If there was ever a guidebook for actors looking to break free from billion-dollar movie franchises, "Daniel Radcliffe" would be the title of Chapter One. In his upcoming movie "Kill Your Darlings," which premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival, the 23-year-old British superstar goes full throttle as American poet Allen Ginsberg. With an impressive American accent and tousled dark hair, Radcliffe shines as a younger version of the beatnik icon.

Of course, this isn't Radcliffe's first post-"Potter" film. That honor belongs to the 2012 horror movie, "The Woman in Black," which saw the actor portraying a poor British lawyer in the early 1900s. That movie had similar characteristics to the wizard flicks: both featured dark and depressing Edwardian-era settings. With "Darlings," Radcliffe is changing it up completely, going across the Atlantic and branching out in a role that's the polar opposite of the Boy Who Lived.

Based on a true story, "Kill Your Darlings" takes us back to 1944, when Ginsberg is attending Columbia University. Here, he meets the sophisticated and eccentric Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan), who introduces Allen to the New York City bohemian lifestyle, along with future authors William S. Burroughs (Ben Foster) and Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston). Together, the group sets out to turn society upside down, creating a new vision and causing mischief and mayhem at every turn. Their worlds are tossed into upheaval when a man they all know is found murdered.

Sex has been a common theme at this year's Sundance, and this film mines it completely, with a young Ginsberg looking to experiment with homosexuality. Echoing a change-up performance from earlier in the festival by Michael Cera -- another actor known for playing one particular character -- Radcliffe's character is not the nice, quiet boy we've come to know and love in "Harry Potter." Here, his Ginsberg takes drugs, masturbates on screen and has sex with an older gentleman he picks up at a bar. Obviously, taking on a role of this magnitude after the success Radcliffe has had is impressive -- and pulling it off successfully is an even greater feat. While the performance as a whole is something to admire, obviously, the attention will focus squarely on Radcliffe's gay sex scene.

"It was something new," the actor told E! at the "Kill Your Darlings" premiere party. "But you know what, we shot that whole scene in maybe an hour and a half so it was incredibly fast-paced. I didn't really have time to stop to think and worry about it."

This isn't the first time Radcliffe has shown his range. His performance in "Equus" on both London's West End and Broadway received rave reviews, as did his musical turn in the show "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." On top of that, his cameo in Ricky Gervais' show "Extras" showed off his comedic chops. Clearly, Radcliffe is talented, and his role in "Kill Your Darlings" cements that. For the kids who grew up on "Potter," they'll be happy to know that the their leader is likely going to be around for a while.
categories Movies