Daniel Radcliffe on ‘Horns,’ Finally Watching ‘Star Wars’ and Why Darth Vader is “Hilariously Funny”
Three years ago, Daniel Radcliffe was promoting ‘The Woman in Black,’ his first real movie after his run in the ‘Harry Potter’ franchise. Of course, Potter came up a lot more back then than it even does now, and there were a lot of retrospective-type questions asked of Radcliffe along the way. (I am guilty of this.) Radcliffe would often compare ‘Potter’ to the fandom of ‘Star Wars,’ only for a new generation – which is a fair comparison! – the only problem being that Radcliffe admitted to me that he had never seen the original ‘Star Wars’ movies. (He did say that he had seen ‘The Phantom Menace,’ which doesn’t count and made me understand why he wasn’t terribly excited about watching the original movies.)
Earlier this week, while promoting his new film, ‘Horns,’ Radcliffe participated in a Reddit AMA in which the actor revealed that, yes, he’s finally seen the original ‘Star Wars’ movies and that he may be dressing as Boba Fett for Halloween. So, yes, there’s a lot of ‘Star Wars’ talk in this interview.
In ‘Horns,’ Radcliffe plays Ignatius Parish, a man suspected of killing his girlfriend who starts to develop demon-looking horns on the top of his head. It’s a departure for Radcliffe, who pretty much shot ‘Horns’ back-to-back with his other film this year, the well-received romantic comedy, ‘What If.’ Recently, a list came out ranking the richest Britons in the entertainment world and Radcliffe poked some fun at the five-member One Direction being ahead of him on that list. But, here, Radcliffe explains what’s it like to be a young actor in Hollywood who really does have at least, mostly, complete financial control over his career and what them means in relation to his choices.
You have finally seen the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy.
Yes! I’ve finally seen it. And I love it.
You had told me before you had only seen ‘The Phantom Menace.’
The original three movies are different.
They are very different. It’s all about character and storytelling. It’s awesome. That is what I was so impressed by, is how casting your mind back to imagining having never seen anything like that before and then seeing that movie in the ‘70s and how incredible that must have been. But, also just the reason they were so mind-blowing at the time for a lot of people were the effects and this whole world that was created. But, to me, what makes them brilliant was the storytelling and characters and that’s what gives the films longevity; that’s what makes it still good after all of this time.
Of the original three, which is your favorite?
I actually love, probably the first one -- purely actually because it has the most Alec Guinness and he was my absolute favorite. I was doing an annoying amount of Alec Guinness impressions. But, also, I never realized what a hilariously funny villain Darth Vader is. Like, how funny, as well as being scary, he is. The moment when he strangles the guy saying, “Your lack of faith is disturbing,” that’s such a good moment! Because it’s both terrifying and it makes you laugh because it’s so, what’s the word, lightly written -- he’s doing such a terrible thing at the same time. I mean, it’s great. I got very, very into it. We watched them all, we did them back-to-back, in three days.
Since you had only seen ‘The Phantom Menace,’ I could imagine you wondering what the big deal was. That movie doesn’t convey what the original three do.
No. I really get why they are so beloved now. And also the look of the whole thing! The look of those movies is amazing. How it’s a version of space that’s kind of beaten up and battered, you know, sort of worn in by the Empire and stuff. It’s awesome.
I do hope you dress as Boba Fett for Halloween.
[Laughs] Well, there might be a plan in place or something along those lines.
You did ‘Horns’ around the same time as ‘What If.’ Did those two movies appeal to you because they’re so different?
That’s the thing, I had already done ‘Kill Your Darlings’ and I had shot the first series of ‘A Young Doctor’s Notebook,’ so I had already done two things I was really, really happy with and were very different. So, when these two scripts came in -- sort of quite soon, one after the other – and literally the only way both could happen, they both had very firm start dates, is if I stopped ‘What If’ on Friday and traveled out to Vancouver and started 'Horns' on a Monday. And it was awesome getting to do that. At first I was nervous, because ‘The F Word’ [‘What If’’s original title] was such a lovely job and fun and intense is not a word that would be used in connection with that film. And ‘Horns’ was incredibly fun every day, but it was also really intense.
I saw you having some fun with One Direction and that wealthiest Britons list. Though, that list did make me think, does being in that position afford you the luxury of really just only doing projects that truly interest you?
Yeah, absolutely. There’s always going to be a bit of [one for you; one for me] for financial reasons. As much as how wonderful the indie world is and as dominant as it is with great scripts, it’s also very, very hard. You have a lot less sure things in terms of getting into production. But, yeah, to go back to what you were saying initially, your point was absolutely right. And I am in a fabulous and incredible position that very, very few actors my age are in – which is that I have control over my career. And if I don’t want to do something, I don’t have to.
You didn’t have to rap ‘Alphabet Aerobics’ on Fallon...
[Laughs] Yes, exactly! But that is what it’s always been about, really – there’s no point trying to figure out what kind of career you want to have looking through what other people think you should do. You can only be guided by your own taste and what you love. And if you’re in a position to just do the things that excite you and are fun and you want to do, then do that. And what excites me is the people I get to work with.
Speaking of, I read you’re playing Michael Caine’s son in the next ‘Now You See Me’?
I annoyingly have to be quiet about that. [Laughs] It’s very odd! But I just have to be vague at the moment, I’m afraid.
Mike Ryan has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and GQ. He is the senior editor of ScreenCrush. You can contact him directly on Twitter.