The boy who lives: Daniel Radcliffe unplugged, without his magic wand

Daniel Radcliffe isn’t just the boy who played Harry Potter any longer — he’s growing up, and having a whole lot of fun too.

author_img Team Indulge Published :  04th August 2017 01:13 PM   |   Published :   |  04th August 2017 01:13 PM
Daniel Radcliffe

Daniel Radcliffe

He turned 28 years old last week, and he doesn’t need to brandish his wand to make his point any clearer. Daniel Radcliffe has successfully extricated himself from the wholesome fantasy world dreamt up by JK Rowling, involving himself in a number of projects that distance him from his cinematic alter-ego. This is no small feat, considering that being typecast in a particular series or genre is any actor’s biggest nightmare. The actor opens with Indulge in an exclusive interaction about his film, Swiss Army Man

Where did it all begin with you? Before it all hit — Harry Potter, the movies, plays, etc.?
Ha ha! A lot of people ask me that. I grew up in Fulham, South West London, I had a very happy childhood, I wasn’t particularly good at school, and I was very talkative. 
That’s what all the reports said — “We like Dan, he talks too much and his reports are rubbish.” And I was never in a school play. I recently read on my own IMDB page that I wanted to be an actor since the age of five, which I don’t recall being true. I was five! My opinion about what I wanted to do when I was at that age changed hourly, so it was never something I was driven towards.
There was one point I think, when I was nine — I never felt special as I was not particularly good at sports and school, so it was my parents’ friend Sue who told my parents, why doesn’t he audition for David Copperfield — with no thought of getting it, just thinking it will be a unique experience, and that it would be fun. Then I got it and it all really went from there, and now I just can’t imagine being in any other industry.

What was your first introduction to Harry Potter? Did you read the books?
I was never a big reader when I was younger. My father read the first two to me and I enjoyed them, but didn’t really follow through. And I had that slightly belligerent mindset that everyone is reading them and I am not going to read them, even when I was nine.
Obviously, once when I got the part, I literally read and devoured them. I am that kid who initially never had this appetite to read, but now loves to read. Harry Potter got me into reading.

You have come a long way from that boy who played the wizard to playing a dead corpse in Swiss Army Man. You’re taking a real challenge, and teaching Paul Dano’s character how to be a human being. Can you explain any of that?
No, not really! Basically Paul Dano’s character is a borderline suicidal man, who finds this dead body which magically starts coming to life. And through him, becoming kind of friends with the dead body, it becomes a situation where a suicidal man and a dead body are having conversations about life and if it is worth living.
It’s super fun and you know a lot of people might have heard of it as the Daniel Radcliffe’s corpse movie, and I am not shying away from the fact — that exists in the movie and you will have to take my word for it, all the weird things, they are beautiful.

The ugly parts are beautiful too?
Yeah, you would not think that’s possible, but believe me, that’s what makes this movie worth seeing.

So, basically, we don’t want to talk about all the things that celebrate being a human being?
That’s what I mean. This movie is really about celebrating our individual weirdness and accepting that, and also celebrating things like flatulence, which is hilarious.

We can understand that at like say, age four.
We know that it’s funny, so we kind of know that everyone does it, but everyone is sort of taught that it is not good, and it can be a shameful thing. That’s a point in the film, which is that shame — and shame of your-self can prevent you from other things, like say love.

You have to tell us, how did they get you to do this movie?
Everyone thinks that I needed to be convinced, but I really didn’t. It was an amazing script and yes, it was a very weird script. I have read weird, terrible scripts, and this was a great weird script. I basically play a magical dead body who, about three to four minutes after the film starts, comes back to life and is discovered by Paul Dano’s character, a hopeless lost soul wandering on the beach. And he finds my character and they go on a magical journey together. It was quite an adventure.

And it’s a brilliant performance by yourself and Paul Dano. To give him credit, he had to literally put you on his shoulder the entire time.
Yes, he does. He said he has never been stronger than after he finished this film. I mean, I am not particularly heavy, but I know the weight of a human being, which he was lugging around. There was actually a line he improvised in the film which makes me laugh — in fact you can see me, and I am not supposed to be saying it, but there’s a scene where I moved my head down to avoid the camera see me laugh, as he was saying, ‘I am feeling buffed just carrying you around’, and that wasn’t even part of the script, it took me by surprise. There was a dummy created, which we called Manny, which was made to look exactly like me. I guess they made it so that Paul would not need to lug my body around the whole time, but I think it was 30 pounds lighter and Paul was like, ‘Aah, forget it! I will carry the real thing’.

See, that’s the thing with corpsing — there are a lot of things that you find amusing, but you have to continue to be dead and not even blink.
Yeah, I couldn’t blink. In fact, I got very good at not blinking. There’s a sort of fear as Paul is giving an amazing performance opposite me, and I think that if I even move a bit, I have ruined his whole scene, so that sort of fear kept you really still.

And what about the soundtrack?
Paul and I provide a lot of the soundtrack — not all of it. It was us and Andy Hall from the band Manchester Orchestra. A lot of people told me that was high-pitched and impressive, and I tell them nope. That wasn’t me. 

This is one of the most original comedies of recent times. Did you have any idea how funny audiences would find it when you were making it?
First and foremost, it is a comedy, and that was there in the script. It was very original but it was also very funny. I was laughing at some of the ideas and images. 
There was a part of me that was laughing at how I intended to make any of this happen. The only thing I think which was not there in the script was some of that epic feel in some of the moments. I mean, you see it in the script, but you’re like, how is it going to achieve that feeling that you want to achieve — and it does.
The directors of the movie talk about using music to sneak some of their weirder ideas past the audience. That is why the soundtrack is key to that, as there are some instances in the movie where if there was no soundtrack, you’d wonder, what am I watching. But somehow with the music, it makes it great.

A quick profile of Daniel Radcliffe
The son of a casting agent and a literary agent, Daniel Radcliffe began dabbling in small school productions as a young boy. 
Radcliffe will always be remembered for his role as Harry Potter, the second largest movie franchise of all time.
But he has demonstrated his mettle as an actor through his diverse body of work after filming the final Harry Potter film. From exploring his roots in theatre to embracing a diverse portfolio of cinema, let’s take a look at his career trajectory beyond the exploits of the schoolboy wizard — 

The play where he bared all, quite literally at that, to appear in the West End revival of Peter Shaffer’s play. He portrays the role of a disturbed young man who blinded six horses in a small town near Suffolk. 
Daniel has improved greatly as an actor since the progression of the Harry Potter series and exhibits his prowess as a stage actor of unexpected range and depth in this performance. 

The Woman In Black 
Daniel played Arthur Kipps, a young solicitor who travels to the remote village of Cryphin Gifford, haunted by the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman who terrorises the locals by claiming the children in the village. He is the focal point of the movie, driving most of the fear and anticipation through his body language. This movie is reminiscent of the Edgar Allen Poe-esque horror film, with a new approach to a classic genre. 

Kill Your Darlings
Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) finds himself drawn to his colleagues at Columbia University to explore bold, new literary ideas that could transform the literary world, shaping the ‘beat generation’, a movement which rejected conventional society. The movie is a celebration of the collaborating genius between the three primary ‘beats’. Daniel approaches the role with a playful naivety, capturing the cadence of the illustrious poet. 

Now You See Me 2
Daniel Radcliffe essayed the quintessential British super-villain Walter Mabry, a technology magnate who forces an elite group of illusionists known as the Horsemen to pull off one last unprecedented heist. In an ironic twist of sorts, he plays the anti-thesis of Harry Potter: Aman who is terrible at magic tricks. 

Swiss Army Man 
Swiss Army Man takes it upon itself to question the thin line between the normal and bizarre. Radcliffe playing a corpse is a testament to the versatility of his acting proficiency.

Swiss Army Man premieres on Star Movies Select HD on August 12 at 9 pm.