Opening this week in limited release is director John Krokidas’ Kill Your Darlings. The film focuses on the origins of the Beat movement and follows the volatile friendships of Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston), William S. Burroughs (Ben Foster), and Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan). There’s also a murder wrapped in between the lines. Kill Your Darlings also stars Michael C. Hall, David Cross, Kyra Sedgwick, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Elizabeth Olsen. I caught the pic at Sundance and it was one of my favorites of the festival. In addition, the entire cast was fantastic and Krokidas announces himself as a serious talent to watch. For more on the film, read Matt’s review or read all of our previous coverage.
Last week I landed an exclusive interview with Radcliffe. He talked about making the film on a limited budget and not much time, working with the rest of the cast, how it compared to making the Harry Potter movies, what he learned about the beat movement, having the film play at both Sundance and Toronto, and more. In addition, I asked if he’d be willing to do some kind of easter egg like walking in the background of a scene when Warner Bros. makes the Harry Potter spin-off movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Hit the jump for what he had to say.
Collider: I just saw you at TIFF for Horns.
DANIEL RADCLIFFE: Yes.
So, I premiered the first clip from the movie on my site. It was crazy successful. I don’t know if you know that.
RADCLIFFE: Which clip was it?! Was it the one where I was talking to the-
You and David Morse?
RADCLIFFE: Oh, okay, cool! Yeah! That scene. Awesome. And people were actually watching and everything.
They really did. But when I premiered it, I didn’t realize there was no other footage out there, so it was the first footage of the movie, with you doing an accent and wearing horns! Basically, a lot of people were very interested.
RADCLIFFE: Cool! Yeah, I love that movie. I’m super psyched about it. I think I like to do this material that other people consider challenging or a bit off the beaten path. Like, people say [the film] is hard to market because it’s so many things, so you can’t easily categorize it into a genre. But, I think that’s what’s so cool about it, and that’s what’s exciting about it. One of the reasons to go see the film is that it has a really unique tone. But yeah, some people will probably leave going, “what the hell was that?” and some people will go “that’s my new favorite movie.” And I’m very happy with that.
I think that’s very true. Jumping into Kill Your Darlings, I think the film has a great script, but to me, it’s one of those films that really relies on the performance to elevate it to the next level. It’s something that you really did a great job with.
RADCLIFFE: Thank you.
You’re welcome. When you were filming it, did you know that the performances were so strong, because it feels like everyone is giving it their all? Did you sort of get that vibe right from the beginning?
RADCLIFFE: Yeah, I think so. I think this is one of those films where we knew we were gonna have to give our all to make it work, and I think we just got lucky. John [Krokidas] put a great cast together, and a cast of people who were very collaborative and open. As Dane [DeHaan] was talking about earlier, when you shoot a movie like this, you get to know people really well, because you’re with each other for like 14 hours a day for 24 days. And you’re doing some really intense scenes together, which require vulnerability from both people, and openness on both sides. So, if you don’t have that, the job becomes a lot harder. But, when you all share that responsibility and everyone comes in with the same mentality, then everyone really sets the tone. When you work with people like Michael [C. Hall] and Dane, and you’re in a scene with one of them, you go “fuck!” and it really elevates you. And then, it’s a ripple effect, and everyone sees how hard everyone is working, and so everyone tries to match each other all the time. And everyone gets elevated by it.
You’ve obviously worked on some small British movies that had very long shooting schedules-
RADCLIFFE: Yeah (laughs).
And then, you’re working on this, which is a 24-day shoot, sometimes 2 takes, etc. What was it like for you as an actor jumping from working in such a-
RADCLIFFE: Slow way (laughs).
Yeah. What was it like working in such an elevated place where you had limited time and you have to make a lot of set-ups every day?
RADCLIFFE: To be honest, it was awesome. It was fantastic. It’s something I’ve spoken about with a couple of the cast members since we’ve left. I think people assume that, when we go on to a movie that shoots at the speed most films shoot at, we’ll just fucking lose our minds, and we won’t be able to cope with it, because it’s so fast. But actually, we’re just desperate for it, because it’s so much fun. It’s such a more fun way of working when you’re doing nine scenes in a day, rather than doing like, maybe five setups. It’s such a thrilling, exciting way of working. And as you said, it is very different, but ultimately, it’s not that different. I know in the earlier films, we were in tutoring and there was lots of visual effects, but frankly, there’s no real reason why we shot as slowly as we did on Harry Potter. You can say many wonderful things about that set and about those films, but, fast, we were not.
So, I think that, going onto something that shoots like this – and particularly a film like this – the thing is, sometimes I don’t think you need more time and money. For example, if this film, Kill Your Darlings, had been made for say, $10 million over a 6-week shoot, I don’t think it would be as good a film. Because, I think that the process of making a film is an underrated factor in how that film turns out. And I think the fact that we shot this in 24 days with a lot of, not quite guerrilla filmmaking, but close to it – as close as I’ve ever been – it gave the film a sense of urgency and vitality. The fact that we were up against it meant that everyone was focused. It meant you didn’t have room to really get behind too much, and it focuses the sets. The other thing about a film like this is, it doesn’t get made unless everybody involved fucking loves it. And, how much everyone loves it – not just actors, but the whole film crew – makes a huge difference, because this was a hard shoot for a crew as well (laughs). How much everyone put in was really stunning, and it’s lovely to now see everybody’s work being recognized, because people are genuinely coming out talking about the costumes, talking about the lighting, and talking about all this other stuff as well, which I’m really thrilled about. All those guys deserve recognition for an amazing job they did on very little time and money.
