As gay Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, Daniel Radcliffe is a long way from Hogwarts in the indie drama “Kill Your Darlings,” out today in New York and Los Angeles. The role marks his edgiest and highest profile one yet post-“Harry Potter,” brought him fame and made him the richest British star under 30 in the UK.
Since then, the actor has gone out of his way to prove he has staying power by singing and dancing his way through the hit Broadway revival of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” appearing nude onstage in the dark play “Equus,” and leading the hit period horror pic “The Woman in Black.” This year alone, Radcliffe premiered three wildly varied works on the festival circuit — the romantic comedy “The F Word,” Alexandre Aja’s bizarre horror comedy hybrid “Horns,” and “Darlings — that showcased his versatility as a performer.
Racliffe sat down with Indiewire in Manhattan to discuss this new stage in his career.
I want to talk briefly about Toronto where you had a whopping three films play this year. Did it feel like a career milestone for you?
It did feel similar to the moment that I had around the time of “Equus” where everyone sort of went, “Oh he’s done that.” “Equus” I think sent a message to people, particularly in the theater industry, about what I wanted to do. The question had always been, “What can you do after Potter?” and “Can you do anything else?” To come to Toronto with three totally different films and three totally different roles — I felt very lucky to be able to show them all at once to people so hopefully if they went into the festival asking that question, they got their answer.
They did, loud and clear. It sounds like you feel you had something to prove.
Yeah, but I always feel that. I think that is a perfectly good way of motivating yourself. When you go into something like “Potter” very young it’s obviously very easy for people to say you kind of lucked out by getting there, which I did. Everyone did. But there is the temptation to say you just fell into what you’re doing and you wouldn’t have been doing it had you not looked right when you were young. Definitely when you know that is what some people are thinking about you, you absolutely want to prove that is not the case. And of course if anyone writes an article doubting you can move on after Potter, you want to make that person look stupid. You want them to have to look back on that article in a few years and go, “Uh, missed on that one.” It’s mainly to prove to myself that I am in the right place and I’m doing what I’m suppose to be doing but there is definitely a motivating thing to prove to other people as well that I’m right for what I’m doing.
Well with that in mind, how have you gone about selecting the projects you have since Potter? For the most part you’ve been doing independent, edgier fare.
That’s the truth of it. That’s where most of the most interesting stuff is made, by independent companies. It’s where you have the most license to do what you like. It hasn’t been I want to do indie films, it’s just been I want to do interesting films and they happen to be indies at the moment. The film I’m about to do is “Frankenstein” with James McAvoy, which is with Fox and it is the first studio movie I’ve done since “Potter” because it is the most inventive and imaginative thing I’ve read that’s come out of a studio.
An indie like “Kill Your Darlings” can’t get off the ground without a star name like yours attached. Can you talk about the pressure associated with that?
The reality is I helped that situation but I didn’t close the deal giving this film financing. They still need convincing after that, it’s more than just my name being attached. I’m not a producer, I never produced anything in my life and I don’t claim to to be but if there is a situation where my name association with a film helps get that film attention or money, I’m happy with that. I don’t particularly see that as a pressure. The pressure is doing a good job. That’s the part I have to get right.
Since its Sundance debut, the press have made a big deal of your sole gay sex scene in the film. Did you see this coming? This level of intrigue?
I did yeah. In fact, to be honest with you, I thought it would be more than it is. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of people actually focusing on the film. It’s a easy headline. There’s nothing more to it than that. When you do a press junket you get a very good impression of the type of stories people want to write given the questions they’re asking you. And the story that people want to write about me in this film is I found it weird to do a gay sex scene. When everybody is saying, “Wasn’t that weird” and I’m saying, “No, it was just my job.”
It’s also important to note that you’ve been a huge advocate for the gay community for years now.
Absolutely. They either want me to say it was weird so that then that looks weird up against my advocacy for the gay community or they want me to say it wasn’t weird so that they can further imply that I’m gay because it’s impossible to hold the two ideas in their heads at the same time.
Somebody was asking me today, “Do you think you have a responsibility to gay youth in this film to portray it in a certain way?” And to a extent we do, but we have more of a responsibility now that we are promoting the film to not be, “Oh it was fucking weird and doing gay scenes was weird.” That would be more damaging for a young person to read that.
The fact is, it is just a job. Ultimately we filmed like seven scenes that day and that scene maybe accounted for an hour in that day and it was kind of awkward and giggly in the same way that any sex scene, male or female, is because you’re stripping off in front of someone you just met and a crew of people. But beyond that there was nothing weird about it. It was just like trying to remain unselfconscious while John screamed sex directions at you off camera.