The way these things normally work is that the journalist dials an agent (and might even be told your scheduled slot has been moved and to call back), who, before putting you on hold while “the talent” is fetched, runs through a list of things you cannot discuss. The no-gos are on a sliding scale depending on the profile of the star (and their penchant for the front pages of papers).
Not so, Daniel Radcliffe.
“Hello Matt, this is Dan, Dan Radcliffe, how you doing?” is the superstar’s opening salvo after he rings me on the dot of 6pm as agreed over email some days earlier.
“Can I please just let you know, and I mean nothing by it, but if I ramble on and sound a little tired, it’s because I’m performing every night in New York at the moment which can be tiring,” he begins.
He needn’t have worried. The 27-year-old is bright, eloquent and speaks with great gusto about his career, his choices and his desire to take something from every single project, even inadvertently letting slip about life on set of a different film to the one we are here to discuss.
“I just think why not go for the most exciting, crazy stuff you love as humanly possible in the time that you have. I am in
a very fortunate position where I don’t have to worry about how things are received, I can just do the projects I want,” he explains, before gently poking fun at himself, admitting, “I probably won’t be in that position forever.”
We were talking about one of three of the Londoner’s key projects for 2016, Swiss Army Man, a debut feature from famed music video directors The Two Daniels (both of whom are called Daniel). The fact Radcliffe even looked past the synopsis says something about his ferocious ambition and love of his craft; you may have heard it referred to as the “flatulent corpse movie”.
“The directors told me they want to make a film where the first incident of flatulence makes you laugh, and the last one makes you cry,” Radcliffe explains with a chuckle. Yes, you read that right.
His other soon-to-come release is Imperium, when director Daniel Ragussis (yes, another Daniel – confused yet?) bravely challenges Radcliffe, his leading man, in a role that sees him go undercover inside a white supremacy terrorist group.
“I’ve done films like that before that can be quite intense, but you need somebody at the helm who is fine and nice or you can just end up slipping into head-down intensity the whole time. It’s great to have someone you can get on with, and I really did with Dan,” Radcliffe reveals (after, understandably, getting his Daniels in a muddle. His apologies are profuse and amusing.)
Back on Swiss Army Man, Radcliffe shrugs off the controversial topic. “When I read this script, I wasn’t struck by ‘uh oh, what will people think’, but more ‘wow, this is so original and really good, and I haven’t read stuff with this level of creativity and imagination every day’,” he explains.
From beinge ridden like a jet-ski to escape the island, helping recreate moments of an unrequited love on a bus made out of woodland shrubbery, via a bear fight, Radcliffe’s character Manny is the unconventional support, both emotional and physical, in Hank’s (played by Paul Dano) desperate bid to get home.
“I have had some people who see it as a movie about love,” he says. “Others say it’s a heart-wrencher about being damaged or vulnerable, one of isolation. Or is it a buddy movie? There are so many different ways to take it, and none are incorrect.”
Carrying what could be construed as a mangled concept is no easy task. Radcliffe credits his co-star as being one of very few capable of managing it.
“Paul lives in a heightened world in a grounded way,” Radcliffe says. “He is very, very funny. He is fantastic. Moments that could be really, really weird, he makes them heartbreaking or funny, he brings a real humanity to the part... I think Paul is amazing, one of the best I’ve ever worked with.”
That’s saying something, as there’s a broad range of incredible past colleagues to choose from. And one suspects there will
be plenty more, too.
Three Top Radcliffe Films
Harry Potter Series
Whatever Radcliffe tries, he will always be “The Boy Who Lived”. And try as he might, the whole world has watched him grow from boy to man. The first of eight films hit screens before his teens, and came to a dramatic, two-part conclusion in his 20s.
Broadway and Beyond
In between box office hits, the Briton can be found in theatres in London and New York. To date, his most successful show has been The Cripple Of Inishmaan, which first wowed crowds in the West End before it set up camp on Broadway in 2014.
Radcliffe endeared himself to millions more when, in 2006, he starred as himself in Ricky Gervais’ Extras. In it, then aged 17, he played an over-eager adolescent trying to shed his goodie-two-shoes reputation, a far-from-subtle mocking of how he was viewed in public.