RADCLIFFE: I think the thing about Allen [Ginsberg] that surprised me the most, or maybe didn’t surprise me – but more so that it goes against the lazy stereotype of poets we have in our heads, and it became something I really wanted to bring to the portrayal of Allen – was just how fun he was. I think we often think of poets as being kind of serious, dour kinds of guys who sit in dusty rooms writing alone, and actually, Allen was such a participant in the world. And that’s what he wanted to be. He was such fun. By all accounts, he was a really funny, goofy, silly guy with a really good sense of humor. And if you have the inclination to watch the video they made, Pull My Daisy, he’s just fucking around in it and doing some really weird stuff physically. And, he’s really interesting to watch, so that definitely surprised me. But also, I was surprised by how much he thought of himself in his diaries. He really had a very high opinion of himself as a writer and as an artist before he really knew what he was gonna specialize in. At one point, he said something to the effect of, “I know I’m a genius, I just don’t know what form my genius is gonna take yet.” It was something along those lines, so he had this huge confidence, and the difference between that real confidence in his own intellect and the lack of confidence in his social interactions – where he was quite awkward – was the most interesting part of that character. The most interesting part lies in that schism of those two parts of the personality, because, he’s obviously wanting to marry the one with the other. He wants to be the confident person outwardly that he is inwardly, but he can’t.
The film played at Sundance, and then got into Toronto. It’s rare to get into one, let alone both. Talk a little bit about being a part of both of these prestigious festivals.
RADCLIFFE: Yeah! It was amazing. It was really my first festival. I’d been interviewed at the Whistler Festival prior to that – which is a smaller festival in Canada up near British Columbia – but I’d never been to a festival with a film to promote and show to people for the first time. It was very exciting. I had never been a part of that world. Harry Potter was never gonna go to Sundance (laughs).
In another universe, maybe.
RADCLIFFE: (laughs) In a very different universe. So, I was quite nervous, quite excited, and looking to meet a very different part of the industry, which was a part I’d never been exposed to before, and that’s always exciting. And then, to come to Toronto with it was great because, by that point, people had reacted to the film. Because, I’d seen the movie, and John had seen the movie, we’d all seen the movie, but there’s still a part of you that goes, “it might be shit,” even though we all think it’s great. We’re already proud, but what if other people hate it, you know? Like, there’s always that worry. So, the fact that they didn’t hate it at Sundance definitely made us feel more confident about coming to Toronto, not that we were worried that no one would like the film, but generally, I was a lot more at ease knowing that people had already seen it. Numerous articles about gay sex scenes had already come out, so there wasn’t any of that stuff we had to brace ourselves for this time.
Totally. This is more of a fun question. Obviously, when you go out, I’m sure that everyone wants to talk to you and ask you questions. Did you ever get a good chance to go out with Michael C. Hall? And, was there ever a good buffer around you when you’re with Dexter?
RADCLIFFE: Yeah. Michael and I hung out a bit, and when we were together, it definitely freaked people out, because we didn’t have trailers on this film set, so we were just hanging out on sidewalks and stuff. People were walking by and going, “is that that Harry Potter guy and Dexter chatting over there?” I do think we freaked a few people out but, I like to think we sort of run blocking for each other. He handles the recognition he gets pretty well, but it’s – I don’t really know how to describe it – it’s sort of funny, because it’s not something you normally see. Also, it was nice for me to talk to Michael because he is in a much later stage in his career, and he’d done loads before he ever did Dexter, but he is in a similar position. He has a huge amount of attention for one thing. He probably gets called Dexter as much as I get called Harry Potter, so it’s nice to just talk to him about that and see how he handles it, which is quite similar to mine. It doesn’t really bother him. He’s obviously very proud of Dexter, and I’m very proud of Harry Potter. But yeah, it’s always nice to talk to somebody who’s in a similar boat.
I definitely have to ask this before we run out of time. When did you first hear that there was gonna be, I don’t wanna say another film in the Harry Potter universe, but…
RADCLIFFE: Yes. I guess I heard a couple weeks ago. Can you…
I can tell you what I know. You probably know more than me.
RADCLIFFE: I don’t. I definitely don’t. Are there books? Because, people are definitely coming in and saying there are more books?
There’s a book called Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
She is writing a screenplay based on things from that universe. She’s writing her first screen play for Warner Bros., David Heyman is producing, and it’s gonna take place in the world of Harry Potter, but not involve-
RADCLIFFE: Yeah, because that’s in the past or the future or something.
That’s what I was gonna say to you. It could be going on concurrently. Maybe it’s about an explorer that goes and explores the beasts of the world-
RADCLIFFE: It might be (laughs). I have no idea. I wish I could tell you more.
I don’t either, but I wanted to ask you this: say it takes place at the same time? I’m just gonna throw this out there, because I always love easter eggs. Would there ever be in the back of your mind like, if they ever wanted you guys walking in it, like say you were doing something from movie five, and you just happen to pass on the street, but you don’t see each other, is that something you’d be interested in? It would be an easter egg.
RADCLIFFE: That’s the version of it that I would be most interested in (laughs). By the time that comes into filming, I will have put quite a few years of work into putting that character away, so to put the costume on for any length of time would not necessarily be something I’m seeking. But I like the idea of an intertwining story line, almost like a Robert Altman moment, like him passing in the night. That’s kind of fun. I don’t know if that would be the case, but I could maybe be talked into that. But I don’t know! I don’t wanna say that, because as soon as I say that, everyone goes mad, but I do-
We gotta go. My only thing is, I love the idea of an easter egg, where you’re walking in the background and the fans are like, “Is that?…No way!!”
RADCLIFFE: Who knows, man? (laughs) If they ask, I’ll definitely cross that bridge when I come to it. It’s one of those situations.