×
Back to IndieWire

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic Says Warner Bros. Once Denied His Request to Parody the Harry Potter Theme

“If I’m doing a franchise, it’s usually better just to do it and ask for forgiveness rather than permission,” Yankovic said, recalling the disappointment from way before he teamed up with Daniel Radcliffe for "Weird: The Al Yankovic Story."

"Weird Al" Yankovic and Daniel Radcliffe attend the Brooklyn premiere of "Weird: The Al Yankovic Story"

“Weird Al” Yankovic and Daniel Radcliffe attend the Brooklyn premiere of “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story”

Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for The Roku Channel

Add “Weird Al” Yankovic to the growing list of artists slighted by the higher-ups at Warner Bros.

No, the parody musician didn’t have a streaming project caught up in the Discovery merger; his biopic “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” debuted at TIFF in September and is distributed by The Roku Channel. Rather in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter promoting Eric Appel’s new film, Yankovic lamented one of the many properties he’s been denied the rights to parody because of a major movie studio. The culprit? Harry Potter.

“Whenever it was, about a decade or two ago, I approached the movie company just to get a general blessing like, ‘Hey, I’d like to do a Harry Potter parody,” Yankovic recalled. “And I think they said no, or they never responded or whatever… But sometimes when you’re dealing with franchises, and you ask permission, you know, there’s so many people that can say no, and they usually do.”

It’s an ironic anecdote on (at least) two fronts. First, Harry Potter and its soundtrack have been parodied endlessly: appearing in everything from the YouTube sensation “Potter Puppet Pals” to Darren Criss and A. J. Holmes’ stage production “A Very Potter Musical.” Potter parody is a supersaturated market now and, assuming Yankovic’s timeline is correct, wasn’t much less crowded back then.

Second, Daniel Radcliffe — Harry Potter himself — would go on to play a heightened version of Yankovic in “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story.” The pair struck up a friendship during production with Yankovic helping Radcliffe extensively to prepare.

“Honestly, the thing that we worked on the most together was the accordion,” Radcliffe told IndieWire at TIFF. “He gave me some accordion lessons, which is something that I can take to my grave that I had that moment. I don’t need anything else.”

“[Yankovic] is so authentically himself and that has led to this wonderful film, as well as his incredible career,” Radcliffe continued. “This is not a movie that we expect you to sit down and take a moral from the story. But if there is something to it, it’s about leaning into your own weirdness and that being a way of finding your own happiness.”

It’s a message Yankovic echoed again in his interview with the Hollywood Reporter. “If I’m doing a franchise, it’s usually better just to do it and ask for forgiveness rather than permission,” he continued, before joking: “We like to think that [‘Weird: The Al Yankovic Story’] is the last movie of the Harry Potter franchise.”

“Maybe that’s what this film is,” Radcliffe said, also to the Hollywood Reporter. “This has been his way of doing a Harry Potter parody.”

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Film and tagged , ,


Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox