, it’s somehow distinct from that. I knew that I loved the script and wanted to play the part, but I didn’t really know how. I was in my bathroom, looking in the mirror doing weird faces and experimenting with voices and feeling completely ridiculous. And it was, “I’m on set in three days. I’m filming in five. How is this going to work?” And then it was immediately getting there and being in the hands of those directors and coming to realize, “Oh, they know exactly who they want. All I have to do is let them tell me.” It was a real lesson.

The Films That Make Me Cry

The first film that my girlfriend remembers me crying at — we’d been together for about a year and a half and she had never seen me cry in any context at that point because it’s not something that generally happens a lot — was when we watcheda documentary called Undefeated about an American high school football team in Tennessee. I cried three times at three completely separate things in the last 40 minutes of the film. So, that’s a long way of saying sports movies and particularly sports documentaries make me tear up.

My Most Quoted Role

I would love to say people are shouting Escape from Pretoria things at me. But it’s absolutely Harry Potter. I’m sure somebody drunk at some point in my life has shouted “you’re a wizard, Harry” at me, but it is thankfully not a common occurrence. Other than Potter, which people just generally want to talk about, it would probably be Swiss Army Man. And I think possibly that is the future of Weird. I think there’s going to be a lot of Weird references and I’m very OK with that.

Will Ferrell in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Dreamworks/Courtesy Everett Collection

My Desert Island Films

There’s a movie called A Matter of Life and Death, by [Michael] Powell and [Emeric] Pressburger, starring David Niven and a bunch of other amazing actors, and it’s brilliant. It is just so wild to me every time I watch it that the movie was made in the ’40s and is so far ahead of its time. And 12 Angry Men I’ve always loved. I grew up watching that, and it was a really important film for me in terms of showing what films could be. Dr. Strangelove was always one of my favorites as well. Anchorman, that was a big film for me at a certain point in my life.

What If
Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If. Caitlin Cronenberg/CBS Films/Courtesy Everett Collection

The Character That’s Most Like Me

I wish it was one of the more interesting characters that I’ve played, but it’s probably just Wallace, the character I played in the rom com What If. We are not completely alike, but in tone and manner we are. Basically, I do very little acting in that film. I’m wracking my brains like, “Wait, I’m sure he does a pretty terrible thing,” so ignore that.

My Guilty Pleasure

The early 2000s teen high school rom-com Get Over It. If you like Martin Short in Only Murders in the Building, it is that character on so much cocaine. It is just an incredible performance. Everyone is in this film, genuinely. Ben Foster, Colin Hanks, Kirsten Dunst, Mila Kunis, it’s got these ridiculous stars.

Read the digital edition of Deadline’s Oscar Actor magazine here.

On the night my girlfriend and I met for the first time, we were at a Kill Your Darlings event and Ben Foster was there. Suddenly, we turned to each other and said, “I’m a huge Ben Foster fan from the movie Get Over It,” and realized that we both loved this film that no one else knew.

Also, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.

Who’d Play Me In My Biopic

This is a super easy one for me. I feel bad that I’ve given this answer so much because I imagine he probably gets asked about it then as well. But Elijah Wood — it’s just the obvious choice. We are of a type. This guy the other day was driving past and just shouted out the car window, “Hey Frodo, I love your work.” And I was just like, “Great, thank you.” There’s no point ruining it. He’s had a good day because he’s met Elijah Wood, so why would I screw that up for him?

This article was printed from https://deadline.com/2022/12/on-my-screen-weird-the-al-yankovic-story-daniel-radcliffe-interview-1235182246/