Daniel Radcliffe On His ‘Tonight Show’ Rap: “One of the Coolest Things I’ve Ever Done”
On Tuesday night, Daniel Radcliffe shocked the world with his amazingly great performance (with help from The Roots) of the Blackalicious song, ‘Alphabet Aerobics.’ On Thursday afternoon, we spoke to a still-quite-excited-about-his-performance Radcliffe (who is promoting his new movie, ‘Horns’; the full interview will publish on Friday), who explains how all of this happened and how Questlove almost scared him out of doing the performance in the first place.
But, first, if you're one of the last eleven people on Earth who has yet to see this performance, here it is:
So, how did Jimmy Fallon know about Radcliffe's talent for rapping?
Who knew that my weird memory for that shit would ever find an outlet? Basically, it was one of those things, months ago, I did an interview and it was like, "Tell us something we don’t know about you.” And, honestly, I’ve been doing interviews for a long time and those questions are a struggle. I don’t know what you don’t know! So, you want to come up with something that’s weird an interesting, but also not very personal. So, I was like, “I know how to do the ‘Alphabet Aerobics’” So, a couple of months later, [the producer] who books me on Fallon just said, “Would you do it with the Roots?” You know, when someone offers you that opportunity, you don’t turn it down! That's the thing, it was just awesome. They were amazing. It was hands down one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.
So when did Radcliffe first hear 'Alphabet Olympics,' considering he was 10 when it was first released?
I didn’t know the song when it first came out, it was a few years ago. Like, a makeup artist I was working with played it and I was just really taken by it. “That’s awesome, who are they?” So, I found out about Blackalicious, then that song particularly. I don’t know, I take things in really well when I listen to them. I learn things really well by listening. So, I got to the point with the song where I had listened to it enough I sort of knew it. I don’t know, I have a weird memory for that stuff.
Also, Daniel Radcliffe really wants you to know, this is not a new career path for him. Also, what did Questlove say to Radcliffe that almost scared him off?
I would also like to say, this is not the beginning of a different career. I’ll probably be good to go on the record saying that early on. It’s a cool thing I got to do. As I said, when you’re given the opportunity to do something that cool, there’s obviously a part of you that’s nervous. Particularly when Questlove came back into the dressing room after rehearsal and told me that he produced their second album and I was like, “Oh, really?” Because I might not have been so bold as to agree to it had I known that. But, as I said, when you get an opportunity to do something with that group, it’s not something you pass up. And I hope Gift of Gab is happy with it and doesn’t feel like I did a terrible cover or something.
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.