"Kill Your Darlings," the new film about a college-aged Allen Ginsberg, doesn't feel like a movie teed-up for the gossip crowd. However, over the last few weeks, headlines touting its lead, Daniel Radcliffe, and what he does on-screen, have made "Darlings" out to be a breaking-out-of-the-child-star-chains-type drama. Here's the one and only Harry Potter in a non-Potter role, getting naked, taking drugs, and sneaking into libraries. The horror!
While it's tempting to consider Radcliffe's performance as a way to distance himself from the glory he achieved as a kid, you shouldn't mistake this role choice as a rebellious one. The 24-year-old star isn't looking to separate himself from his boy wizard years -- a time he holds with great reverence -- he's just trying to spread his wings a bit.
Radcliffe spoke to Moviefone about his interest in playing Ginsberg, the need for people to still compare his new work to the "Harry Potter" franchise, and why his role in "Equus" -- along with a cameo in Ricky Gervais's "Extras" -- helped show Hollywood that he was interested in finding range.
Hey, Dan. How's your day going so far?
Good. I am staving off the first coffee of the day. I recently had to admit to myself that I do in fact have massive caffeine crashes. Because once I start having coffee, I just have to continue having coffee or I fall asleep.
I can understand the coffee -- you've had a couple of busy months. Three of your films just premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, and "Kill Your Darlings" was at the Venice Film Festival.
Yeah! Toronto was awesome. You don't ever plan to have three films at a festival, but when it happens it's very cool. The best thing about it was they all seemed to go down really well. And they are three very diverse, different films. It's nice that people were excited by them and excited by the difference between them.
"Darlings" has done well since premiering at Sundance last January.
Yeah, I've been looking forward to it. Like, it's almost out. We are very nearly there now, which is exciting. January was the first time I saw it properly, then there has been a kind of steady building, waiting for it to come out, waiting for more people to see it. And, yeah, it's nice that people outside of film festivals will finally be able to.
I am still kind of shocked that Ginsberg, Kerouac, and Burroughs were friends before they became Ginsberg, Kerouac, and Burroughs.
Oh, yeah, absolutely. But that's what's interesting about the story, is that I think none of them would've been the people they were without each other. They fired off each other emotionally before they fired off each other creatively, and one was a precursor to the other. I do remember thinking that there was a level of passion and warmth and love between all these guys that is really striking. And it's also fun to be able to play them at a time before everyone knows them, and tell a story that's part of their life that is lesser known, even though it's completely fascinating and was really formative to all of their careers.
That's also what I found fascinating about it, that this story didn't come out until 2005.
Yeah! It was mad. And I think that was one of the appealing things about the script to start off with -- finding a story this brilliant about people this famous that isn't known is sort of like finding buried treasure. It's like, how has nobody else done this?! How is this movie not already made?
It almost reads like fan fiction.
Yes! [Laughs] So part of the attraction was absolutely being a part of this and telling this potentially iconic, interesting story.
The last two years you've chosen a lot of diverse roles -- and I don't mean diverse as in not "Harry Potter." I just mean diverse overall. "Horns," "The F Word," and "Kill Your Darlings" are all very different movies, as is the TV series you're doing with Jon Hamm right now, "A Young Doctor's Notebook."
Yeah, I was just asked a great question. I was talking about "Frankenstein," which I am doing next, and I said "It's an adventure movie." And she said, "Is it more like 'Harry Potter' or is it more like 'Kill Your Darlings'?" I was like, "Does it have to be one of them? It's not really like either of them!" I often get asked the question, that I seem to be picking parts that are very different from "Potter." And I always think to myself, What would I have had to do to pick something that was similar? You know what I mean? If I had done another young adult fantasy series, then I can see how people would be going, "That's a weird choice." But other than that, I think it comes out from a pent-up desire of spending 10 years more or less playing one character.
Right, because people could just typecast you.
Yes, people could just typecast me. The fact that I did "Equus" just sent, as a statement of intent, that I do want to do other things. I want to challenge myself in other kinds of parts. I think people notice that.
I think people noticed "Equus." But they also noticed your cameo in "Extras" around the same time.
You know what? Absolutely. It's very important to show that you have a sense of humor about yourself. Particularly from me early on, to show that I had a sense of humor about the whole child star thing, and that I was aware of that stereotype. I am very grateful to Ricky [Gervais] and Stephen [Merchant] for giving me the chance to take the piss out of that. Particularly at that age when I did "Extras," the reason I jumped at the chance to do it was because I was so aware that that's the image people had of child stars. So the fact that I was being given a chance to hint at the fact that I wasn't like that -- though people could still watch the episode and think Maybe he is like that...
I still think it endeared you to most viewers.
Well I often get told now, because I smoke, that whenever people first see me smoking they all think of that f*cking episode of "Extras." [Laughs] But I think that all those things just meant that people after "Potter" were willing to give me opportunities. All I've done is try to take them and make the most of them.
The fact that "Potter" was basically your introduction to acting, and that you played Harry over so many films, do you still feel the weight of the character when trying to get into other roles?
No not at all. That's the thing: you can argue about the best way to come into the industry and you can say there's people that can slug it out for years and have to work a long time for sh*t money, and then eventually get somewhere. Now, that's a very f*cking frustrating part of acting that 90 percent of actors are on, unless they get lucky at a very young age. But the tradeoff in that is when they are young and starting off and doing that sort of work, the pressure on them to be amazing isn't high; you're allowed to make mistakes and you're allowed to learn on the job. Whereas I had amazing success incredibly young and starred at the forefront of this huge franchise. You get the chance to learn from the best people in the industry, but at the same time, I will forever have a lot of sh*t acting that I did when I was a kid on screen that I hate, and you have to learn that people will latch on to that and some people won't be able to see you as another character. So, you know, you're definitely aware that that's out there. But I think one of the best things to do is to accept it.
You know what, there will be some people, when I die at 100 years old, who make "Harry Potter" jokes. You know, when Paul McCartney dies, people are going to be talking about "The Beatles." And I am not saying that I am like him. It's just being associated with something that's a huge deal for an entire generation. But also, the idea that that should be a hindrance is, to me, a fallacy.
Alex Suskind is Moviefone's features editor. You can reach him here
"Kill Your Darlings" hits theaters on October 16