The critically acclaimed limited series A Young Doctor’s Notebook and Other Stories, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm, returns in the coming weeks for Season 2 on Ovation. Inspired by the works of Russian novelist Mikhail Bulgakov and set in the small village of Muryevo in 1918, the Young Doctor (Radcliffe) is battling an all-consuming morphine addiction and struggles to cope with life in the hospital and the efforts of his medical staff, under the critical gaze of his older self (Hamm).
As part of the Ovation presentation at the TCA Press Tour, Daniel Radcliffe spoke via satellite from New York, where he’s starring on Broadway in the hit production of The Cripple of Inishmaan, about why this four-episode series appealed to him, how flattering it is to have Jon Hamm playing the older version of him, what it’s like to do some of the more intimate scenes with his co-star, what he enjoys about doing short-form television, and what he believes makes a good U.S. adaptation of a U.K. TV show. He also talked about whether he could ever see himself reprising the role of Harry Potter as an adult, especially after the story that J.K. Rowling just released. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
DANIEL RADCLIFFE: The most exciting way of doing my job is to try to do as many different styles. Everyone just thinks, “Oh, he’s doing all of this to put [Harry Potter] behind him and get away from it.” And actually, I think what it is, more than that, is that I played one character for such a long time. Particularly towards the end of that 10-year period, I started seeing other British actors, like Aaron Johnson and Eddie Redmayne and Ben Whishaw, and lots of people who I look up to, go off and do loads of different projects and try lots of different things. There’s a little bit of envy that builds up inside yourself. So, now that I’m in a position that I can do that, I’m just trying to do it while the going is good.
How weird is it to have Jon Hamm playing the older version of you?
RADCLIFFE: It’s obviously incredibly flattering, and it was incredibly flattering that he suggested me to play the young him. But with the height difference, the show is so crazy anyway that people are either going to just go with it and enjoy the show so much that they don’t care about that, or if they get hung up on that, then there’s going to be plenty of other logical problems that they are going to find with us. It definitely wasn’t something we lingered on too much, in terms of worrying about that. It was about finding the parallels between me and Jon, and then just link our characters together. There’s a little fidgety tick that both Jon and I’s characters have when we are nervous, and we fiddle with our ear, which links us together. And then, we also do a couple of match cuts, like where I light a cigarette on the third strike of the match, and it changes from Jon to me. We do visual stuff to connect the two, which will hopefully keep reminding people that we are, in fact, the same person.
RADCLIFFE: On the whole, this series is an incredibly fun one to film. Jon is a very funny guy, and we are very irreverent. We had a lot of fun doing the bath scene in the first [season]. As soon as we both got in it, we were, like, “Oh, man, this photo is going to go everywhere.” So, we were aware of the bizarreness of the situation. But actually, dancing with Jon was great fun. I had to dip him, at one point, which was not easy. And we got a couple of lifts in there, as well. It’s incredibly fun working with him. I remember there was one sequence, in the first [season], before we actually had a stunt coordinator who had been assigned to the show, and we had a fight scene to do. Jon essentially just choreographed this fight scene himself, in about 15 minutes, and it was funny. It was action-packed and frenetic, and everything we needed it to be. I think his experience working and directing Mad Men has made him a brilliant technical actor, as well as being very good fun to hang around with.
What do you enjoy about this type of short-form TV show?
RADCLIFFE: The writers of this show are three brilliant individuals that are fantastically clever and funny. It just would have been impossible to do this, if it filmed for any longer than four weeks. I think we actually condensed Jon’s stuff into about two and a half weeks of the shoot. Especially with all of his other commitments that he has for TV, it wouldn’t have been possible for us to do this, if it was any longer than four episodes. There’s something nice about the idea of doing this show. If this show had been made in America, by an American network, they would have wanted 12 or 13 episodes, at a minimum, but the book doesn’t really lend itself to that. These are short stories, to begin with. So, it offers some freedom, in the British system, to do some interesting things.
RADCLIFFE: That’s an interesting question. The only show that immediately comes to mind is The Office. What’s interesting about that show is that I actually now prefer the American version to the British version, and that’s something that I never thought I would say. I do think that, once they moved beyond that point in the first or second [season], where they were still doing episodes that had been done in the British version, they were able to establish their own thing, and their characters were all developed in different and new and original ways that were entirely of the American series. That’s when it really comes into its own, for me, as a brilliant, exciting series. It is an adaptation, and in an adaptation, you have to take things into account for who your audience is and how that will make a difference. In terms of adapting British things, I don’t pay too much mind to the Britishness of it all.
Earlier today, J.K. Rowling posted a new Harry Potter story, about Harry Potter as an adult. Would you reprise the role again, as an adult?
RADCLIFFE: I don’t know. My inclination is to say no. It’s not even a hypothetical, at the moment, really. What she’s written, I haven’t read it yet. I am going to read it. But it is, as I understand, a very, very short piece that I’m not sure is, of itself, worthy of an adaptation to film. I don’t know. He’s at least 12 years older than I am now, so I don’t think I’ll have to worry about that for a long time, I’m hoping.