It’s been quite a fall for Daniel Radcliffe. His indie-romance “The F Word” played the Toronto film festival to positive reviews. On October 16, the drama “Kill Your Darlings” premieres, with Daniel in role of the iconic poet Allen Ginsberg. And this week, he storms American television screens alongside Jon Hamm (who plays an older version of his character) in the miniseries “A Young Doctor’s Notebook” based on the short stories of Mikhail Bulgakov. It airs Wednesday nights on Ovation.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Were you already a fan of Mikhail Bulgakov?
Daniel Radcliffe: Yeah, I am a huge fan of this writer!
On my 21st birthday I went to Russia, to Moscow, to visit his house, because it’s the house that appears in his book “The Master and Margarita.”Yeah, Mikhail Bulgakov is a brilliant writer. Very, very funny, I think way ahead of his time in terms of just how conversational some of his writing is.
And so when the opportunity came along to do this series, and they said they were adapting his first book, I just couldn’t believe it. And the fact that it landed on my lap, I was just like, this is perfect, and they had no idea.
Brendan Francis Newnam: What turned you on to Bulgakov?
Daniel Radcliffe: You know, it’s a terrible thing to admit, but it was quite simply one of those “if you bought this, you might also like” on Amazon.
Brendan Francis Newnam: As if you haven’t already done enough for Amazon.
Daniel Radcliffe: Yeah, well you know, that’s the thing. They’ve done something for me now. We’re even now Amazon.
Brendan Francis Newnam: You certainly have a mutually beneficial relationship.
So, it sounds like you’re excited because you love the writer. Did you have any apprehension about playing what’s frankly a bit of a dysfunctional character?
Daniel Radcliffe: Oh no, not at all. I’ve done enough functioning.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Or was it the opposite? Was that something that appealed to you that was a bit of a deviation from what you’re known for?
Daniel Radcliffe: Absolutely. You know, he’s a character who’s very out of his depth and very well-meaning and very earnest, but who’s getting wrapped up in morphine addiction and a whole lot of other bad stuff when he’s out and isolated and in the middle of nowhere he changes. It changes his character into somebody who is kind of you know, by the time we get to the second series, which I’ve only just finished filming, he’s somebody who’s kind of completely beyond redemption really.
Brendan Francis Newnam: So, your costar in the show is Jon Hamm, who plays kind of an older, wiser, albeit morphine-addicted version of you.
Daniel Radcliffe: We play the same character at 20 years apart in their lives. The whole series if you like, is a flashback of Jon’s character. He’s sort of walking through his own flashback if you like, interacting with me, his younger self, and generally giving me a very hard time.
Brendan Francis Newnam: You have a couple of films coming out this year, as well as this television show. But what was it like working with different people? You did, you know, many “Potter” films, you worked with the same cast, a lot of the same crew, although the directors shifted. What are the pros and cons of working with a new group?
Daniel Radcliffe: Part of the thrill of moving on from Potter for me has been being able to work with all these other actors and directors and crews and coming to the states and doing work over here for the first time was a big thing for me, cause I had never done that before. Because, in England, basically if you worked on a “Harry Potter” film, you will never walk onto a set again without knowing somebody.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Is it pretty much a small island.
Daniel Radcliffe: There were a thousand people on that crew, and there’s only 60 million people on the island, so you bump into a lot.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Well that idea of being known and not being know, as I was preparing for this interview, I saw an interview you gave, and you were talking about being in New York on a certain Halloween, you wore a mask, and you were talking about how for you it was almost a surreal experience to wander around with your head up. Can you talk about that?
Daniel Radcliffe: Yeah, absolutely. You know I went out on Halloween a couple of years ago with like an Elvis mask on and just wandered around, and it is this strange thing, cause normally I keep my head down and try not to make eye contact because that’s when I have slightly distinctive eyes, and people tend to latch onto that when I’m me.
Brendan Francis Newnam: A few people have seen your movies.
Daniel Radcliffe: Right, and it is a very unusual and surreal thing to be able to walk around, head up, kind of not worrying about meeting anyone’s eye, you know, I’m not complaining cause I have a lovely life and it’s just one of the strange, weird foibles of my life. But it’s definitely one that on Halloween – it’s a great day of the year for me.
Brendan Francis Newnam: I was thinking that another way you could do that without the mask is you could just play Harry Potter and no one would believe you.
Daniel Radcliffe: See, I don’t think they would. I think they’d just think, oh Daniel Radcliffe’s gone crazy. He’s just wandering around in a cape and glasses and thinks it’s all gone to his head.
Brendan Francis Newnam: You don’t think you would just blend in with all the other Harry Potters?
Daniel Radcliffe: I don’t think I would. I think they’d be like, “That’s actually Daniel Radcliffe there.” I think I might end up taking more attention that way.
Brendan Francis Newnam: All right, well scratch that plan. Stick with the Elvis mask.
Daniel Radcliffe: Yeah, I think I will. Or I might find a new mask this year. I’ll have to go to a costume shop and see what they’ve got.
Brendan Francis Newnam: All right, so we’ve prevented other people with Elvis masks from being accosted then.
Daniel Radcliffe: Yeah, exactly, thank you.
Brendan Francis Newnam: So we have two standard question on our show that we ask each of our guests, and the first question is, what question are you tired of being asked in interviews?
Daniel Radcliffe: Well aside from promoting “A Young Doctor’s Notebook” at the moment, I’m also promoting a movie called “Kill Your Darlings.”
Brendan Francis Newnam: Which is about Allen Ginsberg’s life at Columbia University.
Daniel Radcliffe: And a true story of a murder that took place, but there is a gay sex scene in the movie, and I am getting asked a lot about that. Yeah, my least favorite question at the moment is anything along the lines of, “Was it hard to do a gay sex scene? Was it weird doing a gay sex scene?” Cause they- cause ultimately everyone just wants me to say, “Yeah, it was super weird, I hated it.” Like, where it was ultimately like, it was just a job. It’s a scene like, you know, it’s a scene with a little bit awkwardness than any other, but ultimately it’s just another scene.
Brendan Francis Newnam: All right, well our last question that we ask each of our guests is, tell us something we don’t know, something you haven’t talked about in interview before, or just an interesting fact about the world.
Daniel Radcliffe: Oh, interesting facts. Well, I mean, okay, so you know when you see a pub sign that says “Ye Olde Tavern” or whatever?
Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah, yeah, with the ‘olde’ spelling, yeah.
Daniel Radcliffe: Well the ‘ye’ everyone pronounces it ‘yee’, but it’s not. That ‘y’ is actually a thing called a thorn, it’s an old English letter, which is a combination of a ‘t’ and an ‘h’ and so you do still pronounce it ‘thee.’ That ‘y’ in that context means- amounts to a ‘th’.
Brendan Francis Newnam: And how do you know that fact?
Daniel Radcliffe: TV.
Brendan Francis Newnam: That’s a great. It wasn’t from a book Amazon recommended.
Daniel Radcliffe: No, I think that was off “QI” which is an English show that if you don’t know it, everyone should check it out. There’s lot of excerpts on YouTube, so. And if you want a fact about myself that nobody knows, it is I know the- by heart, know all the lyrics to “The Real Slim Shady” but I’m not gonna do it for you now.